Turin. The ‘Paris’ of Italy

Turino is our first stop on our Food & Wine: Northern Italy and the Italian Riviera small group tour in May. We will be treated to a tour of this beautiful city and still have plenty of time to explore on our own.

Many people say that Turin matches the beauty of Paris. Even so, it hadn’t really been on my list of places to visit, that is until I read a press release from the Holy See’s office in the Vatican.

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist where the Holy Shroud is kept in Turin, Italy. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist where the Holy Shroud is kept in Turin, Italy. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
In 2010 there was a special exhibition of the Shroud of Turin. This was extremely unusual. The shroud is historically only brought out for showing once every ten years and even then it is very difficult to get into the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to see it.

The shroud on display insideThe Cathedral of St. John the Baptist where in Turin, Italy. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
The shroud on display insideThe Cathedral of St. John the Baptist where in Turin, Italy. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
Growing up and through the years, I had read several books about the shroud, the Templar Priests and the scientific communities fascination with studying this 14 foot piece of cloth whom some believe covered the body of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. I’ll admit, it absolutely fascinates me too. Is it real or is it one of the best forgeries ever known to man? Either way, I wanted to see it for myself.

Pope Benedict XVI mingling with the crowd in Turin, Italy. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
Pope Benedict XVI mingling with the crowd in Turin, Italy. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
Pope Benedict XVI was set to go to Turin and view the shroud along with holding a mass in the city’s center. I had applied for media credentials from the Vatican several years earlier, before our first trip to Rome, and had photographed Pope John Paul II. So, I gave the press office a call and secured credentials and passes for myself and my husband to to go to the shroud’s limited viewing. The same day that I had read that press release, I had credentials, passes to see the shroud and had booked our flights to go to Turin, Italy!!!

That’s how we ended up spending a week in Italy’s ‘Paris.’ Beautiful Turino.

Beautiful architecture
The city center, with its beautiful buildings and statues were enchanting. Walking there in the evenings felt like walking through the movie, The Da Vinci Code. I expected to run into Tom Hanks around every corner.

This trip, I really want to take a tour of the palace. There were just too many pilgrims in town on our last visit. The line was terribly long! Glad we will have another chance to see Turin again!

Chocolate shop in Turin, Italy
One of the many chocolate shops in Turin. Italy

A Chocoholic’s dream
At breakfast our first morning at our hotel, we chatted with a couple who were there not to see the Pope or the shroud. They had come from England for Turin’s famous chocolate. Oh my goodness! Yes, chocolate! Come to find out, there were shops after shops with lovely, delicious CHOCOLATES! And they happily give out samples on small silver trays!

Donald never met a chocolate he didn’t like! This was heaven on earth. There was also the thickest hot chocolate that we had ever drank and come to find out, Nutella is manufactured in Turin!

The Egyptian Museum
The Museo Egizio Museum in Turin has one of the most impressive collections of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo. I was not only surprised that such a collection was in such a place but I throughly enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to going back and visiting after their massive renovation.
More info about the museum: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africaandindianocean/egypt/11508721/Egyptian-Museum-reopens-in-Turin.html

So much more
Turin was the home of the winter Olympics in 2006, is the home of Fiat and Alfa Romero Automobiles and is situated near the Alps. It is only a 40 minute train ride from Milan.

To learn more about Turin, it’s history and architecture, visit Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turin
So now we are going back to the jewel that is Turin and I couldn’t be happier!
More on our trip to Italy in May of 2016. Booking will be closing soon!! 

My Question and Answer page with lots of information about our tour

A side trip I’d love to take you on in Florence if you’d like.

Sea Turtles Along the Cancun Beaches in Mexico

  

Sea Turtles in Cancun 

When we were in Cancun recently, I got up really early {EEEK!} on our first morning there to watch the sunrise over the ocean. But alas, there were way too many dark clouds completely covering the sky. ⛅️ bummer!
Experiencing a beautiful sunrise over the ocean may have been a total bust, but it was still an amazing morning!! God is good like that! Sometimes we have an idea of what we want or expect, but he has a different plan in mind. That was this morning for me.

