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I have been reflecting lately on what I have created over the last 13 years. It seems like yesterday that I put my dream out there of touring Italy and rediscovering my Italian heritage and specifically my Abruzzo heritage. Now it is well and truly a reality and am so delighted that I have been able to show hundreds and hundreds of wonderful guests and often friends now – the great sights of Abruzzo Italy. The phrase that keeps coming back to me time and time again and that I hear from my guests is that “This is the Italy that we have been searching for”!

And it certainly is – to see an authentic and unspoilt Italy to tour an Italy off the main tourist paths and see Italy with only a small or handful number of guests is a truly special experience.

Also being a daughter of Abruzzo and having a direct link to the Abruzzo land and its people makes it extra special to show guests what I have experienced and the people and family whom I know so well. After having researched everything in minute detail and bringing guests new and unique experiences gives me a great buzz also. I always look for the different and the unusual and feature the best of everything especially the great artisans who make Abruzzo and other parts of Italy so special.

 

Italy is truly an overload on your senses! The tastes smells and sights Italy offers will stay with you for a lifetime.
Italy is truly an overload on your senses! The tastes smells and sights Italy offers will stay with you for a lifetime.

 

Indulge in home made spaghetti alla chitarra in Abruzzo Italy
Indulge in home made spaghetti alla chitarra in Abruzzo Italy

 

I want to share with you a series of photos I took of FIAT 500’s or as we call them FIAT BAMBINOS! From Sulmona, Archi, Pescara, Milano, Matera and Lecce I see them around often and they always put a smile on my face!

Time to get away from it all on your trip to Italy!
Time to get away from it all on your next trip to Italy!

 

Italian vacations on the road less travelled
Italian vacations on the road less travelled

 

My Vacation in Italy took me to Milan Expo in 2015
My Vacation in Italy took me to Milan Expo in 2015

 

Fun at Milan Expo 2015 on my recent Trip to Italy!
Fun at Milan Expo 2015 on my recent Trip to Italy!

 

 

Enjoy these great Fiat 500 or Fiat Bambinos on your next Trip to Italy!
Enjoy these great Fiat 500 or Fiat Bambinos on your next Trip to Italy!

Luciana’s tour packages to Italy not only cover Abruzzo but in the last few years they also include some southern Italy regions such as Puglia and Basilicata. Her team of wonderful guides are on hand to assist and help create the best possible experience for all the guests, all year round.

There is time to sit and watch the world go by on your next vacation in Italy.
There is time to sit and watch the world go by on your next vacation in Italy.

 

Discover the road less travelled in Abruzzo Italy.
Discover the road less travelled in Abruzzo Italy.

 

The stunning beauty of Lago di San Domenico near Scanno in Abruzzo Italy
The stunning beauty of Lago di San Domenico near Scanno in Abruzzo Italy

 

 

 

 

 

As the Carnevale season approaches in the next week.. these are typical sweets made throughout Italy. Each region has a different name for them.. In Abruzzo we call them CROSTOLI, in Puglia and elsewhere they are CHIACCHIERE! Here is the recipe on this link..looking forward to making them soon with my guests in my next cooking class!
Follow this good recipe here and make your own for this coming Carnevale time:
https://culinariaitalia.wordpress.com/category/recipe/dolce-sweet/

 

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Chiacchiere (photo courtesy of culinariaitalia)

 

 

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Touring Abruzzo Italy tours, Luciana Masci of Touring Abruzzo is pleased to announce the 2017 dates – check here to see the extensive and exciting range now available.
Her tours to Abruzzo are still going stong and soon in 2017 she will be celebrating 13 years in Abruzzo! Fortunately the number 13 is good luck in Italian – so plenty of great adventures will be coming your way.
ABRUZZO – the popular 4, 8 and 10 day programmes are always are feature of an Abruzzo journey with Luciana and her team. However in recent years there has been a great demand for private or custom touring. This way you can be sure to travel at a time and date which suits you and of course you will have exclusive and personalised attention by Luciana and her team.

