A warm welcome to all of the members of our Aroma Tours Newsletter in over 30 countries around the world.
Robbi and I will be embarking shortly for the start of this year's Aroma Tours adventures with our guests from around the world. Beginning in the beautiful Spanish spring with our Flavours of Spain Tour and Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage
After 25 wonderful years, as we contemplate throttling back on the number of tours that we will be hosting, Robbi and I feel truly blessed to once again be sharing our passion for the fabulous places and experiences that we love, with delightful people from around the world.
This year is our most successful tour season ever, with all of our tours now sold out except for a few places in Italy! As always, it is our returning guests and their friends who are leading this fabulous response.
Without doubt, the main reason that we have grown and flourished over the years, is the on-going support we have received from our past Aroma Travellers and we are thrilled to see that they continue to make up almost 65% of our guests!
We would also like to give our heart-felt thanks to all of you who continue to support us with your kind words and referrals.
Robbi and I also greatly appreciate the wonderful words of thanks we have received over the years and have added a new compilation of Guest Comments to our site.
We are greatly looking forward to sharing the beauty and bounty of autumn in Tuscany with our Aroma Travellers this September during our Aromas of Tuscany Tour.
As well as glorious countryside and nourishment for the eyes, life in Tuscany takes on a different pace with long lunches in beautiful hilltop villages, fabulous coffee, delicious wines, truffles, parmegiano cheese, porchini mushrooms, prosciutto, fresh pasta..... ( so many wonderful tastes ), laughter and the fine Italian art of "dolce fa niente" - sweet doing nothing!
Our journey is also about absorbing the richness and passion of Italian life and savouring its cultural heritage evident in the art, architecture, pageantry, festivals, fashion, design, craftsmanship and unique approach to living.
We are all destined to be transformed by the magic of this wonderful place - feeling more Italian moment by moment, speaking more enthusiastically, smiling broadly and even display a bit of emphatic hand waving!
Join us in 2020 for a wonderful Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage along the route of the famous Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, beginning with the foodie heaven of the Basque country which has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin starred restaurants in the world.
We then weave our way west through a succession of glorious vistas and cuisines until we reach the magnificent world heritage city of Santiago de Compostella in the seafood paradise of Galicia.
We will journey through spectacular countryside, staying in magnificent 5 star hotels, visit Templar castles, stunning cathedrals and venerable wine estates, enjoy guided walks through fascinating old quarters and picturesque seaside villages and experience a little walking on the pilgrims way of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
Click here for more photos of our Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage
We are now down to the last few places for this amazing Michelin star studded experience - time for some delicious Carpe Diem.
One of the great pleasures for Robbi and I after each tour season is receiving messages of thanks from our Aroma Travellers. We have compiled a few below from our past adventures and hope that you enjoy reading about their experiences with us.
Glorious leisurely gourmet lunch in a beautiful 2 star Michelin restaurant in Spain - joyful and delicious!
The tradition of making balsamic vinegar began almost 900 years ago in the winemaking regions around the town of Modena in northern Italy.
Unlike normal vinegar which is made from fermented grapes, balsamic
vinegar is produced by boiling down the juice of freshly pressed white
Trebbiano grapes to form a dark syrup. The heating process also kills any
yeast present which would tend to produce alcohol rather than vinegar.
The concentrated syrup is then inoculated with a "mother" culture of acid forming bacteria which are responsible for the transformation of the sweet grape syrup into vinegar.
Next comes the very lengthy and carefully controlled process of aging,
which involves placing the inoculated syrup into a series of smaller and
smaller oak barrels [chestnut, cherry, ash, mulberry, and juniper woods may
also be used], that are left open to the air.
The barrels are traditionally kept in the warm attics of barns which facilitate evaporation of moisture and concentration of flavour.
As the aging process continues, the wood of the barrels gradually adds character and complexity to the vinegar which also becomes thicker as it slowly evaporates.
After aging in this way for 12 years, the vinegar acquires a compelling
depth of flavour, subtle acidity and loads of character and is allowed to be
placed in the distinctive globe shaped bottle of the Modena Balsamico Consorzio
and sold as as Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale.