Tracking turtles



As I walked along the beach, I started noticing tracks in the beach coming from the sea. I quickly realized that they were from sea turtles coming up to lay their eggs!!! As I walked along, I began counting and there had been five mamas that had laid their eggs just in front of our resort during the night.

Sea turtle tracks leading to the beach where a female laid her eggs, then returned to the ocean. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
Sea turtle tracks leading to the beach where a female laid her eggs, then returned to the ocean.
As many times that we have been to our shared condo in Cancun, I had never noticed this before. Just how was that possible? I photographed the holes and tracks with my iPhone. You can see the intention from their tails dragging in the sand and where their flippers had moved along both sides. Follow the tracks and they lead you to the massive holes where the eggs were laid. As you follow their path then you can see where they went back into the ocean.

The green turtles that made these tracks are endangered and can weigh 500 – 1000 pounds! They are huge! Our resort has a team that collect the eggs and move them to a corral that is secure where the eggs hatch and then they are released at dusk into the ocean so that they have a better chance of survival. Amazingly, these turtles tend to go back to the place they hatched to lay their eggs! Is that crazy or what?

A female sea turtle laying her eggs on a Cancun beach. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano www.PieLadyLife.com
A female sea turtle laying her eggs on a Cancun beach.
Our turtle adventures continued literally every day that we were in Cancun. A couple of evenings I went down to the beach in the middle of the night to try to see if I could actually spot a mama turtle laying her eggs. What a surprise when I actually saw not one, but two mamas on the beach one evening! It was amazing watching the process!

Hatchlings



I’d never seen turtles hatching before either and had that chance by accident as well. Crazy thing… Twice during our week’s stay! One afternoon we were taking a stroll in the sand and a gentleman showed us a pile of eggs laying on top of a mound of seaweed. There had been a bad storm the night before and the thought was that the mama was disoriented.

Sea turtle eggs found on the beach in Cancun. Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
Sea turtle eggs found on the beach in Cancun.
A guard was called over and as he was collecting the eggs, we noticed a hatchling that had gotten caught up in the seaweed as well. There was a lot of seaweed this year. I don’t know how any of the babies hatching could make it through all of it. It was like a huge barrier.

Thats me holding a newly hatched sea turtle found on the beach in Cancun! what a wonderful experience! Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano
Thats me holding a newly hatched sea turtle found on the beach in Cancun! what a wonderful experience!
If your taking a walk along the white sand beach, be sure to watch where you are stepping!! I found hatchlings that didn’t make it out to sea on a couple of mornings too. Five babies one morning were sure to be breakfast for some very interested birds if I had not spotted them and taken them to a guard. Poor things. They were safe though and were released that evening.

Hatchling turtle releases along the Cancun beach



We participated in a baby turtle release at our resort one evening. We did this last year too. I’ve learned that most Cancun resorts participate in the turtle conservation program by collecting eggs, protecting them in corrals and then releasing the hatchlings into the ocean.

A safe corral for the sea turtle eggs collected along the white sand beach in Cancun Mexico at the Royal Sands Resort. Photo copyright www.PieLadyLife.com
A safe corral for the sea turtle eggs collected along the white sand beach in Cancun Mexico at the Royal Sands Resort.
Many resorts allow their guests to witness and participate in the release. No flash photos or bright lights are allowed during the release as the light will disorient the hatchlings where they may not make it out far enough into the sea. Instead they may end up back on the beach where they may become a bird’s dinner. Geez! No one wants that to happen!

If you’d like to participate in a release, just ask at your resort or hotels front desk. If your walking along the beach at 8:00 in the evening and you happen to run across a bunch of people lined up along the water line, you can just about bet that there will be a release going on. Just fall into line and join in the fun! But no flash, please!

Best time for turtles



Seven of the eight species of endangered sea turtles nest along the beaches in Mexico. Four of the species nest on the Cancun beaches. They are loggerhead, leatherback, white (green) and hawksbill.

