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 .
The Italian government has announced this year 2019 as the Year of Slow Travel. What is that you may ask?
Italy is not new at the art of slow.. in fact it was Italy which launched the Slow Food Movement in 1986 as a backlash to the fast food phenomenon.
Traveling slowly in Italy will give you the chance to form a more meaningful and stronger connection to the towns you’re visiting, and you will be rewarded immensely. With a slower pace and programme it is not about ticking off places and famous sights off a list, a waiting in endless queues to catch glimpses of art and architecture. It is about delving deeper and immersing fully into a lesser known region of Italy and staying in less crowded towns where you can feast on all your senses.
You will have time to unwind in a quiet cafe, watch the world go by, learn to use your Italian you have been learning and dying to practice! It is all about the experience and the meaningful connections you will make with the locals. You get to follow the seasons, eat what is local and fresh and appreciate the small pleasures all around you. It is these moments where magic is created and moments turn into lifelong memories. Travel Italy and take it slow and sure. Whether you visit Abruzzo, Marche or Molise in central Italy or Puglia and Basilicata in the heel of Italy and its deep south, there is something special awaiting you and will be the true highlight of your Italy vacation.
Last week on Travel Writers Radio they chatted about the Italian Government making 2019 the year of slow travel, and this week accomplished journalist, travel writer and reporter Veronica Matheson learnt more about the joys of slow travel from Luciana Masci who lives in Brisbane, but spends the Italian summer taking small groups of tourists around Abruzzo – the home of her ancestors – which is three hours east of Rome. For more visit www.touringabruzzo.com
Listen here to a fabulous interview with Veronica and understand why Italy and in particular Abruzzo is the place to slow down and unwind and delve deeper into the rich traditions and culture which await you.
When we receive a request to start heritage and genealogy research in Abruzzoit is always a pleasure. There is much excitement as to what will be uncovered – dates of birth, death or marriage.
But not just that sometimes there are mysteries solved or reasons why people left Abruzzo to search fortunes and a better life in USA or Australia or Canada.
The icing on the cake is when we do manage to find living relatives. That is such a positive and it makes all the difference to reconnecting guests with their village, their region, their past and also their future. Often guests supply us with an address or a contact name and number which was handed down from past migrants going back to the homeland in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s …not knowing if these contacts are still valid or not.
It starts with locating the village in Abruzzo
The process is not an easy one as for each guest that has requested prior heritage research in Abruzzo we do take it seriously. There is an extensive on site field visit to the Abruzzese village. Not only are the archives located in the town hall but also we seek to find the ancestral house, or an address from where the family left back in the 1890’s to the early 1900’s. Then we visit the cemetery, the church and any other notable places in the village.
On the day itself, the hard work pays off and the magic unfolds. From start to finish it is an amazing experience both for us at Touring Abruzzo and for the guests. To see the smiles on their faces, the wonderment the awe and the happiness is really priceless.
We hear many stories of people having gone to their village independently and not finding a thing or arriving only to find the town hall closed or the mayor unavailable or disinterested. They are unable to connect in a meaningful way, speak no Italian or the local dialect or know how to meet the right people who will open up the right doors. In a small village it is vital to speak to a person who leads you to another, from the village priest to the town baker – all of whom are vital in piecing together a story and history for the guests who are coming to revisit their ancestral village.
The Italian family still in the village is equally amazed and excited as well – they have often heard stories of their grandparents and their siblings going to overseas to the States and often returning with money made over there. Some would remain in Abruzzo then other family members would join those still in America. It really makes their dreams come true, which is so special.
If you want to contact us to learn how you can be part of something grand and bigger and more meaningful in searching for your ancestral village in Abruzzo, Italy then ask us more here. We can assist in all stages of your planning, to your arrival as well as seeing more and experiencing more of what Abruzzo has to offer with some special private day tours in Abruzzoto complete your Italy tours and vacations,which can be added on when you visit Abruzzo with us.
Lots of reasons & regions to discover this summer.
We are so proud to celebrate 14 years of travel to ABRUZZO, Italy – sharing the best the region has to offer with other like minded guests. Whether it is to explore something new in Italy or to rediscover your Italian heritage, Abruzzo offers so much. Luciana and her team of local specialists provide the best Italy experience…ever. An Italy vacation to remember.
Whether you want to walk in any of the three national parks…treasure hunt for truffles…reconnect with your ancestral village or simply observe typical village life, then look no further than beautiful Abruzzo…
Departures for Abruzzo this summer:
June 3-6; June 17-20: Tastes of Abruzzo (4 days)
June 3-12: Grand Tour of Abruzzo (10 days)** this is the most popular of all our Abruzzo tour programmes.
PRIVATE DAY TOURS IN ABRUZZO are available year round (from USD $200 pp)
PRIVATE HERITAGE SERVICES IN ABRUZZO are available year round
MARCHEregion is the exciting new region to be added to Touring Abruzzo’s tour programmes in 2018. Launching this month the inaugural departure is for May 23.
Located just above Abruzzo, it is also a wonderful central Italian region often little known to those travelling to Italy. Luciana and colleague Guido have personally created a wonderful 6 day programme including:
visits to medieval centres for paper making in Fabriano
visits to piano accordion makers, wine and olive oil producers of Marche region
visits to the birthplaces and homes of composer Rossini in Pesaro and Renaissance master Raphael or Raffello Sanzio of Urbino.
fabulous local cuisine of the Marche …
2018 Dates: May 23 -28; June 21-26; September 21-26.
PERFECT PUGLIA: June, September & October departures.
