September 2021 News from Elizabeth

Lately, unsurprisingly, people have been turning to me for travel advice. In the last month I’ve spoken to everyone from popular travel magazines to the Washington Post and New York Times. It’s because everyone is itching to travel, but finding the rules and regulations a bit confusing. I’m more than happy to sort through the current, daily, and very specific, Italian laws to let you know which if any test you need, where you need to wear a mask and/or any vaccination requirements. Even though these laws are constantly shifting, that is the easy part of giving this sort of advice.

But there is another element to travel these days, which is much more difficult to weigh in on. I’m finding that more and more people are asking me questions that have no real answer. Questions like: ‘Should I travel?’ and ‘When will it be safe for me personally to travel?’

This is almost impossible to answer. I can easily tell you if I personally feel comfortable traveling (the answer is yes). But I realize that everyone has a different level of comfort and definition of risk. Risk of getting sick or risk of being stranded or risk of losing a deposit you paid towards a vacation. All of these things factor in and I personally can’t answer them for you.

The only thing I can do is share my honest belief in that this thing will be around for the foreseeable future and if you want to travel, you are going to have to figure out your own way to navigate through it. The one thing I don’t think you’ll be able to do is wait until it’s all over. I believe that one way or the other, this is the new normal and we will have to adapt .

If all this sounds like it may put a damper on your travels the only thing I can say is that I have been full on traveling this past month, and at least here in Italy I’m not only having a fabulous time, I also feel safe. I am fully vaccinated, but realize that today that isn’t always enough. So I am being careful as well: wearing masks when indoors and sometimes outdoors as well; avoiding crowded indoor spaces, etc. And when I am with people in enclosed spaces for an extended period of time, we all do antigen tests before and/or after. At the wedding I went to a few weeks ago, at home rapid tests were part of the gift package! And after last week’s boat trip the first thing I did when I got home, before seeing my family this weekend, was do another test.

Does it sound like a lot of work? In once sense it is. It took me a half hour to check into a 40 minute flight from Sicily to Rome because I had to fill out a various forms. On the other hand I believe it was well worth it. Like really worth it. But that’s me. Each of us is going to have to navigate things based on our own situation.

Have you been thinking about this too? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

WHAT’S NEW

Here we go!!!! It’s hard to believe that I haven’t led a tour since November 2019!! I can’t tell you how over-the-top excited I am to finally be meeting up with our guests in Abruzzo this Sunday with radio host and chef Evan Kleiman. Every time I think about it, I almost get teary. (I hope no one minds if I cry). If there is an up side of having postponed this trip for a year is that I’ve had even more time to plan it. Over the course of the last 6 months I’ve tweaked the tour quite a bit. Since the tour focuses on crafts as well as food culture, I added a gold-smithing class where we each craft our own amulet to bring good luck (timely, right?) as well a weaving seminar. I’ve also been in touch with the local lentil expert (that exists!) and we are having a workshop about local lentils. And of course in addition to exploring other ingredients like saffron, truffles and candied almonds, there will also be ceramics. Make sure you’re following my stories so you can see what we’re up to every day. Evan and I are repeating the Abruzzo tour next June.

I can’t believe I will actually get to spend 3 weeks in Puglia over the next two months. Sophie and have two weeks planned, for our tour that takes place between Lecce and Monopoli. And then I also have a new week planned with Melissa Clark, where we are spending 3 glorious days at my favorite Masseria Potenti, before heading to Monopoli. I know a lot of people were disappointed because the tour with Melissa filled up so fast. (FYI: I always announce the new tours in the Premium version of my newsletter first).

I’ve also been able to tweak our Sicily tour in October and have added a day exploring the culture surrounding tuna fishing in Marzameni. We’ll be visiting the ruins of ancient fisheries along the coast, before heading to the newer fisheries where we’ll taste our way through different varities. We are then invited to the private home of the last family to oversee this important industry for lunch. Although most of the tours to Sicily are sold out, there are still a few spots left for 2022 and 2023.

Visit this page for the full list of our current tours. 2022 is almost all sold out, but I may add one or two more weeks (they will be announced first to premium subscribers). But for now we still have spaces left for 2023.

WHERE I’VE BEEN

For the last 30 years or so we’ve spent the entire month of August at our home in Umbria. We usually pick the earlier summer months of June and July to travel to the sea. To places like Puglia, Ponza, and Positano. We usually avoid going to the seaside in August because of the huge crowds. This is when ALL Italians head to the seaside, usually joined by hoards of foreign tourists. But as we all know, this year is different.

This year we were invited to a wedding in Ravello mid August and so we completely flipped our usual routine. We had a lovely family time up in Umbria for the first half of August, with Sophie and Emma and my parents. Then we headed south.

If you’ve been following me along on Instagram then you know exactly what I’ve been up to the last two weeks. Forgive me if I keep using the word fabulous. Because it was completely fabulous from start to finish. You can see some of the photos here on Instagram , where I’ve saved my stories in the highlights here and here. But I just wanted to share some of the details with you here, in case you wanted to plan your own fabulous trip.

In Ravello we stayed at Villa Piedimonte, and I absolutely recommend it as a lovely and relatively affordable (for Ravello) place to stay. It has a gorgeous pool, and if you need it even has parking (not easy in Ravello). Obviously get a room with a view of the sea if you can.

Then we moved up the coast to the newest hotel in this area. Borgo Santandrea. I have my travel agent, Laney, to thank for this gem. I had no idea that the ancient Saraceno Hotel had been completely redone and is now one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve stayed in. It has mid century modern vibe, great views, delicious food and a private beach. See my stories and videos for more. Be warned: it is very pricey.

The highlight of our August extravaganza was the week we spent on a yacht. It was beyond beyond fabulous. I’d never done anything like that in my life and we were the very happy guests of my friend, who had chartered the boat for the week. You can follow along here, on my stories which I’ve saved to my highlights. We sailed around the Aeolian islands, off of Sicily and had amazing weather. There was a fantastic crew who took care of everything, and we had most meals on the boat. One of the highlights for me was when fishermen would come up to where we were anchored and the chef would buy freshly caught fish for that night’s dinner. (here is one of the meals).

WHAT I’VE BEEN READING

What did you think about that Washington Post piece? I loved David Lebovitz’s take on it.

I loved reading about these bakeries from all over the world.

Do you borrow ebooks from the library? I have to admit that I didn’t even know it was a thing

AND FINALLY…

I have to run off now, to help Sophie celebrate. It’s her birthday and she’s 31 years old! How did that happen????

x,Elizabeth