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Tips for Travel
Artichoke Recipe
Villa Cerbaia


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Food & Wine Tours

Tuscany :  
October 1-8; Oct 8-15, 2016  
(Just a few spots left!)
2017 Dates:  
Bologna - May 19-26
Tuscany - May 26- June 2 and June 2 - 9, Oct 7-14 October 14 - 21;  
NEW! Piedmont - Oct 22-28
Join us for a full immersion to the regions of Tuscany, Emilia- Romagna and Piedmont - great food, wine, history and culture!   

Vacation Villas
& Farmhouses

Casa Marta
Great accommodations for either a night or a week. When planning your stay in Italy, begin your 'country living' on a Saturday and depart the area the following Saturday for the best selection of villas and houses! 
Call for more information.
Contact Mary: 972.342.8308 
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Stuffed Artichokes
Ecco La Cucina Cookbook

gina's cookbook  


Gina's revised and updated cookbook is available. It has more than 20 new recipes! This collection of traditional Tuscan cooking, features dishes of the Siena area and some of her favorites. 


Ciao a tutti!
Our spring trip to Tuscany is just a few weeks away and we are both excited to get back to Italy! Our June culinary week is based in our favorite villa on an historic estate in the hills of Siena and we have an exciting week of food and wine events planned for our group! While in Italy, we will also be visiting Piedmont and Emilia Romagna to put the finishing touches on our culinary tours to Alba, Asti and Bologna for next spring and fall. Think truffles, Barolo wine, balsamic vinegar and Parmigiano!

Our tours are all inclusive: we stay in lovely villas that become your home for the week, all meals and transportation to excursions are included and we're there every step of the way to show you the best each region has to offer. 

One of the things that rate our tours above our competitors is the attention to detail and personal service we offer. It surprises us when we read itineraries of other tours that leave their guests at the hotel "on their own for the evening", supplying them with a list of suggested restaurants to pick from.

We lead small groups of 8-12 people where everyone stays together in a beautiful villa, excursions are carefully thought out to entertain and educate, introducing you to local people who love to share their vineyard or city or farm with you.

And when the culmination of the day arrives we are there offering cocktails and wine before we all enjoy dinner together at a favorite restaurant! We'll guide you through the menu and he By the Poollp you order and enjoy the best the season and locale has to offer.

When you travel with us, Mary is there from the beginning to help you pick the best airports and to plan things to do and see before and after you join our culinary adventure. Gina's fluent Italian and knowledge of the area from her years living there, helps ensure that the week goes smoothly and you are able to immerse yourself in the culture, history and culinary delights of Italy. Our guests also receive our comprehensive guide on traveling to Italy and have access to our local guides to maximize your touring experience, wherever you go.
Mary and Gina in Parma
Planning a trip to Italy this season?
Whether you are coming on one of our guided culinary tours or traveling independently, one of the great features of working with Gina and Mary is the wealth of knowledge and experience you will get from us and our local guides. These are people who live in the area and make their living by showing you the history and highlights of their trade or city. It takes years of preparation to reach their high level of expertise, and we have close relationships with the best in the business.  
No matter where you're traveling to this year, here are some helpful tips that may guide you as you prepare for your travels.

* Take some time to research your destination. Weather forecasts will help you to not over pack and bring the right clothing. Layering is always the best way to dress. Be prepared for some rain - a small umbrella or lightweight raincoat are available in styles that fold into almost nothing!

* Make the most of your trip by trying something new. Why not knock an item off that bucket list whether its traveling some place new or trying new foods or wines.

* Leave your work at home. Give yourself the break you deserve and declare this a work-free vacation. If you can't leave it all behind, then make sure your hotel or house/apartment offers WIFI.

* Take the time to hire a guide. With a good tour guide, you'll get so much more out of your destination than reading the tour book.

* Get the best exchange rate when you use your ATM card across Europe. Traveler cheques are almost non-existent and we recommend you don't use them. Banking hours for exchanging money are time consuming and can be frustrating and exchanging money at the airport is expensive. Be sure that your bank and credit card companies know that you'll be traveling overseas to avoid them putting a security hold on your account.

* Cherish each moment and soak it all in! Rather than racing from one place to the next, take the time to really see where you are, experience the people, place and foods. Jumping from hotel to hotel and city to city leads to spending most of your holiday packing, unpacking and traveling to the next destination, rather than relaxing and seeing the sights. Pick a central location and let us help you look for an apartment, house or villa that you can use as "home base" for a week. You'll be happier that you did slow down.

We know the decision to spend your valuable time and money on an Italian vacation is a costly investment. You can leave the planning and coordinating to us when you join one of our culinary tours. Or Mary can create the perfect itinerary for you based on your interests when Italy is your destination.
Stuffed Artichokes 
Artichokes are plentiful during spring and here's one of Gina's favorite recipes. Buon Appetito!
1 large globe artichoke
½ lb mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp basil
2 teas dried tarragon, or 2 tbsp fresh
1 cup grated parmigiano
salt & pepper
bread crumbs
olive oil
  Cut the stem off the artichokes and reserve. Cut the top 2-3 inches off the top. In a large pot, put enough water to come halfway up the artichokes, squeeze of a lemon, salt and a tbsp of tarragon, set the artichokes in the pan and bring to a boil. Boil 15 minutes and remove. When cool enough to handle, open the artichoke flower and remove the hairy choke in the middle. Place in a baking dish.
  Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft, add the mushrooms and the chopped stems from the artichokes. Saute until softened, put in a mixing bowl and add the herbs, bread crumbs, parmigiano, extra olive oil and salt and pepper. Stuff the artichokes with this mixture, drizzle with oil and bake at 400 for 20 minutes until browned.
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