Surprising Similarities Between Italian And Mexican Cuisine

Italian and Mexican cuisine are two of the world’s most popular and beloved culinary options.  But did you know that they share many similarities? 

From ingredients to cooking styles, Italian and Mexican cuisines have more in common than you may think. 

Italian cuisine is known for its hearty and rustic flavours. 

The popular dishes of Italy are deeply rooted in regional traditions, with ingredients like olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and herbs being used liberally.  Italian food is also characterized by the use of fresh herbs and vegetables to enhance flavour. 

Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash

Common ingredients used in Italian cooking include pasta, olives, capers, anchovies and cheese.

Mexican cuisine is a vibrant and flavourful blend of traditional ingredients such as corn, beans, chilies, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. It is a culinary tradition that dates back thousands of years to the ancient culture of the Aztecs. 

Mexican cuisine utilizes fresh ingredients such as fruits and vegetables, which are used in a variety of ways to create unique and flavourful dishes. 

Common ingredients in Mexican cooking include jalapenos, cilantro, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.

So if you’re looking for a new twist on classic meals or just want to learn more about each culture’s food traditions, read on!

Common Ingredients

One of the most notable similarities between Italian and Mexican cuisines is their reliance on fresh ingredients. 

Both cultures are known for using a variety of fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other flavourful ingredients in their dishes. 

For example, garlic and tomatoes are two ingredients used frequently in both cuisines.  Olive oil is a common ingredient in Italian cooking, while chilies are often used in Mexican dishes.

Regional Variations

Italian and Mexican cuisines share many similarities, not just in ingredients but in cooking styles as well. 

For example, both cultures favour the use of slow-cooking methods such as simmering and roasting, which bring out the natural flavours of their dishes.

Both are known for their intense seasonings and spices like garlic, chilies, oregano, cumin, and paprika.

Cooking Techniques

Italian and Mexican cuisines both feature an abundance of fresh, vibrant ingredients that are used to create flavourful dishes. 

Both cultures rely heavily on vegetables, herbs, and spices like garlic, chilies, oregano, cumin, and paprika for intense flavour.

Both cuisines favour slow-cooking methods such as simmering, baking, and roasting to bring out the natural flavours of their ingredients.


This is a popular cooking technique used by both Italian and Mexican cuisines. It involves slowly cooking foods in liquid over low heat, allowing the flavours of the ingredients to blend and deepen.

Simmering is an important cooking technique used in both Italian and Mexican cuisines to bring out the intense flavours of a dish. 

In Italian cuisine, simmering is often used to make soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, and other cooked dishes. Onions and garlic are commonly added to the liquid while simmering to enhance the flavour. 

In Mexican cuisine, simmering is often used to make salsas and sauces like a mole, which feature a combination of sweet, sour, and spicy flavours. 


Another popular cooking technique used by both Italian and Mexican cuisines. 

Baking allows for a slower, more even cooking process, which helps to bring out the natural flavours of the ingredients. 

In Italian cuisine, baking is often used to prepare dishes like lasagne, pizza and focaccia bread. 

Meanwhile, in Mexican cuisine, baking is used to create dishes like tamales and enchiladas. 


This is a popular technique in both Italian and Mexican cuisines. 

It is a dry-heat method that uses hot air to cook food at high temperatures, allowing the ingredients to caramel and develop a rich flavour. 

Roasting typically takes longer than baking or simmering, but the results are worth it. In Italian cuisine, roasting is often used to prepare dishes like roast chicken and pork. 

In Mexican cuisine, roasting is used to create dishes such as roasted peppers and tacos al pastor. 

Flavour Profile Comparisons

Italian and Mexican cuisines have a lot in common when it comes to flavour profiles. Both offer dishes that are hearty, flavourful, and rustic. 

The flavours of Italian cuisine come from the liberal use of olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and herbs. 

On the other hand, Mexican cuisine favours chilies, coriander, garlic, tomatoes, and other spices to create its signature flavour profile.

Similar Presentation Styles

Italian and Mexican cuisines share a lot of similarities when it comes to presentation styles. 

Both rely on vibrant colours and presentation techniques that draw the eye and elevate the dining experience. 

For example, Italian dishes often feature an abundance of vegetables, such as tomato and onion slices, which are artfully arranged on plates. 

Likewise, Mexican cuisine also uses vibrant visual appeal, such as colourful salsa and guacamole toppings

Both cultures also favour plating food with vibrant garnishes like olives, peppers, or cilantro sprigs.

Countries Where They Meet

Both Italian and Mexican cuisine has many surprising similarities in their ingredients, preparation styles, and flavours. 

Although these two cuisines come from different parts of the world, they share a surprisingly large number of culinary connections. 

Surprisingly enough, these similarities can be found in countries around the world where both cultures have had an influence. 

United States

In the United States, Italian and Mexican cuisines have been combined in ways that are unexpected but delightful. 

For instance, tacos often include toppings like mozzarella cheese or marinara sauce. 

Enchiladas may be filled with ricotta cheese and topped with a savory tomato sauce. 

Both cultures can also be seen in the popular Tex-Mex dishes, such as chili con queso and nachos. 


Cartagena, Colombia is an amazing city that offers some of the best of both Italian and Mexican cuisine. 

Cartagena is known for its vibrant culture and beautiful architecture and notably scrumptious cuisine, making it a great destination for travellers looking to experience the culinary fusion of Italian and Mexican cuisines. 


Spain is another great destination to experience Italian and Mexican cuisines. 

