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!

Here we go, the ABRUZZO online shop is alive and well.

Click here and see the special collection curated by Luciana and available now to ship worldwide. The online shop is on the website: www.touringabruzzo.com and go to SHOP on the menu bar. Happy browsing! Which items do you like?

You can start by admiring the fabulous array of  ‘presentosa’  pendants which are made by hand, only in Abruzzo by wonderful artisans working with filigree gold and silver.

Italy tours artisan jewellery

There are many sizes to look at – small, medium, large and extra large pendants are available and Luciana can shop worldwide. You can choose your silver or gold filigree pendant.
Ask Luciana for USA prices and for shipping as it may not show up on the site (sorry!). The price may be listed in Australian Dollars (AUD), so please ask for clarification.

Abruzzo tours traditions presentosa
Abruzzo touring presentosa gold pendant

Or you may like to shop our range of fine ceramics made in Pescara and available online here. They make perfect gifts for anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas! They are beautifully packaged as well to arrive all the way to your door! There are several varieties of designs from the presentosa motif again to the rose window of Atri cathedral, to the fun ladies of Scanno wearing their traditional Abruzzo costume.

Italy tours Abruzzo ceramic mug

Or how about this wonderful memoir written by Sabatino Masci (Luciana’s father) who at age 80 wrote his story of his life and hardships in Abruzzo as a child, surviving the second World War and deciding at age 19 to leave his beloved Abruzzo for distant lands….like Australia. It is an easy to read account of his journey which he named “A Difficult Harvest”.  The font is large enough and an easy read. There are many stories my father has told all of his children yet each time I read it there are new tales and old memories which come back to me… A great read and it makes an ideal gift for those who love reading and love non fiction.

 

Abruzzo tours book mémoires

The book is in the process of being an e-book as well, which is very exciting. Ask Luciana more.

A perfect memory of your recent Italy tour and Abruzzo tour you may have done with us at Touring Abruzzo. You can relive it each day with these gorgeous items.

Ask Luciana more and we can send today to anywhere.

 

 

Catch up on our latest news, recipes and tours in our recently released newsletter. Maybe this is the year you will come to Italy with us!

This year the tours are in full swing already with tour programmes taking in Abruzzo and Puglia for the first half of the year.

The Touring Abruzzo team has a lot of news, information and tips and also a simple recipe from Puglia to try.

Touring Italy has never been easier with us as we have specialist guides in Italy’s central and southern regions so the best of Italy awaits. With a great network of private drivers who are available year round to take you on your private transfers it has never been easier. Whether it is from Rome to Abruzzo, or Abruzzo to Positano or from Abruzzo to Puglia you can travel safely knowing you will get to your destination with ease and see alot of Italy along the way.

Also you can choose your private English speaking guide on your own Private Day Tour in Abruzzo or elsewhere, knowing that it will be tailor made to suit your time, your dates and your interests.

Discovering one’s Italian Heritage has always been very popular with the massive ancestry research available online. In particular we have received many requests over the years to understand one’s Abruzzo Heritage. This is one of the most rewarding parts to our work and service as the research involved is fascinating and many facts are uncovered. To see the emotions on our guests faces is just amazing and real connections are made to a place and time and to a people.

Start planning Italy 2019 now and be surprised. You know we are the Italy you have been searching for at Touring Abruzzo

 

Related Tag : Vacation In iItaly

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.

 

 

Related Tag : Italy Tour Packages

 

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This is a traditional cake made in Abruzzo, especially around Pescara.

The typical shape is a dome shaped cake. You can buy the moulds in any market in Abruzzo or kitchen shop in Abruzzo.
It is made using semolina instead of flour and along with the ground almonds it makes it a cake with a lot of texture…and great taste! 

The semolina used here is the fine ground white wheat. You can substitute it with fine white polenta for gluten free cooking.

Have a go and make it and relive your Italian heritage or your Italy travels. It is always a sensation when we make it and serve it. We made it in one of our recent Italian cooking classes this year.

If you do not have the right round dome mould then you can use any shape really.

