In This Issue
June Tuscan Mini Tour
Testimonial on past Palio tour
Palio August 2012

Quick Links


Trip Advisor reviews



Food & Wine Tours

2017 Dates:
Piedmont-June 16th Sold out 
Taste of Tuscany-June 24-28
Palio Tour - June 28-July 3

Bologna - October 5-7
Tuscany Oct 7-14 Sold out
                Oct 14-21-6 spots    
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 
Find us on Facebook
Join Our Mailing List
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. 


Come with Us to The Palio of Siena!  
It's on everyone's bucket list - the most amazing and exciting sporting event in the world, a bareback, no-holds-barred historic horse race around the main Piazza of the medieval city of Siena, and this is your opportunity to experience it!  Join us for our Days of the Palio tour and you will be immersed in this important cultural event when we take ten lucky people to Siena for the July 2nd Palio. 
The oldest continually-run horse race in the world, it is only run twice a year, in July and August. More than just a single event, this special cultural festival spans four days of trial races, dinners, parades and traditions. The days of the Palio begin when the horses are chosen and assigned to the participating contrade (neighborhoods), and culminate with the winning contrada demanding the coveted silk banner that signals victory, to be lauded and paraded all over the city that evening. 

In order to truly appreciate and experience The Palio, you must be immersed in the culture beforehand to gain an understanding of what makes it so special: which contradas are enemies or allies, what horses have won before and which are new to the track, which jockeys have won and who is known for selling out the contrada that mounts them. Gina lived in Siena for over thirteen years and as a member of the Selva contrada, her in-depth knowledge of the Palio, the Sienese and life in the contrada will ensure that your immersion into Siena and their time-honored traditions during the days of the Palio will be complete!
Our Days of the Palio tour includes:
* 5 nights private accommodation at a beautiful villa close to Siena
* Premium balcony seats above the Piazza del Campo to view the historic medieval parade, the charge of the mounted military police and most especially for the July 2nd Palio
* Insider's guided tour of several contradas, their chapels and museums to view the ancient and recently won silk banner
* Special contrada dinner the night before the race in the Selva contrada (La Cena Generale) with its festive atmosphere of singing, drinking and speeches by the jockey, the captain and the head of the contrada
* Attendance at the event when they choose the horses and assign them to each contrada (La Tratta), which is second only to the Palio in terms of anxiety and excitement
* Guided walking tour of Siena with emphasis on Palio history
* Visit to Montalcino with a winery tour and lunch
* All meals and transportation to all scheduled events
* All inclusive pricing:
$4500/per person, double occupancy;
Early bird discount:  $4300/ per person with registration by 1/28/2017
We are only taking 10 people and we must have everyone signed up and committed for this tour by February 15th in order to purchase the best balcony seats in the Piazza.
Whether you're a fan of horses and racing or just want to experience an amazing cultural event, the Days of the Palio are sure to charm and enthrall you. Come experience this glorious tradition with Gina and Mary!
Click here for the registration form
Questions? call Mary 972-342-8308 or email: 
Taste of Tuscany - June 24-28th 
Are you traveling to Italy but can't do an entire week with us? This tour is for you!
Make a stop in Tuscany and let us share some of the best parts - with a day in one of the wine regions of Tuscany, guided visits to hill top towns, a hands on cooking class and artisan food producers. Our 'mini tour' -3 days/4 nights all inclusive tour will give you a wonderful perspective of the foods and wines of Tuscany. Sunflowers are just coming out at the end of June, so the scenery is spectacular! We're staying in a gorgeous luxury villa just outside of Siena with beautiful relaxing views of the Tuscan countryside. It is a wonderful respite from the crowded tourist cities of Rome, Florence and Venice!
Join us for our mini culinary tour as part of your travels through Italy this June.  More details   

Before the Palio - Join us for 3 days before the Palio tour for a more complete Tuscany food and wine experience! You'll be immersed in the different foods and wines of this beautiful region of Italy!

Our tours are all inclusive: accommodations in the luxury villas or quaint hotels, all meals, excursions and transportation to these excursions are included and we're there every step of the way to show you the best each region has to offer. We lead small groups of 8-14 people and our 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.    
Testimonial from past Palio trips:
from Sherry H.:
I can't even begin to tell both of you how much I enjoyed my time in Italy soaking up the culture, food, wine, and most of all the Palio. It was truly a " bucket list" trip that I will never forget. I have tried to explain this adventure to my friends, but soon discovered that it's just impossible to relate hundreds of years of tradition that IS the Palio and the deep pride imbedded in these people.  My best story to my friends is about following the horse into the chapel for the benediction by the priest.  I think that is one of my favorite memories.
I just want to thank both of you for one of my best times EVER!  I've been just about everywhere and travelled most of my life, but this was truly a trip that I "lived"!!

I'm making Gina's Insalta di Farro for lunch and will try to imagine myself at that fabulous Villa under the grapevine trellis!