sara danner dukic, owner & operator
It was a Saturday night in 1999, but I wasn’t out partying. I was sitting on the floor outside a rehearsal room with other musicians, waiting for my turn to audition. I was nervous, but not so much about the audition. I was nervous because there was a feeling bubbling through my body that my life was about to change in a profound way. And it did.
I did well enough in the audition to be granted a summer in Lucca, Italy for a performing arts and opera festival. My days there were filled with music, Italian, walking, biking and food. When we weren't playing in the sweltering pit at Teatro del Giglio for Love of Three Oranges and giving concerts, my friends and I went everywhere we could, did everything we could, and learned about la dolce vita. We got lost in nearby cities. We hid from train conductors en route from Viareggio because - faced with missing the last train and thereby missing rehearsal and thereby facing the wrath of the conductor - we'd jumped on, not having time to purchase tickets before the train rolled out. A cheesemonger looked at us like we were crazy when we ordered what we thought was half a pound of parmigiano. When he presented us with a bowling ball-sized hunk of cheese, we knew why - we'd reversed the conversion from pounds and had ordered two kilos - or FIVE EFFING POUNDS - of cheese. We ate that damn cheese the whole summer and never finished it. We spent the weekends lazing on rocky beaches, and the evenings discussing life over bottles of chianti and pinot grigio. We laughed our asses off for weeks on end. When it was time to leave, there were tears, and the scheming of a return. Those friends are still some of my closest, and the memories some of my most cherished.
I want you to have an experience that is just as magical as my first Italian summer (and the second, and third, fourth...)
I've logged 22,000 hours facilitating great experiences for people. Almost 20,000 of those hours were spent creating a launchpad for incredibly gifted young performers in Italy. I love to take care of people, I love to organize, and I love to travel. Bringing these things together to design an unforgettable experience for you is what this is all about.
I believe travel is transformative. If I could change the world, aside from paid maternal leave and free, quality childcare (in the USA - and it's embarrassing that we don't have it, but don't get me started), it would be that every kid has the opportunity to visit another culture before they graduate highschool. I think it’s that important.
And now my formal bio, to keep this all legit and stuff:
Sara has been traveling to, working in, and occasionally living in Italy for almost two decades. From 2004 to 2011, she ran a highly successful performing arts festival for the prestigious College-Conservatory of Music at University of Cincinnati in Lucca, and later in Spoleto. While general manager of these festivals, she was responsible for moving hundreds of people across the ocean each summer, mounting hundreds of performances, producing operas, and keeping symphony orchestras, opera casts, theatre technicians, conductors, singers, concert soloists, teachers, and interns, happy, healthy and safe. She was also responsible for governmental and local relations, PR, and marketing, along with the plethora of other things that go with keeping that many people happy while in a foreign place. She speaks fluent Italian, and in addition to bringing performing artists and their art over to Italy, she’s also well-versed in bringing her small children along for the ride.
Sara's work has been featured on:
Are you a fellow creative traveler?
David Adams, Guide | Music | Resident Interesting Man
David's love affair with Italy began when he studied at l'Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome as a Fulbright scholar. He went on to perform several summers with Opera Barga, and was artistic director of Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca and CCM Spoleto during his tenure as as Professor of Voice and Head of the Performance Studies Division at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.
He is the author of A Handbook of Diction for Singers published by Oxford University Press (now in its second edition). Students of his have won prestigious competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, and Houston Grand Opera. Former students are singing professionally in Europe and the US and are teaching throughout the US.
Before his teaching career, Adams sang as lyric tenor in opera and concert in Italy, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, and the US. In Austria and Germany he was a member of the resident ensembles of the Vienna Kammeroper, Kaiserslautern Pfalztheater, and Saarländisches Staatstheater, and also appeared on German television. He speaks German and Italian, and taught Italian for Singers for several semesters at CCM.
He is lovingly referred to as "Dadams" by his students.
Filippo brancoli pantera | photography | general hipness
Filippo’s studio, ThinkVisual, opened in September 2008. It was born from a photo he took at the beach.
The clouds were obscuring a lot of things that day, in particular a move to New York City. It would be a life-altering event, a journey of learning on all levels. He was set to study at the International Center of Photography, but those clouds were blocking his view, or visto - which also happens to mean “visa” in Italian. Filippo was awaiting authorization for a life beyond that beach he was sitting on. Problems, bureaucracy, and confusion around the whole visa process had all intervened, and daily checks to the mailbox were yielding no visa. The courses in New York had already started and he was stuck on a bridge at Forte dei Marmi, gazing at the clouds in the horizon.
At that moment that he got the idea for the name of his soon-to-be creative love-child: unable to use words to express his feelings about the situation at hand, he decided that the best way to capture the state of his soul would be with a photograph - because after all, photography was at the root of his present situation.
He needed to think visually.
At that point, wanting to give a shout out to the clouds who had struck him with a such a useful concept, he decided that the name should maybe in another language, maybe English. And that’s how ThinkVisual (it’s photography) arrived. That name was first a blog, where for a couple of years he shared completely useless info about himself. And also in the blog’s case Filippo eventually decided that it was time to ThinkVisual.
In the meantime, Filippo returned from New York to Italy, and met Giorgio Leone. Together they started dreaming up ways they could combine their passions. From there, ThinkVisual became a reality, and also more than a physical studio. It was also a place to immerse oneself in photography from all aspects: courses, articles, photographic services, and a home for artists.
Filippo and ThinkVisual photograph extensively in the fashion and architectural industries, with work featured in Glamour, Domus, Creative, Corriere della Sera, La Freccia, Creative, and more.
See the historic photo in question right here.
More team members on the way! Check back soon to meet them.