Do you travel for food? We get countless requests for food- and drink-focused private itineraries, and we know trip-planning specialists who are connected to the local food scene everywhere from Athens to Zihuatenejo. There are fascinating people in unexpected places who will open their homes, farms, vineyards, fruit orchards, and olive groves for traditional meals, cooking lessons, and much more. There’s a smorgasbord of possibilities out there. If you can imagine it, our Trusted Travel Experts can make it happen. Here’s what it means to get a WOW trip.
Italy: “A cocktail class at the Martini and Rossi headquarters…”
“Our trip to Piedmont was excellently planned and executed by Maria and her team. We started in Torino, where the highlights were a chocolate tasting and a tour of the Egyptian Museum (which has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt). Before leaving Torino, we were treated to a fun WOW Moment: a cocktail class at the Martini and Rossi headquarters outside of Torino.
Then the real fun began as we moved on to the winemaking region of Piedmont, touring its villages, staying in restored castles in Sinio and Guarene, and tasting Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbara and white wines of the region while sampling the regional dishes. The landscape was amazing: We were always surrounded by hills of lush green vineyards between each village and castles in almost every one.
One of the many highlights of the trip was truffle hunting. Watching the dog track down truffles was amazing. Unlike the French, Italians don’t use pigs for truffle hunting. Why? Pigs don’t listen, and they eat the truffles. We found four black truffles and shared them with our guide and driver, who were very appreciative.” —Joe Lyle
Peru: full-day experience at MIL restaurant in the Sacred Valley
“We just returned from a fabulous 10-day trip to Peru. Allie helped us find probably the best guide in all of Peru! Our guide, Nick, became central to the success and ease of our trip, as he networked us to the front of lines for access to everything (including the line for buses up and back from Machu Picchu). We also had the opportunity to do the full-day experience at MIL, which we would highly recommend! As much as the food there is fabulous, the learning experience by hiking into the hills behind the restaurant with a knowledgeable local guide provided a fabulous addition to better understand the Peruvian culture and food presentation at MIL. It was a highlight of the trip and books up months in advance, so be sure to get reservations online as soon as trip dates are established!”—Julie Olson
Sicily: “A lovely balance of cultural touring/visits and the rest of the day making cheese or tasting olive oil or learning how to make cookies!”
“My niece and I returned from Sicily just 17 days ago, but I’m only just coming down from the high induced by this remarkable trip! I’ve wanted to travel to Sicily for years but didn’t want to go on my own, so I asked my adult niece to accompany me since she is fascinated with Italy and its food, being a former chef. We wanted a trip that balanced cultural highlights with food experiences, and Marcello and Matteo really delivered! They arranged wonderful drivers and local guides in each of our locations—many of whom were specialists in their field. For example, our guide in Palermo, Andrea, is an archaeologist. He provided unique local insight and expertise on the city and its astonishingly beautiful mosaic-decorated churches. By having private drivers and guides, we not only maximized what we were able to see, but the guides helped us fully understand our experiences. One of the highlights of our time in Palermo was a day when we went to Monreale to see the exquisite Norman church and then stopped at a vineyard on the way back to Palermo for a private wine tasting and amazing lunch with the owners and their big friendly adorable dog!
Many of our days were a lovely balance of cultural touring/visits and the rest of the day making cheese or tasting olive oil or learning how to make cookies! We also appreciated the boutique hotels recommended by Marcello and Matteo. Even when we were in cities, these hotels felt like a private, restful oasis each day when we returned from our activities. Their restaurant recommendations were also excellent and easy to find, thanks to the maps they provided!
Our favorite part of the trip was our final few days, based in Ortigia, visiting the Greek ruins of Siracusa and the beautiful Baroque towns of Ragusa, Noto, and Modica. We both agreed that the private 4-course lunch served after an olive oil tasting in Ragusa was among the best meals we’d ever eaten in our lives! As we were leaving the Greek temples one late afternoon (wonderful light for photos) our guide told us about a Leonardo da Vinci painting that was being displayed in a small gallery near the exit of the temple area. We never would have known it was there if he hadn’t been with us.
I’ve already recommended Marcello and Matteo to friends of mine who are interested in traveling to Sicily. We loved every minute of it and never had to worry about a thing. A perfect holiday!” —Kathryn Winter
Italy: “A melting pot of northern Italian, Austrian and Slovenian cuisines and has great wines (mostly white)…”
“Jennifer helped us plan a two-week trip to Friuli Venezia Giulia. The area is a melting pot of northern Italian, Austrian and Slovenian cuisines and has great wines (mostly white). Inexplicably, the region doesn’t seem to be on the tourist radar, so of course we decided that this was the place for us!
We had a guided tour on our first full day in Trieste. We learned about the long struggle for control of the city between the Venetian Republic and the Hapsburgs of Austria, and the resulting cosmopolitanism of Trieste. After two days on our own in Trieste, our driver took us to the Collio wine country, with a stop at Miramare Castle on the way.
