ABOUT CONNECTITALIA-NZ LTD
Our company’s mission is to promote greater liaison between Italy and New Zealand, reflecting the different but complementary backgrounds of the company’s two directors, Beniamino Petrosino and Anne Scragg. Our principal focus is planning and escorting exclusive small group tours in Italy offering a cultural experience with a difference. Our tours are most definitely not of the whistle-stop” Today is Tuesday so it must be Belgium” kind. We pride ourselves in providing you with the time and comfort to really enjoy what you are seeing and doing and you will never feel rushed. Our tours start and finish in Italy so you are most welcome to join us from anywhere in the world. Whether you are travelling on your own or with others, you can expect individual care and attention from two escorts who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure you have an unforgettable time. We also encourage travellers wanting to visit New Zealand from overseas to contact us and we will be very happy to provide you with a New Zealand tour package tailored to meet your particular needs and interests. We use accredited tour operators to ensure our tours are trouble free and we insist on the highest standards of customer service in all situations throughout our tours. Your comfort and security are of paramount importance to us. Whether you are planning a trip to Italy or a trip to New Zealand with us, it will be our pleasure to look after you throughout your tour. We are confident you will enjoy a unique cultural experience and a lot of fun along the way.
“In 2017 and 2019 I travelled with Connectitalia-NZ throughout the north and south of Italy and had an absolutely marvellous time. Every day produced a new highlight. If you want to enjoy the Italy the Italians know, Connectitalia-NZ has the tours for you. Your principal tour escort Beniamino comes from the Mezzogiorno and you will be immersed in Italian culture in all its varied aspects. You will stay in carefully chosen first class accommodation in out of the way places and travel in a comfortable private vehicle with your own driver. You will see some amazing historical sites and stunning countryside. As you enjoy local food and wine, you will learn the fascinating history of what you are eating and drinking. I am proud to promote Connectitalia-NZ. tours, which offer visitors to Italy the experience of a lifetime.”
Richard Scragg is an Honorary Professor of Law at the University of Auckland. He began his working life as a practising barrister and solicitor, joined the Institute of Professional Legal Studies as a Senior Instructor and then embarked on an academic career at the University of Canterbury where he became Dean and Head of Law before joining the University of Auckland.
“Following a brief career in the law I travelled and worked in Europe spending time in northern Italy where I taught and visited some of its great gardens. On my return to NZ I studied landscape architecture as a post graduate student at Lincoln University.
This course included the history of Italian gardens for which I have a passion. I have since then returned to Italy on several occasions and visited more of its gardens for the sheer pleasure of being there and to better understand their place in the history of garden design.
I am delighted to be an ambassador for Connectitalia-NZ’s wonderful tours and an escort on its stunning gardens tours. I hope you will join us!”
Robert Watson is a landscape architect based in Christchurch and he has been involved in a wide variety of major projects around New Zealand over the last 35 years. He is a Fellow of the NZ Institute of Landscape Architects and an Assessor for the NZ Gardens Trust. Robert's work has won numerous prizes including a Gold award at the 2009 Ellerslie Flower Show for a garden he designed for the Canterbury Horticultural Society. Another of Robert's projects is the renowned Broadfields Garden, a NZ Garden Trust Garden of International Significance, for which he was a finalist in 2015 NZILA Awards.
I am the founder of CONNECTITALIA-NZ. I came from Italy to live in New Zealand in the 1980’s and have worked as a chef, restaurateur and consultant in the hospitality industry in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and the United States of America. I have taught Italian in schools and privately and also English to refugees. In 2003, Hazard Press published my novel “The Passage of the Frog and the Wild Strawberries of 1942” set in the Mezzogiorno regions of Italy where I grew up and it would give me great pleasure to introduce you to this magical land and its people.
In late 2015 I met Anne Scragg when she became one of my Italian language students. In 2016 we ran a successful cultural programme in Christchurch showcasing many special Italian foods and wines and introducing our guests to delightful Italian locations off the beaten track. Now Anne and I take our guests to see the enchanting places we have talked about and ensure they have a cultural experience like no other. Our future plan is to secure a home in Italy so you will even be able to put down your luggage and forget about it!
