Food & Wine Archive


Sunday, April 7th, 2019
Massimo Bottura
Image courtesy of

Modena, in Italy’s north, is home to a little dining house called 'Osteria Francescana'. Placed in the top five restaurants in the world, under the world’s number 1 chef, Massimo Bottura (pictured above), this osteria has come first in 2016 and second in 2017, all the while earning its third Michelin Star. 2018 was another landmark year that saw Osteria Francescana awarded the best eatery on the planet.

Massimo Bottura, opened the restaurant ten years ago after returning to his birthplace. Modena, in Emilia Romagna, has long been renowned as a food Mecca of such in Italy producing the world’s finest balsamic vinegars, aged Prosciutto and Parmigiano Cheese, as well as specialty pasta dishes such as Tortellini in Brodo.


Image courtesy of Osteria Francescana

Exclusively, only a twelve table venue in the centre of Modena, Bottura incorporates modern techniques while staying true to Italian tradition, projecting creativity in his dishes.

In 2016, Massimo launched the first “refettorio” at the Rio Olympics. He turned surplus food into nourishing meals for Brazil’s hungry. He has since extended this reinvented soup kitchen, Food for Soul, on the road to London and Paris.

As one of the world’s most respected chefs, Bottura goes from one spectrum to the other by forming a close relationship with Maserti and the people at Gucci by recently opening an all-day restaurant in the Gucci Garden, at the fashion house’s museum in Florence.

About to hit Australian shores in August, Massimo Bottura will be live on stage showcasing his love for food and projecting his passion for creating more than just a dish. His visit is an event not to be missed if you are a lover of food.

Interested in a food & wine tour of Modena?

Vita Italian Tours share in the love for food by offering the ‘Culinary Delights of Bologna & Tuscany’. This small group tour showcases Italy’s rich cultural and culinary heritage visiting the central regions of Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. There is of course a special visit and lunch in Modena.

Unfortunately, a meal at the award-winning Osteria Francescana, is not apart of the tour but we indulge in fantastic local Italian food and regional wines at famous traditional trattorie. Find out more here

If an indipendent or self drive itinerary to Modena and the region of Emilia Romagna is more your style, contact us today for a quote. With over 15 years of expertise in travel to Italy our accredited travel agency Pronto Travel can create a travel package to suit your needs and budget.

Contact us today


Monday, May 21st, 2018

Top 5 Eating Spots In Rome - First time in Rome and not sure where to eat? Navigating the hundreds of eating spots and spruikers on the streets of Rome can be a daunting task, especially if you are sufferring from jetlag or are wiery after exploring the cobbletsone streets of the Eternal City. Author and Rome travel blogger Bronte Jackson has put together a nice introductory eating guide for travellers who are looking for a place to eat in and around Campo de Fiori and Trastevere in Rome's historical centre. Enjoy;


Although there are many great restaurants in the suburbs of Rome, these are not them. These top spots are all in the “centro historico”, the city centre of Rome.  Handy if you are visiting Rome as generally this is where you will be staying. My definition of a top Roman restaurant is one that:

  • Has been in operation for at least one hundred years
  • Is family run (usually by the second or third generation by now)
  • Specialises in traditional Roman cuisine (simple, fresh and offal based)
  • Has a menu that depends on what is available at the market that day
  • Does not depend on decor as a selling point.  (Not for me the modern, sleek, sharply fitted out interiors with modern twists or re-inventions on traditional dishes.  If I wanted those kind of restaurants I would go to Milan or Melbourne.)


Photo Credit:


So here goes, the top five are not in any particular order:

1. L’Hostaria Romanesca – Piazza Campo dei Fiori, 40 – Tel. 06 686 4024 Don’t bother calling as you can’t book and if you are lucky enough to get a seat you will have to wait a long time often for your meals. It consists of one small room inside plus a square of the piazza. There is a sign on the wall written in local dialect warning about the wait and not to bother the chef with complaints. But it is worth it. Dishes are individually and lovingly prepared, and spilling over with food of the highest and freshest quality. The Spaghetti Carbonara, Pollo con Pepperoni (only found in Rome)/chicken with capsicum, and Fegato alla griglia/grilled liver are the best I have ever tasted. But everything on the menu is good, cheap, and cooked with care and attention to detail. Try any of the specials as they will be seasonal and based on the chefs traditional knowledge. And while you are waiting you will have the spectacular Campo dei Fiori to watch – full of people, no cars, magnificent medieval buildings, and a statue of Giordano Bruno, the last person burnt to death there in 1600 for heresy. Reflect on how, if waiting for some spectacular Roman food while sipping wine and eating bread is the main problem you have at the moment, then life is much improved since 1600.

