Having recently traveled to Italy with Insight Vacations Luxury Gold, Lori Lange is the second in a series of five travel writers to talk about her experiences. Based in the mountains near Lake Tahoe, where she lives with her husband and son, Lori has made waves in the food world with her Recipe Girl blog, which contains over 3,000 original and adapted recipes. Also a contributor to media outlets such as Parade magazine and an expert-for-hire employed by several of the US’ biggest and best food companies, here Lori talks about her experiences on the Ultimate Italy itinerary and her impressions of the country’s universally adored cuisine.

Lori Lange

Venice © RolfSt/iStock

Which city did you most enjoy on the Ultimate Italy trip and why?

“I loved them all, but I think I enjoyed Venice the most. The gondolas, the romance of the city and the shopping were all so fabulous. And since it was the last stop on the trip, our tour group had all really gotten to know each other and had so much fun together.”

Were you impressed with the quality of the Italian wines? Was there a particular type, a Barolo or a Chianti perhaps, that caught your attention?

“I have a particular affinity for Amarone wines, which are typically rich, dry and red. So the 2010 Masi Costasera Amarone in Venice was very memorable.”

Lori Lange

View of a Small Village in Tuscany © Shaiith/iStock

What was the quality of the ingredients like at the restaurants you visited? Were they as fresh and seasonal as often suggested?

“Everything I ate in Italy was delicious. Fresh, seasonal vegetables were almost always featured in a meal.”

Which hotel was your favorite to stay at and why?

“I’ll vote for Villa Le Maschere (Tuscany) as my favorite stay in Italy. It was so relaxing and quiet. I enjoyed walking on the grounds and through the nearby park, and I had a chance to experience a massage at their spa too.”

Lori Lange

Quaint Cafe © jenifoto/iStock

Did you find the pace of the trip, from activities to leisure time, suited you?

“Yes. I like that you have the option to skip something if you need some ‘down time’ or to opt into something different to the scheduled tour.”

What did you feel the strengths of Italian cuisine were on the trip?

“I really enjoyed all of the pasta and risotto dishes on the trip. And boutique pizzeria pizza!”

Lori Lange

Wood fire Margharita © razerbird/iStock

Have you been inspired to recreate any Italian dishes at home? 

“Yes. I made a carbonara for my family as soon as I got home. And we’ve been enjoying Aperol Spritz cocktails too! I also ordered the flour needed to make my own pasta – which was such an enjoyable (and surprisingly easy) activity that we undertook in the cooking class at Fattoria Dianella.”

With approximately 350 different shapes and sizes of pasta in Italy, what’s your favorite? 

“I enjoy linguine, rigatoni and ravioli the most.”

Lori Lange

Orecchiette © oyaboya/iStock

With so many places to eat in Italy, from trattorias to osterias, from pizzerias to restaurants, which stood out in your experience, and why?

“That is such a difficult question!  I’m going to choose two. First, on our first night in Rome, the whole tour group ate at a boutique pizzeria. They showered us with delicious appetizers and salads and endless glasses of wine. Everyone ordered their own pizza variety, and we all shared. It was the most fabulous introduction to the food of Italy.

The second was in Florence, where a group of us ate lunch at a little place downtown called Osteria Ganino. We ordered so many dishes to try that the local Italians who were sitting at our communal table gave us some pretty interesting glances. We explained that we just couldn’t decide so we had to order it all! Among the dishes sampled: grilled seasonal vegetables, burrata with spinach and grilled bread, carbonara, pasta with broccoli pesto and more. It was just a delightful meal, and everything was perfect.”

If Lori’s account of Italian cuisine has made you want to try it for yourself, take a look at the Luxury Gold Ultimate Italy itinerary.