Premier Culinary Company
Culinary and Wine Tours of Italy
trip was unlike any others we've taken. What made it so special
was the warmth and sweetness of Marcello and Raffaella. They did
everything to ensure that we had an unforgettable experience. And
it was! For a real insider's view, you must travel with this extraordinary
Ben and Randi Gould, NY 2001
is the biggest challenge when traveling in Italy?
to a recent independent survey of more than 700 travelers returning
from Italy, the challenge is this: "Because we weren't able
to speak Italian, we were not able to really have the trip to Italy
that we had fantasized about. We sure wish that we had known somebody
who lived there who could have taken us under their wing and introduced
us to the Italy that the locals know and love."
is not surprising, therefore, that many of those travelers
returning from Europe felt that their trip would have been
dramatically improved had they been escorted by a local who has
an intimate knowledge of the best restaurants, off the beaten track
destinations and activities, very affordable shopping, and wonderfully
me ask you a question: Have your travels in Europe been all that
you wanted them to be?
your answer is No, what is the reason for the lackluster experience?
you're like most people, you have spent many hours planning, lots
of money on guide books, travel agents, and all-inclusive vacations,
and yet the most exquisite travel experiences have still eluded
you. You're puzzled, because your travel experiences have never
matched up to your romantic fantasies, and you're just not sure
what you need to do, to at least once in your life, go on a trip
that delivers as much as it promises.
is it that most people come back from vacations needing another
vacation to rest and recuperate from the first one?
is it, when we fantasize about foreign travel, we visualize ourselves
having life-changing new experiences, seeing breath-taking sights,
learning hidden secrets about another culture, having an endless
cornucopia of mouth-watering delicacies, being welcomed into a beautiful
country home and dining with their family, getting relaxed and peaceful,
and spending romantic one on one time with our partner?
in actuality, most travel vacations are stressful, unnecessarily
expensive, frustrating, culinarily disappointing, confusing, and
require countless hours of preparation, lots of asking passersbys
if they speak English, and if they can direct you to your destination:
anything but relaxing and romantic!
often than not, the single most important ingredient
in creating an unforgettable trip is missing.
ingredient is ... a tour guide who welcomes you into his
own family, and is committed to showing you the time of your life
in his homeland.
- not tourist attractions -
is the true currency of memorable travel."
Marcello Tori, the "Italian Tour Guru," leading
fantasy tours in Italy for over 15 years
and friends are the true currency in all aspects of life. Why would
travel be any different? Cherished memories in travel start when
you are welcomed into another person's heart and they share with
you what is dearest to them. This, ultimately, is what travel dollars
are buying. Why settle for anything less?
me ask you a question:
I could show you a way that you could go on a tour of Italy that
would meet or exceed the sweet magic of your fantasy vacation, would
you be willing to spend the next 7 minutes to read about it?
you answered Yes, then I urge you to read every
word on this page. This could be the most valuable article you'll
ever read concerning the unforgettable joy of traveling abroad.
The Deadliest Mistake Most International Travelers Make
I visited a bookstore recently, I noticed something peculiar.
were bookshelves literally overflowing with books on travel, accomodations,
what to take on a trip, phrase books for travelers, guidebooks,
bed and breakfasts in different countries, currency exchange, how
to not look like a tourist. But there wasn't a single book on why
we travel - nor one on how to make your travel
dreams come true.
you figure out why?
reason is that most travelers are so overwhelmed by the sheer magnatude
of the information and details that they must be mindful of to prepare
for their upcoming trip abroad, that they lose track of their reasons
for going in the first place. In fact, when it comes to traveling,
most travelers either:
leave their trips in the hands of a travel agent; or
rely on a series of recommendations in a guidebook, very few, if
any at all, are written by locals.
agents sell tours and accomodations all over the world. Not only
are they not locals, at best, they have only spent a day or two
in your destination city. Their expertise is in using the computer
to make extremely detailed travel arrangements and buying air travel
and hotel accomodations. They are not tourguides. Period! (More
on this later.)
travel is an art and a science, and is best left in the hands of
trained and experienced tourguides who truly understand the craft.
see, each part of each country has a culture, cuisine, psychology,
and even language all its own.
you know that even the most thoroughly researched and implimented
itinerary can actually kill a trip?"