A female turtle laying her eggs in the middle of the night on the beach in Cancun.. Photo by Valerie Duty Citrano www.PieLadyLife.com
A female turtle laying her eggs in the middle of the night on the beach in Cancun.
The female turtles come ashore to nest between May and October to lay their eggs in the white sands along the Cancun shoreline. It’s a wonderful thing to watch, just be sure to stand back and don’t mess with any female. If she feels that it isn’t safe to lay her eggs, she will return to the ocean rather than nest.

Once the eggs hatch, the baby sea turtles are set to be released from July thru October.

Our regular week at our condo at Royal Resorts is the beginning of September. Perfect time of the year for both eggs to be laid and hatchlings to be born. I intend to learn more about sea turtles before we return next year. Hopefully, our grandchildren will be able to go with us too! I’m sure any child would love to see all the baby turtles!

Newly hatched sea turtle heading to the ocean on the beach in Cancun , Mexico Photo copyright Valerie Duty Citrano www.PieLadtLife.com
Newly hatched sea turtle heading to the ocean on the beach in Cancun , Mexico

Lessons learned from the turtles



God has a plan for every living being He placed on this Earth. When I see and learn more about his creatures, it brings me closer to Him. Think about nature all around you. How can anyone not believe in Him? He has a plan for your life too! Just like the turtles 🌴🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

The eggs we watched the mama lay are in this mound of sand. they were moved to a corral, counted and marked. Photo by Valerie Duty Citrano www.PieLadyLife.com
The eggs we watched the mama lay are in this mound of sand. they were moved to a corral, counted and marked.
Many thanks to the most patient young man whom I met on the beach who stayed with me overnight so that I could watch the two female sea turtles lay their eggs. His name is Junior and is a guard at a neighboring resort. He was also responsible for collecting and counting her eggs, moving them to a safe corral and marking the new nest. Hoping these eggs hatch and make their way to the ocean safely! Maybe we will see them on the beach again one day!

Have you experienced Sea Turtles laying their eggs or a hatchling release? Tell us about it! 

Waco’s Big Red Ice Cream 


A tale of two sodas. 

The old Big Red Distribiter building on LaSalle Ave in Waco, Texas
the sign in front of the old Big Red offices still stands on LaSalle Ave in Waco, Texas

A lot of people know that Dr Pepper was invented right here in Waco, but did you know that Big Red soda was born here too? Big Red was invented in 1937 and has been made in Waco ever since. One Texas city with two bottling companies born here. Pretty cool, I think!! Big Red isn’t sold as widely as Dr Pepper, but it’s fans are just as passionate. I’ve actually had to bring along six-packs to friends who didn’t live in a states that it was sold in. I’ve heard of some Texans stationed overseas in the military who have loved ones ship them a supply on a regular basis. Now that’s love!

The old Big Red Distribiter building on LaSalle Ave in Waco, Texas at www.PieLadyLife.com
The old Big Red Distribiter building on LaSalle Ave in Waco, Texas

Living here in Waco, we grew up with Big Red. We use it in baking and we enjoyed lots of it poured over vanilla ice cream to make floats. During the hot summer months, my Aunt Willie would bring her hand crank ice cream machine over to my grandmother’s house and she would make us all Big Red Ice Cream. Uncle Roy seemed to always be the one sitting on the back steps cranking that machine while he allowed us kids to add the ice and salt as it melted. Uncle Roy would tell us stories of Tom Sawyer and his life as a young boy growing up in what was a foreign state to us. He would let us crank from time to time, but none of us hung in that long. Dang, that was hard work!! Bless his heart! Looking back now, I really appreciate him!

Big Red soda bottled in Waco, Texas
Big Red soda bottled in Waco, Texas

When all that cranking was done, and the lid was finally opened, what came out was MAGICAL!! Creamy, fruity, magic! Better than a float any day! Big Red ice cream!

Yummy, refreshing Big Red ice cream! Recipe on www.PieLadyLife.com
Yummy, refreshing Big Red ice cream

 Waco’s Big Red Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 pint of whipping cream

1 – 10 ounce package of frozen strawberries

1 – 2 liter bottle of Big Red (64 ounces)

You will also need a bag of ice and rock salt for your ice cream freezer.

