Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Interview With Ann Alexander And Her Fantastic Venture Montisi Magica

Born and brought up in Manchester England, she enjoyed a successful career as a lawyer for over 25 years before deciding to have a complete change and she is now trying to be less of a workaholic. She divides her time between the UK where she does some Consulting work and occasional documentary programmes for BBC radio, and Tuscany in Italy where she has a wonderful travel business – Montisi Magica. She has 2 wonderful children both grown up and independent now and a gorgeous cockapoo called Bella.

A very warm welcome to Ann Alexander and thanks for accepting an invite for this interview. Here we go... 
You fell in love with Italy many years back. When was this exactly and how did it happen?
I had been going to Tuscany for some years on holiday but I really fell in love with it when I spent a month in Florence learning Italian in 2008.

What was the reason behind you selling off your law firm?
My children grew up and my priorities changed. I had had a wonderful and hugely satisfying career as a lawyer, helping many people and changing systems for the better and I decided that I wanted to do something completely different.
What were various alternatives for you at that moment when you sold your law firm to pursue as your passion or career, or both?
The two things I really wanted to do were to learn to speak Italian and to make a documentary for BBC Radio 4 – and I achieved them both!
You decided to go for an intensive Italian course. When was this? How intensive was this? And what was the reason behind going for this course?
I spent a month in Florence at the British Institute learning Italian in a complete immersion course. I felt this was the best way to learn. The teacher was amazing and after the first 10 minutes of the first class, she spoke no English! Before I began I had a handful of words but once I’d finished the course which was huge fun I understood how the language worked and was determined to try and speak fluently.

How do you define Tuscan life?
Living in a tiny village in the Tuscan countryside is like living a dream! It’s stunningly beautiful, very relaxed, full of amazing people and experiences and just so much to see and do. And the food and wine? There is nothing like it anywhere else!
How your awareness towards Montisi and the richness of its surrounding area happen? When was this?
When I rented a house for a month in Tuscany I visited Montisi for the first time. I fell in love with this beautiful medieval hilltop village.

How big is this area?
It is part of the Crete Senesi, a large area of Southern Tuscany best known for its big skies, rolling hills and signature cypress trees.
What is so special about this area? It’s people? It’s culture and traditions?
It’s very beautiful – stunning scenery, historic villages, friendly people and so much to see. They really live life to the full and there are frequent festivals to enjoy.
What makes Siena as one of your favourite places in the world? What is so unique about it?
It is magical! Full of history, little has changed in hundreds of years and the architecture is stunning.

Tell us about the magnificent 3-day medieval pageant that happens every year?
The Giostra di Simone in August each year records events from hundreds of years ago and the village holds dinners in the streets, medieval processions and a contest on horseback between its districts. Such fun – and I was honoured to be the Dame in the procession last year.
What various compliments have you received from your visitors?
So many wonderful compliments:
We have been lucky enough to have been on many holidays over the years and this one has been up there with the very best. Ann promised us a variety of walks, food and wine and most of all her personal attention. She exceeded our expectations in every category. Nothing was too much trouble and on every occasion did something which surprised us. She hasn’t got a Trip Advisor page yet but when she does we’re sure all her reviewers will give her top marks; we certainly will
Trudie and Will Kintish, September 2013
Ann, I just want to say a huge thank you for organising such a wonderful week in Tuscany. Montisi Magica certainly lives up to its name – it was a magical experience, created by your warm hospitality and attention to detail. Nothing was ever too much trouble and our smallest wishes or needs were met. 
Sue Webster, Independent Business Consultant, September 2013 UK.

The Tuscan dream...Ann Alexander dedicates her time and tailor makes your personal holiday adventures and experiences with warmth, fun and unforgettable memories! Every email to phone call to meeting in person, Ann really goes the extra mile to ensure you have a wonderful Tuscan holiday.
...thank you from the Ellenthorpes - July 2013 X

Tell us about the pilot week that you scheduled in October 2012. How many people were there in the group and from which countries/ places? What did they enjoy most during their visit there?
There were 8 people all from the UK – 3 couples and 2 singles and none of them knew each other even the singles. They enjoyed the whole thing – the cooking, the touring, the wine tasting, the eating! - encouraging me to start the business but best of all they have remained firm friends and have had a series of reunions.
How many such tours planned and executed in 2013? Please share some success stories, wonderful magical moments and feedbacks received.
Testimonials above! We had cookery weeks, mixed Creative Breaks and walking and wine touring in 2013 with more planned for 2014.
Tell us about wine tour of Tuscany?
This was a 10 night wine tour of Tuscany for a group of Canadian tourists who stayed in Florence and Pienza, each day visiting, touring and sampling different wineries with all sorts of extras thrown in including truffle hunting!

Who is Giancarlo Caldesi and how is he associated with your mission?
Giancarlo Caldesi is a well-known Celebrity Chef, born in Tuscany but living and working in London where with his wife Katie he runs two Italian restaurants and a very successful Cookery School. I met them when I went to their cookery school in Tuscany many years ago and Giancarlo came to Montisi last year and recreated over 50 dishes during a week’s cookery school for my guests. It was such a success that he is returning for two weeks this year
 About your education

I was educated in Manchester and London and became a lawyer because I wanted a ‘proper’ career. In those days choices were limited and I remember my maths teacher telling my mother that ‘girls couldn’t become accountants’!

What languages you can speak and write?

English and Italian with a smattering of French.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

My late uncle who inspired me to become the lawyer I turned into.

What are your future plans?

To continue to enjoy life and helping my guests to have magical holidays in Tuscany!

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed.
Manchester England born and I have visited various parts of Europe, the US and Asia.

Your favorite time of the day?


Your zodiac/ sunsign?


Ann Alexander
Montisi Magica

“Turn your dreams into the reality of a truly memorable Tuscan getaway”

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