Because it is so easy to get bogged down in the details and logistics
of a journey, that one misses the essence of the experience. The
real juice in a trip has to do with you having a fantastic time
while you are experiencing the beauty and excitement in a country.
Marcello's Culinary and Wine Tour of Italy is a
pearl necklace of exquisite moments which celebrate the marvelous
courtship between Italian food and life. Cooking lessons and meals
in wonderful private homes, a relaxed hike with Merino (and his
wonderdog Mitch) who takes us on a truffle hunt, the hardwork and
pleasure of life on a farm with Maria Grazie and her husband Gianni,
Nicola and his wife who perfom magic in the kitchen of their own
restaurant, and Novella who teaches us the secrets of making real
Italian pizza and feeds us to the point of no return in her big
Italian kitchen where we sit down with her entire family.
you go on a 10 day 7 city tour in Europe, you get a brief overview
of the sights and sounds of each particular country. The very nature
of this variety of travel creates a huge chasm between the traveler
and the environment. The trip is so fast, and the amount of new
sights, sounds, and information is so vast, that there is no time
or energy for subtleties. This is not at all what we are offering.
ironic thing is that this type of trip is perfectly
suited to some people who travel abroad.
commitment: To provide
you with a fantastic all-inclusive, carefree gourmet-getaway that
meets or exceeds your expectations, at the lowest possible price.
to you by Italy's premier culinary company: We
create distinctive culinary vacations, with small groups, gracious
inns, and wonderful dining in private homes and countryside estates.
gastronomy tour in a land of spectacular castles and palaces:
We provide you with an opportunity to experience
Italy like local, and do it less expensively than if you tried to
arrange your own trip with the aid of a guidebook. Take the guess
work out of travel!
Passionately: Eat, drink,
laugh, learn, and make life-long friends. Our small group escorted
wine and culinary tours of the most romantic country in the world
cooking classes and demonstrations
· tastings of artisan food products
· dining in private homes
· shopping and guided cultural visits
· vegetarian or vegan feasts
wonderful way to relax and experience the
splendors of Italy."
a sample from the itinerary: Tuesday dinner
"Top off your day with a cooking lesson at the country home
of renaissance artisans, Maria and Gianni, who grow grapes to make
their wine, grow olives to make their olive oil, and grow their
own herbs, fruits, and vegetables (using sustainable farming methods,
of course). But more importantly is what they do with them. Maria
is one of the great chefs of Italian country cooking in Italy. You
will feast not only on the meal, but also on the old world ambiance
of their home."
here for the complete tour itinerary:
to Italians, is much more than a biological necessity. It's a ritual.
And needless to say, Italians consider their cuisine second to none.
The idea of "eating on the run" is repugnant to most Italians,
who, if at all possible, prefer to eat at home.
and vegan travelers have exquisite dining opportunities
awaiting them in Italy."
province in Northern Italy known as
Emilia-Romagna, is a vegetarian
Your host, Marcello Tori, is the: "Italian Tour Guru."
and his wife Raffaella take hospitality to a whole new level. Their
joy in life is to share their home and deep knowledge of Italy with
all of their guests. Their generosity knows no bounds. The testimonials
that they have gathered over the last 15 years, of leading tours
in Italy, basically repeat the same accolades over and over again.
· "Beyond our wildest dreams"
"Everything we were hoping for and a lot more"
"Best food and drink I could ever imagine."
"The Italian families we dined with were so interesting and
fun to be with."
"When I think about all of the culinary secrets I have learned,
and will be taking home with me. This trip was a steal."
"I promise you that I will recommend this tour to everyone
"Nothing is too much trouble for Marcello and Raffaella."
"Marcello and Raffaella are an 11 on a scale from 1 to 10."
Hundreds of glowing testimonials are evidence that Marcello and
Raffaella are extremely good at what they do, and are always willing
to go the extra mile to create a feeling of family, and to make
this the most enjoyable vacation you will ever take!
and Raffaella have been leading small group escorted tours in Italy
for over 15 years. Their clients have included ambassadors to Italy,
chefs of the rich and famous, and ordinary people like my wife and
Cooking Tours in Italy is
Italy's #1 Culinary Tour Company.
why the Mediterranean diet has created health, vitality, and longevity
for Italians for centuries.
