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The tour starts! Le Vie del Buongusto – The Route of Good Flavors

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The tour starts!  Le Vie del Buongusto – The Route of Good Flavors

cookingclasspastaFinally, I am heading to Florence to meet group that will join in on our tour.  Here is our agenda for the week.  I don’t know about my guests, but I can’t wait to enjoy this week.

Le Vie del Buongusto Tour

Alto Tevre Umbria – Upper Tiber Valley

April 12 -19, 2014

Day 1            Saturday, April 12

Making our way home

 10:00              Meet in Florence at the B&B Hotel

11:30              Visit the home and museum of Bistarelli Agraria, La Soffitta, to learn about Vin Santo (holy wine), how it is made and of course taste some.

1:00                Lunch in Monterchi at a trattoria

2:00                Visit the Museum of Piero della Francesca to see the Madonna del Parto in Monterchi

3:00                Visit Citerna and see a Donatello statue in a tiny church

4:00                Stop at a Buffalo Cheese Farm to buy fresh cheeses

4:30                Arrive at Maridiana and get settled into our home

7:00                Reception hosted by Marisa and Gianni Berna

welcome reception

Day 2            Sunday, April 13

Lago Trasimeno and Truffle Tasting

 10:00              Depart Maridiana – drive to Porto to the Agriturismo & Fattoria (farm) Melagrani, where Fabio Berna (Gianni’s nephew) an accomplished chef will demonstrate local cooking for us and we will enjoy lunch.  He grows local grains including saffron!

4:00                Return to Maridiana to relax before truffle tasting

5:30                Learn all about truffles, hunting and then taste with Saverio & Gabriella  Bianconi, who distribute truffles around the world.

Day 3            Monday, April 14

Umbrian Home Cooking

 10:00              Depart to tour one of the local Umbrian hill cities, perhaps Gubbio or , we can decide together.

4:00                Home cooking at Maridiana with Loredana and Maria.  We will prepare a local Umbrian menu and then dine at home. 

Day 4            Tuesday, April 15

Umbrian Organic Farming

 10:00              Visit Lombrico Felice, an Agricoltura biologica (organic farm) of Luca Stalteri.  We will tour the farm, then we will work with Luca to prepare a lunch of fresh duck and vegetables from the farm.   Following lunch, Luca will give a lecture on what it truly means to be an Agricoltura biologica in Italy.

5:00                Return to Maridiana for a relaxing evening and a light meal.

Day 5            Wednesday, April 16

Local farmers market

Local farmers market

Cooking on the Mountain

 8:00                Visit the weekly mercato, the local street market in Umbertide;  almost every town has one a different day of the week.

9:30                Arrive at Agriturismo Borgo Monte Cedrone on Monte Santa Maria Tiberina where we will work with a local chef and cooking instructor to prepare our lunch, several truffle dishes.  A real treat!

2:00                Visit the top of the Monte Santa Maria Tiberina a spectacular hilltop town with a 360 degree view.  We can then visit the Villa Montesca  (home of Baroness Alice Franchetti Hallgarten, the founder of Tella Umbra, weaving center in Citta di Castelo, several of you have visited on past tours) and stroll through the park, hopefully burning off some of the food we have been eating!

5:00                We will go to the home of Rosario Spista, at his Relais Antonella, in Citerna.  He is a local cake maker, here we will make local desserts which can eat there or bring home to eat later!

Day 6            Thursday, April 17

Le Macelleria /The Butcher

10:30              Visit a local macelleria/butcher and see how prosciutto and salami is made.  We will then continue on to a farm that raises the famous Chianina breed of cows. The Chianina is an Italian breed of cattle, formerly principally a draught breed, now raised mainly for beef. It is the largest and one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world. The famous bistecca alla fiorentina is produced from its meat.

12:00              We will arrive at the home of a famous Italian artist, Dante Sambuchi, turned wine and olive oil producer, where we will tour his vineyard and wine production facility followed by a meal of local meats with lots of oil and wine tasting too!

4:00                Rest and relaxation at Maridiana

6:00                Visit a local winery and wine maker, Diego Donini.   We will learn about local grapes, wine making and wine/food pairing.  Naturally we will taste the wine and some local food pairings.

Day 7            Friday, April 18

Good Friday local events

10:00              We can decide how we want to approach this last day.  Since it is Good Friday and there are many local events and procession we can select the city we want to visit.  The processions are at night and go quite late, so we can spend the early part of the day exploring and then join in a procession.

