Comfort and Tea in these times…

Hi from Luciana Masci from Touring Abruzzo 

Some Italian treasures collected on my travels
Some Italian treasures collected on my travels

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:

  1. 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.

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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!

Great comfort food starts at home
Great comfort food starts at home

Italian Sponge Cake    (Pan di Spagna) by Loredana 

6 eggs

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.

 

4) Gardening…

 

Flowers from my garden
Flowers from my garden

 

So satisfying to grow food at home
So satisfying to grow food at home

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. 

5) Painting…

My painting "Reaching into the Light"
My painting “Reaching into the Light”

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!

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Read more here to learn all about what Luciana and her team will be offering in 2020.

EXPERIENCE CENTRAL & SOUTHERN ITALY with LUCIANA

Luciana is celebrating 16 years of leading boutique and bespoke tours to Abruzzo in 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!

Read more here to learn all about what Luciana and her team will be offering in 2020.

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 .

Tour dates: May 3; May 28; June 21; September 10;

October 12.
‘BACK ROADS of MOLISE’ tour (8 days): 
Tour dates: June 21 & October 12

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!