Being heart-healthy in Italy includes the very best part of their
If you are interested in a healthy travel adventure, and would like
Marcello and Raffaella to share with you the Italy they have known
their entire lives, please read why:
· Our gastronomy and wine tours in Italy are #1
· Why we have so many repeat customers
· Why our price, for what you get, can't be matched by
any other tour company!
· How we can promise you that you will enjoy our tour more
than you have ever enjoyed a travel vacation before.
· Why Emilia-Romagna is the birthplace of Northern Italy's
offer custom tours for the "passionate traveler."
create an environment for our guests, which is supportive of learning,
exploration, friendship, and relaxation.
trip was unlike any other we've taken. What made it so special was
the warmth and sweetness of Marcello and Raffaella. They did everything
to ensure that we had an unforgettable experience. And it was! We
cooked in restaurant kitchens, with accomplished home chefs, saw
first hand how cheese, olive oil and Balsamic vinegar is made, visited
wineries, markets, makers of fine linens, and more. Everywhere we
went Marcello and Raffa made certain that we 'lived as Italians.'
For a real insider's view, you must travel with this extraordinary
Ben and Randi Londer Gould
New York, NY September 2001
Your dream vacation in Italy will include***
Eating home cooked meals as a special guest in charming
country homes with Italian families. This is a wonderful
feature of our tours, and we are not aware of any other tour that
offer this special option. This would be very difficult to arrange
if you were trying to create your own tour.
Cooking classes and demonstrations taught by fun-loving
master chefs in their own homes, or their own restaurants. You will
love these sessions, even if cooking is not your thing. We
have established a close working relationship with these artisan
chefs over the years, and they are willing to share their culinary
secrets with you. It is almost impossible to create this special
opportunity if you travel to Italy on your own, or with the assistance
of a travel agent.
Exquisite dining in wonderful undiscovered hillside
winery/restaurants. Marcello and Raffaella keep close tabs on every
restaurant in the entire Emilia-Romagna area. They know when they
are bought and sold, who the new chef is, where the old chef went,
and if they have changed their menu recently.
want every meal you have while you are on our tour to be a great
one! Not only does the restaurant need to be able to serve
up a great vegetarian or vegan feast, but the ambiance, service,
wine list, and friendliness of the chef and staff have to be above
reproach for us to even consider including a restaurant on our tour.
These standards are adhered to regardless if the restaurant is a
small hillside trattoria that serves Italian country style, or an
elegant 5 star restaurant specializing in haute cuisine. Restaurants
change, our standards never do!
tremendous amount of time and energy on an ongoing basis goes into
providing our guests with the best possible dining experiences while
they are in Italy. No published travel guide can possibly
make this claim. Most large volume tour companies have an entirely
different set of criteria.
Go on a truffle hunt with Marino and his dog Mitch.
This extraordinary travel opportunity is without question the
most difficult feature for any tour to match. It took years of searching
for the right combination of truffle hunter, dog, and area before
we could offer this magical opportunity to our guests. In
our 15 years of offering gastronomy and wine tours, this is the
very first time that a truffle hunt has ever been included.
No wonder it is so difficult for another tour to match this experience!
Visit the most prestigious family run Balsamic Vinegar producer
in Modena. Some of these vinegars have been aging for over
a hundred years. Generation after generation in this family have
refined their skills, and passed along their secrets. Through a
friend of the family relationship, we are allowed to go behind locked
doors into their aging rooms. This extremely rare treat
for our guests is sledom offered to the public.
Sample all the varieties of estate bottled olive oils in Brisighella.
Freshly made and bottled olive oil is ALIVE. There are no additives,
and no preservatives. It is pressed, bottled and sealed right there,
before your eyes.
is only through a visit to an olive oil estate that you can ever
have a chance to taste extra extra virgin first cold press fresh
olive oil with extremely low acid, velvety taste, and all of the
vital energy as it comes from the tree. It is this olive oil that
is the centerpiece of the Mediterranean Diet, and has proven its
effectiveness over the centuries. You will be able to refine your
skills as an olive oil connoisseur in this tasting session. This
olive oil is undeniably the best of the best!
Watch the production and painting of world famous Italian
ceramics in Faenza. To fill the enormous demand, most Italian
ceramics are made and painted in large factories. We have made special
arrangements to tour a one-man ceramic studio so you can experience
the actual craftsman at work in his natural setting. Then, a few
doors away is the artist who paints the age old Italian designs
on these masterpieces, finishing the process by firing them in the
oven. Be a part of Italy's art and design heritage.
It's the herbs that make the real difference between the
wonderful cuisines of the world. For this reason, no gastronomy
tour would be complete without a guided tour of the most extensive
commercial herb garden research center in Italy.
our guide for the gardens, is an herbologist, and very talented
in the kitchen. She introduces us to the world of Italian
herbs for the palate, mind, body, and spirit. We complete this visit
with a "cooking with herbs" demonstration by Elena, in
the kitchens adjacent to the gardens.
few people know about these gardens, since they are not even mentioned
in other tour books.
Have a gelato class and taste every flavor in the entire
store. This part of the tour is beyond description. It's
only by sampling all of the flavors juxtaposed with one another
that you can really know which flavors you like the best.
Italians take their gelato very seriously! Maurizio, our
guide and chef for this segment of the tour is a member of the Italian
National Gelato Team. This is the most prestigious
honor that Italy can confer upon a Gelato master.
owns and operates an exquisite gelato parlor, and because he is
a close friend to Marcello, he gives you the keys to the kingdom.
Not only do you get to sample as much of each flavor as you want
(Be careful not to fill up -- there are a lot of flavors to sample.).
In addition, Maurizio will teach us the finer points of making gelato.
are plenty of flavors for vegans as well. And don't forget to ask
Maurizio about how an expert makes granita.
Learn to shop like the locals at the Bolognese Central Market.
Raffaella guides us through the Bolognese central market where she
has bought her fruits, vegetables, breads, herbs, and other ingredients
since she was a little girl. She knows the vendors well, and they
treat her like family.
colors, smells, and excitement of this open-air market place
are probably the same as they have been for hundreds of years.
Wineries are very fussy about their wines before
they are completed and properly aged. Have you ever heard of a winery
allowing their wines to be sampled at the different stages of development.
Here's your chance to challenge your palate while you learn
the secrets to making great wine!
Marcello grew up with Mario, the wine master, our tours and only
our tours, are given special privileges at the Terre Naldi Winery.
Not only do we have carte blanche to sample reds like the San Giovese
and whites like the Trebbiano and Albana from the aging barrels,
the vintner guides us through each stage, explaining what is happening
to the wine. Make the moment sparkle!
as you savor the finished product, you can taste for yourself why
these wines are considered superbly balanced, smooth, graceful,
and delightfully well rounded. This wine master's skill
is astonishing, even by Italy's high standards!
Go behind the scenes into the kitchen of the finest restaurant
in Italy. The Executive Chef, Valentino, gives you a fabulous
vegetarian or vegan cooking demonstration in his own kitchen. Come
see for yourself why some believe that San Domenico might very well
be the finest and most elegant restaurant in all of Europe.
Marcello and Raffaella have known Valentino since they were in elementary
school together, you get a personally guided tour of their 20,000
+ bottle wine cellar and a cooking demonstration from San Domenico's
Have time to savor your mouth-watering meals, and relax with a glass
of wine or a cappuccino, and a digestivo. Because we lead
only very small group escorted tours, we can take our time when
it comes to those romantic evening meals. You and your partner can
even have a private table if you prefer.
we go to great lengths to make sure that every meal is special,
we want to make sure that you have plenty of time to savor every
aspect of your meals, from the appetizer through the after dinner
Eat at a vegan restaurant in Bologna where their food creations
are to live for. You will get some great meal preparation
ideas at this popular local eatery.
And many, many more wonderful experiences and visits. Many
of our special visits and cooking demonstrations are tour specific
to either vegans or vegetarians, so we have not mentioned them in
click on the appropriate link below to check out the specific itineraries
to learn even more about the wonderful treats you have in
store when you join one of our gastronomy and wine tours.
For a detailed vegetarian itinerary please click on this link: www.vegtour.com/itinerary.html
· For a detailed vegan itinerary please click on this link:
Cooking Tours in Italy
Your Own Using a
Travel Agent and/or
Dining and cooking lessons in private homes
Experienced English speaking guide and car
Guided tour of herb garden with master herbologist
Guaranteed vegetarian or vegan meals
Tour of prestigious Balsamic Vinegar aging rooms
Over 15 years leading culinary and wine tours in Emilia-Romagna
Guided Tour of the prestigious Terre Naldi Winery and tasking
of wine at different stages of development
Gelato visit and full tasting of wine at different stages
No research or reservations needed for cars, hotels, restaurants,
Please subscribe to our FREE Vegetarian Cooking
Tours in Italy newsletter to learn lots of tips and tricks about
travel and cooking in Italy. We even throw in colorful stories about
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this website to a friend
working to create "the perfect gastronomy and wine tour in
Italy," we interviewed numerous travelers who had recently
returned from Italy. We asked them about their experiences, in order
to enhance our tours. We discovered a common thread in their responses.
Though there were very few things that everyone agreed on, there
was one comment that was the same.
said that because they were unable to speak Italian, they did not
feel at home in Italy. They felt like a tourist and were unable
to penetrate the exterior to discover the real treasures in Italy:
exquisite country inns, the best restaurants, hidden meadows, quaint
villages, or having the opportunity to sit an talk with the people
over a coffee, or watch master chefs or craftspeople at work, which
is why they went to Italy to begin with.
went on to say that their trips included wonderful moments, but
they sure wish they had known somebody who lived there who could
have taken them under their wing, and introduced them to the Italy
that the locals know and love.
you like to experience Italy like a local, visit spectacular parts
of Italy that very few tourists ever see, make life long friends,
enjoy a wide variety of the most mouth-watering vegetarian and/or
vegan foods that Italy has to offer, experience Italy like a local,
and learn the lazy gourmet tips and tricks from Italian Chefs that
will have you preparing fantastic quick and easy Italian dishes
by the time your tour is over?
Cooking Tours in Italy!
If you want to explore Italy with a Eurail
Pass, of course it leaves out the
possibility of seeing anything that is not within a short taxi ride
from the train station. You won't be spending much time appreciating
the natural beauty outside of the city, or eating at out-of-the-way
village inns. You are very restricted, but it is the least expensive
you rent a car so you can really experience Italy, plan
on spending a significant amount of time driving around trying to
figure out where you are on the map and asking questions of people,
most of whom don't speak English. Unfortunately streets in Italy
are not well marked.
majority of foods that are on the menu in city restaurants are pretty
standard items that you are familiar with from your Italian
restaurants at home. However, these commonly seen dishes comprise
only a very small percentage of the actual number of Italian dishes
that you will enjoy on our tours.
you happen to have a fantastic meal in Italy, that is just the kind
of authentic Italian delicacy that you would like to prepare at
home for your family and friends, it is almost impossible to get
the recipe, since most chefs only speak Italian, and are
not particularly interested in sharing the secret recipes or cooking
techniques that their businesses are based on.
turns out, the ingredients to make such a dish are probably available
at your local Italian deli, if you only knew what they were, how
to use them, and what to ask for.
our culinary and wine tours, each tour comes with a tour specific
cookbook so you will be able to bring these national treasures home,
without taking notes!
a self directed tour: You come home
from your dream vacation in Italy with not much more access to the
secrets locked away in your local Italian deli, than before you
left. And, it is hard to gain an appreciation for the subtleties
of fine Italian ingredients without sampling them by themselves.
though you very much appreciated the wonderful new taste sensations
that you sampled in restaurants, with lots of exotic ingredients
blended together, if you do not have the opportunity to taste test
different varieties and grades of olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, truffles,
pasta, sauces of different types, red and white wines, Spumante,
Proseco, gelato and granita, cheeses, mushrooms, etc., it is hard
to learn to appreciate them.
you use a travel guidebook, the only things that you end up seeing
are the same few things that all tourists see. Many people
come back from traveling abroad saying that it was a tourist trap,
because the only shops that they had access to were around the major
attractions, where the prices are sky high, but easily accessible
to all of the tourists that go there.
at all those buses going by; I wonder which one goes to Il Duomo?
I have heard that it is really cheap to ride the bus in Italy."
You ask the bus driver, but he does not speak English. So you wait
for the next bus and ask someone getting on if they know where Il
Duomo is and if this bus goes there. The first few people you asked
do not speak English, but the third does. However, by the time you
start talking to him the bus is leaving and all you found out was
that that the bus you want does not stop here.
have just discovered a very important concept. If you are going
to spare the expense of a guide and travel on your own in a non-English
speaking country, be sure to learn the language before you go.
difficult to see the glorious vistas out in nature, and savor special
flavors of the Italian country cooking in out of the way village
inn restaurants without a car to get around, and an English speaking
guide to help you get where you are going. Needless to say, there
are so many interesting and fun, exquisitely beautiful sights and
smells and sounds that it is not possible to see all of them. However,
to spend a week or so in Italy, and not really get a flavor for
the spirit of the people, the cuisine, the country, the natural
beauty, and their unique customs, is unfortunate, all in the name
of saving money.
fact is that, it costs much more to try and put together a wonderful
tour of Italy by yourself, than you would spend with us. Plus, you
won't need to spend endless tedious hours learning the language,
making hotel, restaurant, car or train reservations, buying and
studying all of the well-known guidebooks, and asking directions
from Italian people who don't speak English.
once you get to Italy, your vacation is only so long. Every minute
that you are not relaxing, or enjoying the things you want to be
enjoying, is wasted. If you are on a vacation and you are feeling
frustrated and upset with your partner because you're lost in the
car and one of you had thought that this was the right way to go,
and you have been driving for an hour or two in the wrong direction,
it does not foster a loving, peaceful, romantic feeling between
the two of you.
you are feeling hungry and tired and possibly resentful because
the last person you asked for instructions knew little or no English,
and though he was friendly, it took forever to get decipherable
directions from him, it is hard to enjoy what you are going to visit
next. More time wasted, more stress and anxiety, less closeness
and understanding for your partner who is horrible with directions,
and refuses to ask for help. The vacation that you saved for and
fantasized about for years is becoming a nightmare. "I thought
Italy was the country of love and romance."
approaches to travel in Italy don't work. You can take an inexpensive
all-inclusive bus tour with 40 other people together, where the
only real Italian person that you have contact with is the bus driver
and your guide. You go to restaurants that are huge, and can accommodate
large groups coming in for food. The huge quantity of food needs
to be prepared, served, eaten, and the group out of there in one
hour so they are not late for the next visit. The tourists are treated
like cattle, and though you do actually spend a whole week in Italy,
you would have been better off watching a good travel show about
Italy on the travel channel, and eating at the best Italian restaurant
only way these tour operators can get the price of the package tours
down to an inexpensive level is to do it with quantity. The number
of people that are allowed on the tour is usually dictated by how
many people the bus will hold. All of the subtleties of the trip
are lost, and there is no customization of the tour possible because
of the strict schedule involved. There is no stress here because
you don't have to think about anything, just do what the tour guide
tells you to do, and don't wander off, because it will hold up the
is really frustrating is when the group visits someplace that you
and your partner really like, and find very romantic. Your spirits
soar, you're feeling very relaxed and totally in love with your
partner. You feel like you could hang out in this magical moment/spot
for hours. All of a sudden, your tour guide comes along with his
little whistle, and you are forced to move along and get back into
the bus because there are 7 other stops planned for that day, and
you are already running a little bit behind.
only way that the two of you can mentally justify being prodded
along, is by fantasizing about visiting this place the next time
you come back to Italy and spend as much time there as you want,
assuming you ever come back to Italy, and assuming that you can
find this particular spot again. Once the moment is lost,
it is lost forever.
am not interested in a sanitized tourist version of a country, cuisine,
and its people. I want the exotic flavors, especially since they
are different from what I am used to. I want to see the passion
of the people the way they relate to their family and friends around
their dinner table. I want to capture the illusive secrets of their
cuisine, so I can return home with these treasures that will enrich
my entire life, and bring an exciting taste and flair to everything
I cook for my family and friends. It will also give me a more refined
sense of taste for the food and culture. I will see how people live
and relate to one another. I will be able to have experiences that
rival my fantasies. Sometimes large tours only get a "just
what the camera sees" view of a country. I demand more from
my travel dollars than I can get by watching a good travel documentary
on the TV.