Blog Archives

Beyond Assisi, Winery Tour Stop 1

The bloggers conference was over. I did not mention meeting Steve McCurry, maybe the best travel photog on the planet.

Steve McCurry

This is the Steve McCurry photo everyone knows. He gave a speech, answered questions and had dinner with us. A kind and talented man.

Now the Umbria Tourist board treated us to one of six 2 ½ day tours around Umbria. We choose the wine and crafts tour. Others chose the chocolate tour or the adventure tour with white water rafting. Umbria has many attractions and if you are ever in Italy, be sure to visit this wonderful region.

Our first stop was at a very new (in Italian ages) winery. It is called Terra Margaratelli. Our guide works for the Umbria wine promotion board, so the wineries all know him. They knew a bunch of travel bloggers were coming and they really put out the spread.

This winery like I said is almost brand new. They are trying new varietals and blends. They also have resurrected some old endemic varietals mostly grown only by private local farmers and are bottling them commercial for the first time. I really liked the guy in charge. He loves his work and is passionate about it as only love can make you.

We were treated to as much wine as we could handle and still be able to climb back into the bus. My favorite was perhaps the best white wine I have ever had. They call it Greco di Renabianca, it is 100% Grechetto. It is a very full bodied white, with a complexity that makes you think and taste more than once. Because this is still a small winery, I do not know if you can get this nectar in the USA, but ask your wine shop to get some, well worth it!

terra margaratelli

A view of the vineyards through the wine glasses.

Italian wine in french barrels

Margaratelli has special French oakcasks made just for them, which give their wines a unique taste.

terre margaritelli

I am pretty sure I tasted them all!

They also served us a complete lunch, or we could have been in real trouble!

learning Bocci

After lunch, some of the workers taught me how to play Bocce! Great guys!

Next post..the next winery. Or is it the crafts in a medieval village. I forget, too much wine!

Travel Bloggers Unite in Umbria!

I do not know where to start about my last ten days in Italy, so I guess I’ll start at the start.

Back in December ’11 I ran across a website called Travel Bloggers Unite. Dyslexic as I am I thought it said Travel Bloggers Untie, so I perused it. Oliver, the head honcho (maybe the sole honcho) at TBU was touting the third TBU conference. This one was to take place in Umbria, which is a region of Italy largely lost to the tourist trade.  It should not be. Umbria is one of the prettiest and hospitable places on the entire coconut.

Coat of arms of Assisi (Perugia), Italy França...

Coat of arms of Assisi

Travel Bloggers United Umbria contest

The Canadian tourism board was there to invite bloggers to Canada. They gave away these little "polar" bears and had a contest to go see polar bears in Canada. I soaked mine in wine

Umbria from Assisi

Although I like this foto of the Valle de Assisi from Assisi, for a real pro view check out another blogger ( a professional photographer)
The weather was like this for the entire conference. For my wife and me fresh from the Arabian desert, it was wonderful. A very green valley, spotted with red poppies and grey olive trees.

The conference attendees were people I was very glad to meet. With a couple exceptions, I was the senior member of the circuit. I never meet these people travelling because they are mostly young enough to be my children. With that said, we have a huge thing in common; we all love to blog about traveling the world. With THAT said, I had one big difference with the majority of them. They support their travels by blogging, I do it for fun, and hopefully to entertain you my faithful readers. Maybe I am just too lazy to find sponsors, or maybe I do not want my blog to look like a NASCAR, whatever. I just do not “Monetize” (a blogger buzz word) my blog. I have nothing against those who do. In fact I admire people who can travel incessantly, and get paid by everyone from Ray Ban to American Express to support the wanderlust. It is just not my style or my need.

Amazingly the conversations did not center on war stories from different destinations. Oh there was the occasional “once upon a time in…” stories but they were more in passing than anything else. There were a lot of conversations about maintaining a blog, length of posts, how often you post and building readership. On the last point, it seems that Facebook and Twitter are the main avenues for finding new readers. I am late to both games, but since the conference I have managed to double my presence on the two of them.

Travel Boggers Unite, Umbria

This is me at what I called the speed dating session. Here we were able to meet potential sponsors, or for me better yet, people who represented locations that need more tourism. They look for people like me to go there and write about what we see and do. We were only allowed a few minutes at each table, hence my speed dating reference. I talked about a cross continental train ride in Canada and a trip to Oman to write about the new opera house. We'll see.

TBU arranged this conference, but it was the Umbria agencies for tourism and wine that hosted us in an incredible fashion.


The Umbrians came out waving flags to welcome us at our first dinner together.

Travel Bloggers Unite, Umbria

There were about 250 of us and we ate quite well.

Perugia, chocolate

They even made us fresh chocolate goodies to promote their chocolate industry which is right behind the wine and olive oil businesses. Extremely good stuff.

After the conference Oliver arranged with The Umbrian Tourist people to take six groups off on amazing, beautiful, educational and fun trips. Ours was to wineries where we were treated like royalty. I’ll say more on that, much more, in upcoming posts. Let us just say, that when people treat me the way we got treated in Umbria, I am going to tell you about it. Hopefully it will plant the idea in your head that the region is an excellent destination for a vacation.

I want to Thank Oliver Gradwel, TBU and the region of Umbria for one of the best travel experiences of my life, AND the fact that I did not reach for my wallet once in 5 days. SWEET!

%d bloggers like this: