How travel—and a few helpful secrets—have kept this couple together for so many years
Marion and Peter sail along the Svir River during their Russian River Cruise in 2007.
When asked what the secret to their 57-year marriage is, Grand Circle traveler Peter Gianino laughs and replies, “Just when I sense that things are getting a little hairy, I put on my coat and head outside for a very long walk.” His wife Marion smiles, nods, and shares, “And I make sure to always raise the flag when an issue arises, instead of holding it inside … but half the time Peter is already out the door!”
Sharing their passion for exploring the world doesn’t hurt either. Marion and Peter are avid Grand Circle travelers—recently completing their 25th trip with us. “I was hit with the travel bug early in life,” Marion says. Her father was an avid world traveler, and instilled a love of exploration in her. When Marion met Peter, he hadn’t done much himself, but Marion made sure that changed.
While planning a family vacation one summer, she turned to Peter and asked where he wanted to go. Peter suggested Cape Cod in Massachusetts, or the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Marion looked at him and said, “How about Hawaii?” The couple and their three children loved the trip. Looking back, they’re most happy they were able to experience it when the islands were much less populated. Both admit that after recently revisiting Hawaii, it didn’t have the same effect their first vacation held.
It was Marion’s employment at another travel company that led her to Grand Circle. When one of her coworkers was leaving to explore other employment opportunities, Marion asked where she was headed. Her coworker told her that she was hired at a wonderful travel company in Boston—Grand Circle Travel. That was all Marion needed to hear before she began looking into the tours offered.
Throughout their travels with Grand Circle, the Gianinos have had the opportunity to meet many warm and welcoming people, including their Italian hosts (pictured here with Marion) from their Home-Hosted Lunch in Sorrento.
“Our first vacation with Grand Circle was to the northwest United States in 1995,” Peter shares. The Gianinos were awed by the scenery, particularly when traversing the Continental Divide. “But what we remember most is that we were traveling in July—and I had to pack a stocking hat and jacket because of the cold weather!” he says.
Since that first trip, Marion and Peter have been lucky enough to experience many more exciting adventures around the world. “Peter usually leaves the decision about where we travel up to me,” Marion says. “Although we love visiting new places, there are certain countries that hold a special place in our hearts.” So it’s no surprise that they have visited Italy and Sicily several times with Grand Circle. “Peter’s great-grandmother came from Sicily, and my own grandmother was from Messina,” Marion says. “It was from her that I learned to speak Sicilian.”
During their Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast vacation in 2008, the Gianinos enjoy a view overlooking the medieval city of Lucca—a true highlight of their trip.
This knowledge came in handy during one of their visits to the island—and it is Marion’s ability to speak with the locals that features among their favorite travel stories. “One day, our Program Director took the group on a side trip to view a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain, which is now a museum,” Marion says. “There was a small ice cream shop at the bottom of the mountain, so before we began our walk to the museum, our group stopped inside for a quick rest.” Since Marion was able to speak Sicilian, she began chatting with the owner of the ice cream shop. “Marion and the owner—who called himself Salvador—really seemed to hit it off,” Peter said.
After the group visited the museum, they returned to the ice cream shop for a treat and rest before hopping on their motorcoach. A local gentleman was speaking with Salvador, and upon his departure from the shop, he called Salvador by a different name. Salvador must have seen the surprise on Marion’s face because he replied, “Oh, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Marion and Peter laughed and said their goodbyes to Salvador, hurrying to meet their fellow travelers on the bus. As the bus pulled away, their Program Director said, “I didn’t want to alarm anyone, but the owner of the ice cream shop is actually one of the local mafia bosses in the area!”
After sharing this story, Peter admits, “And now, anytime I act up, Marion threatens to call ‘Salvador’ to keep me in line!”
Marion and Peter continue traveling with Grand Circle for many reasons, including their wonderful Program Directors, great value, and the friendliness of everyone they meet—like this traditionally-dressed staff member aboard their Russian River Cruise ship.
Marion and Peter will continue to travel for as long as they can. “Our trips have taught us to embrace other cultures,” Marion says. “We appreciate art, architecture, history, and especially, the opera,” Peter adds. So the couple makes it point to try and attend an opera performance if they can when they travel.
“We just love the adventure of travel,” Marion says. “Sure, the actual act of getting to the destinations we’re visiting isn’t the best—like packing and the flight. But once we’re there, we feel alive.”
Experience the magic of Italy’s historic and cultural treasures on our Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast and Sicily vacations.