An Italian Adventure & New Appreciation for My 30A Home
A Tale of Two Coasts
BY RITA MONTGOMERY
I recently enjoyed a European adventure to the Italian coast.
When Lindlee and Craig Dermody, who live in the 30A community of WaterSound, chose to renew their wedding vows after 20 years of marriage, they included 30+ friends and family and created a magnificent vacation along the Italian coast. The trip began as we relaxed at the five-star Imperiale
Palace Hotel in Santa Margherita Ligure. From there, we walked, boated, hiked, biked, shopped, and dined our way through coastal communities. I was in awe of the surroundings, but with each experience, I could not help but reflect on a coastline just as beautiful in its own right – my 30A Gulf seashore home.
IMPERIALE PALACE HOTEL
On Day 2, our group hiked to five fishing villages in the beaches and hills of Cinque Terre in the Italian Riviera. The landscape is picturesque, with bursts of color from homes stacked on hillsides and fishing boats that crowd marinas’ azure waters. The views are majestic. Hiking may not be steep in 30A communities, but we have countless trails with views that rival any in the world. That trek inspired me to conquer the pristine paths in South Walton County. I hope to soon explore Deer Lake Trail’s wildflowers and coastal dune lakes, birdwatch in Dune Allen’s Topsail Hill Preserve State Park of 1600 acres, and learn about the history of Choctawhatchee Bay at Eden Gardens State Park. Why not enjoy what’s close to home?
After we enjoyed a gourmet lunch in Florence, a motor coach carried us to the Chianti Region in Tuscany. The famous area was a highlight for many on our trip. We toured the Rocca Delle Macie and Castello Vicchiomaggio estates and wineries. We sipped Chianti made from Sangiovese vines and tasted local olives as we admired the landscape. Did you know that the Gulf’s Muscogee Nation, as a community, harvested turpentine from the resin of live pines, and that many Florida families traveled annually to South Walton beaches to cook salt out of the Gulf water so they’d have cooking salt for their homes? We have a rich agricultural history in South Walton.
Our hosts leased a gorgeous, roomy villa called RISERVA DI FIZZANO. Destination weddings are great fun for everyone involved. As we anticipated the event, wedding guests enjoyed a cooking class led by a Michelin star chef, relaxed by the pool, or shopped and walked through adjacent villages. Our 30A coastal communities have all the above, and Italy certainly hasn’t cornered the market on destination weddings. Rosemary Beach was voted Best of the Borrowed & Blue of 2017. I can’t imagine a more scenic wedding backdrop than our emerald Gulf waters moving with the tide under a glowing sunset, followed by dinner and celebration at any one of our fine restaurants.
On the final leg of our journey, the wedding party toured the “City of Lovers” by private gondolas. We even took water taxis to the airport. While we may not boat from hotel to restaurant to airport, 30A most certainly is on the water. I can’t remember the last time I took a boat ride near home. Santa Rosa has 30A Airboat Adventures. Solaris Yacht leaves Sandestin’s Baytowne Marina for a sunset dinner cruise. Backwater Tours offers an eco-inspired trip through Choctawhatchee River on a 26-foot motorboat. Pontoon boats, dolphin cruises, sailboats, and even paddle boards offer unique views of our stunning surroundings and wildlife.