Spain has a unique style of food preparation, known as ‘tapas’, which combines ingredients from both cultures, such as olives, tomatoes, peppers, and chorizo. 

This type of cooking also gives an exciting twist to classic Italian pasta dishes by adding Mexican flavours such as chilli and coriander. 

The widespread influence of Italian and Mexican cuisines can be seen around the world. In many countries, Italian-style pizzerias and Mexican-style taco stands are ubiquitous. 

Final Word

The merging of Italian and Mexican cuisines creates a unique gastronomic experience and allows for the creation of flavourful dishes. 

From fusion restaurants to food trucks, these two cultures offer an abundance of flavours and textures that can be combined in exciting ways. 

For instance, Italian Mexican fusion restaurants such as Itamex typically offer dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs or fajitas with fresh vegetables. 

By combining the fresh ingredients, intense spices, and slow-cooking methods that are common in both cuisines, a delicious meal is sure to be enjoyed by all.  

With a little imagination and skillful preparation, Italian and Mexican cuisine can come together to create flavourful dishes that are sure to satisfy. 



Tricks to Maintaining a Healthy Sleep Cycle When Traveling Often

Getting a good night’s rest is important to your health and well-being. It’s also critical when you’re traveling.

Studies have shown that 50-70 million Americans have some form of sleep disorder. Traveling can make things worse, so it’s good to know some useful facts about quality sleeping and traveling.

Set a Sleep Schedule

Keeping a regular sleep schedule can help you align your body’s 24-hour cycles of wakefulness and sleep. This helps you get the most rest possible each night, so that you feel recharged and refreshed the next day.

There are a few ways to do this. One is to set a specific bedtime and wake up time for yourself each day.

This will eventually become a routine and your body will be accustomed to going to bed at the same time each evening and waking up at the same time each morning.

Once your schedule is set, don’t be afraid to vary it just a little bit, if necessary, for example if you have to get up early for work or for a family event. But it’s important to stick with it most of the time, as straying from your sleep schedule can lead to serious health issues.

Having a healthy sleep schedule is also key for maintaining good mental health, so if you find that you’re constantly feeling tired or irritable during the day, it could be time to look at your sleep habits.

Bring Your Own Comfort Items

Bringing your own comfort items is a great way to prepare your brain for sleep, even if you aren’t able to have the same bedtime routine that you do at home. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling to a place that feels and smells different from your home.

If you normally change into pajamas before bed, bring a pair of slippers with you to wear on your flight. Changing into these comfortable shoes will help your body feel more at ease and get you in the mood for sleep.

One of the biggest challenges of traveling is overcoming jet lag, which can disrupt your sleep cycle. Taking melatonin supplements and getting light exposure can help with this, but it’s important to have the right schedule in place.

Using your own blankets is also a great way to comfort yourself on long flights. These will be a more sanitary option than the blankets that airlines provide and they can give you a sense of familiarity when you’re away from home.

Invest in Noise-Canceling Headphones

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, noise-canceling headphones can help you get a good night’s sleep. They’re finely tuned to detect low-frequency sounds like airplane engines and air conditioners, reducing them to a comfortable level.

Noise-canceling headphones also reduce loud snoring, making it easier to sleep with a partner. And, since they can reduce incoming sounds by up to 45 decibels, they’re an absolute game changer for long-haul flights.

Headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) use a combination of microphones and mini-computers to listen to background sounds, and then “cancel” them out before they can reach your ears. You’ll find this technology on many top-of-the-line models from Bose and Jabra, but you’ll need to pay a bit more for them.

However, it’s important to note that these headphones can sometimes cause “eardrum suck,” which is a sensation where the pressure in your eardrum feels like it’s being squeezed by the headphones. So, if you have any problems with them, it’s best to talk to your doctor about whether or not you should wear them while sleeping.

Make Sure You Have Comfortable Bedding and Pillows

Whether you’re planning an exotic getaway or a weekend road trip, a few well-chosen pieces of bedding can go a long way towards enhancing your travel experience. 

Be sure to pick out the best bed sheets, pillowcases, and a matching duvet cover. They should be made of materials that are soft, breathable, and durable enough to handle the rigors of frequent use. You can also opt for a plush mattress topper.  A high-quality duvet is a must, and you’ll want to snag one that boasts a quality filling such as Egyptian cotton, merino wool or down. 

The aforementioned duvet should be accompanied by a matching down-filled blanket and a set of high-quality pillows that fit atop it. 

You’ll also want to consider the quality of the pillow-fill material and whether or not it’s machine washable. The best pillows are the softest, and should be replaced annually or more frequently as they wear down over time.

Using the right bed accoutrements and a little know-how can help you sleep like a champion. The following tips will ensure you and your partner get the snoozes you deserve.

Get Light Exposure When You Can

Getting exposure to sunlight is a great way to strengthen your circadian rhythm and promote sleep health. Sunlight is a natural cue to the brain that it’s time to get ready for bed and helps your body naturally produce melatonin, which is crucial for sleep regulation.

For example, getting outside in the morning for 15 minutes can help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer at night. It also promotes cognitive function and healthy weight.

If you can’t get outside, try using a light box or other bright artificial lighting. These devices, typically used for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), are often helpful for those who travel and work in dark rooms or who suffer from a lack of natural light.

Getting light exposure when traveling is one of the best ways to prevent jet lag, which is caused by changing your body’s internal clock and can be hard to adjust to. If you’re traveling eastward, aim for light exposure in the morning to help your body adapt to the new time zone, while if you’re traveling west, seek out light later in the day to facilitate your transition.

