You can find other posts on our recent trip to Tuscany/Umbria below:

Eating Our Way Through Italy: Part 1

Villa Life: A Week in Umbria

Wine Tasting in Tuscany: Avignonesi Winery

When you think Italy, of course food and wine are top of mind, and we did plenty of eating during our trip.

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It was gloriously hot and sunny every single day, and we opted to eat almost every meal outside. When visiting Cortona after a spectacular wine tasting at Baracchi Winery (more to come on that), we were ravenous and tired and happy to find Baracchi’s Cortona restaurant, Bottega Baracchi, was serving a cold lunch and pizza even late in the afternoon when many places close. We shared cheese and meat plates and more wine from Baracchi on their charming patio, but I of course had to take a peek inside and was glad I did.

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While the patio of Bottega Baracchi is beautiful and overlooks bustling Cortona, the interior of the restaurant is spectacular! It just keeps going, and there’s wine and food and art everywhere. I loved the displays of fresh veggies and this rack of rosé. I’ll take it all, please!

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No meal in Italy is really complete without gelato, and we stopped for a dish or cone every chance we got. A scoop of hazelnut and a scoop of chocolate for me!

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Vecchio Molino in the town we were staying in, Tuoro Sul Trasimeno, was a favorite for a late dinner al fresco, complete with fried zucchini blossom heaven.

I’m well aware of the amount of oil that goes into these, which is part of what makes them so delicious.

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Truffles were a regional staple where we were staying, and these raviolis in cream sauce were covered in fragrant truffle. It was amazing.

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And then of course there was the wedding! The whole reason we all gathered for a week in Italy was for my husband’s sister’s wedding, and we ate all night long.

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Course after course of incredible food came out all night and included indulgences like this Umbrian bread salad topped with lobster and prosciutto and cheese crepes with black truffle.

These were just the appetizers. There was a pasta with shrimp and a gnocchi in a rich montalcino wine sauce, followed by a fliet of beef, and the most decadent, cream topped, Nutella filled wedding cake.

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And then after some dancing, there was pizza!

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Our last night in Italy turned into a massive party at the villa, with all of the guests who weren’t staying there over to swim, and everyone brought food or wine to the table for a delicious meal. We had a professional chef in the group, which was amazing, and with his grilling and other cooking, along with everyone else’s culinary talents, we feasted on salads, grilled burgers and spicy sausage, salads, pasta, and so much more. It was the perfect way to end the trip.

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Tags: cheese, Cortona, gelato, Italy, Travel, travel blog, Tuscany, wine, wine tasting, winery

Sonoma sunset

I can’t really get back to normal blogging without first sharing my heartfelt heartbreak over the devastation that has occurred to Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties places near and dear to us. I just got back from Sonoma a few weeks ago, and while I am holding off on blogging, especially because the danger is not yet 100% over, I do hope that someday I can, in a sensitive and appropriate way, share some of that trip and help to promote the businesses that we visited that remain. Sadly, not all of them are still standing, but knowing the spirit of the people of wine country, I know they will rebuild.

We have always received the warmest welcomes in the region, and all I can hope to do is share resources, prayers, love, and hope.

In times of tragedy it can be tempting to just give to any donation site that pops up;  below I’ve shared a few links shared by people from the area who I have met/known through social media for years.

Redwood Empire Food Bank

http://refb.org/

“The REFB is currently providing critical food to evacuation centers and shelters for our neighbors displaced by fires. In addition, we are working to ensure that those who needed food assistance before the fires are still able to access our help.”

Sonoma Humane Society

http://sonomahumane.org/

“Your donation is crucial as the days & weeks of this terrible disaster unfold. Your support will help us care for homeless injured stray animals and provide no-cost burn treatment for fire victims.”

