Friday, June 10, 2016

To My Cincinnati Students and Friends: Come Along to Italy and the Road Less Traveled

This post is for my CooksWares students, and friends who have heard me talk so much about my love for Italy, our adopted hometown of Spello and the Italians.  Come along next May for the trip I've been wanting to take you on for years.  We will see beautiful hill towns, experience uncrowded villages, and end the trip in Rome.  It will be a week packed with food, wine, and culture, with a bit of time for shopping and relaxing, as well.  Umbria is the road less traveled, not nearly as overrun with tourists, its pleasures are many, and you will experience them all.  So, take a look at the brochure and get your deposit in soon.  I am leading this trip for another school in October, and it sold out in a week.  Space is limited, so come along and we'll experience a culinary trip designed just for you.

 -Highlights of this Small Custom Group Tour- May 13-22, 2017

•Rome:  1 Night Hilton Airport on arrival day, Classic rooms 

•Todi:  5 Nights Hotel Bramante,  Deluxe rooms with valley view 

•Rome:  2 Nights Hotel 47,  Deluxe rooms 

•All Breakfasts    •5 Lunches   •4 Dinners (one at a Michelin-starred restaurant) 

•5 Cooking Classes     •Cheese-making demonstration     •Truffle hunt 

•Guided tour of Assisi     •4 casual Town visits     •Private Vatican Tour


Our first full day, we will have a cooking class at the hotel with their renown chef, and lunch.  After a brief rest, we will head to Assisi, the home of St. Francis, the patron saint of Italy for a private tour, and dinner on your own.

Day two we will head to Pienza to a working farm, and watch as pecorino cheese is being made, and then enjoy lunch at the farm.  Pienza is the home of the best Pecorino in Italy.

After lunch a short trip to Montepulciano, and a walk about before returning to Todi and dinner at the Michelin starred restaurant Casa Vissani.  

Day 3 takes us to Citta' di Castello in northern Umbria for a truffle hunt, visit to the truffle museum and then a truffle lunch.  We will return to Todi, dinner will be on your own.

Day 4 we will travel to the capital of Perugia, and participate in a hands on chocolate class at Perugina, directed by their master chocolatier.

After the class we will head to Spello (my adopted hometown) and have a wine and olive oil tasting and lunch at Enoteca Properzio, one of the top 3 wine bars in Italy, owned by my family, the Angelini's. Wine and olive oils are available for shipment home.

On our return to Todi, we will stop in Deruta for a ceramics demonstration and time to shop for ceramics. Dinner on your own.

Day 5 we will check out of our hotel in Todi and head to Rome.  On our way into Rome we will stop at Eataly, a 4 story food emporium for lunch on your own (there are 18 restaurants in the store) and time to shop for goodies to take home.

We will arrive at our hotel, and in the afternoon be taken to a pizza class.  Dinner will be your very own creation.  

Day 6, after an early breakfast, we will be transferred to the Vatican for a private morning tour of the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. The rest of the day will be at your leisure to explore the eternal city.

 Day 7, Check out and transfer to the airport.

Our travel agent will be happy to arrange before and after tour extensions for you.
Since space is limited, a non-refundable deposit will be required by July 21, 2016
COST IS FOR THE LAND PORTION ONLY:  Merlene will be happy to arrange airfare.

Pricing, not including Air:  Euros 3670 - Per Person, Double Occupancy (Approximately $4168 at exchange rate on June 6, 2016)
Single Occupancy (two spots, subject to availability) - Euros 4135  (Charges to your credit card will be in U.S. dollars equal to the active Euro exchange rate on the date that your payments process.  No foreign exchange fee charges will be incurred for the conversion from Euros to U.S. dollars)   
Respond Quickly – This special tour is Limited to 20 participants! Note:  The group minimum for this experience is 16 participants.  If for some reason group numbers fall below  the minimum requirement, extra costs may apply.   
Payment Dates Deposit Deadline:   July 21, 2016 Final Payment Deadline:  January 20, 2017
*Non-refundable Deposit:   Per Person double - Euros 1650;   Single - Euros 1800 *Travel insurance is available for purchase and is strongly recommended. Should you have to cancel for a ‘covered’ reason, non-refundable trip costs may be refunded if you have purchased travel insurance.  Further details of this coverage protection are available.