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HERITAGE SERVICES in ABRUZZO with LUCIANA
The other wonderful service provided by Luciana is HERITAGE and ANCESTRAL SERVICES in Abruzzo.  Many guests from USA have contacted Luciana and with careful planning and constant communication with the guests, the fabulous and emotional experience of reuniting with one’s village in Abruzzo and also with living family there as well is just priceless and so rewarding. Look here to see Joe reunited with his family in Scerni,  southern Abruzzo after 55 years!  This is the biggest turn out I have experienced as well.
PUGLIA – 2017 promises to be a great year for travel to Puglia. Explore the heel of Italy and discover the authentic charm of the rural interior to coastal seaside towns of the Adriatic.
The September 24 departure “TREASURES of PUGLIA” (10 days) is proving to be popular and there are spaces available here. This programme takes in 3 bases of Polignano a Mare, Ostuni and Lecce where guests can relax with 3 nights in each place. touring Abruzzo Italy tours. This tour programme is fully escorted and offers a truly comprehensive programme, where you will have 10 days of touring starting from 9.00am on Day 1 to well into the afternoon on Day 10. You will also have time in the afternoon to relax and unwind before more visits in the late afternoon / evening.
BASILICATA This exciting new destination in Italy’s deep south is the one to watch. In the next few years Basilicata will explode with interest, as in 2019 the town of Matera has been awarded the “EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE” award.
Visit now before the rest of the world discovers Basilicata. Luciana and her team have thoroughly researched this unknown region over the last 2 years and now there are 4 and 8 day programmes to choose from.
“TASTES of BASILICATA” tour is a 4 day short stay to give you a taste of this region from its food, wine, artisans and great history. This programme is based in the magical town of Matera.
“BACK ROADS of BASILICATA” tour is a more comprehensive exploration over 8 days. Here we add on 3 nights in Forenza where we stay in a boutique farmhouse with its own in fabulous house restaurant.

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Melfi has great medieval charm…
CAMPANIA – AMALFI area: Another great programme to consider is the newly researched tour “DIVINE WALKS of the AMALFI COAST”. Details to be released soon for the MAY 11 and SEPTEMBER 11 departures. The 5 day programme promises to impress as it is for the walkers who love to explore Italy’s natural wonders and rich historic towns. Led by qualified hiking guide, Rosa there will be 3 medium walks planned spanning from Ravello to Amalfi, walks in a gorge passing an ancient and still functioning paper mill, as well as the famous Walks of the Gods, which hugs the spectacular Amalfi coastline. There are also cultural and foodie inclusions such as visiting wine makers, ceramic producers and exploring fabulous gardens and the historic centres with all their treasures. CONTACT LUCIANA for more information.

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Explore Villa Rufolo at Ravello along one of our walks on the Amalfi coast.
Touring Abruzzo trip advisor is proud to announce it’s TRIP ADVISOR listing and already has many reviews.
All guests who travel with Luciana Masci and her team have had memorable experiences and are willing to share it with others. Her passion for Abruzzo is evident as well as her attention to detail and truly personalised service. Touring abruzzo italy tours trip advisor.
READ HERE to access the latest wonderful reviews now online.
Whether you visit Abruzzo Italy for a private day tour, revisit your ancestral village or come one of Luciana’s set tour departures there is something for everyone to take away in their hearts. Her local knowledge and access to an authentic Abruzzo village Italy experience …that only local can provide!
The Piaggio APE is a 3 wheeler designed in Italy in 1948. You may not know but the engineer and designer behind the much love APE was from ABRUZZO! Yes Corradino D’Ascanio hailed from Popoli, near Sulmona and he also invented the VESPA and aircraft!  So the first Ape were virtually a Vespa with 2 wheels added to the back and added a tray at the rear as well. So an affordable means of commercial transport was born. Today it is still seen around the villages and I remember my cousins in Ripa Teatina in the 1970’s using it to go to the fields and sell at the markets.
Today I see many young ones who have converted their family’s APE into a modern piece of transport.
Others have created wonderful commercial activities out of them, like food trucks.
I love the APE used as a milk van! Which one do you like? The original ones were 50 cc, 125 cc and you can get 150 cc and 175 cc as well..
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Love this Ape used as a milk van!
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Also to transport milk around the property!
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How about as a removal service! My 15 yr old friend has found his new vocation.
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Gotta love this one… pretty in pink and selling pizza with mortadella!
WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE?
Here is my new 2016 brochure for your perusal. It is 4 pages filled with exciting new tour itineraries and destinations.
You will find my small group tours to Abruzzo Italy – are going strong and still very popular, after 12 years.
TOURING ABRUZZO is proud to work with a great team of professionals who make my work a pleasure.
 TOURS TO ABRUZZO in 2016: 
* Tastes of Abruzzo 4 days of fun, food and the best of Abruzzo. A great taste!
* Back Roads of Abruzzo – 8 days on the roads less travelled in Abruzzo. Amazing and live like a local for a week!
* Grand Tour of Abruzzo 10 days of immersion in the culture, food and traditions of Abruzzo Italy. Pure magic!

Ask Luciana for more information and see the dates from May to October this year.

