Monday, September 12, 2016

Candelaria Design Tour Italy ~ Sept 2016 ~ Departure for Italy


We are officially off and on our way to Italy as we begin our 14th Candelaria Design Tour Italy! 


I love this trip especially when I get to introduce some newbies to the experience of travel. I have a couple first timers to Europe and Italy which is the best. Watching their eyes and expressions as we arrive in Firenze and come upon the Duomo for the first time.

We have a wonderful group for our September trip. All of my travelers this trip are from the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. I have five repeat travelers and the Wedgie Media team who will be filming and droning our trip and the beautiful sights we will see for our new show Design and Romance - Italy. So 21 travelers in total. Some of my repeat travelers are enjoying their third and sixth trips!

So what adventures will we be embarking upon on this trip??? I have added several new venues this time including the Antinori Winery and a truffle hunt and picnic at a nature preserve in Tuscany.


Follow our journey right here on my blog as I will upload posts during the course of the trip. I will be posting a lot of pictures and videos here, on You Tube, Facebook and Instagram so you can enjoy this wonderful trip. I am very excited to start this trip with this group. I’m sensing some good times ahead for sure.

Here is our basic itinerary so join us on our adventure: 
  • Sept 7th Departure from Phoenix
  • Sept 8th Arrival in Firenze with dinner at the picturesque Villa La Vedetta
  • Sept 9th A day in Firenze with dinner in front of the Duomo
  • Sept 10th Drive to Umbria with a stop at the Antinori Winery then our welcome dinner at the Farmhouse.
  • Sept 11th Sunday Brunch at Villa Piazzano then to Cortona for afternoon shopping and a fabulous dinner in a cellar.
  • Sept 12th Assisi followed by a wine tour in Umbria and dinner alfresco.
  • Sept 13th Wine tours in Umbria with our wine guide Pino.
  • Sept 14th Farmer’s market in Umbertide followed by antiquing at Lacole then our cooking class at the farmhouse.
  • Sept 15th San Gimignano and Siena
  • Sept 16th Truffle hunt and picnic in Tuscany and farewell dinner at the farmhouse
  • June 17th – Drive to Positano and the Amalfi Coast
  • June 18th – June 19th Positano and Capri
  • June 20th – time to come home! 

Ok Here we go!

Arrival in Firenze

When you travel for nearly 34 hours between getting ready, getting to the airport, flying and then arriving and checking in…..you are in somewhat of a dream state. I guess they call that jet lag!


18 travelers and a three man film crew, with travelers arriving via NYC and Croatia and we all made it! Not one lost piece of luggage. Amazing.  Well we checked in and all got settled one by one at the beautiful Hotel Brunellschi located in the heart of Firenze http://www.hotelbrunelleschi.it We have been staying here since 2004 and it is one of my favorites. The staff if outstanding and very friendly and have been the same crew throughout the years. It makes you feel like you are staying with good friends or family and they treat you accordingly. 





 We all got settled, some of us arrived just before noon and we had some time to do a little exploring and/or get a quick power nap in before we all met up in the hotel lounge for cocktails before we made our way to the spectacular Villa La Vedetta http://www.villalavedettahotel.com in the hills above Firenze for our welcome dinner. This is our first time at this venue and it was nothing short of spectacular.

Of course everyone is in this jet lag state of being and all of a sudden you are enjoying a Bellini on the terrace overlooking Firenze with the sun setting in the distance …..well like I said dreamlike for sure. 




The Ladies of Candelaria Tour Italy at Villa La Vedetta

Michele Watts and Walter Spitz at the Villa La Vedetta

Michele Watts, Walter Spitz, Phil Giltner, and Isabel
We start with cocktails and appetizers on the terrace - which was absolutely lovely as we watched the sun set over Florence. This was followed by a spectacular dinner with a set menu that we had created ahead along with the wine pairings so my jet lagged travelers did not have to make a single decision this evening – just relax and soak in the experience. The stories and friendships were beginning……








Monday, September 5, 2016

The September 2016 Candelaria Design Tour Italy is Ready TO GO!


I hope everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day Weekend! I know I am enjoying at least a hint of cooler temps. The early morning hours are perfect already!


This Wednesday, September 7th, we will depart on our 14th Candelaria Design Tour Italy. This time we will start our trip, as we do all of our trips to Italy, in Florence but we will finish on the coast in Positano. What is exciting about this trip is that we will be accompanied by a three person film crew from Wedgie Media for our new show Design & Romance - Italy! Wedgie Creative may share a few clips during the trip on social media but the episode will not likely air until the Holidays or this coming Spring. Meanwhile catch our Seasons 1 and 2 of SKETCH on www.thedesignnetwork.com/series/sketch/   

Mark and his daughter, Tiffany Candelaria in Umbria

We have a wonderful group of 18 travelers joining us this time with eight of us being repeat travelers. I also have a few first time travelers to Europe and Italy which I love. We have many new venues and adventures for this year’s tour including a trip to the Antinori Winery http://antinorichianticlassico.it/en  and truffle hunting followed by a picnic on a nature preserve in Tuscany! Fourteen days and each one filled with amazing sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that we will do our best to capture in our show. I am so excited to share so much more of this trip with our fans.

Antinori Winery in Tuscany
Our two trips planned for 2017 are already reserved. We have our first trip to Spain filled for June 2017 and our September 2017 trip for Italy is also booked. So for 2018 we are open for some new destinations….. what do you think????