For the full itinerary and/or to sign up for this tour, Contact- Merlene Lynch   -  
Protravel International Direct:  760-489-2230       
 California Sellers of Travel CST# 2063352-40                                                                               

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ciao Spello

As we get ready to pack up and leave, I've been thinking how this past 7 weeks has flown by.  Our first month in Rome at the American Academy was kind of like being Cinderella at the ball, and now these two weeks in our home away from home, Spello have felt like being hugged by our family here.

The weather this past two weeks has had us inside a lot, but on the sunny days we are hanging out at the enoteca, and enjoying just being here.  That whole mindfulness thing takes on a new meaning here.  Long walks, down side streets lined with flower pots and hanging flowers, getting lost and finding ourselves at the top of the hill, realizing we've walked in a huge circle, and coming back to our apartment are all part of what we do here.

Meeting old friends, and picking up where we left off in their lives, is another sweet part of being here.
Breakfast at Il Giardino in the morning is part of living here, and we love the view from their back yard.

Since the weather hasn't cooperated, we haven't done much to help with the flower gathering for L'infiorata, but yesterday Dr. C. and I pulled rose petals for about an hour resulting in some gorgeous colors for the design on our street.

We hope that the weather will moderate, so that the citizens can gather flowers to put down on the streets in 2 weeks time.  The flower petals have to dry and the weather has yet to cooperate.
Ciao for now, Spello, grazie per l'ospitalit√†, we will see you at the end of August.  Clicking these ruby slippers together and heading to the USA. 

Where's The Beef?

 It's in Bevagna!  On our last night in Umbria, we ventured to Bevagna, a sleepy little town at the base of Montefalco, about 20 minutes from Spello.  We met our friends, Michael and Grace for dinner at Scottadito Osteria Tagliavento, neither of us having tried this place before, but hearing nothing but rave reviews from our Angelini family.
Tiny, but mighty, this place turns out some of the best grass fed beef I have ever tasted.  The food is typical Umbrian style, simple cooking loaded with flavor.  We opted for the rib eye for 4, and were not disappointed.  The meat was done medium-rare, and perfect.  We had roasted potatoes from the embers of the fire, and grilled vegetables of the season. 

The back story here is that the family owns a macelleria (butcher store) and they have expanded to serve their excellent meats in their own family restaurant.  I only wish we'd had more time to have another meal there, the lamb and porchetta are on my list! 
And, of course, every story has to have a sweet ending, and this was ours; a beautiful Napoleon-like creation with the sweetest strawberries and chocolate chunks.  Yes, I'll have another please!
Tagliavento is open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, best to make a reservation, the place was packed on a rainsoaked Thursday night.   
Dr. C. and I are headed for Rome to spend the night at the airport then fly to NYC on Saturday to see our daughter and her family.  Ciao for now!
Scottadito Osteria Tagliavento

Corso Amendola 28
Phone:  0742-360897 or 345 2438361

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Strolling in Spello

Today Dr. C. and I took a stroll into neighborhoods we hadn’t been to before.  There are so many back alleys, and little cul de sacs here it’s easy to get lost wandering. 
Dr. C. at the bottom of our stairs
 In about 3 weeks Spello will have it’s annual festival L’infiorata, where flower petals are laid onto the street in designs by each neighborhood.  It is a festival of the feast of Corpus Domini, and it is magnificent. 

Another part of this, is that each home has flowering plants outside their doors, and hung from balconies.  The winners have lovely tile plaques on their walls to commemorate their winning for the year.  Since it’s been cold here, two weekends ago it was 30 degrees F, , with strong winds, some of the flowering plants are late, but none-the-less, each person is doing their best to outdo their neighbors.

At one time Spello (this is a little burg) had 100 churches.  One of my favorite pasttimes is to look for frescoes on the walls.  They are little surprises of joy when you find them. 
This one is right outside our front door----several years ago, I'd lived here for 2 months and never saw it

These are the ones we found today.  As usual when doing a little passegiata, as the Italians call it, we end up at Enoteca Properzio---it’s kind of like a magnet.  Today we met people from all over the US, with 2 groups were from California.

Roberto explaining the wines

Son Luca discussing the wines available. 
And, of course I found a few other things that tickled my fancy.

Tomorrow looks to be the best day of the week weatherwise, so we will try and do some more walking around, and I hope to do some more writing.  This is a very laid back life compared to Rome.  I’ll say Ciao for now.