Taste&Travel Tours — Food, wine, and culture in the Roman countryside

Wednesday October 1, 2014 at 2:02 PM | 5 Comments

Castle by the Tyrrhenian Sea on our Taste&Travel tour.

The Santa Severa castle by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the Taste&Travel tour.

On my trip to Italy last summer, my friend Milos, a native of Bracciano, (a beautiful medieval city 30 km north of Rome and my new favorite place), took me on one of his Taste&Travel food, wine, and culture tours.

Hmmmm… a tour through the Roman countryside to meet purveyors of local, artisanal foods and wine, discover medieval fortresses and castles, wander among the ancient ruins of an Etruscan city of the dead, and take a dip in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Ummm, ya, count me in.

An Etruscan urn.

An Etruscan urn.

Milos picked us up in his dusty red Honda and we set out on the road. Several miles outside the city, pavement dwindled into a gravel road lined with olive groves, mountains looming in the distance, sun-kissed grasses swaying in the light summer breeze. So, this was the countryside of Lazio. It was gentle and pastoral, reminiscent of Sonoma County, another favorite place.

As we turned into Formaggi Valleluterana, the “slow food” pecorino cheesemaker, we were hit with the rich, musky aroma of sheep’s milk. We were greeted by Giancarlo Gentili, the third generation owner of the tidy farm. I was told he’s also a fan of Bukowski. Random.

 Giancarlo Gentili, is a Slow Food purveyor who makes pecorino cheese.

Giancarlo Gentili, is a Slow Food purveyor who makes pecorino cheese.

At Gentili’s command, the herd of 600 bleating sheep that produce 250 liters of milk per day, filed in an orderly procession to be milked. After the work was done, Giancarlo sat with us sipping a dry red as we sampled three types of house made pecorino. He surveyed the  beautiful landscape with his eyes, lifted a glass and smiled, “Siamo in grazia di Dio.” We are in God’s grace.


How do you follow that? You move on to the gates of heaven, of couse! We arrived at Tenuta Tre Cancelli next, an elegant winery at the foot of a volcano, with coastal breezes coming in from the eastern sea. The “tre cancelli” or “three gates,” refer to the moon, sun, and heaven. Here, on another divinely-inspired swath of land, Liborio De Rinaldis and Silvio Pulcinelli continue the Estruscan tradition of eating and drinking with gusto and refinement. Their luxurious ruby red Pacha is a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Merlot, named for the deity identified with Dionysus and Bacchus, the Greek and Roman gods of wine.

The ancient interior of one of the Etruscan cities of the dead.

The interior of an ancient Etruscan necropolis — city of the dead.

After walking among the vines and sipping delightful wines, it was time to make a pilgrimage to the Etruscan ruins — the “cities of the dead.” Here I learned about a civilization my American, public school education never mentioned, the sophisticated pre-Roman civilization that existed from 700 BC until it was assimilated by the Roman Republic in the late 4th century BC. One of the many things the Etruscans are known for was the unique way they honored their departed. We visited the archeological museum as well as the fascinating necropolis, permanent homes for the dead — little houses where tombs are carved to resemble residential interiors, lavishly designed with stone couches and chairs, sculptures and frescoes.


Our custom tour finished with a bottle of rose on the beah beside the Santa Severa castle (that was also a shelter for cats, much to the delight of my nine-year-old daughter) and a dip in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Taste&Travel offers three organized tours — Etruscan Coast, Ghost Towns, and Lakeside Villages each with a gourmet lunch at a local restaurant. Or, you can customize a tour based on your interests.

Abbondanza i miei amici!


Taste&Travel tour hosts Milos Zadrahdka and Lune

Taste&Travel tour hosts Milos Zadrahdka and Lune Fe Magrini.




Milos Zadradka and Lune Fe Magrini

Villa delle Grotte, 15 00062, Bracciano (RM)






This post was contributed by Lisa Dion of Friscomama.com and BraccianoandBeyond. Photos by Dan Dion.

