We’re going to Tuscany!

Originally posted at Folinazzo.com – March 17, 2010
We won the photo contest, run by Ciao Bambino!, that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Well, we’re co-winners, but we still get to go to Tuscany. What a wild ride!

The contest started out friendly enough: fifty photos in the running, the photo with the most comments come Friday, March 12th, is the winner. I never thought in a million years that we had a chance of winning. But after a few days, it became clear that this competition was going to come down to two photos, ours and that of another family (who seems to know everyone in the world). They moved out to a commanding lead, and I was about to concede victory, when some suspicious comments were made about the contest on the Ciao Bambino! Facebook page. The gist of the comments was that the other family deserved to win the contest more than we did. The girls in that family lost their father a few years ago to lung cancer, and this trip would help them with their grieving. Ok, I don’t know what it’s like to lose a parent, nor do I want to know, so I definitely feel for those young girls. But then this person went on to say that the winning family should be one with children old enough to appreciate a trip to Italy. This person didn’t need to name names or point out specific photos, but we heard the message loud and clear: vote for the other family, not mine, because Lucia is too young to go to Italy, therefore we’re undeserving of winning the grand prize. That’s all my family needed to see to get us fired up! Felicia and Frankie rounded up all of their friends, who got their friends on board, and so on. It was on!

Before I knew it, we had over 500 votes; the other family, about the same amount. We were neck and neck for a few days, then we took the lead! It was the first time during the whole competition that I actually got excited about possibly winning! We were up by almost 200 votes and I went to check on the other family’s photo, and that’s when I knew something was wrong. Within minutes, the other photo gained almost 500 votes. I took a look at the comments they were getting and discovered they were spam, serious spam. Not only that, those spammers were leaving 10-20 comments apiece. That was clearly against the rules. The contest was getting out of hand. To make it even worse, some of the comment spammers were leaving nasty comments about my photo, and about Lucia specifically. I began emailing Ciao Bambino!, and found out my friends were doing the same. Others were calling for the disqualification of the other photo. It was turning into a big mess. Long story short, Amie from Ciao Bambino! phoned me the next day. I let her know how upset I was over the whole thing and she made me feel a ton better. Amie also let me know that the spam and offensive comments had been deleted. By the end of our conversation, I once again had conceded victory, and began thinking about the cool GPS we would win for coming in second place.

The contest was scheduled to end the next day, Friday, March 12th, at 2pm CST. I had the day off work and knew I wanted to be nowhere near the computer at 2:00, so I scheduled a massage for that time. Even after the massage, I couldn’t bring myself to log onto Facebook and check the results, though I figured we’d probably come in second. Hours later, we were at Mark’s parents’ house, and I received a call on my mobile from my friend Jenny in Detroit.
Jenny: “So, are you excited?!”
Francesca: “What the hell are you talking about???”
Jenny: “They decided to give the prize to both families!!!”
Francesca: “SHUT THE HELL UP!! No way!!”
That’s when I jumped to my feet and ran to my in-laws’ computer to log onto Facebook and see for myself that, yes, Ciao Bambino! worked it out so that both families could win a week in Italy! I was in shock; more than a week later, it still hasn’t sunk in. With this move, Ciao Bambino! proved itself to be a class act. Amie and the other staffers didn’t let the comment chaos ruin an otherwise awesome contest, and maintained a high level of professionalism throughout. There is no doubt in my mind that Ciao Bambino! will be my first stop when planning future travel, and I encourage my friends and family to do the same.

Stay tuned for more posts about this contest and about our upcoming trip!

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