Ready to embark upon a wonderful week hosting a group of 14 guests in Tuscany. October 25 – November 1, 2014. This is Harvest time in Tuscany and we will be sampling the amazing Brunello & Vini Nobile wines, fresh pressed extra virgin olive oil, pecorino cheeses, hunting for tartufo bianci with a truffle hunter and his dog and dining on all of the specialties of the season. I invite you to join us virtually as we discover all that this region has to offer.
Solo in Roma for Pranzo (lunch). It was raining and I debated about grabbing a panino or finding a a small and cozy place to tuck in for a nice long lunch. I sat across the street earlier having a cappuccino with one of my valued vendors and spotted the perfect spot…Armando al Pantheon just minutes from my hotel. I strolled across Piazza della Rotunda under my umbrella and upon being greeted I said, “Vorrei tavolo per un favore”. The place was a full and bustling little place with only room for maybe 35 patrons and luckily one empty table in the middle. A perfect spot…family run with 3 generations from the kitchen to the waiters. After hearing about the specials I knew my rainy day was being transformed into an engaging experience. Being alone I had the opportunity to observe the waiters interacting with their customers sharing their recommendations with enthusiasm and pride and seeing the satisfaction on the faces of their customers as they took their first bite. I was delighted to see one of my favorite wines on the menu from Tenuta Valdipiatta in the Tuscany region I would be visiting in a few days and ordered a half bottle. I struck up a conversation with the table of 4 next to me, a delightful couple traveling with their 2 adult daughters. They had visited the restaurant 2 or 3 times, and happily recommended several dishes. Suddenly I wasn’t alone but part of an Italian scene talking about food, wine and our mutual love of all things Italian. Waiters were attentive and kind checking in to be sure all was “buono”. This is what I so love about Italy, engage and you will be welcomed and given an experience of a lifetime. Soon to return!
Last time in Italy I purchased an Italian cell phone on the hood of a taxi driver’s car on the recommendation of my driver in Positano…a friend he said and a “good guy”. 40 euros later I had a brand new phone with a headset and charger. Next to the TIM store to buy a SIM and phone time. I was set. Well not quite. Instructions came in Italian and I couldn’t even turn on and off the phone. I’m limped my way through and it was good in emergencies but not the tool I imagined. Fast forward 2 years and as I was preparing to depart for Italy I took out the phone and of course the battery was dead. EBay to the rescue in with a new battery installed I Googled the phone brand and model and voila found a English translation of the owners manual showing me a diagram of the phone. Now I know what the buttons do and can manage answering a call and making a call. It’s when I don’t catch the call it goes to voicemail and then I get a message all in Italian with a number at the end. Am I paying to get message? How do I text and retrieve a text? Is that costing me on my calling time? Actually I’m no more frustrated than going to the AT&T store before departing to ask what to do to avoid International charges. So when in Rome…I have a cute red mobile phone so am feeling more like an Italian but wait….they all have iPhones and Droids so mine looks like a collector’s item. By the way, the iPhone 5S was going for 795 euros for a 16GB! Mamma mia!
My base for 5 nights where I walk past the Pantheon each day. Love starting the morning with an Italian Cappuccino! — at Piazza Della Rotonda – Roma.
It’s a safe neighborhood centrally located to exploring all of Rome.
I start out my day with an amazing cappuccino that cannot be reproduced outside of Italy. Did you know Italians do not drink cappuccino past 12:00? It is a morning only drink for locals.
Love going through Amsterdam in route to Roma. Found a great little spot to stay energized and keep the jet lag at bay. Green turned out to be quite good!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.