The accommodation Jennifer suggested to us in the Collio was outstanding—just what we were hoping for! The property was lovely, with a spa and walking paths through the surrounding vineyards. Jennifer helped us with booking and transportation for lunch at a nearby restaurant we had set our hearts on. (Shout out to Stanley Tucci for his Friulian footnote in “Searching for Italy”!) We had our local guide back for a half-day trip to Gorizia, on the Slovenian border. Having discussed our interest in World War I with her, she arranged for us to make a short visit to an Italian war memorial that was nearby. We also spent an amazing day visiting local wine producers and sampling their wares. (Our favorites were Friuliano and Schioppettino!)
After our break in the countryside, we moved on to Udine. There we had another guided tour, learning about the tug of war fought over the area for centuries and the remarkable mix of historical influences at play. A highlight was seeing Tiepolo’s amazing ceiling frescoes. From our base in Udine, we visited the lovely town of Cividale del Friuli, with beautiful Lombard art and architecture, and day-tripped to Kobarid in Slovenia to learn about the Italian front in the First World War. So much of what we know about World War I is focused on Belgium and France. Learning about trench warfare in the mountains was fascinating and a highlight of our trip.
We also had a WOW Moment while staying in Udine: We had a private cooking demo in the kitchen with chef Anna Barbina and her mother, who serves as her sommelier. Anna made five traditional dishes for us to sample (with wine served by her mother, of course), then we had lunch in her osteria, AB Osteria Contemporanea, where she serves contemporary twists on traditional cooking. Heavenly! Anna and her mother were delightful and couldn’t have been more gracious.
Our final activity was a guided tour of Aquileia on our way back to Venice to fly home. Jennifer and her team delivered exactly the trip we were hoping for. FVG was full of beautiful scenery and art, brimming over with fascinating history, and the food and wine were simply spectacular. We’ve had many incredible meals in Italy over the years, but we had more standouts on this trip than any other. If food is your religion, you should make your way to FVG.” —Rachel Webber
Portugal: tasting flight of port, from 10- to 50-year-old bottlings
“Our recent trip to Portugal, from September 27 to October 6, encompassing Porto, the Douro Valley, the Alentejo, and Lisbon, exceeded all our expectations. Of the many adventures, we experienced a few noteworthy ones: the Port flight (10-, 20-, 30-, 40-, and 50-year-old Tawny) at Taylor Fladgate in Porto was both uniquely enjoyable and informative; I never realized I knew so little about one of my favorite wines.
The drive to the Douro Valley was thrilling, including the narrow one-lane roads often wide enough only for one car—with oncoming cars! The views were stunning, and the trip was timed perfectly: we arrived just at the last harvest and were able to see (and smell) the last grapes being processed into wine at Quinta do Bomfin, where we also tasted their Dow and Grahams vintage ports after a memorable lunch at their restaurant, which included an exceptional bottle of their local Dona Berta verdelho white wine.
In fact, every meal and every wine served with the meals at every site we visited in Portugal was memorable; the tasting luncheon Gonçalo arranged at Herdade do Esporão was truly unforgettable—one of the best meals my wife and I have ever had. It lasted over two hours, with at least six courses paired with wine, plus dessert and port, of course. We, not surprisingly, elected to pass on dinner that night.
I should also note that every lodging we stayed in was absolutely first class, from the Vintage Hotel in Pinhao to the Palácio Ludovice in Lisbon, including the unique São Lourenço do Barrocal in the Alentejo in between, which was one of a kind. We finished our trip by driving from the Alentejo to Lisbon via Evora, a charming medieval town with a unique bones chapel (literally decorated with thousands of human skeletons—go figure). Upon arriving in Lisbon, we first toured Sintra on the seaside and visited one of the most beautiful estates I have ever seen, Monserrate Palace, and its grounds. The palace itself has been restored to its early 20th-century splendor and was either breathtakingly beautiful or over the top, depending on your taste.
We finished our all-too-short stay with a walking tour of Lisbon, and a second food tour of same. Lisbon reminds one of any major city, with a vibrant street and night life, remarkable food and restaurants, and grand old historical sites like the Moorish castle on the highest point in the city—a stark departure from the rest of Portugal, save perhaps for Porto, also a vibrant but smaller city with its own charm, historically inextricably tied to port wine production.
Needless to say, this trip would have been impossible without the careful planning by Gonçalo, who was able to obviously call in many favors and secure lodging, meals, and visits to unique places throughout Portugal. The virtual meeting with Gonçalo was key to creating a unique trip tailored to our desire to see sites and meet people that are often overlooked in the classic tours that focus on the same well-trodden routes. If I had it to do over again, about the only thing I would change is the duration of our trip: our stay was too short!” —Tim Triche
Tuscany, Italy: tour & lunch at Brunello winery, pasta-making class, Michelin-starred meal…
“We just returned from a fantastic 12-day trip to Tuscany arranged by Andrea. Our excursion to Montalcino and Pienza was sensational, as was our driver Giovanni. We are big Brunello fans and Andrea’s team arranged a great experience for us at the small, family-owned Poggio Rubino vineyard. What a great day—we got the tour of the winemaking operations and then sat down for a homemade Tuscan lunch (thank you, Nonna) to accompany our very generous and expertly paced Brunello tasting. A great experience. Do it, but make sure you have Giovanni there to take you home. Since we probably overstayed our welcome at Poggio Rubino, our time in Pienza was brief but still worthwhile–even if just for the aroma of the cheese and truffles that surrounded us as we wandered down the streets.
