Tag - Italy

The best beach vacation you’ve never heard of…

As the days get longer and the sun slowly starts to appear, visions of summer start dancing in our heads. Beaches. Cookouts. Drinks!

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Many summer vacation daydreams conjure up images of Hawaii or some other tropical beach locale. And that’s great. But what about… Puglia?

This hidden Italian gem is actually the ideal place for a beach vacation and, when you travel with Edible Destinations, you find yourself on the culinary vacation of a lifetime, surrounded by the Southern Italian sun, sand and sea. Read on to see what we’re talking about.

The Beach

A beach is a strict requirement for a proper beach vacation and boy does Puglia deliver. Framed by the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the west, Puglia is located at the southern heel of the boot. The water here is known as some of the bluest and clearest in the world, a sight for the sorest eyes. To take full advantage of this beach bounty, enjoy unlimited access to an exclusive beach club as part of your Edible Destinations culinary trip.

Ancient Caves

Some people need a little more than just lying in the sun, and active exploration is an exciting way to enhance a beach vacation. In Puglia, you have unique opportunity to explore wondrous caves, many of which are thousands of years old, on both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Take guided boat tours to these natural marvels and elevate your experience with a cave swim!

Cuisine

Italian Cuisine. Glass Of Prosecco And Variety Of Seafood

Beach vacation or no, this is Italy. Here, food is an expression of love there is great flavor to be found all through the country. Cucina Pugliese, the Puglia region’s cuisine, is defined by simple enhancements to the fresh ingredients found in the fertile land and bountiful sea. You’ll learn all about Cucina Pugliese through hands-on cooking classes and authentic meals enjoyed with a glass of wine and new friends.

There is certainly much more to discover, appreciate and enjoy about a summertime Puglia culinary vacation by the beach. We could go on forever about the people, the gorgeously restored accommodations and the exciting cultural offerings like the traditional Pizzica dance or the beautiful Basilica di Santa Croce. But, rather than take our word for it, we suggest you make your summer daydreams a reality and book this trip of a lifetime…

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Customer Reviews

Yucatán was great!PicMonkey Collage

The whole experience at Hacienda Petac was totally satisfying. I recommend it highly. It’s an absolutely gorgeous place. The villa itself has been restored impeccably, the rooms are elegant and luxurious, and the grounds are spectacular. Filled with lush tropical foliage. The cooking classes were fun, the food was good, the service impeccable.

I was there for a week long “culinary adventure” put together by Epitourean.com. These adventures are perfect for a woman traveling alone. Everyone is very friendly and helpful, you make lots of new friends and never feel left out or awkward because you’re not traveling with a partner.

All in all, a great experience, and I intend to do more of these. – Mickey

Abruzzo Amore 

My daugabruzzo2hter and I took the Abruzzo area tour a few weeks ago and I must say, this was one of the best vacations I have ever been on!

We met some wonderful people, the tours were fantastic, the chef was great. From the Bell factory to the wine tasting at the winery, to the wonderful cheese factory…..I cannot say how much this all was enjoyed.

Never lacked for fantastic food, wine or friendships, I am ready to take another Epitourean trip!!!! – Barb

 

Santa Fe Raves

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Just wanted to let you know that Stephanie and I has a FANTASTIC time in Santa Fe! We were given a huge condo at Ft. Marcy with our own bedrooms and baths. Such a nice surprise and bonus!

The Foodie Tour was awesome and much more than we expected! Delicious foods and a fun friendly guide!!!

Our dinner was FABULOUS!!!! Wow! We enjoyed the beautiful ambience, excellent service and of course, the gourmet food!

We can’t rave enough about our Epitourean experience. Thank you! – Diann & Stephanie

Wanderlust: A Culinary Tour of Abruzzo

The second thing travellers realize about Italy’s stunning Abruzzo region are its clutch of fabulous pastas, wines and cheeses. The region is one of Epitourean.com‘s favourites, and where we offer fabulous culinary excursions. For beginners to Abruzzo, we’ve curated a few of our favourite local specialities to eat and drink.

