Hosted by accomplished cook Luciana Masci, you will experience the traditional culture of Italy’s central region of Abruzzo and southern Italy. Working closely with Luciana, you will prepare authentic recipes passed down through the generations of her family and her Italian friends.
Create an Italian banquet from ANTIPASTI, PASTA and delicious DOLCE.
Date: Sunday, April 11, 2021 Time: 9.30 am – 2.30/3.00 pm Venue: Holland Park West Cost:$135 per person (limited places)
ANTIPASTI:Selection of various antipasti –
* grilled zucchini with goat’s cheese and tomatoes
* stuffed vegetables (zucchini and capsicum) PRIMO:Spaghetti al limone DOLCE:Torta di Ricotta
Luciana, who is passionate about Italian cuisine and culture has taught authentic Italian cooking for many years in Brisbane and also as part of her small group boutique tours to Abruzzo and southern Italy.
Luciana’s Italian cooking classes fill quickly, so book now to be part of this special event.
The menu is vegetarian and contains gluten and dairy.
We will be using wonderful fresh ingredients and working with goats cheese, mascarpone and fresh ricotta. We will be enjoying Italian wines which will complement the menu.
The experience includes – welcome coffee, sit down lunch of food we have cooked together served with Italian wine, hands-on tuition, ingredients, recipe details, a Touring Abruzzo apron* and the opportunity to savour your own authentic Italian creations.
(*Return guests, please bring your Touring Abruzzo apron)
It is difficult and frustrating to know that in Australia we cannot travel anywhere outside our country for now. Italy seems so distant but the memories and feelings and sensations are so clear and vivid to me. Here is a little list of what I truly love and miss. I cannot wait to return to my land and my people once more…
The sound of church bells.
Since medieval times,bells have always had a place in the cultural life of Italy.
They are a call to arms, a call for war, they can be the sound of happiness for weddings, the slow peal for funerals…
In my village of Palombaro I love the daily sound of our church bell either from the church of San Salvatore or from the Madonna dell’Assunta.
I would hear the bells ringing on the quarter hour and the half hour and on the hour.. It gave my day some regularity and sense of calmness.
On Sunday the bells would sound for longer and call the villagers for the 11.00 am mass.
It is a joyous sound!
My village bell tower in Palombaro
2) The smiles and faces of my family and friends.
Of course I miss my immediate family there – my cousins and my aunty in Palombaro, Chieti, Ripa Teatina and Villamagna.
I long to see my old friend Dora who is now over 80. She gets around the village and is always busy doing something… from picking walnuts off her trees and selling them to local bakeries to use in their baking to growing the best tomatoes outside her apartment on her balcony. She is always ready with her large smile and always keen to get me in for a mid morning caffe!
I wish I could be near my darling cousin Loredana who loves our weekly shopping trips and in the right season we go foraging for wild asparagus for example which is in the springtime. She calls me up and says to pop around and make pasta with her and stay on for dinner… no formal invitation needed.I walk from one end of the village where I am and in 5 mins I am outside her door!
My many friends I have met over the years bring me much joy with their warmth and kindness and always ready to help me out or meet me for a gelato!
3) The smell of coffee and cornetto!
You may be shocked to hear that I don’t drink coffee! However the smell is so wonderful and as soon as I arrive in Rome my senses are stirred up when I smell the Lavazza or Illy coffee from the cafe-bar and the baked cornetti or Italian croissants (which are like a brioche). I know I have arrived back in Italy.
Every village has at least one bar and the sound of the coffee machine and clinking of the espresso coffee cups…aah(I drink green tea and now decaf coffee by the way!)
Of course I do! My wardrobe is mainly from my Italian finds – the lovely pants and dresses and the great shoes and handbags… Oh I do miss that. It is fun going to the sales with my cousin Loredana and we find things for each other. We try dresses on and have a laugh.
Even the mundane grocery shop we do together is fun as we chat and giggle all the way. We find new items to try and exchange recipes for the night’s dinner.
Weekly shopping trip with cousin Loredana
5) The Tomatoes and the Olive Oil!
I think many of you will agree on this one! Those of you who remember staying at Loreto Aprutino at the agriturismo and nonna Olga would come out with a plate of bread with home grown sun ripened tomatoes with some dried oregano, a sprinkle of salt and lashings of their extravirgin olive oil.. Oh I can taste that sweetness now and flesh so meaty and it tastes like a real tomato. Do you remember that?
What are your top five things you miss or love about Italy?
I have written a real heart felt newsletter in these strange and even distressing times for many of us. The world has been shaken up and it is hard to make plans in the foreseeable future. I hope you are all staying safe and healthy too.
