Meet Mama Margaret’s Italian Friends

In Veneto
In Tuscany

In Campania
In Sicily -Mount Etna Tour

In Piedmont

Ettore: tour guide in Piedmont’s Barolo and Barbaresco wine country 

Ettore, courtesy of Don Whittemore
Ettore, courtesy of Don Whittemore

Ettore taught math and science in high schools and spent seven years as principal of an international school in Cairo. As well as Egypt, he lived two years in Chile and seven years in Peru. He has a passion for the desert and has led many overland expeditions in Egypt. About five years ago, he retired and settled in Alba, the hub town of the Barolo and Barbaresco wine country.

This worldwide traveler is a life long learner with an insatiable curiosity about almost everything. He’s well read, outgoing and full of joyful energy and humour. He particularly enjoys archaeology, hiking, the wilderness, photography and animals. A very stimulating and fun local companion and new friend for you!

You’ll also appreciate his bend over backwards, “can do” personal service and laid back flexibility in your day. One well travelled tour member said Ettore was “the best guide in the world”. 

The Ladies Of Sinio: a story of community change

after cooking in Sinio, ready to eat dinner with Chiara, Luciana and Carla
after cooking in Sinio, ready to eat dinner with Chiara, Luciana and Carla

In Sinio, (population about 500) near Alba in Piedmont, the owners of a nearby agriturismo bounced a new idea off our local tour colleague. Sinio had a number of older ladies with talents they weren’t using much anymore. They were excellent cooks with a deep knowledge of local, traditional cuisine. How about organizing cooking classes for our cooking tour clients in Sinio with some local ladies as teachers? A wonderful idea!

The agriturismo owners began recruiting. Not as easy as they’d thought. Many ladies said they didn’t know that much about cooking, certainly not enough to teach it. One lady felt more adventurous and said yes.

When the first class took place in a spacious room with kitchen near the municipal hall, many local ladies shyly poked their heads in out of curiosity. They saw their friend actively working with English speaking tourists through an interpreter and doing a great job of showing them how to make local dishes. Everyone was talking, cooking and laughing together and having lots of fun.

The agriturismo owners didn’t have to look for cooking teachers for the second cooking class. Many older ladies approached them, “I’ll teach the next class!” Our tour clients love getting to know and learn from these down to earth, local women in this “real Italian life” experience. Plus they’re contributing to the happiness of local ladies.

Maurizio Rosso: winery owner like a joyful Barolo wine encyclopedia

Margaret & Maurizio at Gigi Rosso winery
Margaret & Maurizio at Gigi Rosso winery

In the Barolo wine country, Maurizio Rosso looks after marketing at Gigi Rosso winery, run by his family for 40 years.  His brother, Claudio oversees the vineyards and has developed an artisanal vinegar. Both have devoted their lives to their family’s winery. Dad Gigi, now in his 80s, also plays an active role in the whole business.

Maurizio radiates his passion for their wines and exudes such warm hospitality to wine lover visitors. As you tour and taste, he pours wines and pours out you’d ever want to know about Barolo and other local wines in a down to earth, fun way like a joyful encyclopedia. His wife is from California and he’s traveled widely so he speaks excellent English.






Silvio’s Story

Italy Cooking School Tour
Silvio presenting his cheeses

Silvio has been making his divine cheeses for 15 years. How did he learn his delicious craft? And why?

He grew up in the hills where he and his wife and two sons now live, where his uncle had property.  For many years he worked installing tile floors, but always loved cheeses. He found himself yearning for a simpler life connected to the land and its traditions. He wanted to do something in the country, produce something typical of the Langhe, his beloved hills south of the Tanaro River in Piedmont.

He and his wife decided to make cheeses in an artisan plant on their property. To learn the many small intricacies of cheese making, on a continuing basis, he consulted an old peasant, an expert cheese maker. Why did that batch of milk or cheese not turn out well? The old man would ask, “Was it raining?” or “How much did you open the windows?” Slowly he learned, decided to limit his sheep to 30, instead of 50 and sells his cheeses to restaurants and food lovers in the know.