The following day we drove to the Antinori-owned Fonte deMedici estate, where we took a pasta-making class with Ellis, followed by a 5-course tasting menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant Osteria Passignano just down the road. Wow. Both experiences were eye-opening and a treat for all the senses. The meal was a show stopper and the pasta class was revelatory. Ellis is a great teacher with a sharp sense of humor. We loved him. Our only advice is don’t drive there and maybe don’t do them back to back. A must-do experience. Thank you, Andrea.”—Andy Robinson
France: Girls’ wine trip to Bordeaux, Champagne & the Loire Valley
“Jennifer planned a glorious 14-day girls’ wine trip in France. Our itinerary was completely planned around our focus on wine. Every hotel, tour guide, driver, wine tasting, and dinner recommendation was perfection.
Our trip started with being met on the jet bridge by Sofiane, who was literally waiting outside the airplane door. He whisked us through passport control, helped with baggage and escorted us to the awaiting car. This was the first time utilizing the service for passport control, and I am a big fan!
We had a wonderful day in Bordeaux visiting three Grand Cru Classe chateaux with private tours and wine tasting. Our driver, Remy, was full of wine knowledge and helped us with our French. The tasting in the cellar at Chateau Pichon-Longueville was incredibly memorable.
In the Loire Valley our highlight was learning about the powerful women who owned Chenonceau castle. The highlight in Paris was a private cooking class in Veronique’s home (Cuisine Elegante). And dinner at Le Tout Paris was delicious, with an incredible view of the city—including the Eiffel Tower.
My personal favorite part of the trip was Champagne. Domaine Les Crayères was an outstanding hotel, and both meals were amazing (Le Jardin and Le Parc). We toured Reims Cathedral, Veuve Clicquot, and a small Champagne house, La Maison Penet, where we had a delightful lunch.” —Michelle Price
Lake Como, Italy: Cooking class with an award-winning celebrity chef
“We worked with Andrea and her excellent team to rent a wonderful villa for three weeks in Ossuccio, a small comune on the western shore of Lake Como (about 12 miles northeast of the city of Como). Andrea’s team found the perfect villa for us and our two adult children and made all the necessary arrangements with the owner and property manager. They even made sure that any groceries and household items we wanted were ordered and stocked for our arrival. Andrea arranged a day trip to Bergamo with a great English-speaking guide. If you’re within a two-hour drive I highly recommend visiting Bergamo. She also arranged a cooking class for us in Bellagio with an award-winning celebrity chef. We made beautiful tri-color pasta and feasted on a delicious lunch.
Andrea also arranged a boat with an English-speaking captain to take us to several towns along the western and eastern shores of Lake Como where we stopped for lunch, shopping, and gelato. I also must mention that we had a WOW Moment, which was a romantic dinner for my wife and me on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo overlooking Lake Como and the twinkling lights of Bellagio, all framed by the pre-Alps in the distance. This was our third trip to Italy planned by Andrea and her team as our travel experts and I wouldn’t think of planning anything in Italy without them.” —Adam Amsterdam
Tuscany, Italy: Truffle hunting, vineyard lunch, agritourism farm…
“Four special highlights that Maria secured for our group during our Tuscany stay: A spectacularly situated apartment in Siena overlooking the town square for perfect viewing of the wild, medieval, spectacular Palio horse race and dinner with the family who graciously opened their home, shared wine, food and stories of the history of the races over the centuries.
Another highlight was an outing with a truffle hunter and his dog into the hills and woods where the dog found truffles and after we were hosted at their farmhouse overlooking the valley while they served us a multi-course lunch of truffle-focused dishes that were scrumptious, along with their own wines. We also adored a private tour and lunch prepared for us at a little-known but spectacular vineyard in Chianti, with tastings paired with each course.
And, last but not least, we will all remember forever our lunch at an agriturismo farm with a most generous host and chef that happily went on for hours, on a glorious afternoon, on their patio on the edge of their fields, where we were served mind-blowing grilled meats and the best lasagna and tiramisu any of us has ever tasted. My boys wanted to stay and work on the farm and never come home! And I got his grandmother’s recipes!” —Jessica Tolmach
Paris: food tour in the Marais, market shopping & cooking class…
“Since we had been to Paris several times prior to this trip, we asked Jennifer for some ideas of different things to do instead of the usual sightseeing. She sent us a variety of activities to choose from and we picked something each day, which also allowed for us to have free time.
A food tour in the Marais was our first stop, and it was delicious!! Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and we tried everything from cheeses, wines, charcuterie and desserts. The highlight of our trip was a cooking class with Veronique! We went to the local food market to shop for all of our ingredients and then back to her apartment to cook an authentic and delicious French meal.
Everything that Jennifer arranged for us was top-notch. All of our arrangements went according to plan from the moment we stepped off the plane in Paris until we departed.” —Ellen and Jeffrey Weiner
Spain: Award-winning cheese, artisanal olive oils, learning to cook crema catalana and paella…
“Virginia, Julia, and Inmaculada planned our perfect trip to Spain. We wanted a trip that hit some highlights of typical tour stops sprinkled in with cultural and foodie destinations. As I was very specific, down to tasting the 2022 International Cheese winner, Julia patiently kept reworking our trip, and Inmaculada worked diligently on reservations.
