By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Looking for a tour of Italy without the oversized bus and guide on a megaphone? Then head to Pineapple Grove in Delray Beach and visit Nada Vergili.
The Florence-native recently opened her second Nada’s Italy Tours office in Delray where she offers Italian classes, workshops and plans high-end, small-group tours for travelers who “don’t go on tours.”
She opened her new location in May, but has been offering trips to different regions of her native country since 2004.
It all started when she was dating an American chef who was working in Italy. They got married and he brought her to Charlotte, North Carolina.
“As soon as I told people I moved from Italy, people went from complete strangers to ‘Oh my God that is so cool, or I have been there or I’m going there,’” Vigili said.
It was an easy ice breaker that helped her form new relationships in her new home.
“There are so many things that people can relate to when it comes to Italy,” she said. “Italy connects people.”
Whether it is watching a movie like “Under the Tuscan Sun” or drinking vino or fashion or even Roman holidays, Vergili said people relate to the topics that make Italy special.
So, when people began asking her questions about her homeland, she began teaching Italian classes.
“People were interested in the local experience,” she said.
She said she began tailoring her classes with tidbits to help those going abroad by pointing out what gelato shops and bakeries to visit, telling them Italians don’t put cheese on seafood and that they definitely don’t eat bread dipped in olive oil before their meal— that’s a faux pas.
In 2004, she took her first group to Italy.
“It was very casual,” she said. “My mom came and cooked. People enjoyed the small group, authentic experience and being taken care of.”
Her group tours are capped at no more than 12 people. The average trip is 10 days, but there are some weeklong options and longer excursions as well.
“It went from a hobby to a business,” she said.
This year, she had about 60 tours for people to choose from. She also offers customized itineraries. Recently, she added France and Spain options for some of her repeat customers who begged her to expand. She has had people book tours from all over the country, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
In 2012, a road trip down the East coast with a friend— after her marriage ended—brought her to Delray Beach.
“We fell in love,” she said. “The vibe, Delray is eclectic. I thought this is going to be my new home.”
It took a few years of house hunting and visiting as a tourist, but she purchased a home in Lake Ida three years ago.
Several months ago, she decided to expand her Charlotte-born concept to her new home.
The Delray storefront doubles as a retail space as well as a travel agency that specializes in all things Italy.
Even if you aren’t planning a trip to Italy or maybe need a dose of Italy in between trips, you can pick up organic olive oil from Tuscany, organic skincare products from Sardinia all-natural hand-crafted soap from Tuscany and an assortment of fragrances made in Venice.
The Delray homestead employs 11 full-time employees and the Charlotte office five employees. Vergili said all have some sort of tie to Italy, they either are from there or speak Italian. She has an employee based in Rome to make sure hotels and tour guides are up to par.
Her tours work with Italian guides who are vetted and trained by her and her team.
While many traditional travel agencies are shutting their doors and going online, Vergili said she is doing the opposite.
“I think there is a need,” she said of having a storefront agency. “You can book a tour online or book a guide online, but knowing someone who knows the connections will get you the experience you want.”
Stop in for a cappuccino. Nada’s Italy Boutique is located at 119 NE 2nd Ave.