Grappa is a fantastic way to finish any meal in Italy, but especially in the more northerly cities and towns. It certainly has escaped being known as a peasant’s beverage and is truly a refined treat.

Charles Scicolone on Wine

I like grappa. I often drink it after a nice meal as a way to relax and to help me to digest. I put a few drops in my espresso, for what Italians call caffè corretto. I drizzle grappa on my lemon granita and other flavored ices and even have it with chocolate. A number of years ago Michele and I wrote and article for Gourmet Magazine called “Cooking with Grappa.” The beautiful grappa chocolate cake appeared on the cover of the magazine.

A friend invited me to a wine tasting. When I arrived, one of the wine reps told me that there was a grappa seminar starting in five minutes, would I like to attend. He knew me well enough to know that I would say yes.

Alessandro Marzadro Alessandro Marzadro

The speaker was Alessandro Marzardo, third generation of the owners of the Marzardo Distillery that was founded in 1949. The…

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It’s the only word I can think of to describe being in Venice and to have nothing to do but follow around a rather overexposed and tabloid-celebrated actor who decided on La Serenissima for his paparazzi-bait ceremony–but such is the life of a paparazzo I guess.

Gondola and Vaporetto

Fortunately we don’t have anything scheduled there until the week after.  But I would imagine the word “circus” is going to prove appropriate.

What To Eat In Venice

When we hear from people went to a particular region and didn’t like the food, we also invariably heard from someone who didn’t partake of the recipes the region in question is known for.  Just like you don’t go to Texas for the sushi or Seattle for the southern BBQ, don’t go to Venice looking for an exquisite pizza experience.

Some of the most remarkable flavor experiences you’ll ever have are found in the Veneto.  Travel with us, and we’ll direct you to locally owned family run osterie and cicchetterie that will be guaranteed to impress!


Italian Art 101 – Lacoon and His Sons, Vatican Museum

A great discussion of one of the magical pieces of work we love sharing with our clients.


The Vatican Museum is one of the must-see spots in Rome and one of the most popular museums in the world. And rightly so. Over 70,000 priceless works of art are on display and countless more are tucked away in its archives. But instead of heading straight for Raphael’s beautiful paintwork in the Stanze della Segnatura or Michelangelo’s breath-taking Sistine Chapel I suggest you take the long way round and start with the Greek and Roman sculptures. And one in particular – Laocoön and His Sons in the Octagonal Room.


At first glance there is an energy to the statue as the father and his two sons writhe and twist in battle with two snakes. The agonized expression on the father’s face as he fights to save his children adds drama and pain to the piece. And the quality of the work is breath-taking as the sculptor depicts the muscles…

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Drawing From The Masters This Spring

We’re proud to announce that the Bemis School of Art’s collaboration with Sassi Italy Tours and our Drawing From The Masters program is formally open for registration.  The initial departure is this February but fear not, more will follow in the future; some slots are already taken but a few remain and we strongly encourage you to contact Tara Thomas and get your deposit in now.  A course description is included at the registration link, and more information can be found here and a FAQ can be found here.


Brunelleschi’s Magic

As I recall from the Nova special on this on PBS a few months back, experts are pretty sure Brunelleschi used a series of ropes from the floor (similar to the first theory examined in this video), making some of this seem a bit dated.  But nonetheless a great peek into the genius of the man who made one of the world’s great structures a possibility.

We have many tours lined up for this fall, but still have some openings–come see it with us!


Sinking Venice? You Can Help.

What you can do to help this situation:  make sure the Carnivale masks you buy aren’t made in China but are locally made.  Spend a couple extra bucks!  It’ll be worth it to make sure the Venice you remember is there for you in the future.  Get off the beaten path a bit to get that gelato or espresso; support a local merchant instead of a tourist trap.  Your taste buds will thank you in the end and you’ll see more of the city.  Visiting the city?  Get there by plane to a water taxi or via the train, and avoid cruise ships that motor through the shallow lagoon damaging local ecosystems and the infrastructure of Venice.

It seems in the future tourism will be Venice’s only real economy, and the Venetians have accepted as much–but that’s ok in a way.  It’s a city built to serve the curious tourists of the world and it can handle this task gracefully, but visitors should and can have a hand in preserving La Serenissima.


Mi Piace L’Aperol!

If you can’t be in Venice everyday (and unfortunately who can who isn’t lucky enough to be a Venetian) it doesn’t mean you have to go without a taste of the Veneto.  Hardly!  Those lucky enough to have wandered in Venice have probably seen locals sipping at wine glasses with a curiously citrusy colored fizzy beverage and wondered what it is; for those who haven’t tried one, well…you simply must!   The Aperol spritz or Venetian spritz is just fantastic as you cook your pasta or relax in the shade.

Aperol is a light bitter aperitif; mix in a one to two or three ratio with dry prosecco and garnish with an orange or clementine slice and add a splash of club soda.  Ridiculously delicious way to send out summer and enjoy a small taste of Venetian goodness without the plane or train ride.


Unlike any other, COS Rami 2011

Look at the hue on that…fantastic.

Wine Ramblings

Cos Rami, 2011

Region: Sicily, Italy

Grape: 50% Insolia and 50% Grecanico

Price: 35$

Being a wine nerd has its perks, now I know some producers name, and I get very excited when I see one of their wines I never had on a restaurant menu. This past Tuesday I was dining at a reputable Italian restaurant in Harvard Square and I was giddy because I saw earlier that they had a COS wine I never had.

I have reviewed several COS wines this past year, including their Nero d’Avola or their Cerasuolo di Vittoria. All excellent wines but I was particularly impressed by their Pithos Bianco. A white wine that was the most original thing I ever tasted, they used maceration and fermentation in clay amphoraes to bring character to the traditional Sicilian grape varieties. When I saw the other white from COS on…

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