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Talking Travel In Texas And Beyond: Danilo A. Di Nardo

Di Nardo is the vice president of operations at Lombardi Family Concepts
Photo: Lombardi Family Concepts

Whether by car or plane, there’s a sense of adventure for what is ahead — from the food we will eat to the places we will see. Traveling is magical. At least, the idea of it.

But the reality? Travel plans always seem to spiral into some sort of stressful situation. Packing, planning, booking and everything else can be overwhelming. We want travel to be fun. So do you. Local Profile reached out to eight people in the Collin County community to get their take and advice on everything travel related. 

Di Nardo is the vice president of operations at Lombardi Family Concepts, the force behind some of Colin County’s most popular spots, including KĀI, Toulouse Café and Bar and Lombardi Cucina Italiana. With over 24 years of hospitality experience, Di Nardo was recognized for six years by Wine Spectator for having among the best global wine programs. 

Where is your favorite road trip destination in Texas?
Out of everywhere, my favorite road trip is getting to Austin. I love to make that drive very early in the morning — for some reason it is very relaxing to me — arriving early in the beautiful downtown, coated by the river is the best reward. 

What do you consider “essential” when packing?
Besides my wife? She is my travel essential, but swimwear and a good inspirational book are a must. 

What is your favorite transportation method?
I absolutely love driving — cars are a passion of mine and make me feel free — free to dictate my own pace and stop if I see something beautiful. 

How can you save money while traveling?
Plan ahead — I usually plan all my leisure travels way in advance. That gives me the opportunity of booking the best deals for flights and stays. 

What do you look for when booking a vacation?
Vacation for me has to have the perfect combination of relaxation and culture. I absolutely love the beach, but it has to have an educational and historical part to it where I can explore and learn something new. 

What travel hack or tip do you follow?
Travel light and research local spots and eateries way ahead, and stay away from tourist traps. 

What is your favorite road trip snack?
Subway sandwiches and original Fritos. 

What is your most memorable trip in Texas? Outside Texas?
If I have only one answer it would have to be Capri. The island is incredibly special to me and the best place in the world — with history, culture scenic views and amazing beach, food and wine. I also proposed to my wife there, so in my eyes, it has it all! 

How do you pass the time on road trips? On the plane?
If I am traveling for work, usually my travel time is occupied by phone calls, emails and reports. When traveling with the family, singing in the car with my kids makes road trips loud and fun. 

Are there any hidden gems you’ve come across on a Texas road trip?
If you have never been and love to immerse yourself in some real Texas view, plan to visit The Summit at Big Bend.” 

How do you decide where to go?
We have a “scratch map” at home, it’s a world map with a scratch-off system. On the map we have some “must visit” locations pinned, and we try to visit new places every time, balancing out vacations between family fun, beach and culture. 

Do you have any favorite camping or hiking destinations in Texas?
Again, I will list The Summit at Big Bend. There are some incredible hikes out there. But if you decide to take my suggestion, be prepared, some of the trails are seven to eight hours ling, but totally worth it. 

What time of year do you prefer to go on vacation?
As an Italian, historically in my culture, vacation has always been July and August. Still today, I love going on vacation during the time, especially to a tropical location. 

Do you have any upcoming travel plans?
Besides all the work travels that take me around Texas, Georgia and Mexico to support and visit all our incredible Lombardi Family Concepts restaurants. We have a few vacations planned for 2023, as we alternate going to Italy and Europe every other year. This year, we will stay in the Americas — Cabo San Lucas, Palm Springs, Costa Rica and Hawaii are our destinations this year, and we are super excited ti discover new places, cultures and traditions. 

To find out more about travel in and out of Texas visit Local Profile’s latest issue.