 

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INGREDIENTS:

6 eggs
250 gr (9oz) sugar
150 gr (5 oz) almond meal, or ground almonds with skins on better Zest of 1 lemon
150 gr (5oz) semolina
2 tspns baking powder 

Chocolate Ganache Topping – melted dark choc and butter or olive oil 

* Pre heat oven to 180 deg C/350 F
* Beat egg whites separately with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form, add egg yolks, one at a time.
* Add the rest of the ingredients starting with sugar and beat until sugar dissolved
* Then gently fold in almonds, baking powder, semolina and lemon zest. Keep mixture aerated as there is no flour in this recipe.
* Cook in slow oven, 160 deg C/ 320 deg F for 45 -50 mins approx. Traditionally this is baked in a dome shaped baking tin, if not a round cake tin will be fine. Or can divide into small round tins, cooking time will be much less, ie 15 mins..
* When cake has cooled down – melt 200 gr dark chocolate and approximately 1-2 tablespoons of butter and cover top of the cooled cake. (90z)

BUON APPETITO!

 Related Tags:  Italy Travel Packages

When we receive a request to start heritage and genealogy research in Abruzzo it 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 finding the village in Abruzzo

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.

The church where the ancestors were married in Alanno
The church where the ancestors were married in Alanno

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.

Discovering the area is always a delight
Discovering the area is always a delight

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.

Arriving in the ancestral village of Alanno
Arriving in the ancestral village of Alanno
Revisiting places where the family lived and worked is amazing
Revisiting places where the family lived and worked is amazing

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.

 

Connecting with new family in Abruzzo is priceless!
Connecting with new family in Abruzzo is priceless. The best Italy vacation ever that is for sure!

 

Sharing stories and photos
Sharing stories and photos

 

Great memories and reminiscences
Great memories and reminiscences

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 Abruzzo to complete your Italy tours and vacations, which can be added on when you visit Abruzzo with us.

 

 

The grand finale - a family lunch
The grand finale – a family lunch

Related Tags:  Abruzzo Italy

We are happy to release this very special video footage (4 minutes) which has taken a long while to create.

Over these valuable 4 minutes you can be transported to another world – a world of traditions, tranquillity and timelessness.

This is Abruzzo, the Italy you have been searching for. Explore this little-known gem of central Italy with us…from the glorious Apennine mountains to the blue of the Adriatic coast, Abruzzo has something for everyone. Touring Abruzzo offers custom and private tours, heritage/genealogy services and small group tours throughout the year.

Help us celebrate 14 years of travel to Abruzzo and travel to Italy. 

Over the years Luciana has made so many real and meaningful connections with her local people of Abruzzo, who are equally excited to share the beauty of this quiet and little known region. The many  goldsmiths, wrought iron artisans, farmers, olive oil producers, wine makers, cheesemakers, truffle hunters, custodians of museums, restaurateurs cooks, chefs and just wonderful local Abruzzese – I take my hat off to you and thank you for all you who have shared your love and passion for this land with me and my team at Touring Abruzzo.

Travel to Italy with us, knowing you will be taken care of.

Arrive in Italy as a guest…and leave as a friend..

Related Tag : Vacation In Italy

www.touringabruzzo.com

Read our latest issue of our e-Newsletter for Italy Travel with Touring Abruzzo.
See what is new in 2018!

TOUR ITALY with Touring Abruzzo.  
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.
  • June 17-24: Back Roads of Abruzzo (8 days)                                
Departures this autumn/fall:
  • September 17-20: Tastes of Abruzzo (4 days)
  • September 17-26: Grand Tour of Abruzzo (10 days)

Prices from USD $1800 pp, all inclusive & small group travel

PRIVATE DAY TOURS IN ABRUZZO are available year round (from USD $200 pp)
PRIVATE HERITAGE SERVICES IN ABRUZZO are available year round

MARCHE region 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:
  • marvellous landscapes
  • 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.

Prices from USD $3300 pp – small group travel

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!

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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.

Shop Now
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.
THE ITALY YOU HAVE BEEN SEARCHING FOR…
 
 
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*luci@touringabruzzo.com*

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