Mix together the sweetened condensed milk, whipping cream and partially defrosted strawberries in a medium bowl. Once combined, pour into standard size ice cream freezer cylinder. Place cylinder in outer bucket of machine. Fill cylinder with Big Red. Insert paddle, cover cylinder and attach motor. Fill outer bucket with ice, layering along the way with the rock salt, repeating till ice is at the top of inner cylinder. Freeze according to manufacturers directions.

Makes about 3 quarts. This ice cream is yummy right out of the ice cream maker or you can freeze and serve later. Store leftovers in freezer safe container.

Use any soda and fruit combination to make delicious ice cream! at www.PieLadyLife.com
Use any soda and fruit combination to make delicious ice cream!

You can use the basic part of this recipe and change up the soda and frozen fruit to customize it to any flavor combinations you wish. Just use your imagination! There are so many speciality sodas available now that you can just go crazy! My Aunt Willie would sometimes use Orange Crush and frozen pineapple. It was really good too! Here’s a few other variations you might like to try:

Ginger ale with pineapple

Cream soda with cherries

Cherry soda with dark cherries

Ginger ale with peaches

Pomegranate Italian soda and blueberries

Be sure to share what ice cream you’re planning on making!

Have you had Big Red ice cream before? Tell us your story. 

Easy Italian Baked Chicken Tenders & Baked Tomatoes

Super easy and quick Italian Chicken Tenders and Baked Tomatoes from www.PieLadyLife.com
Super easy and quick Italian Chicken Tenders and Baked Tomatoes

Aren’t we all looking for quick and healthy meals to place on our table on week nights? Especially on school nights. Too much going on to slave over a hot stove.

My kids favorites seemed to always include chicken tenders or pizza. This super quick combo of tenders, Italian seasonings and fresh tomatoes should be a sure hit. The baked tomatoes are a lot like having pizza but without the guilt of a heavy crust.

The best part is that this meal, with prep and baking time, should take less than 45 minutes from start to finish! Plenty of time left for homework, sports and family time! Add a salad and you have a complete meal.

The kids will love to help with this one too. What kiddo doesn’t love squishing stuff around in a ziplock bag? When they help you in the kitchen, you’ve got a better chance of them eating something healthy without the dreaded, “Yucky!”

Super easy and quick Italian Chicken Tenders and Baked Tomatoes from www.PieLadyLife.com
What kid wouldn’t like smushing chicken and mayo around in a zippy bag?


Super easy and quick Italian Chicken Tenders and Baked Tomatoes from www.PieLadyLife.com
in a seperate zippy bag, combine bread crumbs and cheese. Add chicken and sqush around again to coat.
Super easy and quick Italian Chicken Tenders and Baked Tomatoes from www.PieLadyLife.com
Place chicken tenders in a single layer in a baking pan or sheet.
Super easy and quick Italian Chicken Tenders and Baked Tomatoes from www.PieLadyLife.com
Crispy Italian Chicken Tenders are moist and delicious!


Easy Italian Baked Chicken Tenders

2 pounds fresh chicken tenders

3/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs (or panko)

1 cup Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated

2 – 1 gallon size plastic storage bags

Place fresh chicken tenders in a large storage bag and add the mayonnaise. Seal bag. Using your hands, squish the mayo over and around the chicken, covering it completely.

In a separate storage bag, combine the bread crumbs and cheese. Drop several of the mayo coated chicken tenders in the bag with bread crumbs and toss them in the sealed bag. Make sure that they are well covered.

Lightly spray pan release in bottom of 13X9 rectangle pan or cookie sheet. Lay tenders on pan in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes until golden.

And now the yummy Tomato Bake…

Super easy and quick Italian Chicken Tenders and Baked Tomatoes from www.PieLadyLife.com
Slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick and place in a single layer in prepared oval baking pan. Top with fresh basil.
Super easy and quick Italian Chicken Tenders and Baked Tomatoes from www.PieLadyLife.com
Top with bread crumbs and cheese then drizzle a little olive oil over the top


Super easy and quick Italian Chicken Tenders and Baked Tomatoes from www.PieLadyLife.com
Italian Tomato Bake out of the oven and topped with additional fresh basil.


