I can’t seem to get enough of “il bel paese”. After my first taste of Italy during my college days, I simply had to go back and over the course of many years I have returned quite a few times! It is hard to say which is my favorite part of Italy, as each region offers something unique regarding food, customs and even dialects. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Florence, but I also love exploring new areas. One of my favorite places to start my visits is Rome. I feel quite at home in the piazza del Popolo and in Trastevere and can walk about the city for hours. Along the northern coast in Liguria I have hiked the paths of the cinque terreand spent time in la Spezia, Lerici and Portevenere. Traveling further south, I have driven the twisting highway along the Amalfi coast, discovering towns like Praiano, Amalfi, Positano and Ravello. Striking off into the heart of Tuscany I have motored all over Tuscany and Chianti stopping in the picturesque villages of Val d’Orcia, Arezzo, Cortana Bagno Vignoni and Pienza – where by the way the I had the best “ribollita” I have ever tasted! Working my way toward Lago di Garda, I have spent time in Verona, Mantova and Parma as well as in Bardolino and Venezia. In Umbria I have slept in a ducal palace in Gubbio and tasted Sagrantino wines in Montafalco. If Florence is my first home in Italy, then Locorotondo in Puglia is my second. After hosting an Italian student from the “heel of Italy’s boot” I have become quite familiar with the lovely little town sitting high on a hill over looking the Itria valley. In Puglia I have explored from Bari in the north all the way to Lecce in the Salento, where I have set up house in a Masseria AND a Trullo. In the Basilicata I have lunched in a monastery in Maratea, taken a zip line called the “flight of the Angeli” in Castelmezzano, and then slept as a rock in the “sassi” in Matera.
Because I love learning the language, traveling and eating in Italia, three years ago I began to organize Matta Language and Cultural trips to Italy. The trips are designed for those who want to dive beneath the surface and use their the language in a fun and meaningful way. With my Italian partners (language schools, private language instructors and event planners) we strive to create unique learning experiences that delight the senses, inspire adventure and which help accelerate Italian language skills. We create opportunities for participants to meet and talk with pastry makers, cooks, olive oil producers and wine makers, as well as visit with the locals as we explore Italy together. I invite you to come along to Lucca June 1-12 and in Arezzo August 23-30. Who knows you might even get the chance to meet Lucrezia too as she might be putting in a special appearance!