We can only continue to keep our dream of travelling to Italy alive each and every day. It is super frustrating for everyone – guests who are itching to travel again and for guests who are saddened with their cancellation or postponement of their Italy travels this year. It is frustrating for us as tour operators to see all our work disappear with the click of a finger, just like that. After 16 years of hard work it is not easy to just close up and fold up just like that.. My team and I will not be beaten but need to rise again and be ready to continue to share our love and passion for Abruzzo and the other central and southern Italy regions we travel to.
In this newsletter – see some great and innovative videos we have put together so you can meet some of my valuation team.
In these troubling times since February our lives have had a big shake up and change. With my yearly tours to Italy everything has come to a halt, just like that overnight.
After 16 years of travelling to Italy to lead the tours it is so disastrous and sad that I cannot be there this year.
I am based in Brisbane, Australia and spend part of each year in Italy where I am based in Abruzzo.
As we cannot travel within Australia or out of Australia it has given me much time to reflect on my life and work. There are things which do give me comfort and solace in these sad times.
As I isolate and do my best to stay home I enjoy:
My beautiful things around me…
Over a lifetime of travelling I collect beautiful pieces especially c eramics. The ceramic sea urchins are from my visit to the Amalfi Coast and I explored the famous ceramic village of Vietri.
The coaster is a piece from Castelli, in Abruzzo and the ceramic and cork mat is from Portugal way back in 1986!
I have also been fortunate to know wonderful Australian friends who have gifted me special pieces like the blue and white teapot from Vietnam and my prized Royal Crown Derby teacup and saucer both from Rosemary. I will treasure these pieces forever as she is no longer with us.
2) Tea tea and more tea…
For an Italian is it strange to say that I don’t drink coffee?? I am a green tea drinker. I love the fragrant jasmine green teas, sencha tea and also herbal teas like peppermint.
I take it outdoors, indoors and also on my bed with a warm wool blanket…that is super comforting.
3) Cooking and Baking ….
I love to pull out my old recipes and also find new recipes to try out on my family and friends.
I find comfort in making my traditional Abruzzese and Italian recipes like gnocchi, chicken soup, spaghetti alla chitarra with a slow cooked lamb sauce.
Here is a new sponge cake recipe my cousin Loredana shared with me from Abruzzo over a Whats App chat!
I will share it with you here – it has only 3 ingredients and it works every time. In this recipe I cut it in half and sprinkled it with coffee and a liqueur I had in my cupboard (like cointreau or frangelico)., then filled it with homemade nutella spread and whipped chantilly cream!
Italian Sponge Cake(Pan di Spagna) by Loredana
150 gr sugar
180 gr plain flour (sifted and add 2 teaspoons baking powder)
In a mixer bowl add the eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer for around 20 mins until the mixture is pale and creamy and with lots of volume. This is how the air is introduced into the sponge mix.
Turn the mixer off and gently fold in the sifted flour with a spatula or wooden spoon, careful not to overwork the folding.
Place in a greased springform cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170 deg and bake for 30 – 35 mins. It should be soft to touch and the cake come away from the sides.
Leave to cool in the tin before turning out.
With my Italian heritage gardening and growing food is part of our DNA! Coming from family who have always farmed in rural Abruzzo, I have always grown up with a vegetable garden.
Here is my pumpkin plant growing which I will harvest soon in our autumn season here in Australia. At the moment I am growing tomatoes, herbs and some greens as well as eggplants.
I also enjoy growing some flowers like this hibiscus called Lemon Delight and my yellow chrysanthemums which come from our nonna Liberata’s garden and we saved the plants and pass it onto all our family now.
My newest passion is trying to learn to paint. I have always loved sketching but over the years as I become more busy it was something that got forgotten. I have recently got out my old sketch book and seen the things I drew… Now I have picked up paint brush and put paint to canvas.
This is my latest effort. I have called it “Reaching into the Light”.. What do you think?
I have drawn inspiration from our first people here, our aboriginal people with their rich culture and design.
I hope to do more, as I find it really zones me out and it is such a mindful practice that I can get lost in my world for a while. It actually has been so good for my mind, body and soul, I wish I can do more and try out different techniques and perhaps learn to mix and blend colours..
Well these are a few of my favourite things, when I am not travelling and working in Italy.
Thanks to Maria Laura from Laura Selection who has inspired me and encouraged me to write a few word on Comfort and Tea in these times.
