Saturday, February 26, 2011

Do You Need Another Reason to go to Italy this Year?

Just a reminder, only one month left to get the "early bird discount" for our Chianti to the Coast trip in September.  See website for more details.

In case you need another reason to get yourself to Italy this year, my friend Erin is leading a beautiful retreat
in Italy in July.  It is called Eat, Pray, Move.  Don't you love the name?  It involves all of my favorite things to do, and if I could be there in July, too, I would sign up.  Besides Erin's inspiring yoga classes, you can visit historical Tuscan towns, visit a spa and eat incredible dishes both at the villa and at some typical restaurants.  The accommodations are at a beautifully restored countryside villa on the Tuscan-Umbrian border owned by a lovely couple from England whom I met in the blogosphere several years ago.  And Erin herself really knows this area of Italy, having studied and lived here for over a year.  Her understanding of Italian culture, language and her connections with the locals will make this trip a learning and fun experience for all.  Check out the trip details here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Tuscany Trip Announced!

Chef Leonardo Curti
I am thrilled to announce a new Tuscany tour, this one for September 5-11, 2011 called "Chianti to the Coast."  I will be co-leading this tour with Chef Leonardo Curti of Trattoria Grappolo and the focus will be on food and wine, of course!  We decided to hit some of our favorite spots in the heart of Tuscany - Chianti, Montalcino, Cortona, Radda, and then head over to the Bolgheri region on the coast.  This is an area of Tuscany that most tourists by-pass and they shouldn't.  It has rugged, beautiful mountains, inviting beaches and it is the home of the world-famous Super Tuscan wines.

We have planned some exciting events like two top-notched cooking classes with local experts, winery appointments at "hard-to-get-into wineries", a visit to a world-famous butcher in Chianti and more!  And with a maximum of 14 people, we have insured all participants of an intimate experience.

Please go to my website for a more detailed itinerary and further information.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Newly Announced Italy Programs

I represent two wonderful schools in Italy - one for cooking and one for language.  Both have announced some new programs and dates.

The Language Center in Todi, Umbria has announced special fall/winter deals called "Warm Up Your Winter in Todi".  Click here to read more details.

Toscana Saporita cooking school has announced their 2011 dates and prices.  I have those posted here.

And stay tuned...I am announcing soon a fall 2011 food and wine trip to Tuscany with a renowned chef.  If you want to be notified when I release the information, please click here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Taste of Sta. Rita Hills

From Italy to the Central Coast of California...

My husband and I just opened a wine tasting room and retail store in the "Lompoc Wine Ghetto" on the Central Coast of California, not far from Santa Barbara. The store is dedicated to only Sta. Rita Hills wineries that do not have tasting rooms at all or their tasting rooms are not open regularly. My husband, Antonio, has been a fan of the wines of this area for some time and wanted to promote those gems that most people never get to taste. He has spent the last year and a half working with local wine people, searching for these hidden treasures of wine and learning about the unique geography and terroir of the Sta. Rita Hills.

These are some of the great wineries he is representing now: Seasmoke, Brewer-Clifton, Huber, Gypsy Canyon, Diatom, El Rey, Prodigal, Thorne and soon our own wines under the Moretti label.

By the way, the wine appellation of Sta. Rita Hills has to spell "Santa" as "Sta." by law (due to a law suit from the Sta. Rita winery in Chile.)

Antonio is planning to be open Thursday-Sunday, usually 11 am - 5 pm, or by appointment. Please see the website for more details and directions.

Come by to taste, learn and tell my husband you read about him on my blog!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Undiscovered Heart of Italy

Announcing a July 2010 trip to Umbria and Le Marche! I'm calling this "The Undiscovered Heart of Italy". See my website for full details, but read here for the personal details behind it.
I love putting these tours together. This is my calling. I feel so fortunate to be able to follow my bliss and share my passion for Italy with others. For those of you who don't know, I have been in the Italian wine business for many years and have extensive knowledge of Italy, Italian food and culture from years of travel there and being married to an Italian. I have been privileged to see many wineries in Italy and meet wonderful winemakers through the wine business. I realized that most of these wineries are not open to the public and the few that are usually do not give much of a tour and tasting like California wineries do. I also have been fortunate to dine my way through many regions which fueled my desire to learn as much as I could about the distinct regional culinary traditions and artisanal foods. My tours were born from the idea that I wanted people to experience Italian wineries like I have been able to do, AND experience authentic regional cuisines of Italy.
This trip is especially exciting and personal for me for so many reasons. Umbria and Le Marche are two of my favorite regions of Italy. In the past, the demand for tours tends to be for the popular destinations, like Tuscany. Of course I do those tours and still enjoy them, but I always wish I could show those tour participants more of Italy off the beaten path. I figured this was the year to put this tour together because off the beaten path usually also means less expensive. And indeed, this turns out to be the least expensive tour I have ever done.

Another reason this trip is extra special is that my husband is from Le Marche. I have spent much time there that it has become my adopted second home. I have traveled extensively in Umbria and think it has much to offer in many ways. The two regions share some similarities - some of their cured meats are similar (and in my opinion the two regions make the best salumi in the country), their Central Italian terrain (both have the Apennines as their backbone and both have rolling green hills coming down from the mountains), and both have a "slow" feel to them, almost like stepping back in time.

I am thrilled that three of the nights on the trip will be at La Tavola Marche's Agriturismo in Le Marche. I met the one of the owners, Ashley, through LinkedIn and then followed it to her website and blog. I fell in love with what they have created in the countryside of Le Marche and was looking for a good excuse to bring a group there. Well, I found it! I have made sure to include a cooking class with Ashley's husband, Jason, a professional chef.

This trip is limited to 10 people. Nice and intimate! The better to really take in the culture and experiences in an individual way.

I hope you can join me on this journey!