2. La Carbonara – Piazza Campo dei Fiori, 23 - Tel. 06 686 4783 You will be lining up often with international movie stars and politicians to get a seat but it is not a pretentious or expensive place, just a Roman institution. At the other end of the piazza from L’Hostaria, it is thankfully much larger so your chances of eating there are greatly increased, and they take bookings. Again it produces very traditional, high quality Roman dishes with just a bit more flair (and prices) than the down market L’Hostaria. The Fiori di Zucca/fried zucchini flowers, Saltimbocca alla Romana (veal with proscuitto and sage) are the best I have ever tasted and the Carbonara is on a par with L’Hostaria. Again you will have the Campo dei Fiori piazza to look out upon and will be entertained by a parade of non-stop travelling musicians.

3. Ai Spaghettari – Piazza di San Cosimato, 57-60, Trastevere - Tel. 06 580 0450 A beautiful, succulent and rich experience of a typical, contemporary restaurant, that has nevertheless been around for half a century or more. It is based in the most traditional part of Rome, Trastevere, a mostly pedestrian only precinct, which is now packed with restaurants and is an enchanting neighborhood to eat in. Ai Spaghettari is always noisy, has the television blaring, and is always full. A pizza oven greets you at the door and you can watch while your pizza is made, being flung up in the air and all. There are vast amounts of seating outside and in, and service and menu are both good, featuring lots of traditional Roman specials. If you don't book you may be waiting a while but you will get a seat eventually.

4. Pizzeria Popi Popi - Via delle Fratte di Trastevere 45, 06 589 5167 I avoided going to this restaurant for years as it looks like the typical tourist trap often found in Trastevere. Red checkered table cloths, tables set outside in front of a beautiful, white marble church, and filled with tourists. Then my Italian husband and his mates took me there. Now we know the waiters by name. Frequented by both Italians and tourists alike, its cheap and cheerful outdoor atmosphere make it a superb summer Roman dining experience (and indoors for Winter). They have a large and traditional menu (including pizza) and the food always tastes surprisingly good for its quick production, volumes turned-over, and large variety. Their Tiramisu is one of the main reasons we keep going back. By the way, once I asked the waiter what the significance of the name was. He told me it’s the sound that Italian men make when they squeeze the breast of a woman "popi, popi". Booking is optional, just turn up and the waiters will look after you.

5. Da Luigi – Piazza Sforza Cesarini, 23 - 06 6865 946 I stumbled on this place when I used to live around the corner from it and noticed it was always full with lines of people waiting. Hence I usually had to eat dinner next door in a grossly inferior establishment. Da Luigi is packed full with Roman families who like to keep this place a secret. It is squashed along the side of a tiny piazza across the road from Piazza Navona. Here you will find reasonably priced, down-to-earth Roman dishes specialising in sea food. It is noisy and always crowded and there is nothing to look at, but the variety and good reliable quality of the food makes up for it. The booking system doesn’t seem to work so be prepared to wait for a table which is never very long.


For more on Rome from Bronte Jackson check out her Rome Travel Blog:

You can also purchase Bronte's book Roman Daze recounting her time living in the Eternal City Rome in the Vita Italian Tours/Pronto Travel office in Melbourne; 1/25 Little Oxford Street Collingwood, VIC 3066. Call us to reserve your copy today +61 3 9080 3440.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author Bronte Jackson and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or position of Vita Italian Tours. 

Read Article ▶ Culinary Delights of Tuscany & Emilia-Romagna

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

After several years of planning we are very proud to introduce to you our brand new tour for the 2018 touring season, Culinary Delights of Tuscany & Emilia-Romagna, 30 May - 7 June 2018.

Parma BaptisteryParmigiano ReggianoCibo Italiano

It is a nine day tour that takes in the very best of the central regions of Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. The tour will be led by Vita Italian Tours founders and father and son team Mario and Gianni and will focus on new and undiscovered areas of Italy that many of our travellers may not have experienced before. There is a strong emphasis on wonderful regional food and wine throughout in beautiful centrally located hotels and a stunning Villa in Tuscany complete with a swimming pool.

Highlights include tours and tastings at factories/dairies/acetaie that produce world famous produce such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Parma Prosciutto and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. As well as this there will be sumptuous banquet lunches and dinners in speciality restaurants and famous local osterie and trattorie. Apart from the food and wine there will be guided visits to cities such as Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Parma, Florence, Panzano, Montepulciano, Castellina and Radda in Chianti.

It is important to note that at this stage the tour is a one off departure and places are limited. We are only accepting 14 travellers on this tour and already have a number of clients booked.

Interested? If you have any questions or would like to request a complete itinerary of the tour please do not hesitate to contact us.


Vita Italian Tours/Pronto Travel

1/25 Little Oxford Street

Collingwood VIC 3066

Ph. 1300 842 444 (cost of a local call)


We welcome you to join us off the beaten track to discover Italy in 2018.