I am looking forward to our collaboration with Maria Laura from Molise region which is just below our beloved Abruzzo. We have created and curated a superb new tour programme “Back Roads of Molise” which was ready to launch this year 2020, however it is on hold for 2021 and we are ready to go with it.
It will be 8 magnificent days exploring the little known region of Molise together with Luciana and Maria Laura!
Luciana is celebrating 16 years of leading boutique and bespoke tours to Abruzzoin central Italy. Over the years, Luciana has added several other regions in southern Italy to provide more travel choices for guests.
2020 will see Luciana and her team launch 2 new regions – Sardinia & Molise! A big thank you must go out to the many guests who have supported Touring Abruzzo and loved travelling with the team. Grazie a tutti.
ABRUZZO – still has so much to offer!
From Private Day Tours, Retracing your Ancestral Heritage in Abruzzo, to 4 day / 8 day / 10 day fully escorted tours – Luciana always shares her love for her ancestral land and creates a true Italian experience.
NEW TOUR: SARDINIA 2020
We are super excited to release our new tour: BACK ROADS OF SARDINIA (8 days) – September 3-10, 2020
This is a guaranteed departure with small group only. Be prepared to be immersed in the rich history and culture of Sardinia, see amazing artisans at work and enjoy local regional food.
We will travel from Cagliari then west and north of Sardinia to Alghero and end in Olbia.
Luciana has teamed up with Fabio again (Puglia & Basilicata tours) and they will lead the inaugural tour to bring you the signature Touring Abruzzo style and attention to detail!
MOLISE region launching in 2020! ‘TASTES of MOLISE’ tour: 4 days This region is directly below Abruzzo and shares much of its culture and history with Abruzzo until it separated in the early 1960’s and became its own region. We will be based in Termoli on the Adriatic coastline and explore the eastern part of Molise .
Every now and again, we need that perfect holiday to get away from it all. Get away from our hectic and stressful lives, get away from being stuck for hours in endless traffic to and from work, get away from people we know and our nosey neighbour.
There is nothing wrong taking time off to wander off into the sunset at some exotic holiday destination to get much-needed rest to recharge your batteries. As the adage says, “all work and no play makes Jake a dull boy”.
To feel rejuvenated, you have to go somewhere new. Such a place needs to have all the holiday’s ‘must-haves’, and Abruzzo in Italy is that perfect holiday destination. Abruzzo has a unique set of customs and your experience of this heaven on earth will be further enhanced when you have some local knowledge and insights.
Below are our useful tips so you can “do what the Romans do in Rome”;
1) Greet Everyone With Two Kisses
Italians are the most affectionate people, who will not hold back in bursting into your personal space to say hello. When meeting someone, you greet them with two kisses, one each cheek regardless of age gender and how well you know them. Greeting someone with two kisses in Italy is common, and anything less will look very awkward.
2) Do Not Order A Cappuccino After 11 am
A cappuccino is regarded as a breakfast drink in Italy. It is advisable not to order it after 11 am, especially with a meal, or you will be looked at as either weird or you had a huge night out and you just from waking up.
3) Enjoy A Mid-Afternoon Riposino
During summer, it is a norm for shops to close at lunchtime. The reason for this is that everyone is escaping the stifling noon heat to hide from the sun during the days hottest hours. So, at noon remember to a “riposino”, a nap, and by 4 pm you stand a better chance of finding shops open.
4) Do Not Put Ketchup On Your Pasta Or Pizza
One of the worst things you can do to deflate an Italian chef’s ego is to ask for ketchup in a restaurant. You can get away with putting ketchup on a burger or fries, but using it on pasta or pizza is a cardinal sin that will be met with disapproving nods from people at nearby tables.
5) Start Your Day With A Sweet Breakfast
If you are used to starting your day with a mean greasy breakfast or just plain cereal, then in Italy you will begin your day on a sweet note. A classic Italian breakfast is a sweet pastry, with coffee or cappuccino and occasionally orange juice. You will not get a savoury breakfast at your hotel or restaurant, so your only option is heading to the nearest bar and order “un cafe” to drink at the counter with a croissant and orange juice.
6) Only Drink Water, Wine Or Beer With Your Meals
The most common drinks that will accompany your meal will always be water, beer or wine. Several restaurants do not serve cocktails. Children can be excused and can drink sodas with their meals. However, as an adult, you should not opt for a soda as it seems you are covering up the taste of the meal, while water allows you to savour and enjoy your meal.
Planning your perfect holiday does not need to feel like mission impossible. Not only will Touring Abruzzo plan your holiday according to your needs, but we will also guide you on how to live like the locals. Contact us today!