October 2021 News from Elizabeth
Hello from the road! After 2 years of writing this newsletter from the comfort of my own office, I’m now writing it while sitting in bed in my hotel room as the sun rises over the port of Monopoli in Puglia. I’m in the middle of the third of 8 week-long tours I’m leading this fall. We’ve been to Abruzzo and Umbria and now Puglia so far, and are headed off for more tours in Puglia, Sicily and Parma.
When I sit down to write my newsletter each month I usually take a look at past issues, just to make sure I’m not repeating myself (because I do that way too often!). This month there is no chance of that. I cannot even begin to express the complete and utter joy I am currently experiencing being back doing tours with our guests. Although I always keep the tone in this newsletter upbeat and positive, I have to admit there were times over the last year when i wasn’t 100% sure I’d be back here. There was no road map for a business like mine that depends on the kindness of open borders. Obviously, travel restrictions due to Covid pretty much put a halt on any tours.
That said, I never stopped planning. Against all advise and against all odds I kept planning. Making hotel and restaurant reservations for tours I that quite possibly would be taking place only in my head. Researching new and exciting experiences for guests I was hopeful would, one day, be able to share them with me.
A lot of people thought I was crazy. (including some people I am married to). But I had hope and that hope has turned out to be reality. I have always been and will always be a glass half full kind of person. But this month? I’m very happy to report that my own personal glass is over flowing. Thank you for giving me the emotional support to keep this show on the road.
Besides just getting back to leading our regularly scheduled tours, this fall I’m actually launching three completely new tours that I’ve never done before. The first ‘new’ tour was our Craft and Culinary tour in Abruzzo with my friend Evan Kleiman. Even though I had been to Abruzzo countless times to plan our time there, as you can imagine when I’m with a group for the first time, I’m never sure if they will fall in love with a region and the people who live there as much has I have. In Abruzzo I think I can safely say that we all never wanted to leave. It was a joy to work with our friend Marino to craft several days that brought us into the homes of people who shared their way of life with us. We made pasta and cheese and dined at long tables with three generations of families. I also have to give a huge shout out to our hotel, Sextantio, who introduced me to the craftspeople who lead our workshops in jewelry making and weaving. FYI: I’ve had the amulet I made to ward off bad luck in my wallet for 2 weeks now, and it seems to be doing its job!
It was so great to finally bring guests back to Umbria again. As you may remember we spent all of lockdown, and then some, at our home in Todi. Opening my own doors to a group of new friends, and gathering around our table….I actually kept getting teary. At one point last year I never thought I’d be able to justify my ceramic service for 14 ever again.
We just finished our Culinary Retreat in Puglia and Melissa and I are already talking about repeating it next year. It’s the perfect combination of being in the countryside (Masseria Potenti) and then the sea in Monopoli. And next week Sophie and I begin our regular Week in Puglia tour which I’m very excited about since we’ve changed it a bit from our past tours. We are super excited to be collaborating with our friend Silvestro who will be hosting a market walk and cooking class with us in Lecce. And we will also be introducing our guests to a farm Sophie recently discovered that will allow us to not only hang out with adorable animals, but also make cheese and bake taralli.
I guess everyone is super excited to be traveling again since our line up for tours in 2022 is not only almost completely full, but each week also has a long wait list. I am thinking of adding a few more weeks, and even considering a new concept for our tours . So much work goes into the planning and research portion of our tours. Sophie and I spend weeks on the ground, researching each trip meticulously, so that everything - from hotels to meals to activities - is perfectly curated. The only thing limiting me from adding additional weeks is that there is only one of me!! So I’m considering offering a few weeks led by colleagues (some of whom you have definitely heard of or already follow or read on social media). What do you think? I’m always excited to collaborate with friends in new ways that allows everyone to have more fun! Stay tuned for more news. And remember, I always announce tour availability first in the Premium version of the newsletter.
For the full schedule of our upcoming tours in 2022 and 2023 see this page. And even if the tour is fully booked, I am more than happy to add you to the wait list so you have first crack at any spaces that open up and/or new tours I add in that area.
WHAT I’M READING
This incisive article about the future of travel from Sara Clemens is a must read.
A thoughtful well written piece on when , and when not, to call the Carbonara Police
Currently reading Billy Summers, Steven King’s newest. Because nothing says escape to me more than the latest from one of my favorite authors.
Love this list from The Italy Edit for bringing a bit of Amalfi into your life.
The United States is set to lift the travel ban for Europeans in November. This will mean that airlines will be adding more flights, which should make getting here a bit easier.
I think I need to have more Savon de Marseille in my life.
WHAT I’M EATING
Since I’ve been leading tours almost non-stop these last few weeks, I thought I’d share some recipes for some of my favorite dishes from Abruzzo, Umbria and Puglia
Pallotte Cacio Ovo are meatless ‘meatballs’ from Abruzzo made from leftover bread. They are delicious! Here is my friend Domenica’s recipe.
Orecchiette con Cima di Rapa just like I had last week in Monopoli
Wild Boar Stew just like we had in Umbria 2 weeks ago.
Bombette just like we had last week at Masseria Potenti.
After launching my app EAT ITALY over ten years ago, I have made the decision to retire it. You can read all about it here. But I just wanted to let you know that before retiring it I downloaded all of the content into PDF’s. If you are already subscribed to the Premium version of this newsletter, then you have received the link to download the document. And if you decide to upgrade to the Premium you will receive the link in your mailbox.
There is also news about Sophie’s book The Sweetness of Doing Nothing. It is now easily available and in stock in the USA. You can continue to get it through Amazon, where it is also available as an e-book. It is also available through other online channels like Barnes & Noble. And since it is now distributed directly by Harper Collins in the USA your local bookstore can get it for you too!