TESTIMONIAL | The Wild Heart of Italy, September & December 2018
Janette joined us for BOTH our inaugural Wild Heart of Italy food and wine cultural adventures to Ciociaria in Central Italy in September and December 2018, so it would be fair to say she’s one of our favourite foodie travellers.
With a travel career spanning four decades, Janette first decided to join us because she had been to Italy over 30 times and had never heard of the Ciociaria region. Neither have many Italians.
Ciociaria is referred to as Italy’s ‘secret’ food and wine region. Although the destination of choice for Roman Emperors 2,500 years ago this region has experienced tumultuous times in the last 200 years (an invasion by Napoleon and the French army in 1806, a civil war which led to unification and the formation of Italy in 1861 and two world wars, the second of which almost completely decimated the region) all of which forced several waves of emigration of Ciociarians.
Although devastating, being abandoned and forgotten by the rest of the world has had a silver lining for Ciociaria. It has retained its unique cultural heritage, and all the farmland and vineyards are naturally organic as they’ve never wavered from the biodynamic farming practices handed down in the region for thousands of years. While parts of Italy have become ‘Disney-fied’ due to overtourism, the Ciociaria region has uniquely retained its authenticity and there’s a growing sense of revival among the youth of the region for Ciociarian ethnic traditions through food, wine and song. These traditions in fact predate the Romans and reach far back into the Etruscan civilisation era, with deep roots in the ancient Samnite civilisation and indigenous Italic tribes.
In a way, the story of the rise and fall of civilisations and the history of the world and humankind are all entwined in the heart of the Wild Heart of Italy – the Comino Valley (Valle di Comino) – of Ciociaria. As we’re transferring our guests to local food and wine experiences, it’s hard not to help paint a picture of the origins of what is now known as Italy. Janette soaked this all up so much in September she had no hesitation travelling to the other side of the world from Australia again just three months later to find out more.
She’s exactly the curious seeker of the extraordinary that gain the most personally from our food and wine (sneaky cultural) adventures – if travel doesn’t profoundly change your perspective, you’re possibly not doing it right.
Have a read of Janette’s Wild Heart of Italy experience through her eyes below:
The Wild Heart of Italy – September and December 2018!
“The Wild Heart of Italy food & wine cultural adventures presented by Silver Compass Tours to Italy are just perfect for the adventurous, the curious, those who are tired of crowds and tourist restaurants, and for those who dislike moving from hotel to hotel to make the most of their vacation. It’s a great fit for those who want to learn more and appreciate more, and who want to extract the very essence of life from every day, and who are flexible enough to confidently do so.
Kelly and Paolo take you deep into the heart of southern Italy and immerse you in the incredible history of the Ciociaria region to understand the great civilisations that inhabited this area of Lazio between Rome and Naples over the centuries.
You will also be delighted to meet those providors who are passionate about the revival of the traditional foods and production methods and all that in the unspoilt natural beauty of the Comino Valley and the Apennine Mountains.
This huge valley abounds with amazing walled hill towns. Not just one or two well-known ones that everyone knows the name of, as it is further north, but so many exquisite ones that you’ve never heard of including my favourite Picinisco with beautiful private hotel apartments at Sotto Le Stelle.
This kind of small group travel is for those who already know Rome, Florence and the other great cities. This region is different. There are no foreign tourists to date in this part of Italy, and little English is spoken. There’s a genuine quality to their lives and a passion they exude when you come to share what they have. You’ll eat traditional Ciociarian food, but also be entranced by restaurants like La Ristorante in Santa Francesca, Veroli – arguably the best restaurant food I think I have ever ever had – by gifted young chefs, trained in Paris and Rome who have come back to their region and who take the traditional produce and drive it to new culinary heights.
You can dig up white and black truffles and eat them sliced with pasta for dinner in the winter months, take lunch in centuries old homes with owners who have lived there for hundreds of years, visit the iconic Monastery of St. Benedict, so high up on the mountains you cannot imagine how they were ever built, and impossibly beautiful. And more, so much more to learn and see and do.
Kelly’s knowledge of Italy is compelling, both from formal studies and learned over many years with Paolo who comes from the region. They are both passionate Italian Australians. So take your travel experience in a new direction. September is wonderful weather, warmish and easy for travelling. December is wonderful with the spirit of Christmas everywhere in all the towns and villages, and the chance of a white Christmas as the last one was!”