Travel Articles:

Barbara   Taormina, Sicily
Jewel of Italy

by Barbara Knaub
     

Italian Tours
Toarmina, Sicily

When you arrive in the glamorous hilltop village of Taormina you will immediately realize how it came to be known as the “Jewel of Italy.” You can’t help but feel the magical atmosphere that has become legendary. Artists from all over the world, such as Goethe, DH Lawrence, Truman Capote and Greta Garbo, gathered here to marvel at the views, inspiring their creativity with its beauty. Thanks to its favorable position, mild climate and magic atmosphere, Taormina was destined to be a touristic resort from the time the first settlers arrived. Ancient people like the Sicels, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards chose it as their residential site centuries ago and left behind examples of Taormina's golden times such as the splendid Greek Theater, the 13th century Cathedral of Saint Nicole, the 14th century Palazzo Corvaja, the 16th century Palace of the Dukes of Saint Stefano, the public gardens, the "Badia Vecchia" (Ancient Abbey) and many other sites for you to explore. Taormina overlooks two grand, sweeping bays and Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano frequently capped with snow, continuing to offer modern visitors a breathtaking, dramatic and memorable experience. During your luxury tour you will have ample time to explore the past and savor the present content in the knowledge that you can enjoy this all inclusive trip at a comfortable price.

Corso Umberto
Corso Umberto

Perhaps you want to sit in a caffe on “Corso Umberto” enjoying a coffee watching the endless parade of people from all over the world or visit the exclusive boutique shops, or find a quiet spot to meditate in the beautiful public gardens overlooking the sea.

Italian Tours
ACI CASTELLO

On another day you may decide to take the funicular down to the sea to go for a swim, sun bathe or just walk on the Lido. Our tour takes into consideration the fact that you want to see the sites the area has to offer, learn about the delicious foods, wines and culture - of Sicily in a comfortable manner with a few new friends who have similar interest but also have time to relax and explore on your own when you choose to do so.

I fell in love with Sicily years ago and can’t wait to show you why. For me it’s a pleasant reminder of the past, a time when people took time to enjoy one another thankful for the beauty around us, celebrating life with food, wine, conversation, music and good friends… “La Vita Bella”… the beautiful life!  So why not come and join me?  I promise it will be an unforgettable experience, one you will savor for the rest of your life!  Andiamo… Barbara [end]


Italian Tours

As the owner of Spirit of Italy LLC, Barbara will be leading the Grande Italia tour this summer. If you would like to join her, please click on the following link for the details on how to book your tour. For more information ...

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Songs of The Sirens
by Barbara Knaub

 

Sicilian Ceramics with Marzipan, Cassata and Cannoli  

You may begin to hear the real songs of the Sirens, begging you to capitulate and indulge in the delicious temptations that await you. Beguiling you with endless displays of cookies filled with pureed almonds or various marmalades, unbelievably realistic fruit and vegetable marzipans fashioned out of almond paste, candied lemon or orange slices dipped in chocolate, the world famous Sicilian cannoli filled with sweetened ricotta served plain or with bits of candied fruit, slivers of chocolate or dipped in fresh crushed pistachios from the village of Bronte and of course gelatos to numerous to mention. Sicilian desserts range in flavor from slightly bitter to sweet but usually not overwhelmingly sweet and are often best served with a “forte” cup of caffe’ or ‘un piccolo” glass of wine. However if indulgent desserts are not your thing, keep in mind that many Sicilians prefer fresh fruit after a meal. A large bowl of dewdrop fresh cherries or succulent peaches placed on your table to be savored with a dessert wine or maybe you’ll surrender to just one of those luscious fruit tarts. [end]

 

Italian Tours

As the owner of Spirit of Italy LLC, Barbara will be leading a tour to Sicily this Fall. If you would like to find out "Why Sicily?", please click on the following link. For more information ...

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Food, love, wine and family -
The important things in Life!
by Barbara Knaub

Signora Nadia Mosca

At 17 Signora Nadia faced a crossroad in her life. Until that time she was a dedicated athlete excelling in school as a long distance runner.  One day she was placed in a position that demanded a life changing decision. Her scholastic testing was scheduled for the same day as the big competition. Would she choose running and fail the test or take the test and not participate? She reasoned that her education was the most important so she gave up competitive running. As is usual in life, knowing and doing what’s the right thing sometimes has consequences, an innate sadness fell upon her.

Seeking to cheer her up, the family encouraged her to leave Naples and stay with relatives who owned a restaurant in Positano, a spot in the world where it's almost impossible not to be happy. She began doing the dishes to help out in the restaurant. The long hours in the kitchen began to dissolve her sadness leaving in its absence a budding interest in cooking. She moved from dishwasher to chef’s assistant and began to apply the same passion to cooking as she had to running. Later she moved to New Zealand and started a successful Deli.

Italian Cooking Tours
Fresh Pasta!

She specialized in fresh pasta, and various types of breads all of which she made on the premises. As her expertise became recognized she began teaching at the University of New Zealand, with students receiving credits for her classes in gastronomy.
I met Signora Nadia at the Katane Palace Hotel in Catania, Sicily where she serves as Hotel Director and Chef of  Il Cuciniere Ristotante.

Italian Cooking Tours
Katane Palace Hotel

A wedding reception was taking place that evening in addition to the fully packed hotel dining room. I sat alone at my table near the kitchen entrance, watching in amazement as the platters of food passed me in the hands of a well trained staff. They scurried to the reception hall then returned to their dining room duties. I had chosen the restaurant because it was convenient,  recently arriving at the hotel after a long  overseas flight and took a seat in the glass walled dining room over looking the charming central patio garden. I was totally unaware of the delights that awaited me and my empty stomach’s good fortune to be in the hands of Signora Nadia. Upon noticing a plaque on the wall, I took a closer look and found it was awarded by the Guida Michelin. With growing anticipation; my meal began to arrive - first a basket of various hot breads and a glass of an excellent Nero d’Avola  - followed by a delicious fennel and tomato salad - next ravioli stuffed with fresh anchovies, topped with cauliflower sautéed in browned butter -  followed by a magnificent dessert of ricotta gelato - not as sweet as regular gelato so it served as a perfect compliment to my sauce of fresh berries and homemade Italian butter biscotti. When one has a passion for cooking blended with 3o years of experience, dishes seem effortless but as you and I know this is not true, good food is not always easy to come by. I enjoyed my experience lingering over my food, savoring every sip and bite. To my delight Signora Nadia came and sat with me. She spoke excellent English we discussed her life, when I asked what brought her to Sicily she replied “Love” I fell in love with a Sicilian Doctor when he visited New Zealand and here I am! I don’t know how long ago she was married but at that moment she beamed like a new bride. So that’s how I came to meet this delightful chef that will accompany you to the markets and demonstrate her cooking skills for you when we visit her in Catania. A Sicilian once told me that, “food, love, wine and family, are the most important things in life” maybe they are right? [end]

 

 

 

Italian Tours

As the owner of Spirit of Italy LLC, Barbara will be leading the Grande Italia tour this summer. If you would like to join her and meet Signora Nadia Mosca, please click on the following link for the details on how to book your tour. For more information ...