Italy

Friday, May 11th, 2012
It had to happen. Wine overload. This is a Good News Girlz tour, after all. We drove by Lake Garda in the morning, photographing the stunning scenery and charming towns. After that, it was all about wine.
Thursday, May 10th, 2012
There's only one word for today - shopping. Or maybe one phrase - shop 'til you drop!

It was sad to say goodbye to the Cinque Terre and Monterosso, but we employed retail therapy to alleviate the pain.  Our friends told us about a great market on Wednesday mornings in Levanto, so we hopped in the van and scooted off to Levanto for a quick stop before the drive to the Veneto.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
Hike Day! Although the weather forecast promised sun with a possibility of rain, we were not deterred. Armed with rain gear and our Cinque Terre national park and train passes, we headed over to the train station for a ride down to Riomaggiore. The Via dell'Amore, packed with walkers, was fun and beautiful.
Ready to cook
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
Our first full day in the Cinque Terre was bright and cheery - clear blue skies and full sun.  We started the day with a walking tour with our friend Kate Little through the old town and lemon groves to the cemetery towering high above the sea. Most of the oldest grave spaces are permanent, but up on top the plots are leased for a certain number of years. If the lease runs out or family members fail to pay, the bones of the deceased are moved to cheaper real estate.
Monday, May 7th, 2012
How many people do you know who've gone truffle hunting with a certified trifulau? Well, you know some now. Today we went out into the woods with Giorgio Romagnolo and his dogs, Brio and Esterina. Truffles are mushrooms that grow underground and can be found on the roots of four different kinds of trees-oak, linden, willow, and poplar. May is summer black truffle season.
Sunday, May 6th, 2012
Saturday is market day in Alba. The square and pedestrian streets are lined with vendors selling everything fromoctopus to crew socks. We bought scarves, purses, gifts for folks back home, and food for a picnic. We're takinghome quite a haul.
glasses
Saturday, May 5th, 2012
Locals say that Barbaresco is the queen of wines and Barolo the king.  Today we visited Barolo. After a morning hike through the vineyards near our hotel, we drove to La Morra. The town is quaint and has stunning vistas. Every little town in the Piedmont has its own enoteca and many have community wine cooperatives. The grape is very important around here.
Friday, May 4th, 2012
After our Osteria Italia experience last night, we needed to get some fresh air and met for a quick walk around the neighborhood in Alba.  The breakfast spread at Hotel Langhe prepared us for our first day of wine tasting and touring.

The queen of Piemonte wines came first.

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
The Good News Girlz 2012 Italy officially began this morning. We met at the Milan airport, boarded our Renault Trafic 9 passenger van and headed south to Alba. We made great time to the Hotel Langhe at Strada Profonda, 21, our home in the Piedmont region. Nico and his staff welcomed us and got us squared away. Some of the rooms had to be reconfigured into twin beds for our group. Nico said it's because his girls are in love that they made all the beds double.
umbrellas in front of duomo
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

With a forecast of 100% chance of rain, we did what anyone in Milan for only three days would do-we went out for a walking tour.

on the hand
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Visions of encountering George Clooney on the banks of Lake Como made it easy to get up and out this morning.
Monday, April 30th, 2012
We're so excited about the Good News Girlz Italy tour, that some of us decided to start a few days early. The Milan weather forecast called for 90% chance of rain. Not to be deterred, we packed up our raincoats and umbrellas and headed out to meet Luisa and Pierfrancesco, our guides for a walking tour of the city.
duomo
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
If Milan were in any country but Italy, I bet people would love it. How does a city compete with Rome and Florence and the beauty of the Cinque Terre? Maybe by ignoring the zings from people who haven't been there or live in southern Italy. My own view of the city was shaped by a few train changes there through the years and anti-Milan slurs from people I know born in Florence and Rome. 
Monday, April 16th, 2012
If you ever starting thinking that they just don't make things the way they used to, we invite you to consider the family Marinelli, makers of bells since 1339 in the town of Agnone. Yep, the same family in the same business in the same town. And while there are some modern tools and machinery is used when needed, the basic process is very much the same as it's always been.
Monday, April 9th, 2012
Vasto, a town on the Adriatic Sea about forty minutes from where we're staying in Carunchio, has lovely beaches that are most lively in July and August so we missed the frenzy of tourists and wall to wall bodies on the beach. We visited the 'Costa dei Trabocchi' a 15 km swath of beach with nineteen trabocci, or fishing shacks, some of which have been there since the eighteenth century.
dino with pasta
Monday, April 2nd, 2012
Today's recipes surprised us-the tiramisu proved to be easier than we expected and the pasta lots more difficult. If any of us order handmade pasta in a restaurant, we will eat it with proper reverence. It's fun but not easy to make.
Thursday, March 29th, 2012
We covered a lot of ground today. An early start got us to Fratelli Bruno, a family owned Salumificio, by 9:30. We tracked the meat curing process from pig bone to aging room. Ventricina, a specialty of Abruzzo, utilizes whole chunks of pork from the bone, salted, lightly peppered and rubbed with paprika and wild fennel. The name comes from stomach or ventre, in Italian, the casing used for the big chunks of meat.
Monday, March 26th, 2012
A few weeks ago when looking for a culinary vacation, we found a great deal for the Abruzzo Cibus cooking school in Italy. What's Abruzzo? We knew about the wine called Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, but that was the extent of our knowledge. In fact, up to a week before the trip we were pronouncing the double zees in the region's name with a buzz sound instead of TS as in pizza. We have since learned that Abruzzo lies east of Rome along the Adriatic and is the most mountainous region of Italy.
Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Our trip to Sicily began on the east side of the island in Syracuse, a city with deep Greek roots. We visited the Greek theater and the Archimedes museum. The Romans built on and over the Greek ruins they found. Then came the Arabs and Normans. Sicily is a wonderful blend of cultures left behind and stunning mountain and seascapes. From Taormina we had close up views of Mt Etna and in Monreale we visited an 11th century church and cloisters.

Friday, January 13th, 2012
Sicily is wild and wonderful--unexpected, whimsical and thrilling. In winter, the crowds are smaller, the weather cooler and more changeable. Everyone from the Greeks and Romans to Normans and Arabs left their mark on this small island and you'll find lots to see and do on a winter visit.
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