Cari saluti.

Gianni, Mario & Viny.

Gianni Viny Mario Vita Italian Tours


Read Article ▶ Italy requests UNESCO recognition for Neapolitan Pizza

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Italy requests UNESCO recognition for Neapolitan Pizza. After the Mediterranean diet was added to the list of world recognised cultural icons, Italy is requesting special UNESCO status for the Neapolitan pizza as well as other national treasures such as Sienna's Palio horse-race, violin making in Cremona and a number of other ancient festivals.

Neapolitan Pizza Margherita

The Neapolitan pizza was voted by Italians as one of the dishes that was a national symbol above Spaghetti alla Bolognese and Bruschetta with olive oil.

Pizza as we know it today originated from Naples and was traditionally a food of the poor Neapolitan people sold in open air stalls on the street. The story of the Pizza Margherita originates from 1889 when a local pizzaiolo Raffaelle Esposito made a pizza with mozzarella, tomato and basil leaves, representing the red, white and green of the Italian flag. The pizza was made in honor of and presented to Queen Margherita of Savoy who was visiting Naples with her husband King Umberto I. It is quite possible that the origins of this style of Pizza are from much earlier than the arrival of the Queen Margherita in 1889 although the story of Esposito's Margherita is what has been popularised to this day.

The art of pizza making is a central element of Neapolitan and Italian identity. A symbol recognised around the world. The Neapolitan pizzaiolo insist that the three quality ingredients of mozzarella, tomato and basil are all that is needed to make a perfect Margherita pizza. The pizza base must be a 3mm disc of dough with a softer 1-2cm crust needed by hand and cooked in a wood fire oven.

Neapolitan Pizza Making   Traditional Neapolitan Pizza Margherita

The pizza industry in Italy is reportedly worth over €10 billion and employs around 100 thousand people. Italians want pizza recognised and protected as today many imported ingredients are continually replacing the genuine Italian products such as tomatoes, olive oil and buffalo mozzerella. We await the decision by UNESCO in Paris in 2017 with great anxiety.

On many of our Vita Italian Tours when visiting the Naples area travellers have the opportunity to experience the joy of eating an authentic Pizza Margherita. Buon appetito!


Read Article ▶ Panettone an Italian Christmas Tradition

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Panettone Panettone II


At Christmas time in Italy, the most traditional sweet eaten is 'Panettone'. The traditional fruit cake's history can be traced back to Milan as far back as the late 1400's.

A favoured legend on the origin of the name is attributed to the story of the lowly servant boy called Toni who worked in the kitchen of the then ruler of Milan, Ludovico 'il Moro', of the Sforza family. This servant boy saved the household chef from embarrassment and sacking when the chef accidentally burnt the sweet he had made. Toni offered him the mother yeast which he then used together with eggs, flour, sugar, raisins and candied fruit to make a soft dough and bake into a sweet bread. The guests loved the sweet so much that Ludovico named it 'Pan de Toni' in honour of its inventor.

The 'Panettone' is traditional for Italian families at Christmas time and is nowadays enjoyed by people around the world. It comes in the traditional form with candied fruit and raisins or in modern adaptations with beautiful fillings such vanilla cream, chocolate and even Limoncello (lemon liquor) flavoured. Panettone makes a great gift for a loved one or friend at Christmas time and as most things Italian is best enjoyed together.



Read Article ▶ Milan Expo 2015

Friday, June 19th, 2015


Friday 19 June, Milan - Milan Expo 2015. The focus of the world is once again on Milan, Italy for the 67th edition of the World Expo. Milan Expo 2015 takes place from May 1 to October 31 and has the theme of "Feeding the Planet - Energy for Life".



There are over 140 countries from different parts of the world that from their individual country Pavilions will be showcasing and sharing the latest technologies which are used in producing foods to feed the entire planet in sustainable ways. These technologies illustrate the most innovative ways we have today of growing enough food for the entire world, while at the same time protecting the precious resources of the planet.

On a huge site that covers over one million square meters north west of Milan, the Expo 2015 allows people from different walks of life to share their ideas and solutions on the theme of food in order to promote creativity and innovation to other countries to move forward for a sustainable future.


Italian Pavillion Expo 2015
The Italian Pavilion at EXPO 2015


The Exhibition is attracting millions of visitors from around the world who are interested in learning about agri food and traditional gastronomic dishes. Most importantly they will be able to taste amazing dishes from all over the world.

To coincide with our Northern Lakes and Dolomites Tour which is due to begin in Milan on 29 June we have booked many of our travellers tickets to visit this monumental event before coming to explore the beautiful Northern Lakes region of Italy with us.


