La Dolce Vita! Touring Italy like a local

Chef Gianfranco Maffezzoni and marketing director Stefano Landini have reenergized Trattoria Milano in Grass Valley, thanks to their passion for authentic Italian food and customer service. They have built a loyal following.

Now the two Italian-born epicureans have teamed up to offer “locals tours” of their native country, sharing la dolce vita (or the “sweet life”) of small town Italy with residents from the foothills.

Tours With Us offers 11-day tours of northern Italy, where 8-12 travelers meet chefs and artisan food makers, enjoy intimate cooking classes, dine on authentic cuisine, visit cultural attractions and stay in small, boutique-style hotels.

The itinerary includes journeys to Lake Como and Langhe, in the heart of Piedmont.

Lake Como is considered the most beautiful of Italy’s lakes. It is surrounded by small villages with outdoor cafes, lakeside promenades and cultural attractions.

Langhe is is known for its long rolling hills. It includes World Heritage sites and embraces the slow-food movement. The region is famous for wine, cheeses and truffles. (The white Alba truffle is world famous.)

Gianfranco and Stefano are uniquely qualified to lead the tours: both were born in Milan, have strong culinary backgrounds, and share an affection for Italy’s cultural heritage. “This will be an unforgettable trip,” says Stefano.

September 21-October 1, 2016, and two Spring and two Autumn tours in 2017. For more information visit

Rivas on Lake Como
Lake Como is home to classic wooden speedboats, just like Lake Tahoe. The Riva boatyard in Sarnico, a small village about 90 miles from Como, is world-famous for its classy pleasure boats.

“A classic Riva boat is a design icon, a moving sculpture in wood, chrome and leather,” says the Riva Society.”Today a classic Riva is not only an object of desire but a unique slice of nautical heritage.”

George Clooney has owned a Riva Aquarama, docked at his villa on Lake Como. Other Riva owners have included Brigitte Bardot and Sean Connery. Bardot christened her boat Nounours (French for teddy bear).

Visitors to Lake Como often can see Riva “woodies” making graceful wakes in the famous lake. The boats also are on display at the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance.

(Photo: Brigitte Bardot’s 1959 Riva wooden boats “Nounours,” which is French for “teddy bear.”)

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