Respect the Time Difference

Keep an eye out for the time changes when you’re traveling so you know what time it is at home as well as when you’re away. Then, use that knowledge to your advantage by staying on top of the schedules of everyone in your travel party and adjusting accordingly.

While you’re at it, make sure you also get the recommended amount of exercise and eat plenty of fruit and veg. This can help you maintain a healthy weight, which will ultimately improve your overall health and productivity. 

The best part is you’ll feel a lot more energized and refreshed when you finally get back to your normal routine. The best way to do that is to have a solid bedtime and wake up routine that works for you, your family and your work schedule.

Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine

Drinking alcohol while traveling can have negative consequences both short and long-term. It can have a direct impact on your sleep cycle and lead to physical harm, including a hangover or alcohol poisoning.

The best way to avoid these problems is to stay away from alcohol and caffeine when you are traveling. These substances have a number of negative effects on your body that can make you sluggish, irritable and unfocused.

In particular, alcohol and caffeine can mess with your normal sleep cycle and increase your risk of a number of health problems like heart disease, depression, stroke and even death.

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases blood pressure and heart rate, while alcohol can affect your central nervous system by slowing down reaction times and causing drowsiness. This can also trigger parasomnias, which are sleep disorders that interfere with normal sleep patterns, such as nightmares or daytime drowsiness.

It is safe to consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, but consuming too much can cause serious health issues. This includes muscle tremors, headaches, anxiety and insomnia.

Talk to Your Doctor About Sleep Aids

Jet lag can be difficult to overcome, especially when you travel long-distance. But a doctor can help you understand your situation and give recommendations for both medical and non-medical options.

If you are having trouble sleeping, ask your doctor about sleep aids, which can include over-the-counter and prescription drugs. These medications are typically safe to take short-term, but they can have side effects.

Over-the-counter sleep aids, which are usually composed of antihistamines, can be effective for occasional sleep problems. But they can also lead to drug tolerance and dependence, which means you need more of them to get the same drowsy effect.

Prescription sleep aids are safer than over-the-counter versions because they require a doctor’s prescription, which ensures the right dosage and potency. But they can have a number of side effects, including allergic reactions and abnormal behavior after taking them.

You may be able to find sleep aids that are safe and effective without a prescription, such as melatonin supplements or other natural substances. However, they don’t have the same level of FDA approval as prescription drugs, so it’s important to speak with a doctor about their use.

Final Words

Traveling often can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it difficult to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern. However, prioritizing sleep, controlling light and sound exposure, managing stress levels, avoiding caffeine and alcohol late in the day, scheduling naps on long journeys, and being mindful of changing time zones can help you develop better sleep habits when traveling. With these tips, you can ensure that your sleep cycle remains healthy even when jet-setting around the world. 

What to Do in Grand Rapids MI When You’re Only in Town for a Day

Are you looking for a fun and exciting day in Grand Rapids, Michigan? With its vibrant culture, beautiful scenery, and diverse attractions, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are visiting with family or traveling solo, the city of Grand Rapids has plenty to offer. 

From outdoor activities at one of the many parks to shopping downtown – no matter your interests – you’ll find it all here!   Let’s discuss some of the best places to explore when you’re only in town for a day. So get ready to experience all that Grand Rapids has to offer! 

Dining Options

Grand Rapids is a vibrant city with plenty of great dining options to choose from.   Some of the best restaurants in Grand Rapids are San Chez Bistro, Brewery Vivant, The Winchester, Grove Restaurant & Bar, and Terra GR.  These restaurants offer delicious cuisine ranging from traditional American fare to unique regional specialties. 

If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience during your day trip in Grand Rapids, there are plenty of great options as well. 

Popular casual restaurants include Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles, Slows Bar BQ, Founders Brewing Co., and Friesian Gastro Pub.  There are many excellent food trucks and street vendors located throughout the city.  No matter what type of cuisine you’re looking for, you’ll find something to satisfy your hunger during a day trip in Grand Rapids. Bon Appétit!

Morning Activities

If you’re looking for some morning activities in Grand Rapids MI, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

One option is to visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. 

This 132-acre botanical garden and outdoor sculpture park features a variety of gardens with over 5,000 plant varieties and hundreds of sculptures from around the world. 

You can also enjoy a tram ride and take in the many lakes, streams, and woodlands that make up this beautiful environment.

Alternatively, you could visit one of Grand Rapids’ local art galleries or museums. 

The Grand Rapids Art Museum has an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art as well as historical exhibits. 

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is also worth checking out, as it offers visitors a unique look at the life and legacy of the former president.

For those looking for something active to do in the morning, you can go kayaking on the Grand River or take a hike on one of the many trails in Millennium Park. 

If you’re feeling brave, you can even try a free-fall experience at the Grand Rapids Skydiving Center.   You could also explore the city on two wheels by renting a bike or joining one of the city’s bicycle tours. 

Noon and Afternoon Activities

Grand Rapids is a great destination for those looking to explore during their noon and afternoon hours.  The city is bursting with energy and activities that are sure to keep you entertained throughout your stay. 


Here are some popular activities:

Visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 

Enjoy art, gardens and nature at this unique 148-acre botanical garden and sculpture park located in Grand Rapids. 

There are plenty of interactive activities to enjoy as well as a tropical conservatory, children’s garden, outdoor amphitheater and much more.

