Vatican Gardens Upcoming Visit

Received this beautiful photo from Italia Magazine.  I will be visiting the Vatican Gardens on November 15.  The gardens cover about 57 acres, which is most of the Vatican Hill.  The gardens and parks have a history going back to the Renaissance and Baroque periods.  Filled with fountains and sculptures there are also several underground springs.  We will have a private historical guide and I’m sure to learn some amazing things to share with you.

Hoping for a sighting of Pope Frances!

Private Vatican Gardens

Tuscany Harvest Tour 2013

Follow me on the first Tuscany Harvest Tour starting on November 16th!   A private small group tour based near Montepulciano & Pienza.  We’ll be cooking together, learning to make wine, picking & pressing olives and enjoying the beautiful harvest time in Tuscany.

Autumn from the top of Montepulciano

Bountiful Bologna

October 22-25

My 1st time in the lovely city of Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region.  The old town has beautiful architecture and pedestrian streets lined with the porticos, squares and marbled pavements.  You can wander endlessly with great spots to stop for a café or glass of wine and dine on local cuisine.  Lots of young people from the universities so very lively.   It is only 30 minutes by train from Florence, has an international airport and a great base for visiting many towns within an hour such as Parma, Modena, Ravenna and more.

Our hosts Raffaella & Marcello create 4 & 5 day programs to learn about and experience the region of Emilia Romagna.  Focusing on specialties of the area such as tortellini, bolonaise, wonderful prosciutto & mortadello, Parmesan cheeses, paired with…you guessed it, wines of the region.  They are from the area so are a wealth of information on the culture and cuisine.  We enjoyed a dinner at our host’s home where Raffaella and daughter Francesca shared family recipes and their love of cooking.

Another highlight was a morning hunt for tartufo bianco (white truffles) with Pietro and his dog Bobby.  We were told they were very scarce this year due to the dry weather.  To our delight, Bobby found a sizable truffle!  An experience realized on my “bucket list”!  Spent evenings dining on specialties of the region, walking through the quaint town of Dozze and visiting Nicola, a fantastic chef who shared his talents of cooking and serving us a wonderful meal.  Many thanks to all of our hosts for a true taste of Emilia Romagna.  I’d love to get a group together to enjoy this amazing region!

Bologna Old Town with amazing Porticos
Amazing Architecture in Bologna
Pasta shop in Bologna
Tartufo Bianco from the woods
Pietro and Bobby, the truffle hunters!
Wonderful Hosts, Marcello and Raffaella

Cooking Tuscan Style

October 20

The joy of cooking in each region is both memorable and educational.  Meeting new people joined by a common interest of learning about local and fresh ingredients guided by an expert chef is a wonderful way to dig deeper into the culture and traditions.  We joined 6 other people for a half day of cooking with chef Maurizio at a villa just 15 minutes from Florence.  The class was very “hand’s on” and soon after arriving with a welcome cappucino, we pushed up our sleeves and had the experiences of making pasta, gnocci (complete with pealing and ricing the potatoes, making sauces, involtini and more.  You can attend single day, multiple days or week long classes and even stay at the villa.  Let me know if you want to learn more!

Menu for the half day cooking class
Making pasta using "00" flour and eggs
Rolling out the dough for Ravioli - It takes two!
Filling Ravioli
Involtini - rolls or "little bundles" with veal, proscuitto & cheese
Our Chef presenting dessert
New culinary friends

Fabulous Florence

October 18 – 22

Four beautiful days to explore Firenze.  Lovely hotel near the Accademia that is very central. So nice to meet personally with hotel staff, friends and colleagues.

Florence's Ponte Vecchio Bridge
Happy in Florence
Parking at a premium for motorbikes in Florence
Trattoria Mario - Only open for Lunch - True Experience!
Great private guide in Florence I book for clients
Paolo, great driver,friend and colleague