Baked Tomatoes

2 large tomatoes

Salt and black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (or Panko)

Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in bottom of oval baking pan. Lightly salt and pepper the pan. Slice tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick and place in a single layer in pan. Lightly salt and pepper tomatoes. Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle them evenly on top of tomatoes.

Combine grated cheese and bread crumbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture evenly over tomatoes. Drizzle with a little more extra olive oil if you’d like.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Garnish with additional fresh, torn basil leaves.

Blueberry Snack Cake

This is a seriously good cake. Not overly sweet. Perfect after dinner, on a hot afternoon with a cold glass of tea or in the morning with your coffee. Easily packs away in your or your kids lunch box. Any way you serve it will be enjoyable!

It’s even better the next day. That is if you can bare to save a slice that long.

Blueberry Snack Cake from www.PieLadyLife.com
Blueberry Snack Cake

 

Blueberry Snack Cake
In a large bowl:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

Separately, whisk together in a medium bowl:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder
3 large eggs

1 cup milk

3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
For Topping

3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Blueberry Snack Cake from www.PieLadyLife.com
Leave butter on your counter to soften

Leave butter on counter for about an hour to soften. If it’s summer in Texas, about 20 minutes on a plate in the shade outside will do.

Blueberry Snack Cake from www.PieLadyLife.com
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 11X13 baking pan. Set aside.

Blueberry Snack Cake from www.PieLadyLife.com
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Use a hand whisk to lighten the flour and give it a little air. Set aside.

Blueberry Snack Cake from www.PieLadyLife.com
Once butter is softened, add it to the sugars in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to cream the sugars together until a smooth mixture forms.

Blueberry Snack Cake from www.PieLadyLife.com
Add cracked eggs one at a time to butter/sugar mixture, beating at medium speed. Add half the flour mixture, then half of the milk. Repeat flour and then milk till all is well incorporated.

Blueberry Snack Cake from www.PieLadyLife.com
For fresh blueberries, wash and dry with paper towels. Once dry, toss them with about a tablespoon of flour to coat. Doing this extra step will help keep the berries from falling to the bottom of your cake. (For frozen blueberries, do not defrost or they will make your batter a grey looking mess. Just add them to the cake batter straight out of the freezer.) Gently fold berries into the batter. Pour into prepared baking pan, spreading evenly.

Blueberry Snack Cake from www.PieLadyLife.com
For the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Drop reserved blueberries evenly on top of cake batter. Sprinkle with sugar cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees on center oven rack for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool about 30 minutes before serving. Little pockets of blueberries will be really hot.

Blueberry Snack Cake from www.PieLadyLife.com
Oh shoot! Just dive in if you want! The smell will be amazing!!
Try to save a piece or two to have with your morning coffee. You won’t regret it 😉

Blueberry Snack Cake is yummy with your morning coffee. www.PieLadyLife.com
Blueberry Snack Cake is yummy with your morning coffee!

Enjoy!! Let me know what you think!

Valerie

Easy Zesty Refrigerator Pickle Recipe

Super simple recipe that anyone can do and conquer canning! 

I’ve tried growing a couple of pickling cucumber plants each spring, but never had much luck with them. Never enough to to make a batch of pickles. Just a few to add to cucumbers I pick up at our farmers market.

This year was quite different with all the rain we had this spring here in Waco. There was flooding in places all over Texas. So much that it made the national news. The natural pool at Tonkawa Falls in Crawford was higher than we had ever seen it before. Wish we still had some of that rain lingering around. The fall’s swimming area has already been closed because of its dramatic drop making the water stagnant. Hopefully we will see rain again soon.

Anyway, all that rain made for a bumper crop from my two little plants. I was able to make my zesty pickles with cucumbers just from my little garden.

 

 
These are great pickles that you don’t have to go through all the trouble that goes along with full fledged water bath canning. It’s a very forgiving recipe too. You can easily adjust this recipe to depending on the number of pickling cucumbers you have or add a little more spice if you like yours hot. I bought some kinda fancy jars I found at our neighborhood grocery store, but you can use just about any jar or container as long as you wash them really well in hot, sudsy water.

