Ellen Santucci-Masi was born and raised in New Jersey, but always knew she would travel someday, and she did. She studied French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Latin, knowing that languages would allow her gather insights into different cultures. She eventually settled in Florence, Italy, where she lives with her husband and three children. Ellen has a BA degree from Syracuse University (New York) in Medieval and Renaissance History and an MA from Framingham State College (Massachusetts) in Education. “Our visits to the towns, to the churches, to the tombs, and to the wineries in Tuscany are not just places to be ticked off a list to say 'been there, done that.' These visits are to places where aspects of the local customs and culture are revealed, where one can observe traditions and discover the heartbeat, the essence of Tuscany. As a Trip Leader, I try to share my insights in a way that ensures that trip members are not just passive observers but active participants in exploring the local culture.” Ellen has become a sommelier and continues her studies of the wines and foods of Italy. She also enjoys reading, yoga, and scuba diving.
With her vast knowledge of Italian culture, art, architecture, history, food, and wine, Ellen made the Via Francigena walk truly an 8-day learning experience.
Ellen did a wonderful job sharing all she knows about Italian culture and history.
Ellen is a real “people person” with tremendous knowledge about the area. A trip will never be boring or without conversation with her around. The fact that she is a sommelier was an unexpected bonus.
Excellent, WOW, awesome, bravo! Ellen has the patience of a saint, knowledge of a scholar (her wine lesson at lunch was a highlight), and if you'll pardon the comparison, the friendliness of a golden retriever.
Ellen is such a joy to be with and her knowledge of the culture, art, food, and wines of Italy is extraordinary. This was the third time we have been with her!
Ellen was enthusiastic, very pleasant and helpful, and willing to adapt to our changing needs. She knows a WHOLE LOT about wines, and shared that info with us.
Ellen was a pleasure to be with and her picnics were amazing. She has such a breadth of knowledge of history, cultural issues, food and wine, and is just a delight.
Ellen was a wealth of information on history and art. She is a delightful, caring person who added a lot of insight into the Italian culture.
Ellen's knowledge and passion for all things Tuscan was evident. We learned a lot about history, art, nature, and local issues, but we never felt overwhelmed or like we were 'in school'.
Ellen is an exceptionally well qualified, knowledgeable, and engaging Trip Leader.
Ellen was extremely knowledgeable about everything from art, Italian culture, wine, food and politics.
I will never forget Ellen and Gianluca belting out the Italian anthem at dinner! But also their wealth of knowledge about Italian history, art, food, wine, and geology—it made Italy come alive for all of us. I want to go back!
Ellen was an outstanding leader. She made the hills of Tuscany come alive with her knowledge and passion for the region.
Ellen was outstanding. Her knowledge of the region is encyclopedic, and she was very enthusiastic. She seemed to enjoy the trip almost as much as we did.
Ellen did an outstanding job!