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Maccheroni alla Chitarra

Abruzzo Recipe: Maccheroni alla Chitarra

Pasta ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups semolina flour, plus extra as needed
  • 2 large eggs

Sauce ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 24 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh chili pepper, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1/2 pound fresh grape or cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking and serving:

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (optional)

This recipe is straight forward and classic. Start by making your sauce. Bring your sauce ingredients to a simmer and turn down the heat when the vegetables and tomatoes are soft.

Prepare your pasta.

After cutting your pasta to your liking, add it to boiling and salted water. Boil until the pasta is al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water and add it to the sauce. Return the sauce to a mid-low heat and add the pasta. Stir for a further five minutes. Serve with freshly grated pecorino cheese.

 

Abruzzo Wines

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Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

This small region of Italy packs a big punch when it comes to making top notch wines. Here are some of our favorites:

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo: We can’t go without mentioning the region’s important reds. This one is deliciously intense and dry, fruity and deep burgundy in color.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: The region’s most popular and important red wine. The grapes carry notes of plum, the finish is dry and velvety, and the wine pairs so well with cheeses and meats.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo: This is a more dry and delicate tipple, also well paired with cheeses, and made from Bombino Bianco grapes.

Abruzzo Cheeses

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Scamorza Cheeses

Scamorza is a similar to mozzarella, a type of cow’s milk curd cheese that is buttery in flavour and best eaten as soon as it’s made and very tasty when grilled.

One of the best sheep’s milk ricottas made in the region is called Cacioricotta Abruzzo.  It has wonderful flavour notes of coffee and lemon zest. You would usually eat this cheese on special holidays.

Another amazing local cheese is Caciotta d’Abruzzo, a cow’s or sheep’s milk cheese that on occasion is made with chile peppers.

Pecorino d’Abruzzo is a typical sheep’s milk cheese that can be quite overwhelmingly pungent if it’s aged beyond two or three years. It is best when served with a dry and fruity red wine.

 

 

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Insider Tips to an Amazing Edible Adventure

Planning an edible adventure? We asked some of our most seasoned travelers for insider tips about how to best live in the moment and then bring that moment home…

1. Pack lightly! You can always buy cheap flips flops and shampoo when you get there. Leave room to bring home culinary souvenirs.

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2. Alert your travel companions of your daily activity plans. If you want to go biking on the Parenzana Trail in Croatia, or plop down in the blue caves in the Rio Secreto in the Yucatán, let them know beforehand so they can join… or at least know where you are.

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3. Pack snacks–if you’re hiking or exploring a new village, load up on local treats for the trip. That way, you can maximize your time without having to stop every two hours and pay for overpriced coffees and nibbles.

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4. Keep a diary. No doubt, your friends will forever ask you what you did and where you ate. Write it down. If not for yourself, for the sake of paying it forward to future travelers.

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5. Take pictures! So obvious, we know, but your family and friends on Facebook want to know about your big life. Side note, your diary will come in handy a year from now when you finally get to the business of making a photo book of your trip and can’t make heads or tales of your photos…stockvault-gold-hill1153106. Write. A letter or postcard from a journey is an unexpected and precious gift in today’s society. Spice up your friends’ and family’s junk mail piles with a thoughtful, handwritten post from your adventure. Bonus: it also engages you deeper with your travel experience.

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7. Eat everything! Be adventurous. As we’ve discovered in all our years providing culinary travel, food is a truly special way to experience a culture. You’ve come all this way… open your mind and your mouth to all the tastes and treasures your destination holds.puglia-market8. Forget what you learned as a kid and talk to strangers. One of the dreamiest aspects of travel is meeting people with experience and perspective completely different from yours. This kind of social adventure strengthens character and makes for a very rich and new travel experience.

2013-02-20 15.19.109. Do your homework. No one expects you to take a foreign language class in preparation for your trip but brushing up on some common phrases and customs will go a long way. Engage locals by asking thoughtful questions or testing your pronunciation… we guarantee the gesture will be appreciated.2013-12-28 13.38.3910. Just go! Are you reading this blog because you’re dreaming of a trip but don’t feel the time is right? Like most things in life, there will never be a perfect time to travel and waiting for the right time to present itself can become a futile effort. Travel, especially an Edible Destinations adventure, is educational, energizing and, above all, fun, which is something we all deserve.

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Click here to explore all the culinary adventures we offer and begin planning your Edible Destination!

On the Truffle Hunt in Istria

Discovering Istria’s Bounty of Truffles

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Istria’s Motovun Mountains are one of the world’s largest sources of coveted black and white truffles. Only here, where Epitourean offers a range of fabulous culinary and outdoor excursions, are these delicious and pricey tubers available to harvest nearly twelve months a year. Compare that with countries like France and Italy, places that many truffle lovers associate with the pungent fungus, but that have shorter and more defined harvest seasons. This is one tasty reason that Istria clocks on our culinary radar. Here, chefs grate black truffles on pasta in the middle of June and shave white truffles over eggs and risotto in late December and January. Even during the earliest spring days of March, Périgord truffles are found here, and some cooks prefer to slice them paper thin and slide them beneath the skins of chickens before they hit the roaster.

While there are many established, family run companies and independent hunters of this regional Istrian delicacy, one in particular has caught our attention. Epitourean built a strong partnership with Zigante, a family of expert truffle hunters that procure every variety of truffle known in the area and produce over 50 different truffle products, from truffle oils and spreads to truffle salami and cheeses. Their shop and restaurant are together the epicenter of truffle culture here in Istria. It is a lovely stopover where Epitourean brings clients to shop for and taste local truffle specialties once they’ve finished a gentle downhill bike ride on the bosky Parenzana Trail.

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Looking to get in on the hunt? Take advantage of our limited-time offer to visit Istria during white truffle season at a special, discounted rate.

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Discovering Istria’s Parenzana Trail

Bucket List: Biking Istria’s Parenzana Trail

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Istria has a clutch of amazing destinations that we continue to discover and refer to Epitourean travellers. Of these are its bosky trails, which are perfect for year round hiking and biking. Most travellers tend to ignore the region’s stunning interior woodlands in favor of Croatia’s seaside resorts, beaches and boating activities. But that’s a bit of a shame, especially because there are so many stunning trails to explore. One of these is Istria’s Parenzana Trail, a moderately challenging path, that is best explored on bike, and ideal for those who are seeking gorgeous panoramas, a little activity, and small Istrain villages along the way.

The Parenzana Trail was once a narrow gauge railway that connected Trieste, Italy with Istria’s sea facing town, Porec. It operated until 1935, carrying people and goods between quaint villages and port cities. The journey was slow, around six or seven hours, because the heavy trains had to snake up and down hills, and through tunnels and towns. With the advent of more efficient modes of transportation, the Parenzana became obsolete. The Italian fascist dictator, Mussolini had the steel train tracks dismantled after 1935. They were loaded onto a boat and shipped down the Adriatic to be smelted and used toward WWII axis power war efforts. Weighed down by too much tonnage of steel, the ship sank to the bottom of the sea.

The trail’s fascinating history is obviously enlarged by the regions stunning beauty. In the summer the forests are green and lush, and in the autumn they turn gold and red like New England’s deciduous landscapes. Charming hilltop towns stand against soft blue skies, and along the way there are restaurants and shops that offer regional delicacies like truffles, honey, wines and olive oils. It is the perfect adventure, for groups, couples and solo travellers alike. Epitourean is pleased to discover and offer a range of fun, easy bike and hiking tours along this beautiful Istrain trail.

Postcard from Florence

The Good Life: Florence

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Epitourean’s intrepid traveler, Robert Everson, shares his experience in Italy’s renaissance capital, Florence. In Florence, we stayed at the SoprArno Suites. It’s a beautiful, upscale bed and breakfast in a charming neighborhood, and an easy walk to anywhere you want to go. The rooms are gorgeous and the staff is so friendly. Our tour guides Claire, Silvia, and Todd were all so knowledgeable, and they shared their amazing personal insights of beautiful Florence. We took Epitourean’s “Gourmet Walking Tour of Florence” where we had spectacular culinary experiences. It was a day of fun and learning, and the food, wine, cheese, and olive oil were all spectacular! What a perfect way to see the city! Our guide, Claire, brought us to the most amazing places where we had the best food and wine. We also toured the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’ Accademia where we saw breathtaking art, including Michelangelo’s David. We had four hours to tour the museums, which was the perfect amount of time. Our tour guide, Silvia, was a wealth of information. She pointed out the museums’ highlights, and was able to move us right up to the front of each line. We wouldn’t have done it any other way! We also went to Chianti for a day trip to tour the Vecchie Terre di Montefili vineyard. Our guide, Todd, was amazingly knowledgeable about the Tuscan region and was an expert in Italian wines. The winery is gorgeous, and we had the entire place to ourselves for a private tour and tasting.  We learned so much about Italian wines. Since our visit here, we’ve become huge fans, and now ship Italian wines to our home in the US! Leaving Florence, we took the train to Naples. It was a beautiful and relaxing train ride. Drivers from the Positano Car Service, whom are complete lifesavers, greeted us at Naples train station. They took us around Positano, which is absolutely dreamy, and having a driver was much easier than having to navigate the region’s windy and dangerous roads! 