Day 8            Saturday, April 19

Arrivederci Umbria

 10:00              Depart Maridiana

10:30              Visit the local KM 0 market in Umbertide.  This is a new Saturday market of local organic vendors and artists.  It is my favorite market.

12:00              Tour the Tuscan hill city of Cortona , where can shop and wander this enchanting city, then enjoy a Tuscan lunch before departing for Florence

6:00                Arrive back at the B&B Hotel in Florence

It’s spring here in Umbria!

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s spring here in Umbria!

What a gorgeous day.  It’s in the 70’s and the flowers are popping open.  I can hear the bees going crazy in the flowers from my bedroom window, the open window on the top floor.

2014-04-07 14.03.08

Back in Italy for the Le Vie del Buongusto Tour!

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Back in Italy for the Le Vie del Buongusto Tour!

I arrived in Italy to a warm 25C day but now it back to normal, cool but nice spring days.  We are working to prepare the agenda and do the pre-visits to the people we will be visiting on the tour.  Once the agenda is finalized I will post it so you all can see what you are missing!  Meanwhile I am being well guarded in my Maridiana office by my faithful alpaca.IMG_2836

Truffles Oregon – Truffles Italy!

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Truffles Oregon – Truffles Italy!

truffles2When I arrive in Italy, if they are in season or not, I can’t wait to have a meal, any meal with truffles!  I eat truffle pizza, pasta with truffles, meats with shaved truffles and then I go back and eat pizza with truffles.  I seem not to be able to get enough of that unique pungent flavor.  Many people claim the white truffles are the most flavorful, but I like the black truffles.

So, when we saw that the Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner, Oregon, just a few minutes from our house, was hosting a truffle dinner for the upcoming Oregon Truffle Festival I could not resist the chance to taste the Pacific North West brand of truffles.

The Oregon Truffle Festival( ) was held January 24 – 26 , in Eugene, Oregon.  The event was 100% sold out, so obviously there is a large following of people interested in learning about and tasting our Oregon truffles.  The event included a two day truffle dog training course, a grand truffle dinner, a marketplace and truffle cooking classes, plus lots more.


Our dinner was attend by Karen Page and Andre Dornenburg, the two-time James Bear Award-winning authors, whose book What to Drink with What you Eat.  They won both the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ “Book of the Year” Award and the George Duboeuf “Wine Book of the Year” award.  Their other books include: The Flavor Bible and The Good Lover’s Guide to Wine The New American Chef, Dining Our, Culinary Artistry, and their first book Becoming a Chef.  All of which are on my to read list!


Back to our dinner, we were greeted by eager Portland Culinary Arts students, our servers for the evening with lovely trays of assorted truffle hors d’oeuvres.

P1030807 The hors d’oeuvres included Brindisi cheese ripened with Oregon white truffle, white truffle Oregon wild mushroom Risotto croquettes and Truffle beet & blue cheese farm fresh egg.  They were served with 2011 Tualatin Estate Pinot Noir, and 2011 Estate Chardonnay.



P1030816The first Shaving was Dungeness Crab & Micro Herb Truffle Salad with a Coriander Monastery Mustard Vinaigrette paired with a 2012 Pinot Gris.

Oh, do not let me forget the best part of all the Bread Serving; White Truffle Columbia Valley Butter!  We were told by Eric, the chef, that the white truffle off gas  a very pungent smell and flavor that infuses fats with the flavor.  Well, no other part of the dinner had the amazing flavor of the butter!

Our Second Shaving was Tails & Trotters Pork Osso Bucco Shallot & Navy Beans with Morel Mashed Potatoes & Pinot Noir Sauce Bordelaise.  Where were the truffles?  We enjoyed a 2010 Elton Pinot Noir with this course.

P1030819The Final Shaving was a Dark Chocolate White Truffle Panna Cotta  with Rosemary, Juniper Creme Anglaise & Quince Jam served with 2011 Sweet Hannah.

The coffee service included a Black Truffle Creamer and White Truffle infused sugar.It was an amazing selection of food and totally enjoyable dinner but I must say, I would still prefer my truffle pizza in Italy!

I must admit, I only know the Umbrian truffles but I am told by some, the Piemonte truffles are even better, not that the Umbrian’s would agree.  On our Umbrian tours we visit Bianconi’s truffle museum, cooking kitchen and distribution business, where we not only learn about truffle hunting but we often do cooking classes but always taste truffles.  Depending on the tour and the season, we can go out with a truffle hunter and learn first hand how to find truffles.  We return to the kitchen a prepare truffles in a variety of ways. P1030837

A typical menu

Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

A typical menu

When the weather is nice, it is so lovely to eat at a street side cafe.  The menus are simple and quite tasty; they are also typically very affordable, especially if you are eating pasta.