Glacier Bay National Park: Small Ship Cruise

Friday September 26, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

Sprawled on my yoga mat, looking up at the puffy white clouds streaming by, I experienced a surreal moment. Dreamlike, mixed with fantasy, I was floating on a small ship in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, watching the world pass by. Suddenly, I was brought back to earth by the Wellness instructor’s soothing voice guiding the class to the next yoga pose. “Someone pinch me” I whispered to myself as I looked around the ship’s sundeck with Margerie Glacier coming into view on the starboard side.

yoga, "Safari Endeavour" cruise

Yoga on Safari Endeavour’s sundeck. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


"Margarie Glacier" "Alaska"

Alaska’s Margerie Glacier. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown



After breakfast, fueled with piping hot oatmeal and a yogurt parfait, I was ready to head outside and take in Glacier Bay from the deck. Our 84-guest small ship, Safari Endeavour, had stopped at the Park Ranger Station by Bartlett Cove to pick up a temporary passenger. Park Ranger Naturalist Andrea Markell would be our guest of honor for the next two days sharing her knowledge of Alaska’s birds, wildlife, plants and geology that make up this living laboratory and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"Un-Cruise Adventures" "Lamplugh" glacier

Kayaking Lamplugh Glacier with Un-Cruise Adventures. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Lamplugh Glacier

One of the absolute highlights of my Un-Cruise Adventure aboard Safari Endeavour was kayaking next to Lamplugh Glacier. Each night Expedition Guide Mark Hopkins explained the activities on offer the next day and his staff noted our interests as we gathered in the lounge. Like modified options in a yoga class, each activity was able to accommodate gentle, moderate and high-intensity fitness levels. I watched with awe as guests pushed the boundaries in their comfort zone and moved to new levels with each passing day.

For me, kayaking alongside Alaska’s Lamplugh Glacier on a bluebird morning was memorable in many ways. While I specialize in equestrian travel and consider myself an active adventure baby boomer, I feel more comfortable seated on a green broke horse than a sea horse kayak.

Paired with another beginner, my partner and I stepped into our two man kayak, and quietly slipped into the blue green water via the EZdock launch platform – an ingenious system unique to Un-Cruise Adventures that makes launching a kayak or stand-up paddle board a breeze.

Like baby ducklings, we closely paddled behind our Expedition Guide Megan Moran who gave us a run down of paddling 101 and cheered us on when we successfully demonstrated our newly-learned kayaking skills.

"Glacier Bay" "Alaska"

Alaska’s magic on Glacier Bay. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @UnCruise on Twitter.

If You Go:

Un-Cruise Adventures (888) 862-8881
3826 18th Ave
W. Seattle, Washington 98119

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Un-Cruise Adventures. All opinions are my own.

Waterproof Boots: Travel Gear Review

Wednesday September 24, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

"Kamik" rain boot

Kamik waterproof boot review

Canadian-based Kamik goes green with recyclable, waterproof rain boots.

Kermit the frog may think that it’s not easy being green, but companies like family-owned, Canadian-based Kamik are committed to exercising sustainable practices throughout all lines of their outdoor footwear. In addition to producing a fashionable, waterproof boot, I liked that Kamik offers an environmentally-friendly recycling program. Boots worn out or you’ve moved onto another style? Send them back to the Montreal, Canada or Vermont plant and they’ll recycle your rubber boots.

Jenny waterproof boot

I selected the Jenny waterproof, rubber boot, as they looked sexy in black, (sexy rain boots?) yet offered durability. For my recent trip to Alaska I wanted a no-nonsense rubber boot with good traction that was easy to take on and off and would fit over or under my rain gear. While the boots only weighed 2.22 lbs. I travel using carry-on luggage; with that in mind, I opted to wear the Kamik boots on the airplane to Alaska. My feet were comfortable in regular socks, yet the size I selected allowed for a good fit with thick, moisture-wicking socks.

"Kamik" boots

Wearing my Kamik boots on Chichagof Island in Alaska


"Kamik" rubber boots

Exploring Alaska’s tide pools


"Kamik" boots "Alaska"

Searching for bear tracks in Alaska’s rain forest


Insider Tip

Originally, I thought I wanted the Jennifer boot, as the taller boot looked more stylish to me. But like Goldilocks and the three bears, I tried several pairs of Kamik boots and found the Jenny to be the proper height for my body and outdoor adventure travel plans.

At a height of 8 inches, I’ll be taking the JennyLo boots with me to Quebec, as these rain boots appeal to me for touring the Canadian countryside. Make sure to select the boot height that fits your needs.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @KamikOutdoor on Twitter.

bear tracks "Alaska"

Bear tracks

What style of waterproof boots do you prefer?

Where to Buy

Kamik Boots

Suggested Retail Price: $59.99 check the website

Kamik boot photos and review written by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Kamik supplied me with this travel gear for review purposes. All opinions are my own.