Take a guided virtual tour of Milan Expo 2015


Read Article ▶ Generational Coffee in Pesaro

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Generational Coffee in Pesaro Pesaro, 22 October - We, at Vita Italian Tours, are always trying to introduce our travellers to new and authentic places that exhibit local charm, style and that certain ‘Italianita`’. Travellers on our tours always remark how they love the feel of regional Italy and in particular the seaside town of Pesaro, in Le Marche Region.

In Pesaro, there is a quintessential Italian cafe`, central to the lives of so many locals which plays host to great debates on politics, sport and current affairs. It is a place for a momentary escape from the daily grind where one enjoys the slowly extracted pure liquid gold in a cup: the expresso! So when we are in Pesaro, we regularly go to this little gem and would like to share its unique story.

Like so many things in Italy, the family is central to everything. Here we have the 'Caffe Barriere', located close to the main square and run by the Rinaldo family who work together in what has been their labour of love for three generations. Paolo and Carla along with son Andrea, daughter Samuela and granddaughter Eleonora pour all their passion into every cup of coffee to the throws of locals who come from nearby and far away to experience their unique coffee and great hospitality. Their signature coffee that keeps people coming back is their ‘caffe completo’ an expresso coffee infused with zabaglione and a cold sugared crema. The effect is a creamy coffee explosion of flavor in your mouth sure to keep you buzzing all day!

Come an experience this fascinating local along with many others just like it on one of our tours.


Photo of three generations of the Rinaldo family; Carla, Samuela and Eleonora.


Read Article ▶ Italian Prosecco outsells French Champagne

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Prosecco2 Veneto, 30 December - Italian Prosecco is more popular than it’s more famous and pricier competitor French Champagne. According to ANSA around the world sales of Prosecco and other Italian sparkling varieties in 2013 have increased substantially and their popularity is constantly growing.

The Prosecco grape is predominantly grown in northeastern Italy in the Veneto region. In the tiny valley of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, where the finest Prosecco makers are, the wine enjoys a DOCG certification. This certification is handed down by the Italian government and is the highest ranking and stringently regulated designation for an Italian wine region.

A reason for the rise in the popularity of Prosecco is that it is a less expensive option for consumers when compared to French Champagne or other sparkling Italian varieties. This is largely due to the production process as Prosecco undergoes secondary fermentation in stainless steel tanks rather than the more expensive method of fermentation in individual bottles. Prosecco can vary from drier and crispier to slightly fruitier varieties depending on the amount of residual sugar in the wine.

Prosecco can be enjoyed at anytime of the year and is also a perfect way to toast your New Year celebrations. A very popular way to drink Prosecco in the warmer months is when mixed with Aperol and soda in a drink called an ‘Aperol Spritz’, always a favourite aperitivo with travellers on all our Vita Italian Tours.

Read Article ▶ Sardinian Pecorino fights cholesterol

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Pecorino_Sardo Sardinia, 30 July - Pecorino Cheese, is a favourite amongst Italians, and is often used in antipasti, on pasta and is an essential ingredient in traditional pesto Genovese. Now there is even more reason to enjoy this mild flavoured cheese. A recent study has shown that Pecorino can lower cholesterol levels by those eating it by as much as 7%.

The studies conducted over a six year period at Cagliari University on the island of Sardegna found pecorino cheese produced from the milk of sheep that have been fed primarily (80%) on fresh grazing grass produced unique nutritional and therapeutic properties. The cheese contained high amounts of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), an Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid found in some food groups which have beneficial properties for humans. Preliminary results of the study also showed that regular consumption of pecorino cheese which contains CLA significantly reduced fat content, suppressed diabetes, preserved muscle tissue and fought tumors growth on skin, mammary glands and the stomach.

Sardinian Pecorino cheese is not as well known outside of Italy as Pecorino Romano or Pecorino Toscano, although given the results of this study it may make up some ground on its more popular cousins. Try some today with pesto, together with fruit or honey. Buon appetito!

Read Article ▶ Shortage of pizza makers in Italy

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

IMG_0913 Rome, 14 May - Despite the economic crisis in Italy and over 35% unemployment, Italians do not want to become pizza makers, and consequently, there is a shortage of experienced 'pizzaioli' in Italy.

Pizza making is an Italian tradition usually requiring long hours of hard manual labour with low wages. The Italian business federation FIPE is concerned about the shortage of local skilled pizza makers as the demand for pizza is growing enormously despite the recession.

In order to fulfill the high demand for pizza being consumed by Italians, who consider a pizza a cheap lunch time meal, young immigrants are being trained to take on these artisan positions. Of the immigrants being trained, Egyptians are showing a great ability to master the skills and artistry in making high quality pizzas. In fact over 80% of Egyptians who go to work in Italy end up being pizza makers.

On some of our small group tours we give our travellers the opportunity to enjoy an authentic Italian style pizza made in the traditional way.