 
 

Easy Zesty Refrigerator Pickles

12 cups pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cloves

3 cups apple cider vinegar

Layer cucumbers and onions in jars or refrigerator containers that have been throughly washed in hot soapy water.

Combine sugar and all spices in a large saucepan mixing well. Add apple cider vinegar to mixture, stir continually and bring to a simmer over medium heat to dissolve sugar.

Carefully pour hot mixture over cucumbers and onions. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator at least 24 hours. Will stay fresh in the refrigerator until all are used.

*be sure to clean up any spilled liquid right away as it can stain your counter top!! Wooh! Almost learned this the hard way!!

Join us in Northern Italy & the Riviera for food, wine and fun! 

Food, wine, beautiful sights and even a pasta making class!!

The Cinque Terre in Northern Italy is an optional excursion while we are in the Riveria
The Cinque Terre in Northern Italy is an optional excursion while we are in the Riviera!
We ♥️ Italy so much that we decided to take a small group back with us on a private tour to visit some places we’ve never been, along with visiting some of our old friends! Turin, Italian Riviera, Bologna, Verona, Venice and much, much more with a few side trips on our own!!! May 15-27, 2016.

Join us on the trip extension in Venice!! it's a magical romantic place like none other!
Join us on the trip extension in Venice!
Remember, on our tour, you will be traveling with a couple that works in the food industry and a professional photographer to boot! I’ll gladly help you take better travel photos and even take some for you!

A $300 deposit per person is all it takes to reserve your space to go with us on this amazing trip! Pay as you wish with balance due by 3-6-2016. It’s like travel Lay-a-way! Booking for our tour closes on soon! 

Full itinerary details & to sign up are on our tour website:

Coffee Shop Travel Club Italy 2016

There will be few surprises for you along the way too!

Q&A’s about our group trip to Italy

 

Q: How will we be getting around Italy?

A: The tour company will provide us a luxury bus with a guide and bus driver that will be with us throughout the tour. There will be boat rides along the Italian Rivera and in Venice. We will be walking around the city centers and other places. Definitely bring those walking shoes!

Q: I’m thinking about going, but don’t have a travel buddy. Can I go alone?

A: You betcha! We have several ladies coming with us without a spouse. It’s probably safest to travel this way to explore to world solo. You can pay a little extra and have your own room (as space permits) or be paired with another lady to share a hotel room. Ask me about sharing! We have someone looking to share now! Solo gentlemen also welcome!

Q: What about booking our flights?

A: The easiest way is to book your flights along with the guided tour. The tour company can get better rates because of the sheer volume of business they do with the airlines. Online, you just type in the airport near you such as DFW for those here in Waco. The price will come up and will be added to your total. It’s around $1400 per person. If you want to use miles or book your own flights, that’s perfectly fine! You can still arrange for a transfer from the airport in Milan to our hotel in Turin with the tour company. Just call them at their 800 number. Transfers inside Italy are included when you book your airfare with the tour company.

Q: I’d like to take advantage of our airfare and go to Europe early or stay later. Can that be done?

A: Sure thing!! Donald and I are both staying longer. All you have to do is call the tour company and let them know when you’d like to arrive or leave. Those of you that are staying with us, just need to let me know and I can tell the tour company.

Q: How do I join your group tour?

A: There are several ways to book. Which ever one you are most comfortable with is the best.

1. Online at http://coffeeshoptravel.grouptoursite.com

2. Call Go Ahead Tours at 1-800-206-9871 and give them our group tour number 68796229

3. Ask me for a tour Réservation form to book and send a check in the mail.

Q: How do I pay?

A: It’s easy! It only takes a $300 per person deposit to hold your space. You can pay whenever and how much you wish as long as it’s paid in full by March 6, 2016. You can pay with a credit card online or over the phone or mail a check.

Q: What do I need to do to travel to Italy?

A: You just need a passport to travel to Italy. Make sure you have at least 6 months left on yours at the time we leave. If you don’t have a passport, you can visit your post office and pick up a form or download a passport form from the State Department website. You’ll need a certified copy of your birth certificate and 2 passport photos that can be taken at the post office or Walgreens for a fee (around $10). Don’t try taking the photos yourself or using a snap shot. There are specific requirements which are best left to a professional. Fill out the forms, bring along your photos and birth certificate and pay the fee.