When we return from our trip we are excited to have the home from one of our 2015 travelers featured in the upcoming October issue of Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine. This Formal Spanish Colonial home in Silverleaf is one of the first collaborative efforts of Candelaria Design and my wife, Isabel, and her studio, Earth and Images. www.earthandimages.com  What is exciting, is that in addition to featuring the design of the home the magazine will feature one of our favorite things to do, cook for our clients in the completed home. This time with our new Candelaria Collection Pasta Machine with which we made homemade raviolis for 15 including the Phoenix Home and Garden photographer, writer, and editor along with friends and family of our client’s. 

Jennifer Gage and Isabel

Damon Wake and Mark Candelaria

Yum......Homemade Ravioli
Mark Candelaria with Phoenix Home & Garden's Editor, Karol Dewulf Nickell

So – here we go – off to Italy! Follow our tour right here on the blog, on Facebook and on You Tube. Ciao for now!

Our new Pasta Machine will go on sale this week as we will be taking orders on our website. Stay tuned for more details and recipes to follow.





My Love of Travel


We have made it halfway through August, and for all of us living in Arizona summer cannot end soon enough. Most of you who live here are returning from your summer escapes as many of the schools are now back in session. Our winter snowbirds won’t start flying in until late October or early November.


My least favorite month here is September. I am just ready for summer to be over and so that’s the month I like to escape – hence our Candelaria Design Tour in September when it’s perfect in Italy. We will be departing on our 14th Tour on September 7th.


On our way to the new Eataly
Meanwhile, now is the time where Isabel and I come to NYC for the market and to enjoy the city. We come every year this week and we both love it. We racked up 10 miles of walking just yesterday which gave us the guilty free  finish to the day at one of our favorite indulgences, dinner at Mario Batali’s http://www.babbonyc.com. Always fantastic and this year was no exception. We always make reservations months in advance but eagerly give our table up if we find room at the bar upon our arrival which was the case this year. We love dining at the bar and meeting people from across the world, which of course we did this year. Fabulous food, wine and interesting conversation. Love it! 















Vivian, Mark, and Evelyn
So…. MC and travel….. why do I do it so much and do I really even work or am I checked out and not watching the ship or running the show!?! I quietly hear this question all the time and I know my competition loves to whip this into a frenzy. The truth is I do travel a lot – most of it for work as we currently have projects all across the country. My team and I have projects underway in Kansas City, Denver, California, Idaho, Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, and here in New York. I have the best team out there, many have been with me over ten years and some over 15. They are in their prime and blow the competition away. My executive assistant, Stacey Payne, keeps me on track and helps me in so many ways! We usually start our mornings at 5 am texting and planning the day or weeks ahead, We do our Candelaria Design Tours, two this year to Italy – both sold out, and next year we will be adding an annual trip to Spain – also already sold out. I am starting to get offers to speak about our homes, travel, cooking and lifestyle and so those now sometimes require travel.

Candealaria Design home in design in Cherry Hills, Colorado.
Candelaria Design home just ready to break ground in Kansas City, Kansas

Just completed a renovation in La Jolla, California
Nonetheless, what is amazing with the technology today, I can really work and connect with my team and clients from anywhere. Most of the time it’s my clients that are somewhere else and we are connecting with them, but many times I’m on the road connecting in. All of our work and drawings are in “the cloud” so I can access them from anywhere. I love my new Ipad Pro and use it to sketch right over the top of drawings and can instantly send them back to my staff when they have questions. It’s quite amazing how we have embraced this connectivity and I love it. 

Editing, Redlining, and Designing on my IPad Pro



You see I pretty much work all the time. Architecture and Living is what I do and fortunately I am married to a woman, Isabel, who is in the same business and shares this same passion for design and living. We pretty much eat, breath and sleep design and the two of us are on the go constantly. That is what inspires us and allows us to be so creative with our clients and projects. It is our FUEL!!!!

Mark and Isabel - Night on the town in NYC

How can an architect or designer have new ideas by just sitting at the office and maybe delving through Pinterest images or magazine clippings and truly understand the soul, the atmosphere, the context of a space or image they see on Pinterest….. The fact is you can’t. All of our clients travel and see the world and so it is important for me and my team to do the same. How else can you be on the same level of experience and understanding as your client? And how fortunate that with our Candelaria Tours many times I share those experiences simultaneously with my clients and staff as I bring a member of my team with me on each trip. What an experience and reward for them!

Candelaria Design Tour Italy 2015


We create and sell a dream a lifestyle – our focus is Inspiring Living. You cannot do that behind a desk. Our whole business model, both internally and externally, is about Inspiring Living and our mission is to work with a staff that is inspired to live and clients we can inspire to take living to an entirely higher level. Mark is not slowing down – I am transitioning into pursuing more of my other interests – writing, painting, photography, travel, cooking, product design, music -  along with continuing design with my Candelaria Design Team. We are having our best year ever in our 17 years at Candelaria Design so our model is working just fine!

Our new Candelaria Collection Pasta Machine available this Fall


And so I am going to enjoy the weekend here in New York and will likely snap 1000 more photos and sketch several details that I will soak up in my ten mile hikes each day. And I will enjoy a fabulous dinner every evening at some fantastic restaurant that a client has referred me to with my lovely wife, Isabel. We will hit some galleries, meet some fascinating people, listen to some jazz, and yes maybe enjoy a martini and a cigar here or there on occasion……













Mark and Isabel with marketing maverick & NYC socialite Maguerite Brown

You see Living and Working are all the same for me…. Every moment of my life I am working and living.