We started our trip in Barcelona and were expertly guided around many Gaudi sites by Begonia. She was really a true expert. We also spent a day in Costa Brava, where we met Chef Pilar and her husband Rene. They shared their spectacular home and cooking expertise about making Crema Catalana and paella. She was also able to find the 2022 International Cheese award winner from a small Spanish dairy.
Our next stop was Seville and the charming town of Ubrique, a short hike in Grazalema park, and family-owned, artisanal cheese and olive oil production businesses. A day we will always remember! Jeronimo drove us around for the next few days to an Iberico Pig farm, a Real Madrid vs Sevilla FC game, and through multiple small white villages. He was the most knowledgeable and friendliest man/driver we have ever come across over many years of travel. He also took us to Cordoba, which thanks to tour guide Maria-Elena Consuela made this one of our favorite stops—loved the flower-laden patios and the church that combined elements from multiple cultures dating back over a thousand years. As well as a preserved Jewish synagogue built in 1315.
Our last major stop was in Granada with a stay in a hotel overlooking the oldest and largest bullring in Spain and expertly guided by Alfredo. While there were some snafus, Virginia’s staff quickly resolved a last-minute change in futbol schedule and retrieved a forgotten cell phone charger. Highly recommend this agency. This was our 3rd trip with a WOW expert, and they have all done a terrific job.” —Lisa Jacobson
The Netherlands, Belgium, and Alsace, France: From tastings on Amsterdam’s canals to a 4-hour meal in a Michelin 2-star…
“Our trip to the Netherlands, Belgium, and Alsace, France, was a wonderful experience that we planned with Claudia. All the hotels were lovely and exceeded expectations. Hotel Estherea (Amsterdam) was like residing in a garden, Made in Louise (Brussels) was cute and quirky, and Le Chambard (Alsace) felt like a sumptuous Bavarian hunting lodge.
With Claudia’s help, we felt we visited the highlights that each region had to offer. Our Food and Canals tour was so much fun—our guide Gerard was informative and entertaining. The culmination of the food tour was a wooden boat ride on the canals with wine and tastings. What a great way to start our trip! The half-day bike ride into the country was also a highlight—windmills, sheep, and Dutch apple pie! What a wonderful way to see another side of the Netherlands. Brussels was a fun and cosmopolitan city with excellent dining options like Cowfish and Tero. Colin was our guide in Brussels, Bruge, and Ghent. We couldn’t have asked for a more informative and fun person to spend time with.
Lastly, we visited Alsace, France, a quaint area with a strong Germanic influence. The beautiful scenery and wineries dominated the landscape. We had what, for us, will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We dined at La Table d’Olivier Nasti, a 2-Michelin-star restaurant that provided unbelievable service, an elegant ambiance, and the most delicious and beautifully plated food. It was a four-hour dining experience we will never forget! Thank you to Claudia for creating this wonderful experience for us. We never could have done this trip without her!” —Kristine Carey
Southeast Asia: “Like Napoleon’s army, we travel on our stomachs, and the food we had on this trip was extraordinary…”
“We just returned from a fabulous three-week-plus trip to Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, and Cambodia, organized for us by Sandy. While we have traveled a great deal, this trip was among the best, if not THE best, trip we’ve taken. The diversity and specialness of our experiences made it stand out.
Like Napoleon’s army, we travel on our stomachs, and the food we had on this trip was extraordinary. One evening in Laos we went to the home of our guide, who Sandy has worked closely with for years. We helped prepare dinner, were blessed by the family elders in a Baci ceremony for success on our journey, ate the delicious food we had helped cook, and danced and sang with the family. Another night in Cambodia, we ate at a local village restaurant. With travel to Cambodia down due to the pandemic, it’s a great time to visit, and we were the only people at the restaurant. After a foot massage and passion fruit mojito, we were escorted to our table overlooking vibrant green rice fields while being serenaded by lovely music. In Hanoi, we went to Bun Cha Sinh Tu and had the famous soup it’s known for. It was table-pounding good. And our Vespa food tour of Saigon, which Sandy had strongly suggested, was both delicious and terrifying. Driving a motorbike in Saigon should be an Olympic sport, and we just rode!
Our excellent guides in Laos and Viet Nam shared with us the experiences of their families during the War and recounted working with American veterans who returned years later, as well as a reporter who had covered it. These personal and moving stories touched us and helped us better understand the profound effect of the War on the people who lived through it.
In Cambodia, we went to a Buddhist temple at 5:30 in the morning and meditated. Afterward we were showered with lotus petals as part of a blessing ceremony and had breakfast at the monastery as the sun rose. Early one morning in Laos, we gave sticky rice to saffron-robed monks who extended their begging bowls to us. Through this daily ritual, the monks demonstrate their vows of poverty and humility. Our guide took us to a quiet place where her family normally gives alms, avoiding other tourists.
