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Everyone loves vacation, but Annabella Gualdoni loves the part that many of us dread: the planning. She and husband Vito Cavallo take several trips a year and explore New England almost every weekend. Their travel goal is “Fifty by Fifty”—visit fifty countries and all fifty states before Gualdoni’s fiftieth birthday. If this sounds extravagant, Annabella insists that it doesn’t have to be. “I am committed to the budget travel ideal,” she says, which means doing extensive research about the best places to visit, stay, and eat. The couple share their tips and experiences on their blog, My Wife Takes Me Places. “It makes me so happy when friends and family say they’ve used our blog as a resource,” she says, “I put a lot of energy into vacation planning, so to know it’s appreciated is very rewarding.”
Trips often begins with an article that piques Gualdoni’s interest, and she builds their itinerary from there, researching nearby restaurants and hidden cultural gems. This same principle applies to local adventures, where Historic New England properties are often the anchor for a weekend of exploring. A recent trip to South Berwick, Maine, to visit the Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum and Visitor Center and Hamilton House also included a hike in the nearby Salmon Falls Reserve and dinner at farm-to-table restaurant Thistle Pig, both found while researching the area on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Gualdoni and Cavallo had visited Historic New England sites in the past, but it wasn’t until a Movies at the Mansion event at the Lyman Estate three years ago that they finally became members and joined the Young Friends group for supporters ages twenty-one through fifty. Membership for them is not only about access to our historic properties. They also frequently attend programs, like recent favorite Rum Rations and Revolution at Swett-Ilsley House in Newbury, Massachusetts, a rum tasting and farm dinner accompanied by stories of the property’s colorful history. “We’re fans of the slow food movement and we love food history,” Gualdoni says. “It was great to combine all of that with a delicious meal. Historic New England events are always meaningful and unique.”
Although they only became members recently, they’ve found Historic New England a perfect match not only for their interest in travel and cultural exploration, but also for their commitment to culture and historic preservation. They recently joined the Otis Society, which honors members who have included Historic New England in their estate plans.
“Historic New England’s mission of preservation, not restoration really speaks to us,” says Gualdoni, who grew up in a classic mid-century house in southern California. “I didn’t appreciate the architecture I grew up with until I was older, but my parents instilled in me a love of museums and historic houses. I want to help make sure those resources are there for the future.” Historic New England is one of three organizations the couple support through planned giving, along with The Bancroft Library at Gualdoni’s alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts, where Cavallo, a car fanatic, is a board member.
“We don’t have kids, so our planned giving choices are one way that we’re in a position to do something good for society,” Gualdoni says. Plus, as homeowners who have spent the last nine years restoring their ninety-eight-year-old Victorian home in Newton, Massachusetts, “We know how expensive preservation work is, even for our little house!”
Visit MyWifeTakesMePlaces.com for practical tips and vacation inspiration in the couple’s thoroughly researched travelogues.