Thursday, May 8, 2014

Off The Tourist Trail

Slow Food Kansas City
“Off the Tourist Trail…Tuscany and Le Marche”
October 14-23, 2014

I cannot wait to join my friends, Judy Witts Francini and Dwight Stanford, in Italy this fall for a Slow Food adventure.  Having Judy host our trip again…this is such an honor! Judy will take us to places that you cannot visit without knowing the owners and we will have a memorable trip just because of all of her contacts in Tuscany, and Dwight is so knowledgeable about the Marche region and has become an authority on Italian wine and cuisine and his new home in Le Marche.  Judy and Dwight will lead us on a Slow Food adventure of a lifetime.”
Jasper Mirabile
Founder, Slow Food Kansas City

Fall has always been a very popular time to experience Italy.  It is a time of harvest...grapes, olives, porcinis and more.  Tuscany and Le Marche both have a strong agricultural history and both produce some of the finest foods in the Slow Food “Ark of Taste”.  The intent of this journey is to experience the “un-touristy” culinary traditions of small towns and the countryside.

 In Tuscany travelers will enjoy the leadership of Judy Witts Francini, “Culinary Curator” of all delicious foods of Tuscany.  Judy has been in Tuscany since 1984, learning, teaching, writing and sharing her life with the lucky people who have been with her.
Visits in Le Marche will be under the direction of Dwight Stanford, who owns PS Vineyard and Winery.  Dwight graduated from the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy, (after being a surgeon in Kansas City).


Judy and Dwight with Ray Lamothe of Casamonti
ITINERARY (subject to adjustment)

 Tuesday, October 14 is arrival day into Florence with accommodations at Hotel Santa Maria Novella.

No activities are planned so you will have time to rest, relax and explore on your own.  Dinner at your leisure.

Wednesday, October 15 begins four full days of exploring, tasting and dining.  The first visit will be to the newly restored Mercato Centrale in Florence.  Head south down the Chiantigiana (Chianti road) to begin 4 days of exploring the back roads of Tuscany.  Accommodations will be at Hotel Villa La Palagina set in the hills near Figline Valdarno.  This was the home to Barone Ricasoli and is a near the estate of rock star STING.  A pretty nice neighborhood.

The days will be filled with eating, tasting, shopping, a cooking class, historic sites, etc.  All as “slowly” as possible.

Sunday, October 19 depart for Le Marche which lies between the Sibillini mountains and the Adriatic Sea.  The accommodations will be at Hotel Casale in the community of Colli del Tronto, a resort property, near to both the Adriatic coast and Paolini & Stanford Vineyard and Winery, the home of Dwight Stanford.  The first afternoon and evening will be spent at the winery, enjoying Dwight’s hospitality and delicious wine.  Weather permitting we’ll pick some olives to be pressed into fresh oil to be enjoyed.

 Dwight is eager to share the beauty and “deliciousness” of this mostly unknown (to Americans) region of Italy.  Three days of touring the area will include visits from the hills to the sea, a day of cheese, pasta, seafood, beautiful beaches and palm trees. A day to the Sibillini mountains for pecorino, cured meats and visits to Castellucio and Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict. And closer to Dwight’s home a guided visit of Ascoli Piceno and Offida with a  demo of ancient lace-making.  Also planned is a visit to Meletti, distillers of fine liqueurs.  The final night dinner will be at Degusteria del Gigante.

 Thursday, October 23, the program ends.  Transportation will be provided to Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci airport.  Additionally there is rail service from San Benedetto to other parts of Italy.


·        1 night in Florence, Italy, Hotel Santa Maria Novella

·        4 nights at Hotel Villa La Palagina, near Figline Valdarno, Tuscany

·        4 nights at Hotel Casale, Colli del Tronto, Le Marche

·        All meals beginning October 15, including wine

·        Cooking class at Fattoria Poggio Alloro

·        Private transportation

·        Admission fees to museums and historic sites included for the group

·        Gratuities for meals, drivers and hotel bell staff.

·        $50 per person donation to Slow Food Kansas City philanthropies



 RESERVATION DEADLINE…July 15, 2014            
FINAL PAYMENT DUE…August 14, 2014


 A reservation form, invoice, and travel insurance information will be provided upon receipt of your deposit.

Checks payable to "Travels With Taste Holding Account".

Mail to: Travels With Taste

5921 West 88th Terrace

Overland Park, KS 66207

Your deposit is refundable up until June 15, 2014, less an administrative fee of $75.  Cancellation after June 16 will result in loss of deposit.   Refunds for cancellations received on or after August 14, 2014 will be dependent upon monies recovered from suppliers. The price is also subject to increase due to imposition of taxes or fuel surcharges not in effect at the time of pricing, an increase in the exchange rate of more than 2.5%, or should the number of participants fall below twenty.


For more information

Mariann Vandenberg, CTC

 Travels With Taste,



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