It’s hard to encapsulate all we saw and did because there was so much: seeing the temples of Angkor, kayaking in Halong Bay, boating on the Saigon River, biking through Hoi An. Part of what made this trip so good was the flexibility we had in determining what we would do and not do each day. We had great guidance and suggestions from Sandy, but he emphasized this was our trip. Thoughtful planning and flexibility helped make this the trip of a lifetime.” —Catherine Mathis
Switzerland: In-depth tour & lunch at a cheese factory, private workshop at a boutique chocolatier…
“The plan that Nina and her team put together for our two-week trip matched our interests perfectly. We had asked for a trip that would provide insight into the culture and history of Switzerland. The trip was a delight. Some highlights were: walking through villages in the Bavona Valley where people live without benefit of electricity; making our own chocolate bars from scratch at perhaps the best boutique chocolatier in Switzerland; getting an in-depth tour of a cheese factory, followed by a wonderful lunch just for us where we could enjoy their products; a private musical performance featuring the Hackbrett, a kind of hammered dulcimer; and of course a visit to the charming town of Zermatt with amazing views of the Matterhorn.
It was our guides’ efforts that brought the trip alive and made our visit unforgettable. One guide, Pascal, drove us off-road through parts of Switzerland generally accessible only to hikers. We wound up at a picture-perfect Swiss Alpine Club hut where we enjoyed what was perhaps the best lunch of our trip. We are fortunate that Wendy’s WOW List connected us with Nina.” —Stephen Behnen
Morocco: Market tour, cooking lesson, wine tasting…
“I had a general idea of the cities and sites that we wished to visit, and Radia developed them into a thoughtful and exciting itinerary, including such highlights as a gourmet lunch and wine tasting in a beautiful vineyard near Fez, an excursion to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, a motorcycle and vintage sidecar tour through Marrakech’s medina, and a sunset camel ride in the desert. Radia helped us choose excellent restaurants for all our meals and handled all the reservations, and she also arranged a very fun market tour and cooking lesson in Fez, where we learned to make chicken tagine on a rooftop kitchen overlooking the city. We cannot wait to return to Morocco.” —Sarah Balassa
Sicily: Cooking class, street food tour, wine experiences…
Matteo did an excellent job of listening to us: We wanted time to explore on our own, unguided, but Matteo also knew where the value of a guide was indispensable, and he made that clear—and he was right!
We wanted several experiences on this trip: We wanted a food tour of the Sicily markets—and Matteo got us a fantastic guide for a great street food tour. We wanted to shop and cook with a chef—Matteo arranged this with a charismatic great chef. We wanted a day on the water to sail and enjoy the sea—Matteo arranged a phenomenal afternoon and sunset sail with Salvo, a very special person who set up an amazing afternoon for us. We wanted an e-bike tour, and this too was arranged for us. The vulcanologist on Mt Etna, the archaeologist who led us through the Villa Romana del Casale, and the guide at the Agrigento temples were all also fantastic.” —Jonathan Scharfstein
Peru: Learning traditional Inca cooking techniques
“From Lima to the Tambopata Reserve in the Amazon, from Arequipa to Colca Canyon, from Cusco to the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu, we were spellbound by the warmth of the Peruvians and the beauty and diversity of the terrain and climates throughout the country. We didn’t encounter unmanageable crowds anywhere—in fact, we were pleasantly surprised by the tourism levels, even at Machu Picchu and in Cusco. We are thrilled that we worked with Marisol and her team to plan this fantastic trip.
A definite highlight was our day exploring the ‘real’ Sacred Valley. The time spent with Maria and her family was priceless. From dancing with her parents to walking the Andean hills with her llama, from a spiritual ceremony thanking the gods to plowing the field with bulls, from sharing a lovely lunch made from locally produced ingredients to an in-depth demonstration of their textile artistry, we felt humbled and honored to have been offered a glimpse into their daily lives.
Another highlight was our WOW Moment in Ollantaytambo. On an organic farm, we learned the traditional Inca cooking technique of pachamanca and savored the delicious al fresco lunch while admiring the snow-capped peaks of Mount Veronica. Thank you, Wendy, for a delightful experience!” —Molly O’Neill-Emmi
Provence: Tasting Roman wines, shopping & cooking with a chef…
“We had a short time in Provence and are so glad we were able to work with Laurie on Philip’s team to get the most out of our time. She arranged for a couple of amazing hotels in Les Baux and Aix en Provence. I think we could have taken up residency in either one! Our driver/guide Cedric showed us beautiful villages and introduced us to the wonderful culture and people of Provence. A couple of highlights for us were walking through a Roman aqueduct at Pont du Gard and taking part in a Roman wine tasting that gave us a sense of what wines may have tasted like in Roman times.
Another special treat was spending a day with Gilles Conchy, first shopping in the market in Aix en Provence and then cooking a fantastic meal at his home. Lastly, we received a WOW Moment during our stay. One morning, we found our van had been replaced by a 60-year-old bright green convertible Citroen. We had a chance to ride through the countryside from Les Baux to Aix in style. It was so much fun.” —Bill Hiatt
Northern Italy: “Balsamic vinegar artists, parmesan cheese makers…”
“Maria met with us by Zoom and we discussed our interests and the kind of trip we wanted. She really listened and planned an amazing trip for us. We traveled through Umbria and Tuscany with a focus on food, wine, and culture. Montefalco is a charming Umbrian town nestled in the hills with a focus on wine and olive oil. Maria had booked us into a charming hotel and made dinner reservations for our first night. The next day we went truffle hunting and shared perhaps the best meal of the trip with the family. Each of the seven courses were delicious and I could have eaten the entire tray of the homemade onion foccacia.
