Planning an inter-generational family vacation can be intimidating. No one knows this better than Stuart Pergament, who rallies his wife, children, and grandchildren for a trip once a year, every year, to a new destination. First there’s timing—grandchildren being born, school schedules, work commitments, flight arrangements. Then there’s the predicament of what to do together that will make everyone happy. Stuart’s wife Lorine (“Nonna”) is more a writer than a rider, whereas full-time working parents Adam and Cassie can’t wait to get on the bike. And then there’s Robbie, Stuart and Lorine’s discerning and energetic grandson.
That’s why Stuart chose DuVine. As he put it, “If you have younger family members, three-year-olds are not going to enjoy going to Florence and walking through museums. They want to be active, and this kind of trip can afford us that opportunity. ” In 2012, Stuart and his son Adam had been on a DuVine bike tour in Puglia that they loved. This time, the Pergament clan would be heading to the lush green bike paths and sparkling blue waters of Verona + Lake Garda with me and Valentino as their guides.
While we didn’t end up installing a jungle gym in the van, it wouldn’t have been out of the realm of possibility. With creativity, small group sizes, and a spirit of adventure at our core, DuVine embraces the flexibility to customize every trip. At Robbie’s mom’s suggestion, we set up DuVine’s youngest rider with a child’s seat on the back of his dad’s bike. “It worked out spectacularly,” explained Stuart. “He felt like he was part of it. And, of course, every once in a while the rhythm of the bike would put him to sleep.” While Robbie enjoyed the Italian breeze, Nonna appreciated the rolling orchards of cherry and peach trees from the air-conditioned van or opted to relax at the hotel, joining us for lunch in the picturesque town of the day.
Off the bike, Valentino and I let our imaginations run wild. “There’s a number of things that the guides did which were very, very nice,” Stuart remembers. On the second day, “it was very hot, and our guides suggested we skip the tour of Mantua and go to a water park instead—a welcome idea.” Swimming caps were required, so we decked out the whole family in funky ladybug and tiger-striped swim caps and watched as Robbie, the shark, went flying down water slides and splashed through the pool chasing after his minnows—Mommy, Daddy, and his grandpa, “Nonno.” The whole family enjoyed the experience, and even though we could tell from his face, it was heartwarming to hear that “Robbie loved it.”
That evening, our friends and food connoisseurs Dino, Manuela, and Alberto welcomed us into their kitchen for a cooking class, another highlight of the week. “We made three different types of pasta,” Stuart recalls. “We went through the different grains used in each, where they are grown, and the techniques for making each shape and style.” While Cassie and Adam rolled out fresh dough, Robbie’s eyes lit up and he quickly became an expert in making maltagliata, a shape of pasta literally meaning “poorly cut.” “It’s not super technical,” Stuart says, “it’s just hands-on fun.”
One last surprise was in store for Robbie along the bustling aquamarine shores of Lake Garda. “We all went for a walk along the lake,” Stuart remembers, “and when we came back Lindsey and Valentino had rented a bike with training wheels for my grandson. He loved the autonomy of being able to ride on his own. Special touches like this are what make the difference,” Stuart explains. “It’s sometimes those very little things that can differentiate DuVine from everyone else.” Maybe next time, Robbie will be ready to upgrade his training bike to a road bike.