Tag Archives: Italian Wine

Interview with Sicilian wine maker: Francesca Planeta


At Le Baccanti Tours, we tour top rated wineries all over Italy. Sicily has a special place on our wine map.  Every year, we take our clients on a wine tour of the wineries around Mount Etna. Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, being in more or less constant eruption. At currently about 3,330 meters, or about 10,940 feet (the height varies with eruptions), it is about twice the height of Vesuvius and the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. The terrain all around it is immensely fertile and supports a thriving agriculture of orchards and vineyards as far as the eye can see.

One of our favorite wineries in Sicily is Planeta. They have many wine producing facilities all over the country and we are very familiar with their site in Etna. Planeta is not just one winery, but many.  The exhilarating journey begins at Sambuca di Sicilia, on an estate the Planeta family has  owned since the 1600s. In the  mid-1980s, three enthusiastic  young Sicilians – Alessio, Francesca and Santi Planeta – began their winemaking venture. The trio spent subsequent years matching the extraordinarily diverse Sicilian soils with both indigenous and international grape varieties. The result? A family of critically-acclaimed wines that demonstrate how brilliance can be attained through the thoughtful marriage between grape variety and terroir.

Curious about Planeta Winery in Sicily and the story behind the wine makers? Check out the interview made by Star Chefs to understand why this Sicilian wine company is one of our favorite wine cellar destinations when we go on wine tours of Etna in Sicily:

Interview with Francesca Planeta, Winemaker at Planeta Wines, Sicily, Italy

Interested in a wine tour of Etna in Sicily? Read up on our luxury, private wine tours in Sicily and beyond on Le Baccanti’s website!


Traditions of Italy


Traditions of Italy

Italy is rich in culture and traditions, many specific to the different regions across the country. The Italian way of life is markedly different from the rest of Europe, with an emphasis on la dolce vita. The traditions of Italy are underpinned by the holy trinity – food, festival and folklore. Gastronomy infuses every section of Italian culture and food traditions are a major part of daily life. Other Italian traditions include festivals and local superstitions.


Italy is renowned for its food culture, and for good reason. Food is the glue that holds many families together and meals are considered a sacred ritual in Italy. They follow a precise order, starting with antipasto, then primo – usually a rice or pasta dish, followed by contorni, or sides, and then the main course, or secondo. An Italian meal typically ends with dolci, or dessert, and a cup of strong espresso, sometimes spiked with amaretto.

Traditional Italian foods include popular dishes like pizza, pasta, risotto, as well as desserts like panna cotta, gelato and tiramisu. However, regional food traditions also exist within Italy. In Rome, locals seek out sweetmeats; in Naples the margherita pizza attains perfection unmatched in other parts of the country; in Venice, the residents dine out on cichetti, little plates of seafood usually taken with a glass of sharp, bubbly prosecco.

Another Italian custom is the art of coffee drinking. Traditionally, Italians only drink cappuccinos or café lattes in the morning, with breakfast. After the morning meal, custom dictates that you stick with espresso, which should have a rich, thick head of foam, called the crema, floating on top.


There is often a local feast or festival going on in most Italian towns every month. Most festivals are religious in nature, but there are also food based festivals such as the Sagra degli Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, a food festival held in Rome or in the surrounding Lazio region to celebrate the Amatriciana pasta.

In Siena, the annual Palio is held, when jockeys ride bareback around the main square, racing against each other amidst vivid colours, snapping pennants and the crowd’s cheers. During Easter, traditional processions are held, the most famous of which is the one in Rome on Good Friday, when a large cross is marched from the Colosseum up towards the Palatine Hill.


The most well-known Italian superstition is the one associated with the Trevi fountain in Rome. Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain over your left shoulder, you are sure to return to Rome. Other Italian customs include slipping in a coin or a small note into a wallet or purse if you are gifting it; giving an empty wallet is akin to wishing poverty onto your recipient! Another folklore dates back to ancient Roman days, when travellers would make offerings to the gods before embarking on long journeys. In the modern version, people now toss spare change into the back of a new vehicle for luck instead.


Why Do A Wine Tour in Italy?


Your vacation days in Italy are precious and will fly by so it is often hard to decide what day trips are the most important – what to include and what to skip while in Tuscany, Rome, Venice or other Italian city. Luckily, Le Baccanti has fantastic wine tours leaving from all the major cities and to all the important wine areas! Here are some top reasons are clients have given us for being happy they choose to do a wine tour with Le Baccanti.

