Cooking Vacations in Italy: Tuscany & Sicily Culinary & Wine Tours
Friends and Family. It is not just a marketing term for us, and that in and of itself brings both joy and heartbreak. All over our website you see us having so much fun and laughter, but to be honest, that laughter turns into tears of loss when we lose someone that became part of our family. This page serves as our memorial to them, and we all pray they truly rest in peace, having known they were loved.
The real-life "Popeye The Sailor." From the very beginning of our Sicily trips, it was all about Ivan and his Uncle Scipio. Scipio would co-host all of our trips, and with his broken English would become dear to every one of our guests, bar none. From his raspy voice, to his incurable laughter, Scipio was that "salty character" that defined "salt of the earth." He would teach us the local slang, and sing with us, dance with us, and literally become a part of who we are. To the island of Favignana, he was a fixture that all knew and loved, and to us, well... Scipio was the one that had us rolling on the floor in laughter one moment, then the next moment had words of deep wisdom that would be etched forever into our minds.
While Scipio was unmarried with no children (officially, at least), he was married to the sea. He had been a passionate diver all of his life, had traveled the world, and truly should have written a book, as he was something of an ocean version of Indiana Jones! Sadly, he is no longer with us, but he will forever be a part of us.
Scipio, Tonno Subito!!!
Pino, Pino, Pino... That smile was always there, no matter what. Pino was a local shepherd on the island of Favignana. In our first years there, we would always spend an afternoon with him making ricotta cheese, and he would regularly come to our Thursday night "Grigliata." It became something of a problem at home for him, because his wife saw so many foreign women paying him so much attention, that jealousy reared its ugly head. Nonetheless, that was taken care of, and he went on to become not only a fixture on our trips, but someone we all loved and adored. For the CDV team, it was a highlight just knowing we were going to get to spend some time with Pino!!
Sadly, Pino's wife fell ill and passed away. Shortly after, in the winter of 2015 Pino went to sleep one night, and didn't wake. When the news spread,, shockwaves crossed the world, as so many of us thought of him as extended family. We will never be in Favignana without thinking of him
Pino, we promise to always add a dash of sea salt to our Ricotta in memory of you.
Prince Riccardo Nobili-Vitelleschi
In the early days of CDV, Paola happened upon the tiny village of Labro one day with a small group. They saw a sign on the gate of the castle that said to ring the bell if you would like to see the castle. She rang the bell, and an elderly man, dressed in a dirty shirt, old jeans, and a cigarette hanging from his mouth answered. He proceeded to show them the inside of the castle, which was literally a living museum. It was assumed that we was a caretaker, but as he would speak, we would refer to the people that made up the history of the castle in terms like "My uncle, the Cardinal", and "When my great aunt married the King of Austria," and so on. To hear this and look at him, things just didn't add up, until she got up the courage to ask. No, he was not a caretaker. He was the prince, and he was inviting us into his home, and he had all family documents dating back to the 10th century AD!
"Prince" Riccardo quickly just became "Riccardo" to us. Despite his family history and opulent wealth (this was just one of his castles), he was absolutely salt of the earth. We would bring our groups to meet him regularly, and a friendship was born between Paola & Michael and Riccardo. It was such that every time we would take a group, we would sit down with him for a half hour or so just to catch up, talk about family and life.
Sadly, a few years ago he fell quite ill and passed away. While the castle still remains, and is now set up for "guided tours," we no longer visit. It had never been about the castle for us or our guests. It had always been all about Riccardo. As such, we believe he deserves a permanent place on this page, as he lives on in our hearts.
Riccardo, Paola is still waiting for her chandelier :-).