Exploring Italy – Alley by Alley!

Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Exploring Italy – Alley by Alley!

P1010888On the final day of our 10 tour, we visited the wonderful city of Cortona, near the border of Umbria and Tuscany. We wondered the city, exploring and of course shopping & eating. We also visited the monastery of St Francis, Le Celle and then saw the dig of the ETruscan tombs dating from the 6th century BC, which were discovered in 1928 and continue to be uncovered today.

Civita di Bagnoregio, April 25, 2013

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Civita di Bagnoregio, April 25, 2013


Civita di Bagnoreggio
I visited Civitia on the holiday, Liberation Day, April 25, so there were many families there.  It was very sunny, so in no time it was hot, even though it was April, just imagine being here in August.  It is quite a hike up the bridge linking, but it is well worth the hike (if you take your time)!  Strangely I had just read the book “Somewhere south of Tuscan” by the American, Diana Armstrong, a food and travel writer relating her experiences buying and restoring a small house in the town across the valley from Civita di Bagnoregio.  In the book, she calls the town, Civita, so I was very surprised when I arrived to find her village and visit, Civita di Bagnoregio to find them one in the same.   I strongly recommend reading Diana’s book.  It’s a great read and it has many wonderful recipes of the region.   Sometimes it better to be lucky than to be smart!



It was founded by Etruscans over twenty-five hundred years ago but has seen its population dwindle to just fifteen residents over the course of the 20th century. Cività was the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure, who died in 1274. The location of his boyhood house has long since fallen off the edge of the cliff. By the 16th century, Civita was beginning to decline, becoming eclipsed by its former suburb Bagnoregio.


At the end of the 17th century, the bishop and the municipal government were forced to move toBagnoregio due to a major earthquake, accelerating the old town’s decline. At that time, the area was part of the Papal States. In the 19th century, Civita’s location was turning into an island and the pace of the erosion quickened as the layer of clay below the stone was reached in the area where today’s bridge is located. Bagnoregio continues as a small but prosperous town, while Civita became known as il paese che muore (in Italian: “the dying town”). Civita has only recently been experiencing a tourist revival.


General view


The town is noted for its striking position atop a plateau of friable volcanic tuff overlooking the Tiberriver valley, in constant danger of destruction as its edges fall off, leaving the buildings built on the plateau to crumble. As of 2004, there are plans to reinforce the plateau with steel rods to prevent further geological damage. The city is also much admired for its architecture, some spanning several hundred years. Civita di Bagnoregio owes much of its unaltered condition to its relative isolation: the town was able to withstand most intrusions of modernity as well as the destruction brought by two world wars. The population today varies from about 12 people in winter to over 100 in the summer.


The town was placed on the World Monuments Fund‘s 2006 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites, due to the threats it faces from erosion and unregulated tourism.





In Florence at Society Canottieri, the Rowing Club

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Rowing Club

Having lunch with Paola

Having lunch with Paola


What a treat to be invited to a private club, especially in Florence with a view of the Ponte Vecchia.  Over ten years ago I first met Paola, a guide in Florence and over the years she has been my guide and has guided some of the folks on our tours.  We met yesterday to catch up and have lunch, WOW!  Not only was it a great view, but it was 25C out, or about 77F and not a cloud in the sky.  Spring is here!

If you want a great guide or are looking for a “budget” hotel in central Florence contact Paola Angelin at hotel Kursaal & Ausonia, via nazionale 24. Tel 055496547.

for tours:



Travel Movies… if you can’t go on a real trip, arm chair travel is next best!

Posted by on Apr 13, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Travel Movies… if you can’t go on a real trip, arm chair travel is next best!
Perugia - Umbria's largest city

Perugia – Umbria’s largest city

Next to traveling I love to watch movies or read books about travel.  Here is a list of movies past guests have suggested.  Please let me know your favorites and I’ll add to the list.





Queen Margot (FR)

Shirley Valentine

Barbette’s Feast

Educating Rita

Shipping News

Cold Mountain

House of Flying Daggers

The Big Night (1996 starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub)

Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953) with Jennifer Jones.

Life Is Beautiful

Tea with Mussolini

Under the Tuscan Sun

The Bicycle Thief

Il Postino

Cinema Paradiso

Like Water for Chocloate

La Doice Vita

Monsoon Wedding


Posted by on Mar 21, 2013 in Food & Wine Photos | 0 comments