Tony Hedrick traveled to Italy for the first time twenty years ago. He spoke hardly a word of Italian and had few, if any, Italian connections. But Tony was anything but typical. He thought big; he thought bold. And, more importantly, he had grasped a little of God’s heart for the Italian people. Forty trips later, Tony now speaks Italian and he knows the best restaurants and tucked-away treasures in every nook and cranny of Italy. More importantly, he has personal connections all over Italy and, as founder of ACCI, is one of the greatest advocates for equipping Italian believers.
In spring of 2017 Tony Hedrick is teaming up with Niteo Tours for a customized 13-day trip to explore, encounter, and embrace AUTHENTIC Italy.
We touched based with Tony, who not surprisingly is in Italy right now, and asked him a couple questions about the Italy 2017 tour.
How is this trip unique? What’s your vision for this trip?
Il Grande Viaggio is a vacation with purpose. The primary purpose is to give you the traveler the opportunity to see and enjoy AUTHENTIC ITALY.
Almost all tour groups offer the “Big Three” (Rome, Florence and Venice), but this can leave the visitor with a distorted, Disney-World experience. We want to do something special—give the traveler a taste of authentic Italy and the real Italy as Italians live it. Sure they’ll visit Florence and the heart of the Renaissance. Of all major Italian destinations, this is the crown jewel. But we’ll largely stay away from big buses and crowds by bringing them to places not normally seen by first timers. And, they’ll have the added value of historical, religious, and cultural information by a knowledgeable Niteo guide.
CINQUE TERRE in the vicinity of picturesque Portofino on the Italian Riviera is a must-see and north Italy’s response to the Almalfi coast with its stunning views, beaches and brightly-painted villages stacked along mountainous precipices.
TOSCANA AND CHIANTI (SIENA) will follow with its charming, unhurried countryside and hilltop villages.
Similarly, UMBRIA is a rarely a major tourist destination. Nestled in the mountains between Tuscany and the Adriatic, those returning home from Umbria will say, “We were truly in Italy.” The atmosphere of quaint, walled villages takes one back to another time and along with the authentic cuisine provides the backdrop for many hands-on cultural experiences.
PARMA, the center of gastronomia in Italy, features the best original foods and regional cuisine in all of Italy.
The second purpose is that along the way those interested will have the opportunity to meet local Italian pastors and believers and gain insights into the work God is doing in a resistant nation that has largely lost any Christian memory.
What’s your background in Italy? What makes you the ideal person to lead this trip?
As of this spring, I’ve made forty trips to Italy. There’s hardly a city I haven’t visited and have even spent a great deal of time in Sicily. Many Italians tell me that I have seen more of Italy than they have. I also speak Italian. As a North American, I’m an Italian cultural expert. More importantly, though, I have established personal friendships throughout the nation, from Trento in the north to Martina Franca in the south.