Explore Downtown Grand Rapids 

Take a stroll through the downtown area and enjoy some of the great local shops and restaurants. 

The Grand River runs throughout downtown, providing beautiful views along the way. 

Take a Segway Tour 

Get to know the city on two wheels with one of the popular segway tours available around Grand Rapids.  Tours will take you to some of the most popular sights in town. 

Visit one of the Local Breweries 

Grand Rapids is home to many breweries, some of them offering tastings and tours.   Stop by one of these unique spots and sample some delicious beers crafted locally. 

Take a Boat Tour 

Enjoy a peaceful boat tour on the Grand River or take a kayak out for an adventure up the river.   Enjoy the beautiful views of the city and its surroundings from a different perspective. 

Photo by Jonathan Mast on Unsplash

Evening Activities

The city is home to dozens of lively bars and pubs, as well as a wide variety of restaurants with everything from traditional American fare to international dishes. 

Theater lovers can take in an evening show at one of the many theaters around town, such as the Grand Rapids Ballet or the Civic Theatre.  If you want to spend some time outdoors, you can explore the many parks around town.   Millennium Park is one of the most popular spots and has plenty of activities like biking and walking trails, lakeside beaches, a fishing pier, and sports courts. 

Or if you’re looking for something more relaxing, you can take a leisurely stroll through the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

If you’re looking for some nighttime entertainment, there are plenty of pubs and clubs around town offering live music and dancing. 

Or if you’d like to explore Grand Rapids’ rich history, you can visit the Grand Rapids Public Museum or take a guided tour of the historic and iconic neighborhoods like Heritage Hill. 

You could also head over to the downtown art district, where you’ll find dozens of interesting galleries, shops, and cafes.

Shopping Options

Grand Rapids hosts a variety of shopping centers that cater to a range of tastes. 

The Downtown Market is the largest indoor/outdoor market in Michigan and offers locally sourced produce and artisanal foods, as well as unique gifts from local artisans. 

For those looking for big-name brands, Woodland Mall has all the major stores along with many dining options. 

Rivertown Crossings Mall is another popular shopping destination that features stores like Apple, Sephora, and Victoria’s Secret. 

Final Word

Grand Rapids, Michigan is a great place to visit for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.   Whether you’re in town for a day or an entire week, there are plenty of activities that can fill up your itinerary with fun and excitement. 

From visiting museums and art galleries to exploring nature trails and taking part in outdoor sports, Grand Rapids has something for everyone. 

With its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine options, rich history, and stunning natural beauty — it won’t be hard to find things to do while you’re here!


How to use technology to help you manage your sugar intake.

Too much sugar is bad for our health. It can raise cholesterol, increase the risk of diabetes and contribute to tooth decay. The CDC advises that no more than 10% of our total daily calories should be made up of added sugars. It can be hard to moderate our sugar intake, particularly when we rely on processed, pre-packaged foods which are often high in added sugars.

Luckily, advancements in technology are helping us monitor our nutritional intake and take better control of our diets and lifestyles. Here are three ways you can use technology to manage your sugar consumption.

1. Use food diary apps to monitor your nutrition

Smartphone apps like Lose It!, MyFitnessPal and Noom allow you to log your food and monitor your intake of sugar easily. Many of these apps use the nutritional information from food packaging to calculate the intake of protein, fat, carbohydrate, sugars and other nutrients. When you input data into these apps consistently, you’ll be able to see which foods impact your sugar consumption the most, allowing you to make more informed choices.

2. Use meal-planning apps to prepare healthy dishes

It’s common to turn to processed and pre-packaged foods for the sake of convenience, but this is where sugar tends to hide. Added sugar is contained in more than 60% of foods and drinks bought in American grocery stores. Therefore you’re typically much better off cooking your own dishes from scratch, as you’ll have complete control over the amount of sugar in your meals.

If you’re limited on time or inspiration, try using a meal planning app instead of resorting to pre-made food. Depending on the app, they can help you to organise your own recipes into shopping lists and weekly menus, or give you pre-set recipes and menus that work with your nutritional and budgetary goals.

3. Use screen time settings on devices to cut blue light exposure at night

Many people use their devices for some entertainment before they fall asleep, but it’s now thought that excessive exposure to screens at night could lead to increased sugar cravings. A study conducted in 2019 found that the blue light emitted from our devices at night can alter levels of the hormones that control appetite and glucose tolerance.

By limiting screen exposure in the hours before bed, it may be possible to reduce cravings for sugar and in turn, reduce your sugar intake. Our smartphones have various features to help us reduce screen time, such as timers to limit the usage of certain apps, and reminders to encourage us to take frequent breaks.

Embrace tech to build healthy habits

Much of the technology that can help you manage your sugar intake can also help you to adopt a range of healthy diet and lifestyle habits, so there’s really no reason not to. Embracing this technology can put you on the right track to an overall healthier lifestyle, so find the way that works for you.


Discover the Beauty of Sicily in June

Five reasons why June is the best month to Visit Sicily

“Are you looking for a vacation destination that combines stunning beaches, delicious food, rich culture, and beautiful weather?” Look no further than Sicily in June! The island of Sicily, located in the Mediterranean Sea, is a treasure trove of history, art, and natural beauty. June is the perfect month to visit as the weather is warm and sunny, the crowds are smaller, and the island is bursting with vibrant colours and flavours. From the ancient ruins of Agrigento to the crystal-clear waters of the Aeolian Islands, there is something for everyone in Sicily. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable June vacation in the heart of the Mediterranean! 

