A Symphony of Life

October 8th, 2015

I had heard of Il Gatto Nero on the island of Burano, in Venice’s north lagoon, long before I went there. I knew Jaime Oliver was a fan, but more importantly, Venetians who respected their culture and cuisine, had told me it was one of the area’s best restaurants.

Hearsay wasn’t enough though. I needed to experience it for myself. So, three years ago, on a cool, cloudy day, while auditioning Venice, I hopped a vaporetto with a friend and we made the 50-minute journey to Burano. (What’s she talkin’ about, the audition?: http://deliciousexpeditions.com/blog/2012/04/venice-the-audition/)


The colorful houses of Burano.

The colorful houses of Burano


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Olive Oil and Disco Dancing

July 22nd, 2015

Yes, olive oil and disco dancing. What could possibly be the connection? Well, let me tell you.

It’s a sunny yet cool day in Italy’s Upper Tiber Valley, in Tuscany, ten minutes from the Umbrian border. I’m with my culinary tour group, visiting an olive oil mill, which has been operating in the same family since 1421. For those who are challenged with historical dates, that’s before Columbus sailed the ocean blue…71 years before the discovery of the New World. I’m talkin’ the Americas here: North, Central and South.


Ravagni Olive Oil Store

Next to  the Ravagni’s home is a small store selling their products.


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Oprah, the truffle, and mere mortal me

June 11th, 2015

As a fan of Oprah Winfrey, I’ve followed her ascent to stardom (idoldom actually), as well as her amassing, and then trying to give away one of America’s greatest fortunes. What can I say—I like Oprah and I’m glad she’s done well. However, since she lives such an amazing life, I was a little surprised when I read that the only thing left on her bucket list was a truffle hunt.

Wait, a truffle hunt? Something, via my culinary tours, I know well and have the good fortune to partake in once or twice a year. Could it be that Oprah, the Queen, could be envious of mere mortal me? Or is she handing me a marketing tool on a silver platter? Maybe both. See, I knew we had a special connection.



Truffles just pulled from the ground.


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Ode to the “Beautiful” People

May 21st, 2015

Oh, the “beautiful” people! They really do exist, and not just in People magazine.

Arriving to Venice for a 2-week home exchange, I unknowingly stumbled onto the opening of the Biennale—Venice’s famed contemporary art festival, considered one of the most important in the world. However, this story isn’t about the festival, because then it would be about commoners, like myself. Instead, I prefer to delve into the lives of the lovely, the privileged.


Art Delivery

Biennale Art Delivery


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Naked Therapy

July 28th, 2014

European spas—they’re not like American spas. They’re more like sanatoriums, where staff dressed in white whisper softly and serious health treatments take precedence over beauty.

My first experience was in Italy, outside of Siena. I had had a particularly stressful week with The Entitled–a group of family (their family, not mine) and friends who refused to believe that Italy was no longer a country of peasants, and that said peasants, including myself, were suppose to cater to their every whim…at no additional cost.

Even though I hadn’t met anyone in the group before agreeing to host their tour, I had heard some of the names, seen one on TV and had read about another in HOLA!, the Spanish speaking equivalent of People magazine. But even with this important information, I was still not prepared for what I would encounter. Neither were the two women I was working with. In order to relieve the stress, Katy began chain smoking again after a 20-year hiatus, Sonia repeatedly chanted Madonna!! swirling her cigarette in the air, and I alternated between chomping on Advil and Xanax. The week ended with a multimillionaire pounding his fist on the dinner table—in a very elegant restaurant—demanding the car (or in this case, minibus) be brought around immediately. He was ready to go, even though the majority of people were still eating. That’s when I started to drink—white wine, red wine, limoncello, grappa. Whatever was available…It didn’t matter, I just needed to dull the memory of that man’s existence.



No, not the multimillionaire, but…

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The Truth About Venetian Sports

May 25th, 2013

The term “bucket list” never appealed to me, instead I prefer to say that I’ve compiled a list of future experiences—a wish list that will take me around the world and allow me to discover new places and entertaining people. For the moment joining a rowing club in Venice is high on that list. Even though I’ve never been particularly athletic, I discuss going to the gym and even playing tennis like it’s actually going to happen. But I don’t do these things; I only talk about doing them over coffee and cake. So, when I learned Venetian rowing was more about eating and drinking than actual exercise I knew I had discovered my “sport.”


A Two Man Row Boat

A Two Man Row Boat

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The Red Boot Diaries

May 15th, 2013

I heard angry murmurs of “lazy thieves” and “Why do we pay taxes?” as I waded in knee-deep water spilling over from Venice’s canals. My fellow pedestrians, with their legs individually tucked inside large trash bags, were not in the best of moods.

I knew something was up this morning when a friend handed me a pair of bright red rubber boots and said, “Take these.” I hesitated, thinking she was being overly cautious. I mean, red boots really aren’t my thing. I’m not very good with bright colors, preferring to blend in with blacks and browns instead.


venice acqua alta


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A Table for One

May 3rd, 2013

I used to be shy and then I wasn’t. I owe this change of character to my life-threatening surgery when I had to bare it all for doctors and nurses and then the caretakers who had to bandage areas of my body I couldn’t even look at. Were there really staples running across my once semi-flat abdomen? I was briefly horrified, but then I gave up. I surrendered. In the long run this is a gift, an enormous gift to not care what anyone thinks.

And so, my shyness disappeared. It evaporated into thin air, just like the man I’ve corresponded with lately. I’ve now been accused of being the life of the party–a role I never played before, but one that seems to suit me well…if I’m in the mood. I’ve taken my new talent on the road, meeting and talking to anyone who will listen. I love traveling alone, giddy with the anticipation of new faces and never heard of before stories.


duomo florence

il Duomo, Florence

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A Room with a View

October 20th, 2012

The creek of metal followed by the slap of wooden shutters against stone walls starts the day. They sound one after another in the mountaintop hamlet of Montone. Calls of “Ciao!” and “Buon Giorno!” ring through the streets; birds sing in the distance.

I open my own shutters and gaze upon a valley of green hills with pristine rows of Ceders of Lebanon. Centuries-old farmhouses stand in the distance. Fields of tobacco, their leaves tinged yellow, dot the landscape–for probably the last time. After almost four hundred years, Umbria’s historic crop will disappear. EU subsides are ending as farmers contemplate a new future. Some are experimenting with herbs and legumes; others choose to cover their land in solar panels. Even though they distract from the picture-perfect scenery, it’s a smart move in a country where energy is costly.


My Room with a View


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It Must Have Been Luigi

October 10th, 2012

“Excuse me?” I stammered, thinking I had misunderstood the man standing in front of me.

“I was saying their G-strings were small and sparkly,” he continued. “Mamma Mia! You should have seen the look on my mother-in-law’s face.”

“But, signore, I was inquiring about the truffle festival.”

“I know. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.”

I had just asked a local man which festa di tartufi to attend while in Umbria. You see, there were two on the same day.


Just Found Black Truffles


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