Many options to choose from – 4, 8 or 10 days in Puglia.
Travel with Fabio your Puglia tour specialist.PRIVATE DAY TOURS available also – LEARN MORE HERE PRICES from USD $2200 pp, small group travelEXCITING TRAVEL TO ITALY’S SOUTH
BACK ROADS OF BASILICATA: September 1 & October 17 departures.
8 days of exploring the deep south of Italy. Travel with Fabio your Basilicata tour specialist.PRICES from USD $2200 pp, small group travelEXPLORE MORE OF ITALY ON YOUR NEXT VACATION
FEATURE RECIPE:TARTUFINI (Little Chocolate Truffles)
I am putting this recipe in as it is back by popular demand. I know a few of you have made it and they taste great!
Happy Cooking and many happy memories of Italy too!
250gr (8 oz) whole almonds with skin on – ground
200gr (7 oz) sugar
1/2 coffee cup (1.5-2.0 fluid oz) of liqueur eg Tia Maria
1 tbspn dark cocoa
400gr (14 oz)sponge cake or plain soft cake, crumbled
Espresso coffee as needed
In a bowl, crumble the sponge cake into fine crumbs, add the ground almonds,
sugar and cocoa.
Add the liqueur slowly, then add the espresso coffee – enough to make a firm
dough and not too wet.
Need to roll into round walnut sized shapes to resemble truffles.
Roll in powdered sifted cocoa or in choc shavings or choc hail.
When cooled in fridge and ready to serve, place in small patty cases.
Visit the Touring Abruzzo Online Shop today to see the wonderful items from Abruzzo which are available. Choose from a boutique range of ceramics, traditional silver jewellery, aprons, tea towels, canvas art and books… Order online today and it will be shipped to you anywhere in the world.
Mentions of Italy instantly invoke thoughts of mouth-watering food, rich local wines and family heritage dating back hundreds of years. You can experience all that and more by exploring Italy with our tours of Italy. Consider a small group tour of Italy to Abruzzo– one of Italy’s most stunning and untouched regions. By travelling with us to Abruzzo we explore traditional slow cooking, authentic food, Italian heritage, local nature and undiscovered treasures of the region as Luciana continues her mission to spread her knowledge of all things Abruzzese. Now in her 13th year as a travel ambassador, Luciana Masci, director of Touring Abruzzo, encompasses the best of Abruzzo for those who are new to the region, and those who are coming back for more.
She is still leading her small group tours to this hidden gem in central Italy with her dynamic team of local guides and professionals. There is a wide choice of4, 8 and 10 day Abruzzo tour programmes which are all inclusive. This means there is virtually no further cost out of pocket once you have booked. You can just sit back and enjoy the journey.
“With my tours and cooking classes I am not only able to share the secrets of this wonderful region, but also recipes and history that have been passed down through my own family and are close to my heart.”
Having lived and worked in Abruzzo over the last 13 years Luciana has been able to reconnect with her ancestral heritage, her family and her village.
“Discovering my ancestral heritage was truly inspiring, and something I have had the privilege of sharing with my past tour guests in Abruzzo.”
Over the last few years Luciana has also added new exciting destinations in Italy – to make any vacation in Italy a complete one. There are now itineraries featuring other undiscovered gems in southern Italy – BasilicataandPuglia. Each explore southern Italy’s rich history, local cuisine and stunning scenery. As of 2018, Touring Abruzzo will also offer a new entry – small group tours of central Italy to the Marche region. This region lies just above Abruzzo and is worth considering on your next Italy tour. Dates have been arranged so that you can bookend 2 short programmes together such as Abruzzo then Marche or Abruzzo followed by Puglia.
What other reasons do you need to travel to Italy with Luciana and her dynamic team in 2018?
Private tours to central and southern Italy will continue to be available and heritage tours of Abruzzo will also be available.
It has been a hot summer in Italy but it has not stopped guests from visiting Abruzzo Italy, central Italy and southern Italy.I took some time off myself earlier in the season and had an amazing time in the cities of Venice, Bologna, Modena and the Tuscany region. The 2018 Italy tour programme is now out and reservations are coming in! Choose your region here and read on:
Stay tuned for ‘Tastes of Molise’, ‘Tastes of Le Marche’ & ‘Travels in Tuscany’ – run by the Touring Abruzzo team Slow down,relax on the roads less travelled in Italy..
Small group Italy tours, personalised and professional service,
run with passion and great local knowledge…
Luciana Masci will be running a couple of Italian cooking classes in Nov & Dec in Brisbane, Australia.
Italy is one of the world’s most beautiful places and there is no better way to experience a vacation in Italy than with a tour company. There are so many companies offering Italy tour packages, whether it be to Puglia in the south or more north to Abruzzo Italy has so much to see. However, if you’re travelling to Italy and looking at some Italy travel company packages then there are some things you have to watch out for!
Large Tour Groups
If you’re planning a vacation in Italy, especially a region like Abruzzo Italy, where there are significantly less tourists, then the best way to do it is with a small tour group. Many companies offering Italy vacation packages have really large tour groups, which means you get less one on one time with your guide. Italy tour packages that include huge tour groups can take away any personal