Postcard from Positano

Wanderlust: One Traveller’s Highlights of Beautiful Positano

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One of Epitourean’s intrepid travellers, Robert Everson, shared with us some of his favourite things about his recent culinary tour of Positano, Italy:  Positano is truly a dream and a completely different type of vacation than Florence. It is so laid back and easy going, and was a perfect end to our trip. Well done Edible Destinations team! One piece of advice: make sure to buy some local ceramics and ship them home. We stayed at the Hotel Poseidon, which is funky and quirky. It reminded me of the hotel from the film, Mamma Mia! The hotel’s staff were all outstanding, especially Annalisa in the bar and Marco at the front desk. The best part of the hotel was the view. Definitely reserve one of the rooms with a balcony overlooking the sea. We spent an entire day on the patio with a bottle of wine and didn’t move. It’s just so breathtaking. One of my favourite moments was a cooking class with Donna Rosa! Not the Donna Rosa in town where the hotel is, but the restaurant at the top of the town. It’s about a 15 – 20 minute drive from the hotel. We spent hours with Mamma, Papa, and Erika their daughter, learning to make several dishes and different types of pasta. This was everything we could have ever imagined an Italian cooking class to be, and a highlight of our entire honeymoon! We can’t wait to share our new cooking skills with friends and family! We also spent a day in Pompei. Definitely use a guide for your visit. It was absolutely amazing. I recommend to fit Pompeii into your itinerary when you travel from Naples to Positano since you drive right by it. Our favorite restaurant while we were there was Mediterraneo. It is only a five minute walk from the hotel. We ate there twice! Great fresh pasta and seafood. We also enjoyed Max Enoteca down in the city. It was a bit pricey, but worth it. We were so sad to leave, but have such amazing memories. A huge thank you to Edible Destinations for making our dreams come true and creating a magical experience for us. Well done! 

Discovering Italy’s Ancient Fishing Village Termoli

Italy’s Adriatic Coast is flecked with stunning seaside villages like historic Termoli in the unspoilt Molise region. Thankfully many of the coastal towns here are overlooked for more popular destinations like the Amalfi Coast. But places like Termoli are unique; beautiful as they are, they are still not over run with tourists, cruise liners and the general comings and goings of tourists marching across Italy year round. Once a sleepy fishing village, Termoli has over the years become a finely kept secret by Italians, who come here for the area’s clean beaches and to explore the old town’s fortifications. The old town of Termoli is especially fascinating; in recent years many of the cathedrals and 12th and 13th century stone buildings have been restored. It’s Romanesque architecture is simply incredible; like its gorgeous Termoli Cathedral the town’s imposing and tiered castle.

But architecture isn’t Termoli’s sole strength. The town has a rollicking port life where fishing and food are at the core of local living. One of the area’s most distinguishing features are its trabucchi, which are elaborate wooden fishing structures that jut out into the sea and lend this coastal Italian region its further magical and dreamy characteristics. Culinary traditions are seafood based, and the local restaurants and cooking schools are blessed with a daily glut of fresh clams and shrimp, and other bounties from the Adriatic. Epitourean is privileged to have forged excellent relationships with the town’s fishmongers, hoteliers and generally speaking, many locals, that have opened doors for our clients to experience this endlessly surprising culture from its culinary riches to its ancient monuments. We take clients to the local fish market and to a local trabucco where they see and participate first hand in the day to day activities of this astounding region of Italy.