  • A wine tour let us experience the Tuscan countryside in comfort.
  • Tasting wine where it is made is an experience like no other.
  • The rolling hills covered in vineyards and olive groves are breathtaking.
  • We were able to get out in the countryside and experience another side of Rome we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
  • Our car and driver allowed for a day of perfect relaxation during our wine tour in Amalfi.
  • We learned about not only wine but olive oil during the winery tour at a top Brunello winery.
  • We were tired of museums and cities, our wine tour provided a great break from the city.
  • Private and unique, our kids loved the Chianti Classico wine tour as much as we did, especially the winery’s castle and ramparts.
  • We wanted to visit a small village on our trip, but we were staying in only major cities, the wine tour from Venice stopped at a great small village we really enjoyed.
  • ·The restaurant we went to on our winery tour was off the beaten track – what a relief to get away from the other tourists and finally get a taste of authentic Italian cooking instead of tourist-fare.

Italy at Your Table goes to Washington D.C.


Italy at Your Table goes to Washington D.C.

by Filippo Bartolotta

Leaving the Big Apple is never easy. On my last day I caught up with Miriam and her “future husband” for a China Town Dim Sum lunch. Miriam has being traveling with LeBaccanti in a couple of trips: Amarone Tour, Friuli and a Truffle Hunt in Barolo Land. Miriam and her mum are some of the most adventurous eaters I ever met. Dim Sum is China Town is very comfort-food and we decide to go for it.

Then we take a stroll towards Chambers Street to check some Italian Wines and Benedetta and I head off for an Italy at Your Table event on the Upper West Side with George and Chris “the Aussie Surgeons” and the wine platoon friends.

In a miserable rainy New York city day, it’s great to recover in a warm beautiful New York house.

Kathy, the dog, greats us with a big smile and I start the wine operations while waiting for George and Chris to turn up.

But sure enough George opens the door and we start immediately to decide together the order of the wine tasting.

We had out 12 golden Italian Fine Wines from italy at your table to have guests traveling from the Lower East Side -even better from Brooklyn-  that is Modica in Sicily to The Upper West Side -that is the foot hills of the Mount Rosa Alps!

The Italy at Your Table Selection is available at Italian Wine Merchants. Collectors may purchase just a few bottles or the full ItalyatYourTable case of: Bellavista, Graziano Pra, Romano Dal Forno, Luciano Sandrone, Proprietà Sperino, Castello di Romitorio, Isole e Olena, Fattoria delle Ripalte, Fontodi, Feudi di San Gregorio, Petra and Arnaldo Caprai; then Modica chocolate Bonajuto, the Gran Deposito Aceto Balsamico Giuseppe Giusti and Galleria Frilli art works.

What a wonderful night that was finishing with a last glass on the roof terrace overlooking New York city.

As mentioned it was a little bit sad leaving New York so we made sure to have say good-bye with a wonderful Magnolia Bakery pink cheese cake, which chef Luciano Zazzeri loved!

I also have to say how wonderful our friends and partners Italian Wine merchants have being looking after us and giving us a wonderful office space to work, making us feel home while away.

Some more accounts on the New York pit stop will get there soon with the Dinner at AJ’s with Luciano Zazzeri as the Chef!

Meanwhile though we are already in Washington DC for our second year helping raising money for the Marhta’s Table Charity! This is a great honor for  us as not only we get to help for a great cause, but we also get to spend time with the best people in town. Starting with Joan Nathan who is the true engine behind the scene, in the next few days I’ll introduce you to the whole Martha’s table team.

Italy at Your Table is here to pair our Italian Fine Wine and Food selection to the 14 menus of the 14 houses which hosts the fund raising dinner event.

Alice Waters, Joan Nathan and Josè Andres have being putting their minds together to Benefi Martha’s Table & D.C. Central Kichen.

LeBaccanti Tours has offered to match all the menus with our products.

Last night I started to do my first event at Equinox where I held a tasting for chefs, journalists and press to talk about the matching food and wine of this great event.

Joan Nathan and Filippo Bartolotta

Meeting at Nora’s for some more wine chats!

Catching up again with Sanders, the head of the volunteers getting ready to deliver the wines and foods at the 14 houses:

Full details of the D.C. Charity will be soon disclosed, now I have to go or lunch…