The next morning was our WOW Moment. WOW does not do justice to the opportunity to meet Marta Cucchia, the great-granddaughter of the founder Giuditta Brozzetti who has carried forward the textile workshops. Working on looms from the 15th century, she provided us with a look into the art of weaving. Her joy in the work and understanding of the complexity and history of this art form was enthralling.
This experience set the tone for the remainder of the trip meeting artisans, wine stewards, wine growers, balsamic vinegar artists, parmesan cheese makers, prosciutto ham makers, sculptors, cooks and guides and hoteliers that made us feel welcome. Although it was crowded already in Italy, we always felt as if we had our own private pathways to each activity.
One of the most surprising events was a last-minute opportunity provided by Maria to go to the opera in Parma. An old theater that is built like the opera house in Venice. Maria got us perfect seats to see Pagliacci, the Franco Zeffirelli production. My husband, who is not an opera fan, has been telling everyone that one of the highlights was seeing the opera with 280 performers on stage. This may be the highest of compliments for a perfect trip.” —Lynne Golomb
Ireland: Touring Galway with a chef, Guinness cake…
“Having used Wendy Perrin’s WOW List last year to travel to Greece, we chose Jonathan and his team to book our mother-and-adult-daughter trip to Ireland, and they made the entire process extremely easy. We started at historic Dromoland Castle in County Clare. In Galway we took a food tour through the city to experience the best food the city had to offer. Our guide Regina was a chef herself and you could tell she thoroughly enjoyed sharing the amazing food that Ireland and Galway specifically had to offer. During this tour, we had the best raspberry croissant with red striping and a delicious raspberry puree center. We also had a whiskey tasting where we tried Irish Poitin, which is Ireland’s version of American Moonshine and it definitely made you cough on the smallest sip. The other highlight for me of the food tour was at lunch when we had local oysters. I am not usually a fan of oysters, but Regina described them as a little burst of fresh salt water, and that’s exactly what it was!
Next we headed over to Killarney and the Killarney Park Hotel. We had a very interesting whiskey tutorial and tasting with the head of spirits at the hotel. We also explored the town of Kenmare and took a chocolate-making class at Lorge Chocolates. Neither of us had ever done a chocolate-making class or anything of the sort before, and it was very fun and educational. Benoit Lorge ran the private lesson with the two of us, and he was so enthusiastic and passionate about his chocolate and the quality of chocolate that he creates.
Finally, in Dublin, we took a private cooking class with Alix Gardner’s Cookery School, and there we learned how to make all the essentials for a true Irish feast. We made scones, soda bread, shepherd’s pie with lamb, and a Guinness cake. My daughter and I both cook a lot and consider ourselves to be decent cooks, but I think we both learned new techniques that we’ve applied to our cooking since. The food was delicious and we got to take home our leftovers. We managed to bring a whole Guinness cake on the plane home with us to The States! A slice of Guinness cake after a full day of traveling was well worth the trouble of packing it.” —Robin Stone
Greece: “A meal fit for kings and queens but which represented everyday food in a typical Greek household…”
“The trip Mina prepared for us in Athens was spectacular. Shortly after our arrival in Athens, we were mysteriously picked up at our hotel and driven to a residential area. Imagine our delight when we were greeted by our host, Dionysia, who prepared a meal fit for kings and queens but which represented everyday food in a typical Greek household.
Dionysia prepares custom meals for groups of individuals, mostly corporate requests, so we felt so special she had cooked just for us. We started with Greek wines (delicious) and tzatziki and a spicy feta spread, which we coupled with delicious homemade beautiful bread. We then had two salads: damos salad and, of course, Greek salad. Then came homemade sausage and kleftiko (a mix of lamb, chicken and beef).
Then we MADE sweet phyllo rolls, which we enjoyed together with a Greek-style cheesecake. Last of all, we had wonderful Greek coffee and when we finished it, imagine our surprise when Dionysia asked us to turn our cups over and let the leftover coffee drain to the bottom. Of course, everyone’s designs which appeared on the cups were quite interesting and she then ‘interpreted’ what each design meant, similar to fortune telling according to Greek customs. It was a fun (and most filling) afternoon and evening. I asked Dionysia whether Greeks really had that much food every day and they do! However, a meal like that lasts two meals….” —Victoria Jones
France & Italy: Truffle hunting, organic farm tour…
“Jennifer’s office is hands-down amazing! The most helpful and best expense was the VIP Meet & Greet at Charles de Gaulle, as we were transferring airlines and don’t speak French. Brice, our greeter, was on the jet bridge as soon as we deplaned, whisked us through passport check, carried our bags and assisted our transfer to Terminal 1, checked us in, whisked us again through security & showed us our gate. Priceless!!!
The castles recommended where Jennifer has solid relationships were priceless too! We were greeted with baskets of fruit, bottles of champagne and other treats. The suites we stayed in were beautifully appointed at Castello di Reschio and Castello di Casole. The staff at both properties were personable, friendly, informative and classy. Every meal we had was divine, whether it was a tasting menu or a simple buffet breakfast! The drivers/transfers/car service were clean, professional and knowledgeable—so much better than taking your chances with an Uber/taxi.
Our most memorable moments that Jennifer’s team arranged were the Truffle Hunting/Lunch and the Organic Farm Tour/Lunch. Both experiences had us with locals who educated us, then prepared meals using their products. Over-the-top fresh food made right in front of you. We loved it and felt at home with both ‘families.’” —Chrissy Croonquist
Spain: Tapas tour, paella class, farm visit…
“I visited Sevilla, Cordoba, Ubeza, Granada, Bilbao, San Sebastián, and finished in Madrid where I did day trips to Toledo and Salamanca. Every place was a joy to visit. I particularly loved Sevilla and the old city, where the guide took me for tapas and the following night I had a cooking course at her home where we made soups and paella. Granada and the Alhambra were sensational. Ubeza was a great visit where they were restoring some of the Jewish homes and creating a museum.
Visiting an organic farm and old castle in the Andalusian countryside was so special especially having lunch and a guided tour of the castle by the Countess. The Guggenheim in Bilbao was awesome and my guide gave a great tour of the huge space. Maybe my favorite place was San Sebastián—so beautiful on the water. Could definitely live there. My guide Gurutze was so great to be with. Madrid was a big city but I really enjoyed my walking tour of the city and Royal Palace. I also attended a Flamenco show and dinner which was most enjoyable. The old university in Salamanca was especially interesting. My favorite hotels were in Sevilla, Madrid, and San Sebastián.
What impressed me most about Spain was their quality of life, cleanliness, low crime rate, food, historic places of interest, and friendliness of the people. Could not recommend Spain enough as a destination. Thanks so much to Virginia and her team and to Wendy Perrin for her high standards of travel advisors.” —Leon Malkin
Italy: Cheese farm, truffle hunting, cooking class…
“We traveled March 11–22 to Rome, Florence, and Venice with our two adult children and then a few days in Milan on our own. We worked with Jennifer, and we couldn’t have been happier with our trip. Our cooking class in Rome with Marco was surprisingly a highlight for my 25-year-old son. My husband has not stopped talking about our day in the Tuscan countryside where we visited a cheese farm, tasted wine and olive oil, had the most incredible lunch at one of the wineries, and then ended our day with truffle hunting in the woods with the cutest truffle hunter ever, Dora.
Other highlights were an artisan tour of Florence where we met local artisans who have been continuing their family traditions for generations, glass blowing in Murano, and our trip to Burano with its beautiful colorful houses along the canals. The food was spectacular!! Every restaurant recommendation was spot-on, and when we wanted to make a change (because we needed to get one more portion of cacio e pepe), help was easily accessible and quick to respond. Jennifer planned an amazing trip that we will never forget. Thank you!” —Julie and Phil Taub
Argentina: Winery visits, meeting Francis Mallmann…
“This was the second time that I worked with Maita and Santiago, and, once again, the trip was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. I started in Mendoza, Argentina, at Cavas Wine Lodge, which is located in a gorgeous vineyard and has gorgeous views from all angles. Santiago arranged for me to go to several wineries, and each was excellent and so much fun! There are hundreds of wineries to choose from, so I was delighted that Santiago found ones that were perfect for me.
Then I flew to Montevideo, Uruguay, and was driven to the absolutely delightful and gorgeous town of José Ignacio. Maita and Santiago had recommended this over Punta del Este, and they were spot on. I never would have found this little town and am now considering buying property there! Santiago arranged very interesting tours to Garzon winery, lunch at Garzon restaurant, where I met Francis Mallmann(!) , and Pablo Atchugarry’s amazing and beautiful art, as well as the must-see Casapueblo.
Maita and Santiago will listen to your likes and dislikes, and what you want out of the trip, and will then create a bespoke itinerary that you will absolutely love! I am already working on a third trip with them.” —Susan Cunneen
France: Private winery visits in Bordeaux
“We were invited to a friend’s wedding near Montpellier. I lived in southern France many years ago, but my husband and son had never been there, and I wanted them to see Provence; my husband and I have become oenophiles, so we were also interested in visiting some winemaking châteaux in Bordeaux; and of course we had to see Paris.
Philip and his colleagues helped us pull together everything we wanted in our trip and more. They were amazing! We arrived in Paris and spent a couple of days there, with a dinner cruise on the Seine one night and dinner at Michelin-star restaurant L’Arpège another. We then traveled by TGV to Montpellier for the wedding weekend, followed by Provence, where we visited Nimes, Avignon, the Pont du Gard and many other beautiful towns and villages. Les Baux-de-Provence was a special favorite of my husband and son….