I initially trained as a lawyer and worked in private practice for some years. I had a few years off work while my family was young and then returned to work as an adjudicator and mediator. Over time I became involved in designing and establishing specialist dispute resolution schemes in the public and private sectors. In 2015, I retired from a senior management role with the intention of doing something entirely different. One day my husband came in from the letterbox with one of Beniamino’s business cards and I thought Italian language lessons might be just what I needed!
I have been to Italy several times and have loved every visit. I am confident I know what non-Italians need and want when travelling and I want to share my passion for Italy with others. I also want to show our guests from other countries the treasures that my homeland, New Zealand, has to offer and would be delighted to work with you to plan your trip through the land of the Lord of the Rings.
Exclusive Tours of Italy
“Over the last few years we have got together to bring people a genuine glimpse into Italian culture and customs. Now our intent is to take you there for an experience unlike any other.”
Join us on an extraordinary journey!
What can I expect on a CONNECTITALIA-NZ Tour?
•the perfect blend of superb organisation and the ability to “do your own thing”
•individual care and attention from two escorts with complementary culturalbackgrounds, who are willing to go the extra mile to deliver an unforgettable experience for their clients
•a unique opportunity to spend time with the locals and learn about Italian life andcustoms from a native-born Italian
•the opportunity to put into practice some useful Italian phrases supported by your veryown Italian language teacher!
•to visit food markets and eat and drink the finest Italian foods and wines under thetutelage of a your very own food and wine expert!
Why are CONNECTITALIA-NZ tours more expensive than some other tours on the market?
•our tour groups are small – no more than 10 to 12 clients per tour
•individual needs and preferences are accommodated wherever practicable
•we avoid boring high-rise hotels on the outskirts of town – we choose high qualityaccommodation very carefully, based on its location, charm and comfort
•we like to pamper our clients and we make sure they receive complimentary (notcheap!) surprise treats from us along the way
•we insist on the highest standards of customer service in all situations throughout thetour
Does CONNECTITALIA-NZ use accredited travel agents to make their bookings?
Yes! All accommodation and transport arrangements are made through accredited travel agents. Our packages are land-based packages. Air travel bookings may be made independently or through our travel broker. Comprehensive travel insurance is essential.
Can you tell me more about the tour escorts?
Beniamino has over 40 years’ experience as a chef and restaurateur and he has worked as a restaurant and catering consultant in Australia, Malaysia and the United States of America. His knowledge of Italian foods and wines is exceptional and he has an almost uncanny knack of finding the best place to eat, whether it is a humble place in a mountain village or an
upmarket restaurant in Bologna or Milano. He enjoys taking clients to food markets and introducing them to some of his favourite delicacies.
Beniamino has a great sense of humour and is a born raconteur. In 2003, he published a novel “The Passage of the Frog and the Wild Strawberries of 1942” about his early life in the Mezzogiorno, which has received great reviews. Clients on our Mezzogiorno tour will visit the small towns where Beniamino was born and grew up. Last time, we encountered two nonagenarians who remembered him as a child playing in the street. Beniamino is very eager to take us to Padula to visit the museum of his famous relative Lieutenant Joe Petrosino. Film buffs will be looking forward to the forthcoming film “The Black Hand” about Joe Petrosino starring Leonardo di Caprio. For those who are unaware, Joe Petrosino was the legendary police officer in New York who successfully tackled organised crime head-on in the late 19th Century. Padula is just one of many places off the beaten track mentioned in Beniamino’s book that we will visit on this tour.
Anne, after a lifetime working in the law and dispute resolution and in various senior management roles, is now focused on enjoying life and helping others to do the same. She has had many splendid trips to Italy and has learned her Italian from Beniamino. Unfortunately, according to Beniamino, Anne’s cooking leaves a lot to be desired but she is developing some skills as a kitchen hand under the maestro’s supervision. Together Anne and Beniamino have entertained a lot of people over the last couple of years while producing some wonderful Italian dishes.
Anne loves classical music and her visit to La Scala this year to see ‘Don Giovanni’ was a highlight for her, as was a concert in Cremona performed on a Stradivarius cello. As for art, Anne does not know where to start describing her reaction to seeing ‘The Last Supper’ in Milano. She can’t wait to show you Palladio’s famous wooden bridge in Bassano del Grappa, the cheese caves at Arona and sip an Aperol Spritz with you on the lakeside terrace at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio.