Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fabulous Rentals Series:

Villa Maremma I...She is so pretty!

We love this villa and the Maremma, this (fairly undiscovered) part of Tuscany. You are immersed in the countryside but also close enough to the sea to enough a day (or 2 or 3) in some of the most untouched coastline of Italy. But above all, you are in total luxury. A lovely home with all the amenities you could hope for plus some many places to nearby to enjoy.

We are so pleased to represent this property! Come and take a peak:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Discovering the Other Tuscany

Chianti, Florence, Siena...we all know them and we all love them. Yet most people do not realize just how large a region Tuscany is, and just how much more there is to discover!

During my uncountable times I have taken the train between La Spezia and Rome, I became fascinated with this beautiful, less developed coastline to one side and lovely rolling hills with little villages dotted them to the other side. The area I am specifically referring to is between Livorno and Monte Argentario, otherwise knowns as the Etruscan Coast and the Maremma. I started researching this area a few years ago, making trips south and finding out there is so much to explore and experience in this area including a “surf and turf” cuisine, wonderful history and the SUPER Tuscan wines. Then my friend Kate and I took a research trip just an hour south of us to the Pisa Hills area, only to be pleasantly awaken to the wonderful world that surrounds this famous city: olive groves making sublime oil, low-lying vineyards, friendly (and yummy) pasta factories, cheese makers (no need to explain the yum here), a fabulous spa and some of the finest chocolate on earth!

So we have put together a fun “eno-gastronomic” week with all we have discovered here and we hope we have the chance to introduce it to you personally. Please take a peak:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Puglia on my Mind (once again)...

I admit it, my memories of Puglia include days bursting with warmth and sunlight, of eating pesce crudo with a nice glass of Grillo while watching the waves lightly roll onto the beach and visiting white washed villages dotted with bougainvillea and children playing on the cobblestone streets. Sounds like a dream huh?

Well, I realize that even down there the weather is less than desirable in the winter but from what I understand, nothing like the crud we have up here in Liguria (and for the record, here in Liguria it’s raining cats and dogs outside and the laundry I did on Sunday is still damp, while in Puglia it’s supposed to reach 65 degrees!). And in all my visits to the boot, those memories I mention above are all true. So I am temporarily transporting myself (and you!) to one of my favorite places in one of my favorite places.

Let me introduce you to La Rascina. This masseria turned B&B is where I usually call “home” when visiting Puglia. It is a sanctuary and perfect base for exploring the region. There are 6 charming rooms and 4 very comfortable apartments divided amongst two buildings with a welcoming swimming pool and lush garden in the middle. A delicious breakfast is served under a veranda with the smell of figs and olives in the air and there is a sense of completely tranquility here.

The owners, Paolo & Leonie, are a delightful couple, happy to assist with information and ideas of where to go and what to do.

La Rascina is excellently located a few kilometers from the white-washed hilltop town of Ostuni, the gorgeous Valley Itria and the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, making it the perfect base for exploring Puglia - that is if you can pull yourself away from the place!

Masseria La Rascina

Strada Provinciale 19

Rosamarina, Ostuni

Tel: +39 338 433 1573

Friday, March 11, 2011

The “Other” Michelangelo

While one looks mighty good, the other TASTES like heaven.

Tucked away in the seaside neighborhood of Piano di Sorrento is Caseificio Michelangelo, a family run cheese making factory that welcomes the public with open arms, fun demonstrations and a generous array of fabulous formaggio!

Whether it be caciocavallo, bocconcini of mozzarella, provolone or caciaottine (my personal favorite), your taste buds and tummy will not be disappointed.

Tours & tastings are possible and given in english by the ever charming Sara, daughter to the “head cheese-maker” (who is quite a character himself). And getting there is super easy. Piano di Sorrento is located just two stops from Sorrento on the circumvesuviana and the just a 5 minute walk to the caseificio (although Sara will be happy to come meet you at the station).

Just another fun (and delicious) thing to do when visiting Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Brief Notes from Sorrento:

Incredible Pompeii...

Last week was a busy one. My colleague and good friend, Kate, and I spent 4 days down in Sorrento doing a bit of research work for our clients and also for our upcoming “eno-gastronomic” hosted tours. Needless to say, we had a blast, but it also was a lot of work...really!

There were several highlights of the trip, but one that stands out in my mind was our visit to Pompeii with one of the favorite guides, Tony. I am a bit embarrassed to admit it, but in about 10 trips down to the Amalfi Coast, I had not been to Pompeii (I know, shame on me), so I was very excited and curious about it. And I was not disappointed. Not only are the ruins phenomenal but learning about this very advanced and complex society that lived 2000 years ago is humbling.

Wood-burning oven 79 A.D.

Strategic Street Crossing

A Bordello "Menu"

The ruins site is very large and almost overwhelming. For this, I very much recommend going with a guide. In the two hours we were there, I feel like we only scratched the surface, leaving me wanting to know more about these people, their lives and how it all suddenly came to an end.

Frozen in Time

Pompeii is quite easy to get to from either Napoli or Sorrento using the Circumvesuviana metro/train system (leaving every 20 minutes). Here are a few helpful sites for planning your day there:

Official Site for Pompeii

Excellent Guide for Pompeii