All our accommodations were top-notch—mainly small boutique hotels that were well-situated and each had their own charms. Philip’s team took care of all reservations, entry tickets, and train tickets. They really went above and beyond in Bordeaux, securing private tours for us at six châteaux in the region. It was an amazing experience to see the variety of châteaux and the winemaking process at each.” —Helen and Glenn Miller
Mexico City: taco tour, mezcal tasting, snacking on crickets…
“We have just returned from a spectacular trip to Mexico with one of Wendy’s WOW List planners. We were particularly interested in the differences and juxtaposition of the pre-Hispanic to colonial culture, visited many of the significant Aztec and Zapotec sites, as well as the Colonial churches and significant buildings. We loved the personal stories of our guides and their connections to their hometowns. As we were especially interested in the food culture, we had excellent restaurant experiences at Pujol in Mexico City, going on a taco tour, a mezcal tasting (really interesting and fun), and eating lots of chapulines–crickets—that were in season.
Zach’s staff was very accommodating in supplying us with names of cardiologists and hospitals at each city we visited, just for peace of mind. We ended our trip with two days on the beach near Puerto Escondido at a lovely small resort, Casona Sforza. We had wonderful food and a lovely room overlooking the Pacific—definitely our chill time before returning home. Zach’s staff provided a seamless trip: Timing on every event was flawless, and we had great vehicles, safe drivers, and local guides who were willing to make changes on the fly and accommodate our every request. Wendy’s WOW List will continue to be our gold standard for international travel. —Jim and Cathy Getz
Sicily: Meeting chefs, winemakers, vulcanologists…
“My husband and I worked with Marcello to plan a 3-week vacation in Sicily which we took in September 2022. Marcello was fabulous to work with! He listened carefully to how we liked to travel and what we were interested in doing. He gave us a wide range of experiences to choose from and helped us create a fantastic itinerary. He clearly loves his work and his passion and excitement for Sicily is contagious!
He arranged for us to have some unique experiences. Some of the highlights include:
Thanks to Marcello, we had a fantastic trip in Sicily. —Davi Harrington
Vietnam & Cambodia: Grazing at markets, sharing home-brewed plum wine…
“If you’ve considered a trip to Southeast Asia, do it now! We are lucky to have been able to see Vietnam and Cambodia before the masses of tourists come back. Dan listened to our goals and worked these ideas into our itinerary. For example, we like to try all the foods. Throughout the trip we went to various markets and even stopped randomly on the side of the road and had a lot of fun trying some very interesting things! When I said I really wanted to find mangosteens, we did, even though they’re out of season. We ate at wonderful restaurants, street food, market stalls, and in the homes of local villagers. One of my favorite experiences was a hot pot lunch at a local’s home near the Chinese border in Bac Ha. We bonded with the local hosts, chatting with facial expressions, hand movements, and of course our guide translating, all the while drinking home-brewed plum wine.
We wanted to have some suits made for my husband, so for three days in a row, we made time to go to the tailor for fittings. We wanted to experience everything we could so, even when a torrential downpour interrupted the end of our street food scooter tour, instead of taking a taxi back to the hotel, we rode through the streets of Saigon in the rain on the scooter….so much fun and we were soaked! I decided last minute that I really wanted to see Angkor Wat at sunrise. No problem, done! And we learned so much more about the Vietnam War. We met a Vietnamese pilot that shot down two American planes during the war. What an interesting and moving interaction that was.
And then, the surprise for me was our WOW Moment. We had a special tuk-tuk ride to a boat ride on the river. On the boat we had cocktails, appetizers, entertainment with a traditional singer and a musician playing the dan tranh (which we got to try our hand at), and even lit lanterns. All of that was followed by an incredible multi-course dinner at a beautiful restaurant where our musician was playing another instrument. Everyone involved was amazing. Thank you, Wendy!” —Amy Evers
Oaxaca, Mexico: Cooking class, mezcal tasting…
“There is so much to see and do in Oaxaca, and we are glad that we hired Zach to help us plan and execute this trip. We had a wonderful cooking experience with a Zapotec family, and we spent an afternoon tasting mezcal and learning how it is made with the owner himself. The history in this area of Mexico is fascinating. Black pottery, Alebrijes, natural dyed wall hangings and rugs…. BRING AN EMPTY SUITCASE! (Or buy one in the market, as we did.)” —Candace Chiaruttini
Sicily: Vineyard tour, pastry class…
“We just returned from an incredible trip to Sicily, curated by Marcello. From beginning to end, Marcello did a wonderful job of listening to the sometimes varied needs and wants of our two couples, crafting personalized experiences that truly helped us understand the beauty and uniqueness of Sicily, and staying in touch to make sure we were having a wonderful time. We knew very little about this amazing island before our trip – and thanks to the interesting places and knowledgeable guides and delightful experiences arranged by Marcello, we left feeling a great affinity for Sicily and looking forward to coming back. While it is hard to pick a favorite moment, some of the highlights included an amazing vineyard tour and lunch in the hills of Camporeale, making pastries with the incredible 82-year old Maria Grammatico in Erice, experiencing the stunning Infiorata in Noto and hiking on Mt. Etna with a Vulcanologist during a very active time. We will be reliving this trip for years to come. Thank you Wendy for introducing us to Marcello and bravo to his entire team!” —Lisa Wollan
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