Mama Margaret’s Story

Dario Gaetano
Mama Margaret with Chef Gaetano in his restaurant under Mt. Etna in Sicily on our cooking school tour


In brief, Mama Margaret
has been traveling to Italy since 1972, lived there three years, and continues her love affair with Italy on twice a year trips. The longest love affair she’s ever had!From 1996-2001, Mama Margaret wrote, published and sold “Your Guide to 133 Decadent Cooking Holidays in Italy” so she can advise you well on Italian cooking tours.  Mama Margaret’s passions are helping food and wine loving travelers in Italy to:

  • * connect with local people as new friends through cooking, food and wine
  • * re-connect with family and friends they share our Italian cooking school tours with, and/or re-connect with themselves

Why? What’s in it for you? Here’s Mama Margaret’s story…

When I lived and worked in Italy 1977-1980, I felt part of local people’s lives. My Tuscan boyfriend’s family opened their hearts to me as one of them.

After returning to Vancouver, I didn’t keep up with them. I’d made no Italian friends. When I traveled to Italy in the 1980s and early 1990s, I became a tourist again on the outside of local life looking in.

In 1993 a friend asked me to research Italian cooking school holidays. At Vancouver’s Italian consulate, I happened on a brochure about a cooking school in a family’s Chianti country farmhouse. In 1993, with two other “students”, I lived, cooked, ate and laughed in an Italian family’s home with two delightful sisters and their dad. I was back in real Italian life! Cooking and sharing food created heart to heart connections for me with this local family. 

I decided my mission was to create and sell special cooking school tours in Italy that connected food lovers with local people. I’d seen how sharing cooking, food and wine with local people takes you to the heart of Italy.

When our clients tell me things like, “They welcomed us so we felt part of their lives!”, I feel “YES! That’s why I do what I do!

I also saw how if clients took the cooking tour with family or friends, they connected more deeply with them or with themselves. I saw beautiful transformations. Spouses who’d grown apart rekindled their love. A depressed widow traveling with her best friend exclaimed, “I feel my joy of life flowing back through me again. We’ve had so much fun with so many wonderful people!”

Whenever I see these re-connections happen, I feel “YES! That’s why I do what I do!”

To help you enjoy a happier, smoother holiday in Italy, Mama Margaret writes a weekly Italy Travel & Food e-newsletter, blog with delicious, educational articles and posts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Heather Snedden

Heather SneddenHeather has worked with Mama Margaret as her assistant and right hand woman since 2002.

Travel has always been in Heather’s blood. When she was a kid, her dad would organize family road trips, often on the spur of the moment, often long distances like Ontario to Florida. Heather was the one in the family who’d exclaim, “Yes! Let’s go! We could be there tomorrow!”

Heather believes that you can understand a culture much better through food experiences than by looking at paintings in museums. She says, “I’m a foodie. I relate to foodies.” She’s travelled in Italy three times and loves Italy, especially the food experiences with such a variety of local people.

In Tuscany’s Chianti hills, she really enjoyed visiting a woman olive oil producer with tour members. They all sat down for an olive oil tasting and soon were chatting away like old friends.

With tour members in Sorrento, she had lots of fun visiting a spry, 80 year old man under the trees in his lemon grove. As the man told her all she ever wanted to know about producing lemons, he climbed up a ladder to pick the best lemon he could find and presented to her as a gift.

When she and her partner travel, she’s the one who relishes planning their trip. She admits she’s always curious where people are going, what they’re doing and why. She truly loves helping our Italy cooking tour clients plan their trips.

This travel professional has all the warmth of an Italian, but without the accent. She is a real people person and takes great joy in helping to fulfill her guests’ dreams.