Remember that travelling to Abruzzo Italy with Luciana is an ALL INCLUSIVE experience.. There is virtually nothing further out of pocket to spend once you sign up for a tour programme.
ALL GROUPS ARE SMALL and NEVER EXCEED 12 GUESTS – usually there are less (average 4- 8 guests)
CHOOSE OTHER DESTINATIONS IN SOUTHERN ITALY – 
After extensive research with wonderful guides and learned archeologists, Luciana can now offer fabulous new destinations in Southern Italy:
  • PUGLIA TOURS choose a programme to suit you in this splendid part of Italy’s heel.
  • BASILICATA – the beauty of Matera and timeless atmosphere will leave you mesmerised..
  • LAZIO & CAMPANIA – follow the Appian Way from Rome to Naples and discover its treasures..
MEET FABIO – your tour escort in Puglia and Basilicata.
Touring Southern Italy.
Born in Lecce, Puglia – Fabio is an archeologist has always had the passion for art and history. Working in this field he has had the possibility to travel extensively (Egypt, Romania, Italy) but he mainly works in his own region of Puglia, the place he loves the most. Fabio is ready to share with you his passion and knowledge of this beautiful region. Be prepared to take in breath-taking landscapes, great traditional food of Puglia, full bodied wines, cities of unexpected beauty and unforgettable experiences. Touring Southern Italy, Touring Puglia has never been easier with such a tour guide.
Fabio speaks fluent Italian and English and he will be your driver/guide during your stay in Puglia where you will feel as part of his extended family. He has joined Luciana’s team in the last 2 years and bring you the best of Puglia and Basilicata as you travel on the path less travelled…

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Photo from Museo di Alezio site
Currently as an archeologist, he is the curator of a wonderful archeological museum in the Lecce province. He has catalogued and researched the history of the local pre Roman peoples, the Messapi. Through the necropolis and tombs found dating back from the 6th – 2nd  century BC – beautiful ceramics, bronzes and gold jewellery have come to light.
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Meeting local artisans in to of the way towns…Confetti producers here!
Together we have discovered wonderful artisans  who create wonders with bread, confetti or sugared almonds.. We have met passionate jewellers, chocolatiers, paper mache’ artisan Claudio, even fabulous artisan weavers who are reviving ancient looms with traditional Pugliese designs. I bought a rug (red and white wool) a couple of years ago and it is one of my most prized possesions!
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Connecting with local artisans and found great treasures – local weavers in Puglia.
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All part of the research…where to take guests for morning coffee!
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On research mission with Fabio – Discovering the beauty of OTRANTO in southern Puglia
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On a field trip researching the hidden and lost village of CRACO, Basilicata.
It is so good that I have found Fabio and we work together as a great team bringing ideas, experience, knowledge and above all passion to show our guests true village Italy and lesser known but great gems off the beaten track.
We have developed 4,8 and 10 day tour programmes which cover just Puglia, just Basilicata and now a combined 10 day journey featuring the best of Abruzzo/ Puglia/Basilicata!
BUON VIAGGIO!
Eggplants are  wonderful vegetables and are used a lot in Italian and also in Asian cooking. Also known as aubergine, they belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes. 
I grow them in my garden in the Australian summer and with the subtropical climate in Brisbane it is a great plant and you have abundant crops with only one plant. 
HEALTH BENEFITS: Eggplants have a lot of fibre, potassiumvitamin C and vitamin B-6 as well as are high in antioxidants.
Here is a great Sicilian recipe below which I was given when I visited the fabulous Aeolian Islands. Give it a try it is simple and tastes fabulous. I love the balance of the sweet and the acidity and the freshness of the mint. We made this recipe in one of my Italian cooking classes earlier this year.

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MELANZANE IN AGRODOLCE:   Sweet and Sour Eggplants with Mint 
This is a lovely recipe to make in summer when eggplants and mint are in abundance.
Once made keep this dish at room temperature to serve.
2 eggplants
1/2 onion
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  • Wash the eggplant and dice in walnut size cubes. 
  • Place in a dish and salt them generously and leave for 30 mins. This helps remove any bitterness from the eggplant (usually more so if eggplants are large or older).
  • In a non stick frypan, add the oil and the chopped onion – sautée and do not burn the onion, just sweat it down.
  • Drain the salted eggplant and pat dry with clean tea towel or absorbent towel.
  • Add the eggplant and stir until eggplant cooked and browned. 
  • In a cup add the vinegar and the sugar, stir to dissolve sugar. Pour this over the eggplant in the frypan.
  • Stir gently until the vinegar evaporates. When done, add half the mint leaves(tear them) and mix through gently.
  • Place on a dish and put the extra mint leaves on top.

