(Sarasota, FL) The thought of visiting Italy triggers all manner of visceral responses, especially when remembering the food – delectable, delicate pastas, a singularly amazing gelato, locally-produced Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vernaccia de San Gimignano that taste even better when consumed on the vineyard where they grew.
But hazelnuts, truffles, honey, vinegar…? These may not be the foods that immediately come to mind when thinking “Italy;” however, many of the world’s finest delicacies are produced in the small villages and towns of Northern Italy, the home of Slow Food and long, lingering lunches.
In the fall of 2014, the Sarasota, Florida-based Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club will embark on a journey to Tuscany and onward to the Veneto, Piedmont and Lombardy regions of Italy to get inside the heart of Italian food and wine on a spectacular 12-day program escorted by restaurateur and wine expert Michael Klauber with his wife Terri.
Among the many culinary highlights planned for the journey, travelers will visit a renowned olive oil and balsamic vinegar producer in Modena; enjoy a feast for all of the senses at the Academia Barilla’s famous pasta-making laboratory and gastronomic center in Parma; venture out for a truffle hunting excursion in Alba and, of course, learn to prepare a few authentic, Italian dishes alongside the chefs at Allegrini Vineyards in Veneto.
“Our challenge is that we have so many fantastic contacts in this part of Italy, narrowing the experiences down to what we can accomplish on a 12-day itinerary is difficult. With the rare access and exclusive winemakers we will be visiting, this trip will definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime!” explains Klauber, co-proprietor of Sarasota-based Michael’s On East and Michael’s Wine Cellar.
Organized with Malaka Hilton, expert travel advisor and CEO of Virtuoso-member travel agency Admiral Travel International, also based in Sarasota, the trip will feature some of Italy’s most unique, bespoke properties, beginning with Castel Monastero, located in the heart of Chianti, just outside Siena. Once a noble residence dating back to the 11th century, the luxurious hotel boasts a culinary program overseen by executive chef Gordon Ramsay as well as a full menu of therapeutic ‘Gourmet Spa’ programs focused around detox, weight loss and total relaxation.
Next, travelers will stay at the Due Torri Hotel, a fourteenth-century palace located just a few blocks from Juliet’s famous balcony in Verona, before continuing to the Albergo dell’Agenzia in the epicenter of Italy’s slow food movement in Piedmont.
Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to local communities and the environment. The Agenzia, in addition to a charming hotel, is home to an international gastronomical center with the first University of Gastronomic Science located on property as well as a wine bank dedicated to storing and presenting the heritage of Italy’s most prized wines.
Finishing the tour in Milan presents an irresistible opportunity to experience fashion, elevated to a way of living at the Armani Hotel. The Armani style and philosophy defines every detail of the guestrooms and suites. From the length of the bath towels, the mother-of-pearl doors, the beige leather-lined walls, the backlit headboards, it is said that each element has been personally designed by Giorgio Armani and chosen for sculptural, aesthetic and sensual qualities. While in Milan, guests will have the opportunity to shop some of the city’s global fashion houses, as well as diving into 26 centuries of history and heritage.
While the entire touring itinerary is filled with culture, food and a variety of wine tours and tastings, options for customization include visiting the Museo Ferrari in Maranello, where guests can tour the factory and test track; arriving early to spend a few nights at the Ferragamo Family’s Tuscan villa at Il Borro, with a private terrace dinner hosted by Salvatore Ferragamo, or extending the journey to Lake Como to stay at the iconic Villa d’ Este in Tivoli.
Space on the program is limited to accommodate only 20 travelers and available through Admiral Travel International. The itinerary, accommodations and pricing information is available on the Escorted Groups page of www.AdmiralTravel.com. There are still rooms available, and travelers who are interested to join the trip and learn more by calling Admiral Travel International at 941.951.1801.
About Program Hosts and Escorts Michael & Terri Klauber
Michael and Terri Klauber are avid world travelers and have hosted numerous in-depth culinary journeys with Florida’s Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club, escorting travelers to South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Southeast Asia, the Baltic, Russia, France, Spain and Napa Valley. Michael Klauber is a seasoned, award-winning restaurateur and wine professional with more than 30 years experience in all aspects the hospitality, restaurant and retail wine and spirits industry. His wife Terri Klauber is known for lending her talents, hospitality and support to local nonprofit organizations in the Sarasota area as well as being the charming hostess of Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club journeys to the world’s most exotic food and wine destinations each year.
About Admiral Travel International (ATI)
Established in 1997 in Sarasota, Florida, ATI operates a boutique Virtuoso-member travel agency located in downtown Sarasota. Malaka and Ryan Hilton, proprietors of ATI, are known throughout the luxury travel industry for innovative travel concepts. The Hiltons have prepared and escorted travel experiences throughout the world for high-profile individuals, as well as for such groups as the St. Regis Residence Club, Starwood Vacation Ownership, The Churchill Centre, and numerous philanthropic, culinary and cultural organizations. The Hiltons’ latest venture, AuthentEscapes, is an experiential tour company with offices in Sarasota, Los Angeles and Cairo. For more information, please visit www.AdmiralTravel.com or call 941.951.1801.