Here are 5 reasons why June is the best month to experience all that Sicily has to offer:

The weather is perfect for outdoor activities:

With temperatures averaging between 25-30°C, June is the perfect time to take advantage of the warm weather and explore this breathtaking island . Whether you’re looking to hike through the island’s natural beauty, visit the many historical sites, swim in its crystal-clear waters, or lounge on its beaches, June is the ideal time to experience the beauty and diversity of Sicily.

Enjoy longer days

June is the start of the summer solstice, which means the days are at their longest. You’ll have more time to explore the island’s many sights and attractions. From the ancient ruins at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, to the sandy beaches of Cefalu, or the stunning baroque architecture of Noto and Modica, there is something for everyone.


Festivals and events:

June is a month packed with festivals and events celebrating Sicily’s rich cultural heritage. To name a few, there is the famous “Infiorata” flower festival in Noto, or the “Fiera di San Giovanni” market in Trapani featuring a colourful parade of floats and fireworks, or the vibrant markets in the capital Palermo. These are just some of the opportunities available to experience traditional Sicilian life and culture.

 Low crowds:

As June is considered the shoulder season, there are fewer crowds in Sicily compared to July and August. This means you can explore the island’s many historical and cultural sites at a more leisurely pace. It’s the ideal time to visit Sicily’s famed active volcano Mt Etna, which is a popular destination with travellers during peak times.

Local Cuisine:

No list is complete without mentioning the culinary delights on offer!

The favourable weather conditions mean June is peak season for local produce. There is an abundance of the tastiest seasonal fruits and vegetables, and of course locally caught seafood. Enjoy Sicily’s traditional dishes such as arancini or caponata, made with the freshest ingredients or sample mouth-watering seafood, there is no doubt that Sicily’s food will be the highlight of your visit.


Whether you are fascinated by Sicily’s rich and varied history, are wanting a gastronomic experience like no other, or simply looking for a relaxing beach vacation, June is the ideal time to experience the beauty and culture of Sicily. Don’t miss out on this amazing destination – plan your trip now and discover for yourself why June is the best month to visit this Mediterranean paradise.

Why not join me on my Savouring Sicily – A Tour for the Senses Travelling in June. For more information and to view the itinerary visit

Don’t Go It Alone: Why Organized Tours are Perfect for Solo Travelers

Don't Go It Alone: Why Organized Tours are Perfect for Solo Travelers

Traveling on your own can be an exhilarating and liberating experience. The freedom to go where you want, when you want, and do what you want. As much as we may love the idea of solo travel, it also comes with its own set of challenges.

What if I told you that there’s a way to enjoy the best of both worlds?

The answer is simple: book an organized tour!

Here is 8 reasons why booking an organised tour will save you more

and ensure a more enjoyable trip for solo travellers. 


You’ll feel safe and secure:

Organized tours prioritize the safety of their guests. We have established protocols in place to ensure that you feel secure throughout your trip.

You’ll save time and energy:

Let the tour operator/me handle the logistics of transportation and accommodation, while you relax and enjoy your trip. With our local knowledge and connections, we can help you make the most of your time in a new destination.

You’ll have a stress-free itinerary:

Planning an itinerary can be a daunting task, but booking into an organized tour means all the details and every details can be organised for you. Enjoy a comprehensive itinerary that highlights the best of your destination without having to worry about where to go or what to see.

You’ll save money:

Organized tours often offer an all-in-one package at a lower cost than if you were to plan everything independently.

You’ll make new friends:

Traveling with a group of like-minded individuals on an organized tour is a great way to make new friends and create lasting memories.

You’ll make the most of your time:

Organized tours are ideal for those with limited time who want to see and do as much as possible. With a pre-arranged itinerary, you can make the most of your trip.

You’ll gain a unique local perspective:

Local guides often accompany organized tours. They provide a unique and valuable perspective on your destination. They will take you to places that you may not have discovered on your own and give you a deeper understanding of the local culture.

You’ll have peace of mind:

With an organized tour, you can rely on the tour operator/me to fix any issues that may arise, ensuring you have peace of mind throughout your trip.

So, if you’re considering traveling on your own, then booking an organized tour is a great way to make the most of your solo travel experience.  With all the details taken care of, you can focus on what really matters – enjoying your well-deserved time off! I would love for you join me on one (or more) of my bespoke Food and Wine Tours.

Head over to for more information.

You can select an itinerary and immerse yourself in the experience. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

The Short Version – History of Puglia

The History...

Puglia, also known as Apulia, is a region located in the southern part of Italy. Its history dates back to ancient times, with settlements by the Illyrians and Greeks in the 8th century BCE. The Romans also had a significant presence in the region, and many ruins from their civilization can still be found in Puglia today.

During the Middle Ages, the region was ruled by various powerful families and kingdoms, including the Normans, Hohenstaufens, and Angevins. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Puglia saw a large wave of emigration to the Americas and other parts of Italy as many people sought better economic opportunities. Today, Puglia is known for its beautiful coastline, historic towns and villages, and delicious traditional cuisine.


Puglia, located in the heel of the boot of Italy, has a rich and complex history dating back thousands of years. Here are some key historical highlights:

Prehistoric and ancient history: Puglia has been inhabited by humans since prehistoric times. The region was home to a number of ancient cultures, including the Messapii, an indigenous people who built fortified settlements and developed an advanced system of agriculture.