VARIATIONS: You can also do this with zucchini. Slice in round slices and salt as above.

                                                                                      Buon Appetito!


Which is your favourite Italian pasta?
When you hear the word pasta you think of Italy. This simple and staple food of mixing flour with water and sometimes, eggs is something so integral to the history of Italian food.

If you think about the origins of pasta, it has been found to date back thousands of years to the times of the Etruscans, the ancient people of central Italy who predated the Romans! Archeologists have found ancient paintings in their tombs, depicting the making of the pasta, known then as lagane – which was an oven baked version of pasta rather than boiled.

With the influence of the Arab people in southern Italy especially in Sicily they brought across the knowledge of drying pasta, which was great as it could survive the long journeys and be transportable.

Today Italy’s 20 regions all boast their favourite or traditional pasta from ravioli, gnocchi, spaghetti, fettuccini and others as there are more than 300 varieties of pasta, dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca)!

Check out an Introduction to Italian Pasta below and learn more about Italy’s most famous food!

Central & Regional Italian Pasta
When travelling to  Abruzzo you can enjoy the special “spaghetti alla chitarra”   which is pasta cut on a wooden frame with steel strings, so this ensures the pasta to have a square edge to it. It is simply delicious with a lamb and roast capsicum ragu’! In Puglia you cannot go past the fabulous round “orecchiette” pasta – known as ‘little ears’ or a hat shaped pasta and served with greens (like turnip greens) and some chilli.

Cooking Classes With Luciana
For those living in Brisbane and the rest of Australia why not join Luciana and cook up many traditional Italian dishes including fresh pasta, vegetable dishes, baking and pastries? The next fun class is scheduled for Saturday April 30 and is held at Moreton Bay College, Wondall Rd, Manly, Brisbane. Places are limited at this stage (maximum of 12 guests only).

Contact Luciana for more details: email luci@touringabruzzo.com or call 0475 885 851

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Home made pasta – fettuccine with sumo al pomodoro e basilico
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Fun cooking Italian together at Moreton Bay College, Manly- Brisbane, Australia

WHY NOT JOIN LUCIANA FOR THE NEXT CLASS ON SATURDAY APRIL 30?
CONTACT LUCIANA HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION


Another great group of wonderful cooks came together over the weekend to cook up a storm. Italian cooking is fun when cooking together especially when making pasta from scratch and making many other traditional dishes.
We made dishes like veal involtini filled with a parsley frittata – a recipe shown to me by by Abruzzese family. Once you fill the veal with the frittata it is rolled up and secured with a toothpick, the meat is browned then it is placed into the tomato sauce for the pasta and gently simmers there for a while. Of course the great flavours soak into the veal rolls. So you have a primo dish of pasta, then the secondo or meat dish is ready also!
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Pasta alla Norma – a great dish from Sicily.
The pasta sauce we made was an eggplant, tomato and basil with ricotta – a great traditional Sicilian dish from the town of Catania. They call it Pasta alla Norma – as legend says that the composer Vincenzo Bellini ordered this dish often and so it was named after his great opera ‘Norma’. 
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Brutti ma Buoni – hazelnut meringues
Here is a biscuit I love to make – these are delicious Hazelnut Meringues, known as Brutti ma Buoni (‘Ugly but Good’!).
They do not look ugly to me, but taste sublime. They originate from the north of Italy from the 1800’s, some say from Lombardia region and others say from the Piemonte region as there are many hazelnuts found there.
Why not try them yourselves? Quite simple to make using basically 3 ingredients! 
BRUTTI MA BUONI – Makes about 20 biscuits
75 gr (2.65 oz) egg whites (about 3 eggs)
150 gr (5.0 oz) roasted ground coarsely hazelnuts
140 gr (about 5oz) (or less) caster sugar
vanilla bean scraped or paste

* Preheat oven 150 deg.
* In a bowl, whisk the egg whites with about half the sugar to form stiff meringue, add the vanilla.
* Blend the other half of the sugar with the whole hazelnuts.
* Place the meringue mixture and add the hazelnuts into a saucepan and stir until the mixture starts to thicken (about 10 mins or so). You will need to stir as it will stick. 
* Remove from heat and cool. Place spoonfuls of mixture onto tray lined with baking paper.
* Bake for at least 15-20 mins until golden brown.
VARIATION – add 2 tbsp dark cocoa to the meringue mix to make chocolate hazelnut biscuits, a great combination.

ENJOY!