The next quality of balsamic vinegar is achieved after 25 years and yields the astonishingly textured and deeply flavourful, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Extravecchio.
This balsamico is so fine that it can be sipped just like a digestive and has a sweet, velvety richness that fills your mouth with delight. We were also lucky enough to taste 50 year old balsamic vinegar - ambrosia!
During our Flavours of Italy Tour each year we visit a small, magnificent acetia on the outskirts of Modena to meet the man behind the this amazing vinegar and most importantly to experience the true tradition of balsamic vinegar making and of course taste the difference!
There are many products calling themselves balsamic vinegar in our stores that are little more than cheap industrial vinegar to which has been added colouring and caramel flavour and put into an interesting looking bottle.
If you would like to try genuine balsamic vinegar ( aceto balsamico tradizionale ) made in Modena using this traditional method, remember to look for the globe shaped bottle with the designated "DOP" label ( denominazione di origine controllata ).
Robbi and I are thrilled to see the outstanding response for our 2019 season ( our best ever result ), with most of our tours already sold out and the remainder down to the last few vacancies.
The current booking status for our 2019 season at the time of this newsletter is:-
|List of Tours for 2019|
|Flavours of Spain||20 - 27 May 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage||27 May - 3 June 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Flavours of France (invite only)||10 - 17 June 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Heart of Provence||24 June - 1 July 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Essential Provence||1 - 8 July 2019||SOLD OUT|
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
|12 - 19 July 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Sojourn in Provence (private group)||20 - 27 July 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Aromas of Tuscany||3 - 10 September 2019||2 vacancies|
|Flavours of Italy||110 - 17 September 2019||2 vacancies|
|Bali Women's Retreat||7 - 14 September 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Bali Women's Retreat||16 - 23 September 2019||SOLD OUT|
Our 2020 season is already off to a flying start with all of our tours either half full or almost sold out:-
|List of Tours for 2020|
|Flavours of Spain||18 - 25 May 2020||3 vacancies|
|Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage||25 May - 1 June 2020||5 vacancies|
|Flavours of France (invite only)||8 - 15 June 2020||5 vacancies|
|Heart of Provence||22 - 29 June 2020||7 vacancies|
|Essential Provence||29 June - 6 July 2020||7 vacancies|
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
|10 - 17 July 2020||2 vacancies|
|Aromas of Tuscany||1 - 8 September 2020||8 vacancies|
|Flavours of Italy||8 - 15 September 2020||9 vacancies|
|Bali Women's Retreat||5 - 12 September 2020||SOLD OUT|
|Bali Women's Retreat||14 - 21 September 2020||3 vacancies|
As well as couples and friends travelling together, we are regularly joined by solo travellers - mostly women, who appreciate being able to journey with liked minded people from around the world, without the need to do all the planning and take on the daunting task of touring by themselves.
Joining one of our small group tours is easy and we have already made all of the arrangements on your behalf to ensure that you have a delightful, stress-free holiday with the focus on having fun.
Having a ready-made group of friends to travel with, and us to take wonderful care of you is the way to go!
We have carefully crafted off-the-beaten-path itineraries that are the perfect balance of structure, experiences, details and free time to enjoy in your own way.
There have been a significant number of guests over the years who and have joined us multiple times, some of whom have become dear friends.
Italy in autumn is a magnificent kaleidoscope of colourful landscapes, beautiful hilltop villages, ripe grape vines, celebration and joy for life.
During our Aromas of Tuscany and Flavours of Italy tours we absorb the passion of the Italian lifestyle and savour the delightful flavours of the land's bounty, along with the rich cultural heritage evident in the art, architecture, historical sites, festivals, fashion, design, craftsmanship and unique approach to living.
Those of us who journey here are all destined to be transformed by the magic of Italy - feeling more joyful by the moment, speaking more enthusiastically, smiling broadly and even indulging in a bit of emphatic arm waving!
Robbi and I look forward to welcoming you to one of our delightful tours or retreats as we continue moving towards our retirement in the next few years.
Jim and Robbi