Rebuild Wine Country, partnered with Habitat for Humanity

https://www.rebuildwinecountry.org/

We are pleased to announce a partnership with Rebuild Wine Country, spearheaded by a group of local wine industry professionals from both Sonoma County and the Napa Valley. With the funds they raise, we will be distributing financial support to the counties most heavily affected by the North Bay fires, and help individuals directly impacted repair and rebuild their homes.

Anova Center for Education

https://www.gofundme.com/anova

“The Anova Center for Education, Sonoma County’s only nonprofit school for children living with autism was demolished by the wildfires that are ravaging Northern California. Thankfully, none of the school’s students were injured in the fire, but the blaze now leaves 120 students ranging from 5 to 22 years old without a school.
All donations will go toward rebuilding our K-12 classrooms, transition program, occupational therapy equipment, and many other specialized needs of our students.”

For additional organizations, please refer to this blog post by Sip on this Juice.

http://siponthisjuice.com/sonoma-county-fires-in-california-what-you-can-do-to-help/

Buy Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Lake County wine!  Helping to support the local economy is a delicious and easy way to help the rebuilding process.

Here in Boston, I know that the Himmel Hospitality Group is doing wine promotions at Grill 23, Post 390, and Harvest  in the coming days/weeks. You can find details on their Facebook pages:

https://www.facebook.com/dineatharvest/

https://www.facebook.com/Post390/

https://www.facebook.com/grill23andbar/

I would love to update this list of Boston fundraisers, so please feel free to share those you know, and keep an eye out for updates.

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As I mentioned last month, in addition to my usual social media, PR, and marketing work, I am also doing some travel writing for Sonesta Hotels. You can read past travel posts by following these links:

Sonesta Philadelphia, An Art Hotel in an Art City

A Poolside Event at Sonesta Philly

My most recent travels brought me to beautiful Baltimore to stay at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore, a grand hotel situated right on the Inner Harbor. I hadn’t been to Baltimore in decades, and I am already hoping to plan a trip back. More on that later. . . first let’s take a tour of the hotel!

Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore

When I walked into my room, my jaw dropped at the stunning harbor views. My king room had the most perfect spaces for lounging and working, and I managed to do both during my stay. I loved the spacious desk area for when I had to take a long conference call, and the window seat was where it was at for catching up on all of my social media work while gazing out at the Baltimore skyline.

My room was comfy and had tons of outlets, including an outlet tree type setup on the night stand, allowing me to not just charge my phone, but my laptop and external batteries to use when I was out sightseeing.

Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore

I can’t decide what I loved more, my daytime or nighttime views!

Baltimore at night

Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore is only 30 years old, but it maintains a look of elegance from years past. It’s a wedding destination in Baltimore, and this grand staircase is often showcased in wedding photos. It’s easy to see why!

Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore

Staying fit while in Baltimore is easy when staying at the Royal Sonesta, as they not only offer a pool for swimming laps and a fully-equipped gym, but there are also group fitness classes available.

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The fitness center is inviting and well-organized, perfect for kicking off the day or winding down after a day or meetings or getting to know Baltimore.

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If your workout builds up a hunger and thirst, the adventurously decorated Explorers Lounge is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and a bite. Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore frequently features cocktail demos on their Facebook page; be sure to check them out!

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Of course a little room-service dessert surprise is always nice, and I was treated to this deliciousness during my stay. I was traveling alone, and I ate every bite. Throughout my years of working for and staying at Sonesta Hotels, one common theme is how incredibly good the food always is. There is immense care taken to create food with locally sourced ingredients and to plate it so that it is as beautiful as it is delicious. #Foodisart at Sonesta!

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It seemed every corner of the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore offered some sort of beautiful or interesting detail, from its decor and fixtures like this chandelier, to the art exhibit installed for locals and guests to enjoy.

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The current exhibit features art from the Crystal Moll Gallery, and if you are in Baltimore, it is definitely worth a peek.

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More posts on my visit to Baltimore are to come; thank you so much to Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore for generously hosting me!

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Tags: Baltimore, hotels, Maryland, Travel, travel blog, travel blogging

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