DE 25 | Tuscany

With its picturesque scale, architecture, wine, and Renaissance museums, there is a reason why Tuscany keeps people coming back for fabulous corporate meetings and much more. In this episode, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth introduce us to the author of the bestselling book turned movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes, who shares her life-changing experience in Tuscany that inspired her memoir and some of her activities in daily life. Taking us beyond the region, she then shares her new book, Always Italy, a travel guide to all 20 regions in Italy. Without missing the best part of the trip, Andy and Todd then sit down with Federico Cerelli, a teacher for Italy’s National Organization of Wine Tasters, who takes us to learn the art of winemaking—from how best to test it to which ones to try.

Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in Tuscany, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.

Watch the episode here:


Author Of “Under The Tuscan Sun” Frances Mayes Offers An Exclusive Italy Travel Guide, And Learn The Art Of Winemaking With Federico Cerelli

A picturesque region people just can’t help falling in love with, it is no wonder why many always go back to Tuscany. From its rich history and architecture to the food, it is simply a great travel destination that offers everything to all kinds of travelers. Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth guide us to this great Italian region with no less than the very people who know it like the back of their hands.

First up, they sit down with the bestselling author of the book turned movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes. Here, she first tells us the story and the life she lived that inspired her memoir. She also talks about her latest partnership with National Geographic and her new book, Always Italy—a travel guide that covers all 20 regions in Italy.

Back in Tuscany, Frances reveals the whole secret of the region, taking us to back roads and small villages to discover it in a whole new way. She also names some of her favorite food and wine and some of the best seasons to go in each place. In her daily life, Frances shares what she typically does in the morning and what her writing process looks like. Her top must-see activities and must-visit places are:

  • The Piazza Life
  • Tuscan Sun Festival
  • The annual horse race (Palio di Siena)
  • San Gimignano

Moving us along to one of the top activities that no one should miss when in Italy, Andy and Todd then interview Federico Cerelli. Federico graduated in the year 2000 at the Università degli Studi di Firenze with a degree in Enology and Viticulture with a maximum score of 110/110. Since 2005 he has been a member of the official commission of DOCG Chamber of Commerce of Florence and Siena, and since 2008 he has been a teacher at ONAV classes in the Florence department (National Organization Wine Tasters).

  • With his years of experience in prestigious Italian wineries, Federico offers us some valuable wisdom to learn the art of winemaking.
  • On properly testing a wine, you must take note of the following:
  • Follow the suggestion in the back label of the bottle
  • For red wine, open at least an hour before drinking
  • For aged wines, melt the cork and check the cork
  • Check the color
  • Close your eyes and try to understand what you’re smelling
  • Put in your mouth and try to spread out the wine in all parts of the tongue

Check the after taste to measure the complexity of the wine and how long you feel its sensation in your mouth

Federico then recommends some of his favorite wine in Tuscany:

  • Sangiovese,  the King of Italian red wine
  • Chianti wine
  • Chianti Classico wine

What is more, Federico also gives us a tour around Castello di Gabbiano, showing us what they offer for all wine lovers who want to bask under the Tuscan sun along vineyards, great architecture, and good food. He then gives a brief overview of Florence. He says to visit in April to August, enjoy the medieval village around San Miniato al Monte, and visit the best cheese producers in the area.

Closing with their bucket-list, here are some of Andy and Todd’s must-see, must-taste, and must-do items that should make your Tuscany itinerary:

  • Florence’s rich fashion history
  • The Vasari Corridor and The Uffizi Gallery
  • The antique market at Arezzo Viera
  • Palio di Siena
  • Sicily, Sardinia, and Elba
  • San Miniato
  • Nessun Dorma Manarola: Cinque Terre
  • Piazza dei Miracoli
  • Chianti Classico

Follow along to this great episode as you take a stroll under the Tuscan sun with really great food and wine in your hands and just enjoy the piazza, Italy’s daily life!

About Frances Mayes

DE 25 | TuscanyFrances Mayes recently published “Always Italy,” which won the Lowell Thomas Award for best travel guide of 2020. Previous bestsellers include “See You in the Piazza,” “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Bella Tuscany,” “Every Day in Tuscany” and “ Year in the World.” These books about travel, taking chances, and the “voluptuousness of Italian life” have been translated into 54 languages.

Mayes has written the memoir “Under Magnolia,” and the novels “Swan” and “Women in Sunlight. She and her husband divide their time between North Carolina and Cortona, Italy.

About Federico Cerelli

DE 25 | TuscanyFederico Cerelli graduated in the year 2000 at the Università Degli Studi di Firenze with a degree in Enology and Viticulture with a maximum score of 110/110. Since 2005 he is a member of the official commission of the DOCG Chamber of Commerce of Florence and Siena. In the year 2006 attended a master for “winemaking process and sensory analysis of high-quality red wines” at the Facultè d’oenologie, Universitè Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2. Since 2008 he is a teacher at ONAV classes in the Florence department (National Organization Wine Tasters).

Federico joined CDG in the year 2011 after 10 years of experience in prestigious Italian wineries with the responsibility and the supervision of important winemaking projects, especially in Tuscany and in the Chianti Classico wine region.