Roman period: Puglia was a key region for the Roman Empire, with the city of Bari becoming an important port and center of trade. The Romans built many monumental structures in Puglia, including the famous Trulli houses, which are still standing today.  The trulli are traditional conical-roofed houses made of limestone, which are found mainly in the region of Valle d’Itria.

Medieval period: Puglia was conquered by the Normans in the 11th century and then the Hohenstaufen in the 12th century. They left behind many beautiful examples of their architecture, such as the Cathedral of Otranto and the Castel del Monte.

Renaissance period: During the Renaissance, Puglia became an important center of art and culture, with artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael visiting the region. Many beautiful palaces and churches were built in Puglia during this time.

Modern history: Puglia was ruled by the Bourbon dynasty in the 19th century and later became part of the newly-formed Kingdom of Italy. The region has a long history of agriculture, particularly olive groves and vineyards, which continue to be the backbone of its economy today.

Puglia is also known for its Baroque architecture, with notable examples in cities like Lecce and Martina Franca.

Love what you have read and want to experience Puglia? Click here for details of my 12 Day Puglia Tour travelling in 2024

A Brief History of Sicily Starting with the Greeks

When Sicily was Greek

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and has a rich history dating back to ancient times. The island was originally inhabited by the Sicani and Siculi tribes, who were later conquered by the Greeks in the 8th century BC. During this time, Sicily became a major center of Greek culture and civilization, with cities such as Syracuse and Akragas thriving. In the 3rd century BC, Sicily was conquered by the Romans and became an important province of the Roman Empire.  After the fall of Rome, Sicily was ruled by a succession of different powers, including the Byzantine Empire, the Arabs, the Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins, the Aragonese, and the Bourbon monarchy.

In the 19th century, Sicily became a key center of the Italian Risorgimento and was eventually unified with the rest of Italy in 1861. Today, Sicily is an autonomous region of Italy with a unique culture and history.

The Greeks In Early Sicily

Sicily’s entwined history, culture and food is about settlers and invaders – 

650 B.C. – 850 200 years The Siculi – who the island is named after were in the East, the Sicani in the West, and the Elymi coming from Asia Minor and escaping from Troy are the first known inhabitants of Sicily.

·        Then came the Greeks – arriving on the fertile shores of Eastern Sicily establishing such popular provinces  such as Giardini Naxos and Taormina,  Siracusa , Catania and Agrigento which display some of the most noted and extraordinary Greek ruins out side of Greece.

·        the Greeks began what is now considered the first mass colonization of Sicily and becomes “Magna Graecia”  or “ the Greater greece”

·        Thanks to the Greek invasion  many of the great minds of antiquity that we normally associate with Greece were actually born on Sicilian soil and lived on the island most of their lives.

·        Archimedes, the greatest scientific mind of antiquity

·        Gorgias of Lentini – a master of public speaking who brought the art of public speaking to Rome

·        Empedocles, naturalist, philosopher, orator, poet, physician, scientist and first volcanologist. He fell or jumped into Mt. Etna, was swallowed by the volcano, and legend has it that the mountain expelled one of his sandals intact. and regarded as a god to the people of Agrigento

·        Sicilians contributed substantial innovations to Greek theatre in the ruins of Segeste, Taormina and Siracusa elevating Greek comedy to a high level of drama

·       They introduced mime, laws , they developed poetry and treating mythological and epic Tales in a lyrical way

·        Most importantly was Archestratus – a famous Sicilian Cook credited for the first cook book “ The Sweet Taste” who later travelled to Greece giving lessons on cooking to the greeks.

·        The colonists introduced grapes, figs, pomegranates, wheat, walnuts, and hazelnuts. They planted vineyards, building a considerable reputation for Sicilian wines. Native bees were making honey that the Greeks used as offerings to their goddess Aphrodite. Fresh Fruit , dried figs and Honey

·        The Greeks sponsored the rearing of cattle to increase the manufacturing of dairy products.

·        They planted olive trees – Kalamata were the earliest domesticated olives and they produced some of the best olive oil preferring the Sicilian Olive oil to their own

·        They introduced horti: vegetable gardens fenced in with stone walls that were the predecessor of the present day kitchen gardens called orti. From here the local Sicilians employed by the wealthy aristocrat Greeks took the place of slaves in the kitchen and the ‘cook” was born – They made pickled vegetables, adding capers, olives, honey, spices and fried artichokes thus producing an archaic version of caponata.  

·        Writings from this period document sweets called dulcis in fundo, made of honey, nuts, milk, and flour, served with baskets of fresh fruit and sweet wine at the end of a meal.

·        The Greeks made a very sweet wine called Malvasia using dried and fresh grapes crushed together. They also made custard of ricotta; honey and eggs called tyropatinum, a sweet version of the modern Greek cheese pie known as tyropita. 

To be continued…

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Understanding the Hand Gestures of Italians

The Other Italian Language

Sicily is known for its unique culture and traditions, and one aspect of this culture is the use of hand gestures, or “gesture language,” in communication. The Italian language is not only renowned for its melodic words but also for the hand gestures that accompany them. About 250 hand gestures have been identified and are used by Italians on a daily basis.  Naturally, the question arises: where does this unique custom come from?

Theories suggest that the iconic hand gestures are a result of a long history of Italy being invaded by many nations that imposed their languages, cultures and mannerisms. From the Ancient Greek colonization along the Mediterranean coast to subsequent invasions by the Carolingians, Normans, Visigoths, Arabs and Germans, these hand gestures developed as a means of communication among people with no common language – and have stuck around ever since.

