Tag Archives: Italy

Coffee Shop Travel Club Meet Up

When you make your final payment, just leave an open balance of $100.00 and we will take care of it! Super Simple! Venice is a city not to be missed! One of my favorite places in the world!

Go Ahead is working on our group phone/tablet site so our tour consultant, Emily, told me to pass along her direct line in case anyone would like any information at all since it still isn’t working. Her number is 617 6191516 and you can give her my name, Valerie Citrano or our group tour number 68796229. The site seems to be working on my laptop and desk top computer. Hope you are able to go with us! It will be a lot of fun!

You are invited!


We will be holding a short meeting this Saturday, October 17, 2015 at our restaurant, The Coffee Shop Cafe in McGregor, Texas to talk about our trip to Italy next May! It will begin at 2:00 and last till about 3:30.

If you can’t make it this Saturday, you can still sign up to go with us! It does not matter where in the world you live, you can meet up and join our small group! Learn more about out trip right here on my blog where you can also click over to our Go Ahead Tours web page 

I am so excited to be able to share Italy with you! It’s an experience that you won’t want to miss!

Links to more information:

More on our trip to Italy in May of 2016.

  • My Question and Answer page with lots of information about our tour
  • The first stop on our group tour, Turin
  • A side trip I’d love to take you on to Florence if you’d like.
  • Our Italy 2016 group tour web site where you can view the itinerary, the base price and choose the options you’d like to add on like the extension in Venice, extra excursions and to price your airfare from your nearest airport. Just click here and begin dreaming of Italy: Go Ahead Tours: Coffee Shop Travel Club

Make your dreams come true and join us in Italy!

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.

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!
 

World’s Best Eats: Florence, Italy

Is there a food that sometimes you lay awake at night and dream about? A dish that you’ve had that you compare all others that you try in different restaurants to?

Well, thats what the Spaghetti Carbonara at Ciro & Sons in Florence, Italy is to me. My dream plate of food. One of the best things I’ve ever eaten!

Spaghetti Carbonara at Ciro & Son's in Florence, Italy is absolutely the best I've ever eaten!
Spaghetti Carbonara at Ciro & Son’s in Florence, Italy is absolutely the best I’ve ever eaten!

Have you ever tried Spaghetti Carbonara? My first time to try this luscious dish was at Ciro & Sons on our very first visit to Italy. I had never even heard of it before! I still can’t believe I had missed out for most of my life! Sigh!

After a really long day of traveling by train from Paris we checked into our hotel and I’ll tell ya, we were starving! Enough of the cheese crackers and fruit gummies! We were ready for some good Italian food! We set out walking and stumbled across this quaint, very Italian eatery at the end of the block. My husband and I were seated at a long family style table and immediately brought bread and garlic marinated olives which were exceptional! Garlic. Olives. Olive oil. What a simple idea! Yes, I’ve copied it over and over at home for the last fifteen years!

Then we were brought our pasta. My husband ordered his favorite, Pesto Spaghetti, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Then he tried my dish of carbonara and he was in love too! Love at first bite.

Bacon and eggs. Thats basically, in American terms, what carbonara is. Of course, in the heart of Tuscany, Bacon and eggs holds a whole new meaning. Here it is local pancetta, garlic, locally grown and pressed olive oil and farm raised eggs which are expertly blended into a creamy sauce covering freshly made, perfectly cooked pasta. Al dente Perfection! Who needs tomato sauce?

But they have tomato sauce too. Their pizza is out of this world. That oven is hot!

At Ciro & Sons in Florence, Italy where they make great pasta and pizza!
At Ciro & Sons in Florence, Italy where they make great pasta and pizza!

I’ve been back countless times over the years. One August, we had taken my youngest daughter with us to Italy and made Florence our home base. I rented a little apartment on the same street as the restaurant and planned to enjoy as many meals as we could while there. How disappointing it was that they were closed for their vacation all of August! Lots of businesses in Europe close during August for their vacations! My bad! I know now. Now you do too! Don’t go to Europe in August. Ciro and Sons will not be open. Too bad we can’t close our own restaurant for a whole month and travel! Our customers wouldn’t like that one bit and neither would our employees! Oh well.

At Ciro & Sons in Florence, Italy where they make great pasta and pizza!
At Ciro & Sons in Florence, Italy where they make great pasta and pizza! Sweet people too!

On my last trip to Italy, I planned a stop in Florence just to take my sister to Ciro and Sons. They were open. I made sure to check on their Facebook page. It was wonderful. I was so happy. My sister loved it too. Just like me, she began comparing their pasta to others we tried along our travels. One nice version we both tried while in Nice, France (catch the pun?) was good but just did not make the cut. It was good though.

We will be going again next May, 2016. I’m taking a group this time. I’m planning on making a special diversion on our trip to Ciro and Sons. Must share the love. Now… where will we park that tour bus?

Ciro & Sons

Via del Giglio, 28, 50123 Firenze, Italy

+39 055 289694

We can’t travel to Florence every time I dream of Carbonara. Obviously. One day I turned on Oprah’s TV show and she had Tom Cruise on as a guest. To my absolute amazement, he did a cooking segment and made his favorite recipe. Thats right! Pasta carbonara. We both have good taste. Now. I make my best friend Tom’s favorite pasta dish. We are friends, right? We must be since we love it so much. Definitely worth jumping up and down on a couch for!

Tom Cruise’s Spaghetti Carbonara

1/2 inch olive oil (for frying pan)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped onion
8 to 12 thick slices Italian bacon
4 eggs
2 packages spaghetti
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

In a frying pan, combine 1/2 inch of olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, one chopped onion and the Italian bacon cut into small squares. Let simmer for about a half-hour, being careful not to let the oil get to a boiling point.

In a bowl, beat 4 eggs with lots of salt and fresh ground pepper.

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Cook both packages of spaghetti until al dente, drain and immediately add egg mixture to pasta. The eggs are actually cooked by the pasta. (Make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked before proceeding.) Stir the egg mixture until it is well mixed. Pour in the mixture from the frying pan and stir. Finish with the Parmesan cheese and serve!

Makes 4 servings

So, what are some of the best things you’ve ever eaten?