Ever wonder what it would be like to travel with Oprah? Well, Barack and Michelle Obama know (but what happens on the yacht stays on the yacht — and nobody’s talking.)
And while the Obamas are in a highly rarefied group, they’re not totally alone in sharing some very high-quality vacation time with Oprah. That distinct honor also goes to the Amorico family of Italy. Father Angelo founded the high-end European travel company Access Europe 30 years ago, and now, together with sons Simone and Marco, the team now leads exclusive tours through Italy, France, Greece, and Spain for the most discerning North American travelers, including many celebrities and business influencers.
And boy, do they have stories (and photos). For instance…
“Last time Oprah was in Italy, in 2014, she experienced with us a fun truffle hunting in Umbria where she went with truffle hunters and their dog to search for white and black truffle,” Simone told Jet Set. “White truffle is available only between October and December, and she was lucky enough to find a few white truffles and many black truffles that are available all year round.” Of course Oprah-with-the-Midas-touch would have such luck.
How’s that for an insider foodie vacay?
And Oprah wasn’t done experiencing Italy as only a very select few ever can. “She then experienced a special Vatican visit where we entered from the side doors to enter St. Peter’s Basilica — she was happy because not many people noticed her since we were on a section where Italians attended mass.”
(But how can this be, you wonder? Well, “She is not as popular in Italy as she is in the U.S.”)
Simone also shared a top tip, straight from Oprah, for travelers to Italy: “She loves a restaurant on the Appian Way called Sora Rosa where they make her favorite flat chicken — and that is a must stop for lunch.” There you have it!
Oprah has named Angelo her favorite tour guide in Europe — and might be all the endorsement anyone needs.
But Access Europe has also arranged trips for such stars as Owen Wilson, while he was in Europe filming Zoolander 2 — but alas Owen's kids weren’t nearly as into the unique access to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel as adults who might consider it a major bucket-list item.
What were the kids into? Well, the programs known as "gladiator school" and "gelato school" — but only if they could call them anything other than "school." (Indeed, the tour group has since renamed the programs as "gladiator fun" and gelato fun" to appeal more to the underage set.) Take a look:
Access Europe also took co-star Ben Stiller through the Vatican in a unique way: after hours.
"We were alone in the Vatican and Sistine Chapel," Simone says. "He invited Penelope Cruz, who like Owen, organized the gelato experience twice for his kids —they loved it so much — as well as a pizza-making experience. I then gave a few tennis lessons to her young kids and organized a romantic getaway in Tuscany for her and husband at one of Ferragamo's properties!"
But it gets better. Fun fact: Rome-born Simone lived for a time in Florida, and at one point was a top-ranked superstar in the sport. So when Stiller was looking for a coach in Italy, Simone casually offered to train him for three months.
In other words, here's the really full-service tour company you want to try next time you want to VV-VIP your way through the continent. Oprah approved.