There is a vast variety of hand gestures, but here are the top 8 recommendations which may come in handy when you want to add emphasis to what you are communicating in Italian. Some of the most commonly used Sicilian hand gestures include:

“THE CORNUTO” (also known as the “malocchio”):It is used to ward off the “evil eye” or as an insult meaning “cuckold.”

ACTION – This gesture involves forming a fist with the thumb sticking out between the index and middle fingers. 


NUN SINNI PARRA –  It can not be done

Literally  it translates as ‘don’t even mention it’, something that absolutely can not be considered. When a Sicilian is not quite willing to do something, the issue should not be mentioned in front of him, or the reactions can be unpredictable. It is something that totally upsets the person who is listening.

ACTION – The Sicilian shows this mood by putting the high part of the  hand folded between the chin and the neck and then moving it forward.



 Generally the gesture is accompanied by a sad expression, in order to emphasize the contrast between the lack and the desire of abundance.

ACTION – The thumb and middle finger touch each other to express a serious lack of something.


SI TI PIGGHIU! – If I catch you!

During your trip to Sicily you will often hear a mother screaming this sentence to his son suggesting dire consequences. Literally it translates as ‘If I catch you’, and it is a sort of reaction to something negative that has been committed by someone and has to be punished somehow.

ACTION – To represent the threat, Sicilians place the entire hand, inside the mouth,  between the teeth, after finishing the sentence.



Literally translated as ‘beware’, in the sense of ‘keep your eyes open’, This is a warning gesture, meaning ‘STAI ATTENTO’, “beware” or “watch out”. It is a real invitation to pay special attention, as an apparently peaceful situation could turn into something bad or because something could turn out to be disadvantageous.

ACTION –  It is performed by lightly placing the index tip on the cheekbone under the eye and pulling slightly to open up the eye a little wider.



 With this gesture Sicilians indicate that something is appetizing in terms of taste or sight.

ACTION – The index is at the center of the cheek and makes some swinging movements, pushing on the skin.



And finally here is one of the most popular features in the world, the way in which the Sicilians raise their heads upwards, producing a sound that may be transcribed with ‘nze’ to say no to something.



One of the most famous gestures, the so-called “chin flick” means “Non mi interessa!” – I don’t care.

ACTION – This is formed by flicking the back of one’s fingers under the chin.



L’ombrello (“the umbrella”) is a common gesture  which mimics hanging an umbrella on a hook. This is a “colourful” (and rather rude) way to tell people to get lost if they ask for huge favours, like borrowing money. Considered uncouth.



This gesture is used to communicate when something hasn’t quite hit the mark. If you are asked whether you like a meal, a movie or anything else, and you are quite unimpressed this is  a great non-verbal way to express it.

ACTION – It is performed by alternatively turning the hand palm up and palm down. 



 It’s commonly used, and once  the irony of the gesture is mastered,  feel free to deploy it at will! But be warned, it can turn nasty – particularly  when the swinging arm looks as if it’s about to turn into a slap.

ACTION – This usually involves an outstretched arm that is chopped up and down, the message is unequivocal: “Get lost.”


This mocking gesture is used to express mistrust in someone who is exaggerating or making up a story.

ACTION – It involves the movement of the forearm in circles accompanied by raised eyebrows and bottom jaw slightly pulled down.


 It simply means: “I can’t stand you.”

ACTION – While this gesture involves a forearm held horizontally against the stomach, it’s neither a gesture expressing hunger nor an invitation to lunch.


Last but not least is the gesture which has become the symbol of Italian-level quality. This is the best way to show appreciation when words aren’t enough. Usually used in relation to food, it can be used in any context expressing appreciation for a true masterpiece, or as the Italians would say – UN VERO CAPOLAVORO!

ACTION -When someone puts their 5 fingertips together and brings them to their mouth for a symbolic kiss you know you have outdone yourself.  

Check out the videos below for more on Italian Hand gestures and their meanings.

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The Gastronomic Traditions of Puglia

The Gastronomic Tradition of Puglia

The Apulian cuisine is a simple cuisine linked above all to the work of the land, which has been able to elaborate typical dishes with many flavors and aromas. There are four main ingredients in this gastronomy: oil, wheat, vegetables and fish. From the numerous olive groves we obtain that oil which represents about a third of the total Italian production. Durum wheat is also grown in Puglia, which is the origin of innumerable types of pasta and the tasty Apulian bread. Very widespread and of high quality are the fruit and vegetable productions, the basis of very original dishes. In fact, Apulian cuisine boasts a rich variety of vegetables and products grown in the lands overlooking the sea or in those in the interior of the region. Finally, overlooking the waters of the Adriatic Sea on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other one, the region can enjoy freshly caught fish and seafood that is always available.

Rich in flavors and aromas, Apulian cuisine is renowned throughout the world for its special authenticity. It is a cuisine made of love and passion, of tradition and wisdom handed down from mother to daughter. Flavors and colors blend on the table, but a contribution to the flavor and its success is provided by the raw material: from the Polignano carrot to the Torre Guaceto or Lucera tomato, from the Galatina chicory to the white one from Otranto, up to the renowned red onion of Acquaviva, there are several vegetables and fruits characteristic of the cultivations in the region.

