Mount Etna

It doesn’t surprise me at all that among the beautiful places Italy has to offer for a wine fair, that I would end up in the foothills of Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano. Located on the east coast of Sicily, 3,329 meters (10,922 feet) high, Etna is the largest active volcano in Italy. Because …

Note to Self: Don’t Forget These Moments

The idea of going home has left me feeling a bit out of sorts these days. When I first bought my flight back home, I was excited to tell my close friends and as soon as we started making plans on what to do when I came back, this deep feeling inside of me began …

Help Keep Musica Distesa Alive!

If there is one thing that has made an irreplaceable impression on me during my travels, it is Corrado and Valeria. Without them, I may have never been able to embark on this incredible journey I’ve been so blessed to make. These two are exemplary examples of living with an open heart. I love them to death, and …

A Taste of Sweet and Succulent Sicily

Another one to check off the list: Sicily. I have always dreamed of Sicily…there is something about the romanticism of the island that had always attracted me. There was something about reading about fishing boats, the Mediterranean Sea, and sun that made Brandon and I talk about running off to Sicily together…someday…maybe. Lisa and I had talked …

The Wild Tulips of San Michele

I have been looking forward to this time of year for a long time! San Michele, the area where La Distesa’s vineyards are have a peculiar feature about them. Every year, as Spring arrives, wild tulips bloom everywhere. I missed this phenomenon last year as I arrived the week after the tulips died off. It’s …

How to eat your way through Sicily

My Sicilian vacation can be summed up in three words: Food, Wine, Beach. From my experience, that’s all that matters there. Because when you’re not stuffing your face with food and wine, you’re swimming it off in the Mediterranean Sea. I was especially excited to dine in Sicily because it is where I have always …

Taormina and Agrigento (Greek Ruins Exploration)

Taormina After spending the morning swimming in Taormina, Giovanni, Lisa, and I went to explore the ancient greek theater of Taormina. This was quite a different experience. I went for my first Gonadola ride from the parking lot to reach the town. That was exciting and terrifying at the same time after Lisa told us …

Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea

After a crazy first day in Marsala, Giovanni and I opted for a much more relaxing morning. Instead of touring more vineyards, we went down the road for some sun and beach time. We swam in three different bodies of water that day, and unfortunately the morning started with the worst location of all (it …

Marsala, Italy

After a quick flight after dinner, Team La Distesa finally made it into Trapani, Sicily. The landing was the worst one I’ve ever experienced, but for 10 euros you can’t complain (yeah Ryanair!). We met Corrado and Valeria’s friend, Nino Barraco, a winemaker in Marsala, picked up our rental cars and off to Marsala we …

A Gift to Share and Grow

For Easter, Giulia and Giacomo made a sign and gave Lisa and I a special present: An olive tree for us to plant at La Distesa! I felt like I would burst into tears from this. It was such a cute gesture! So the next day Valeria, Lisa, and I went out to plant the …

Italian Easter = American Thanksgiving

I’ve never really celebrated Easter aside from Easter egg hunting as a kid. My parents are buddhist so it wasn’t really a thing for us. Easter is however a big deal in Italy (big surprise). I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than lots of food (GIovanni tells me it’s the time of year when …

Why Traveling for a Year is Not Career Suicide

As I’m busy crafting new resumes and cover letters for the inevitable job search, an idea dawned on me. Many of you, my friends, acquaintances, or even strangers have told me in some form or another, “Wow you are so brave to quit your job.” For the sake of keeping a simple conversation flowing, I usually try to …

Beautiful Moments one Sunday Evening

Right before I embarked on my England/Thailand/India expedition, I was fortunate enough to discover Maiale Volante. One of the things I was looking forward to on my return to Italy was eating here again. Lucky for me, I didn’t even have to think of an occasion for us to go, Corrado was holding a book …

Planting New Vines

There is no rest for the strong here! Once we completed pruning the vines, we moved straight onto digging up dead vines and planting new ones. Some of the young vines planted last year didn’t quite make it, so we marked them earlier in the fall when they were still green. That way we knew …

Winter in Italia

Brr. It is flat out cold here these days. Ironically enough, it seemed warmer in the Himalayas than it has been here, in Cupramontana. With the steep and rolling hillsides, it’s been interesting to see the diverse climates around the lands. Our work varies depending on the weather, but we’ve mostly been finishing the winter pruning. This …

Venice, Italy

To be completely honest Venice was not high on my list of places to visit in Italy. After going to Florence and Cinque Terre (places that were on my list), I had enough of the tourism scene. As selfish and silly as that thought process is, I knew I should visit Venice but I really …

Last week in Italy

In true Sandy fashion, the week before I leave Italy is one giant whirlwind. Italy has a strange way of making your life chaotic even when you don’t mean to. Either that or I’ve completely lost the ability to foresee future possible obstacles that might come my way. My last weekend at La Distesa was …

Review: Maiale Volante…(The Flying Pig)

I haven’t been quite up on my restaurant reviews in Italy since I’ve been so fortunate to be able to have homemade Italian food twice a day. I haven’t explored the fancy places to dine, and for the most part restaurant Italian food doesn’t have the same warmth and comfort as the simple pasta or risotto dishes …

Creating a “mother yeast” (natural yeast) for baking

Did you know you can bake bread without commercial yeasts? You can cultivate your very own yeast at home, and it’s easier than you think! They call it Pasta Madre, which at first translated sounds like Mother Pasta. But Valeria calls it a Mother Yeast, a natural yeast base created by combining collecting the must …

E Poi? – And then? What’s Next?

It’s funny how you can build things up in your head sometime. It’s coming, it’s coming, this thing that you’ve been waiting for and as soon as it passes, whether it lasts a few hours or a few days, as soon as it’s over you either keep on truckin’ along as if nothing special has …

Sagra Dell’uva Round 2

Experiencing my second wine festival was for lack of better words: great. Having Jordan around gave me a chance to really show someone from home all the wonderfulness I love about Italy. Jordan decided to drive a motorcycle from Rome to Cupramontana, which sounded like a great experience, but like all Italian travel experiences, it came …

The Parade of Grape Floats

One of my favorite parts about living anywhere for some amount of time is getting to know the locals well enough to get the “inside scoop” on local happenings. This year, I have been lucky enough to meet Luisa, a retired art professor, but continuing artist. If you’ve been following along you might remember she …

Vendemmia 2012

This year’s harvest was much different than last year’s. With a hot summer, we began the harvest much earlier this year (before the end of August). And while we had a couple long haul days, overall we kept to a regular day schedule. The weather was MUCH cooler than last year’s so we didn’t get …