Federico brought his intense knowledge and passion to CDG; his continuous research for quality and innovation is a great asset for the winery.

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127 Corporate Themes & Concepts for your next corporate meeting or event

127 Corporate Themes & Concepts for your next corporate meeting or event

Where do you start when trying to come up with concepts for your next corporate meeting or event…well, how is this?

Our corporate meeting planners have compiled a list of 127 corporate event themes and concepts. AMI CEO, Andy McNeill says,

“Coming up with a concept behind your meeting or event helps drive your planning in the right direction, keeps your messaging on track, and ultimately ensures that you accomplish your goals.”

For sales meetings, corporate meetings, incentive trips and more, take this list and play off these corporate event themes to come up with your own concept that best fits your upcoming meeting. Good luck!
  1. A World of Opportunities
  2. A Whole New World
  3. A Celebration of Success
  4. A Spectrum of Opportunities
  5. Ain’t No Stopping Us Now
  6. All Systems Go
  7. Anything is Possible.
  8. Back to the Future
  9. Back on Top
  10. Becoming Agents of Change
  11. Be Extraordinary
  12. Beat (Name of Biggest Competitor)
  13. Better and Consistent
  14. Beyond All Limits
  15. Board Break Experience at the event!
  16. Breakthrough to Excellence
  17. Breaking Barriers
  18. Breaking Down Barriers
  19. Breaking Out of Your Shell
  20. Breakthrough Performance
  21. Breakthrough to Excellence
  22. Building on the Best
  23. Building for the Future
  24. California Dreaming (Location)
  25. Commitment to Excellence
  26. Creating Customer Connections
  27. Creating Connections—Building Bridges…Together
  28. Challenge Yourself
  29. Charting the Course
  30. Customer Focus
  31. Discovering Natural Treasures
  32. Dedicated to Your Success.
  33. Develop the Possibilities.
  34. Discover the Difference.
  35. Do Great Things
  36. Don’t Stop Believing
  37. Evolving with Our Business
  38. Everything Counts
  39. Expect the Best.
  40. Exceeding the Vision
  41. Expanding the Possibilities
  42. Explore the Possibilities.
  43. Facing the Future—Together
  44. Facing Forward
  45. Facing the Challenges
  46. Focus on Success!
  47. Focus on the Future!
  48. Fusing Power and People
  49. Gaining the Edge
  50. Get Momentum
  51. Get Switched On!
  52. Get the Edge!
  53. Getting It Done
  54. Getting You Prepared for 202_ Good to Great
  55. Got Momentum
  56. Growing Your Business
  57. Great Expectations
  58. Guide Their Journey: Improving Customer Service
  59. Higher, Faster, Stronger
  60. Historic Proportions
  61. Homecoming 202_
  62. It Starts with Us
  63. Igniting Team Spirit
  64. Ingenuity @ Work
  65. Innovate, Integrate, Motivate
  66. Innovation Integration
  67. In It to Win It
  68. Journey to the Top
  69. Keep ‘em Rollin!
  70. Leadership Next: Defying Gravity
  71. Leadership: Share the Vision
  72. Leadership: Precision & Performance
  73. Leadership Challenge
  74. Leadership Conference: Guiding the Way into the 21st Century.
  75. Leading the Pack
  76. Leading the Way
  77. Leadership: Sharing the Vision
  78. Legendary Leadership Lessons
  79. _____________ Live
  80. Lighting the Future
  81. Meeting the Challenge
  82. Making a Difference
  83. Make it Happen Make it Matter!
  84. Make Every Connection Matter!
  85. Millennium: Honoring the Past, Treasuring the Present, Shaping the Future
  86. Moving to Mastery
  87. Make the Member Connection—Mission Possible
  88. New Economy Efficiencies/Old Economy Relationships
  89. Next Generation Leadership
  90. Next Level
  91. Navigating the Future
  92. Operation Excellence
  93. People, Process & Performance
  94. Peak Performance
  95. Partners in Excellence
  96. Prism of Possibilities
  97. People, Purpose & Passion: The Pathway to Success
  98. Pump Up Your Sales Success
  99. Partners in Progress
  100. Performance Driven
  101. Pride and Performance
  102. Play to Win!
  103. Portraits of Success
  104. Power of the Past—Force of the Future
  105. Peak Performance
  106. Power Up!
  107. Quality Connections Ready, Set, Grow
  108. Rev Up Your Business Selling Beyond Price
  109. Sharing Solutions
  110. Share the Vision!
  111. Shaping the Future
  112. Showtime!
  113. Success Oriented
  114. Shoot for the Stars!
  115. Strategies for Success
  116. Success through Synergy
  117. Service You Can Trust
  118. Switch It On
  119. Swing for the Fence!
  120. Team (Name of Company)
  121. Together Towards Tomorrow
  122. The Challenge of Change
  123. The Power of You
  124. The _____________ Experience
  125. The Pride and the Promise
  126. Takin’ It to the Streets
  127. The Power of Performances

Need assistance developing a unique theme around your corporate meeting or event? Our network of meeting and event professionals are available to help. Contact us!