Simple dishes coming mostly from the poor and peasant tradition. Each season is characterized by its aromas and its typical recipes. Starting with the beloved orecchiette with turnip tops, or orecchiette with horsemeat sauce. Walking through the narrow streets of some cities such as Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, Lecce or Gallipoli, it is possible to meet housewives at work dedicated to the preparation of cavatelli, strascinati, troccoli and orecchiette. In Puglia, handmade pasta is seasoned above all with vegetables: pasta and broccoli florets, pasta and cabbage, macaroni and aubergines, pasta and broad bean purée, spaghetti and chicory. In addition to the delicious first courses, Puglia is renowned throughout Italy for its special products such as bread from Altamura, or the tasty focaccia from Bari, vegetables in batter and many other delicacies with an unforgettable flavour.

Cheeses also play an important role: they have strong flavors such as cacioricotta, canestrato, ricotta, or some typical regional dairy products such as mozzarella, stracciatella or burrata.
And the meat? As in all of southern Italy, beef is scarce, even if the Sunday dish of brasciole with sauce excels; on the other hand, game, poultry, pork, wild rabbit and above all sheep meat are widely used, where the region is in third place in national production, after Sardinia and Lazio.


Let’s not forget that fish is very abundant on the entire Apulian, Adriatic and Ionian coast. From Bari octopus, to anchovies that are eaten raw; from seafood to oysters cultivated according to a custom that dates back many centuries; from the mussels of Taranto, which are often cooked “arracanate” (that is, covered with breadcrumbs and parsley, with garlic, oil, oregano and tomato), to the rock mullets of Polignano.


Let’s see in particular some of these dishes of the Apulian culinary tradition:

Orecchiette are the typical Apulian dish and symbol of traditional pasta. They are a true icon of Apulian cuisine and are now renowned throughout the world. Made with fresh handmade pasta with flour, water and salt, their small ear shape goes perfectly with any type of sauce. The most famous are orecchiette with turnip greens and anchovies, orecchiette with meat sauce and orecchiette with tomato, ricotta and basil. Orecchiette are typical of Bari, but their historical origins are uncertain: some claim they were introduced during the Middle Ages, others trace them back to the Jewish community residing in the area during the Norman-Swabian domination. The fact is that even today this pasta is among the most appreciated Apulian first courses both by the local population and by visitors and can be found cooked with different seasonings. Of course, the most classic is orecchiette accompanied by turnip tops, oil, salt and anchovy fillets.

Broad beans and chicory is another dish of traditional Apulian cuisine, certainly the most representative dish of Apulian peasant culture. It is    smoothly blended broad beans combined with olive oil and seasoning and chicory, served with croutons. Perfect combination of legumes and wild vegetables, simple but nutritious ingredients, with a really tasty result.
Bombette, another Apulian dish, is a meat-based specialty born and widespread throughout the Itria Valley.
Made from thin slices of pork neck which enclose a filling of abundant caciocavallo cheese, bacon and spices. Typically cooked on a skewer / spit in a wood oven, they are eaten in one bite. A unique culinary experience, which can also become cultural if you eat them during the village festivals.

Pancotto is a simple and poor winter dish that arises from the need to use stale bread in a peasant civilization that could not and did not want to waste bread that was no longer fresh. A dish seasoned with a mixture of wild vegetables, called “ammischk”. A dish that is  typically Apulian with small variations from town to town.

Octopus “alla pignata” is also among the specialties of Apulian food.  In Salento, octopus alla pignata is an original dish that has its roots in popular tradition. It is prepared with the addition of potatoes, tomato, onion and celery to enhance the flavor of the octopus. The cooking of the octopus in the pignata, a terracotta container with very thick walls, which makes it ideal for slow cooking, is not accidental.

Among the most loved typical Apulian foods there is certainly the Tiella, a sort of Apulian paella that takes its name from the pot in which it is traditionally cooked. It is precisely in the tiella that rice, potatoes and mussels are placed to be mixed with onion, tomatoes, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs and finally baked. It was once enjoyed on holidays while today it is one of the most consumed recipes both hot in the cooler seasons and in summer as a cold and complete dish.

Stuffed aubergines are a dish that the Apulians love madly. They are incredibly tasty, especially when filled with minced meat or pasta and bread.

Brasciole are horsemeat rolls cooked in the sauce, which must be tasted. Widespread especially between the provinces of Bari and Brindisi, brasciole are a preparation considered among the poor but incredibly succulent dishes, from whose slow cooking a thick and delicious sauce is also obtained, perfect for seasoning pasta.


For street food lovers, the Panzerotto can be found in the stalls and rotisseries of every alley in Puglia. It is the classic mezzaluna made with pizza dough and generally filled with mozzarella and tomato. It’s fried and crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. This delicious food dates back to the seventeenth century and was also born thanks to the diffusion of tomatoes imported from America.

The Rustico, typically found in the city of Lecce is a round-shaped savory, flakey pastry filled with béchamel sauce, a little bit of tomato sauce, and mozzarella, although the latter does not always make an appearance.

After delicious first courses and very tasty second courses, it is impossible not to mention some of the best traditional Apulian sweets: Cartellate (or “carteddate” in the local dialect) are puff pastry pancakes sprinkled with vincotto, honey, spices and almonds, which are typical of days of celebration and enrich the Apulian tables especially at Christmas. Their particular shape is said to recall the halo of the Child Jesus or the crown of thorns of the Jesus on the cross. 

The Apulian sweets then reserve the same great surprises with dishes of extraordinary goodness including Casatiello, Zeppole, Rosata of almonds, Boconotti, Pasticciotto Leccese, taralli with vincotto and many other delicacies.

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