Gastronomic Adventures in Italy

Wine barrels in the old cellar of the winery.

We asked Filippo di Lenardo from Elite RetrEat Italia (who will be exhibiting at this year’s Luxury Travel Fair) to give us a taste of what gastronomic experiences can be had when visiting Italy.

1. Tell us about the adventures that you offer?
We specialise in providing unique and authentic gastronomic Itineraries to Italy. Our goal is to showcase the incredible variety of the Italian food and wine offered in each region to make people understand why we believe gastronomy is the best way to communicate the country’s unmatchable heritage. We always make sure that our clients come across exceptional culinary moments whether it’s a meal in a small local “trattoria”, cooking a dish with a Michelin star chef or having a tasting of fine wines in a private palace.
With people becoming increasingly intolerant to various foods, bad eating habits and the need to be more active we have put together programs to educate the client to achieve a healthier lifestyle. We have created special retreats at selected villas where a private chef and a personal trainer collaborate closely to create weekly programs that revitalise the body and soul. These activities include yoga courses and aerobic training combined with the learning of nutritional values found in locally sourced ingredients and how to make best use of them to cook a delicious and healthy meal.
To further enhance the experience, depending on the client’s interests and according to the destination’s offer, we organise special activities ranging from sports, entertainment, fashion, history and art. This is the best way for our customers to enjoy the destination to the fullest and get a true feel of Italian excellence.

2. What are your most exciting destinations to visit during the trip?
What makes Italy inimitable is its vast variety of cultures and landscapes making it a destination with endless possibilities all year round. There is no other country within Europe where one can go from Alto Adige, a region that used to be part of Austria until the end of WW1, to Sicily, a region that has been strongly influenced by the Arab culture.

The Triveneto area comprehends the regions of Veneto, Friuli and Trentino Alto Adige and is definitely worth a visit. From historic cities like Venice and Verona, to the beautiful Lake Garda and Italian Alps if you want keep yourself busy throughout the day look no further. If you are a wine lover, you will have chosen the right place as it is home to the famous Amarone and Prosecco as well as to the cutting edge wines of Friuli, which is currently one of my favourite wine regions. If you are looking for somewhere to spend your ski holidays, the Italian Dolomites are the perfect destination, combining breathtaking scenery with fantastic restaurants that will definitely make you reach your gastronomic peak!

Piemonte is the perfect destination for food and wine connoisseurs. I just came back from there a week ago and I was simply stunned. It is arguably the region that gave birth to fine Italian gastronomy and is home to some of the premium Italian produce. White Truffles from Alba, Barbaresco and Barolo wines and chocolate are it’s most famous produce. With the greatest concentration of Michelin star restaurants than any other region and championship golf courses, one cannot ask for more. An insider secret for wine lovers: you may think that Piemonte can only produce superb red wines…you couldn’t be more wrong!

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Emilia Romagna is a foodie’s paradise. Also known as the “food valley”, you can find fantastic products such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma ham, Balsamic vinegar of Modena and many pasta dishes including Tagliatelle Bolognese, Lasagne and Tortellini. This is the perfect place to indulge into both rustic and fine culinary moments. And if you are a petrol head you will be pleased to discover that this region is also home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati.

A lot of people think that the south of Italy is only good to visit in summer because of its pretty beaches. But to get a real taste of the local traditions and enjoy the various cultural activities one should visit the mainland and this is the best time of year as the weather is pleasant and allows you to walk around. Sicily is perhaps Italy’s most fascinating region. Because of the invasion of so many cultures, it’s like being on a gastronomic rollercoaster. As the largest island in the Mediterranean, it is almost a country itself. From delicious fish based dishes found on the coast to the hearty meat dishes of the mainland, Sicily is a region of strong flavours. Not to forget its famous pastries and cakes so if you have a sweet tooth you will be spoilt for choice. Mount Etna deserves a separate chapter. This fantastic volcano is not only a marvellous place to visit but it also produces some of Italy’s finest wines. Also called “the Burgundy of the Mediterranean” both red and white wines from the volcanic soil have personality like no other. Is very hard to describe them, all I can tell you is that they are currently my favourite!
Puglia is a region that has been gaining more and more visibility in the last few years. Personally, it’s my favourite place for food as it has a great range of high quality products including the best tomatoes, Burrata (a cheese to die for) and some of the best fish. It also has beautiful landscapes with turquoise sea and vast cultivation of ancient olive trees producing some of Italy’s finest extra virgin olive oils. Whether discovering the beautiful town of Lecce, relaxing in one of their many charming “Masseria” or visiting the fascinating Manduria wine region, whatever you do here you will always get the feeling of authenticity and of fully immerging yourself into the Apulian culture.

Fine Dining Appetizer

3. What’s the most unique dish that foodies can taste on one of your gastronomic adventures?
You know, sometimes the simplest dish can be the most unique. A spaghetti with tomato sauce for example as straight forward as it may sound it an extremely complicated dish to perfect. We seek gastronomic excellence, so every culinary experience that we propose to our client has to al ways deliver new and unique sensations. So to answer your question, luckily there isn’t just one.
I recently tried potato gnocchi with Gorgonzola cheese infused with truffle: I will never forget that moment. That is exactly what I want my clients to experience!

4. What luxury accommodation is on offer?
Italy is one of the countries with the greatest selection of luxury, boutique hotels and private villas for rental. We like to give our clients full flexibility when it comes to choosing their ideal place to stay in.
We first find out what the client’s desires are in terms of facilities and comfort and subsequently we advise them with what we believe are the best hotels and villas that fit their needs. We do not like to impose a hotel but rather recommend one because we know that each client is unique and has specific requirements. All we look for is to put them in the best condition to enjoy their experience.

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5. What makes Italy’s food some of the best in the world?

For me, there are 2 main reasons: one technical and one emotional.
There’s no denying it; Italy has been blessed with a fantastic location. Combining the best of Mediterranean and cool of the Alpine north coupled with its unique geological structure, numerous microclimates are formed facilitating the production of many different kinds of high quality ingredients. Just to give an idea of the complexity of the soil, Italy has over 2000 grape varieties, this is more than France, Spain and Portugal combined. So the result is a wonderful assortment of different cuisines within one country to suit every palate.
The second reason is simplicity. When you have excellent ingredients, you don’t need to do much, just find the easiest way to make them shine. This is the reason why Italian food is loved all over the world, because other than being delicious you can always identify each ingredient in every single dish. Simple!

amatriciana ingredients

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