If you are in Waco, the post office on Hwy 6 is the place you need to go to submit your application. They will answer all your questions and take care of you. Be sure to call for the passport hours and schedule an appointment. You should really get this done as soon as you decide to go. it may take 6-8 weeks to get them. For more information, visit the U.S. State Dept Passports web page. Information about renewing a passport is also on the site.

Q: Which excursions are you going on? Can I book them later?

A: Donald and I will be going along on both the optional excursions and on the extension to Venice. You can book the excursions later but I’d just go ahead and book now and save the $10 per excursion for booking early. They are things you’ll want to see and do. I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of going to Venice! The price they charge for the hotel, travel, stops from Verona to Venice and the guided tour while there is less that I usually pay for one nights stay in a hotel there! Seriously, it’s an amazing place that you need to go to!

Q: I don’t live in Waco or even Texas. Can I still go with your group?

A: Anyone can join our little group! You certainly do not have to live in Waco or Texas or even live in the US. We make friends quickly and those interested in joining us are welcome! We have met and made friends with people from all over the world while traveling! It’s an amazing experience traveling with people that enjoy traveling, meeting new people and seeing and experiencing places that become forever memories. You can fly out of any airport and we will all meet up in Turin, Italy to begin our tour! When booking, just input your nearest international airport and the price will come up. If you call, just tell the operator your nearest airport. Super easy!

Q: Is trip insurance available?

A: Yes, insurance is available! Just call Go Ahead and have it added to your trip. There’s a bonus if added within 14 days of booking too. Here is the info and choices of coverage:

Educational First/Go Ahead Tours Travel Insurance

If you love to travel a lot, like we do, I’ve found an insurance company that actually covers your travel annually rather than by each individual trip. I found it while booking a flight with Delta Airlines for another trip. I’m excited about it as the cost is just under one thousand dollars for both of us for every trip taken during the year. More about that after I look into it more or check out Delta’s website.

Q: Are you going to~~~ insert your favorite destination?

A: We will be taking groups to several places in the years to come! You are welcome to come along on any and all that we go on!

June 2017 we will be going back to Italy to a part we have never experienced but always wanted to go. Puglia has been on my short list for years and this tour also includes a great part of Southern Italy. It’s amazing how different every region of Italy is! We will visit Naples, Sorrento and the Trulli Valley! One excursion I’m really looking forward to is visiting the beautiful Island of Capri! This is just a taste of what we will see on this trip! Here is a link to our 2017 Southern Italy trip:

http://valeriecitrano.grouptoursite.com/

We would like to go back to Israel and walk in the steps of Jesus. If you haven’t experienced this yet, it is a must! Truly life changing! This is a 10 day tour that visits Tel Aviv, Haifa, Lake Tiberias, Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Gallilee, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Mount Zion, Masada, the Dead Sea and through Jericho. Who would like to go with us? Thinking September or October of 2016. We will extend our stay and visit Jordan for four additional nights this trip too.

What about France? France is always a good idea! Paris, Normandy and the Loire Valley are definitely something we will do! Maybe right after the Puglia and Southern Italy trip? We can combine two trips and save on airfare! Who’s in?

Have a question not answered here? Just ask! 
Coffee Shop Travel Club Italy 2016

Food, wine and friends enjoying Italy! Join us May 15-27, 2016! Reserve your spot now!
Food, wine and friends enjoying Italy! Join us May 15-27, 2016! Reserve your spot now!

Join us in Italy May 15-27, 2016! Only a few spaces left on this amazing small group food and wine tour! Visit www.PieLadyLife.com for details! We would love to have you come along!
Join us in Italy May 15-27, 2016! Only a few spaces left on this amazing small group food and wine tour!
 

I may be known for baking some of the best made from scratch pies in the state of Texas, but did you know I've been a professional photographer for about 40 years now? Yikes!! That's a long time!! This blog is about combining my love of food, photos and traveling. I invite you to come along on my journey!