Villa del Cigliano

While in Chianti, you really should meet Niccolò Montecchi.  He’s a member of the Antinori family – and in Italy, that means a LOT. To put it in perspective, let’s talk history: The Antinori family goes way, way back, and they’ve been making wine for 6 centuries.  That’s right, they were making wine before Columbus discovered […]

Ciro Biondi the winemaker

Vini Biondi

Another small production Etna producer, Ciro & Stephanie Biondi make some extraordinary (and a bit pricey) reds on 8 acres of vineyards along the southeast flanks of Etna.  His land is a patchwork distributed across different terroir but physically near each other, and all at around 2,000 feet above the distant sea. Ciro produces very distinctive wines named after the land […]

Grapes growing under a grumbly Mount Etna

Cantina Benanti

Antonio & Salvino Benanti run this delightful mid-sized Etna winery (about 100,000 bottles/year) with an eye on preserving Etna winemaking history. It's an ideal winery to visit and sample what Etna wines are all about, with a very nice tasting room that's easy to find just on the outskirts of Viagrande. Most of the Benanti […]

Giuseppe Russo of Girolamo Russo in his vineyard

Girolamo Russo

Giuseppe Russo is something of a renaissance man, with a background in music and literature and a passion for natural winemaking. The family has a long history of making small crafted wines, and Giuseppe took over in 2004 from his late father to make minerally wines that honestly express the dramatic terroir of the northern […]

Calderara Sottana at Tenuta delle Terre Nere, outside Randazzo, Sicily

Tenuta delle Terre Nere

Marco de Grazia, a long-time international market maker for Italian wineries, decided to try his hand at Italian wine making, accumulating some 25 hectares of unique vineyards sprinkled around the north side of Etna just east of Randazzo. Together with Sebastian de Grazia and enologist Calogero Statella, the team makes some pretty stunning earthy Etna reds (and a […]

Feudo Vagliasindi near Randazzo, Sicily

Hotel Feudo Vagliasindi

This charming 18th century manor house and modern farm run by brothers Corrado and Paolo Vassallo has been renovated and transformed into a delightful hotel with spacious, modern rooms and hotel amenities that make it a perfect home base from which to explore the area. Located 8 minutes due-east of Randazzo, you’re immersed in picturesque vineyards […]

Jacuzzi View at Hotel Villa Taormina

Hotel Villa Taormina

Located in a relatively quiet location while still close to the main Taormina action. Prices are reasonable by Taormina standards, and they do offer packages — but expect to pay a pretty penny during high season when they often require a 3-night stay. This truly is a villa Siciliana — an old Taormina residence furnished with […]


La Malà

Vernazza is filled with inexpensive affita camere (rental rooms) with varying levels of quality and cleanliness.  If you prefer not to gamble with your lodging while in the Cinque Terre, check out Gian Battista’s 4 rooms near the tower just off Piazza Marconi, the main square on the breakwater. Gian Battista’s rooms are clean, offer wonderful […]

Pensione Guerrato is just minutes from the Rialto bridge

Pensione Guerrato

Roberto and Piero run this delightful pensione with roots dating back to 1227, right in the heart of Venice and only minutes from the Rialto bridge.  Roberto (who looks like a young Alec Baldwin circa Hunt for Red October) takes great care of his guests, and gladly offers you the inside scoop on where to find truly […]

Da Armando al Pantheon

Situated just a few steps away from the Pantheon, this long-standing Trattoria (since 1961) serves up classic Roman dishes that use the season’s best from the local markets. Michael is in the process of updating his review with his latest information on Da Armando al Pantheon. If you’d like more information immediately, contact Michael here.



This well-known producer of Chianti Classico and Supertuscan wines has a peculiar history around it’s origins. The story goes like this: Bruno Witmer (the proprietor) decided to go on holiday in Tuscany back in 1980. He fell in love with the place (surprise!), and the next year he decided to buy a Tuscan farmhouse – […]


Riccardo produces a modest number of bottles of honest wine true to the roots of Chianti, and fairly priced. The vineyards are in the countryside, but you can taste his vintages at his cantina in Radda. Michael is in the process of updating his review with his latest information on Pruneto. If you’d like more […]


Antica Trattoria La Torre

The Stiaccini family have been proudly cooking & serving up classic Tuscan food fare in the center of Castellina since 1860.  When you step into their trattoria, you feel like you’ve entered the family home with a warm welcome and the smells of Chiantigiana cooking coming from the cucina. This is a nice place to spend […]


Castellinuzza e Piuca

Tiny producer of Chianti Classico & local rosso from the 2 namesake vineyards. These are high-altitude wines with from an interesting microclimate. Michael is in the process of updating his review with his latest information on Castellinuzza e Piuca If you’d like more information immediately, contact Michael here.