Join Lenora Boyle in Italy, the land of passion and possibilities.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Italy for the Gourmet Traveler

Fred Plotkin is a pleasure activist, expert on opera, traveling in Italy, and Italian cuisine.

I've interviewed him a few times in previous posts, and on our local grassroots KRUU radio with Steven Boss during Steve's Great Taste Radio Show.

The 5th edition of Italy for the Gourmet Traveler, came out on book stands May 1 in England and June 1 in the US.

An article in the May 1 issue of The Guardian gives you some samplings from the book.

I love that this is a fully updated 5th edition of Fred's classic book that covers 504 towns in every Italian region. It's not a directory of where to eat in just the major cities like Rome and Florence, but he takes us to small towns in all the 20 regions of Italy, even San Giovanni in Fiore, in Calabria, where my paternal grandparents are from. I used his book to sample restaurants in the 10 towns on the Italian Riviera that we visited during my Italy Retreat for Women last September. I will use the revised book for the Italy Retreat this coming September 11-19.

This is not only a gourmet guide for food and wine in Italy, but an encyclopedia of knowledge Fred has gleaned from traveling, working and living in Italy for much of the last 35 years. You'll find lists of cooking schools, festivals, and even museums dedicated to pasta, olive oil and wine. I also love how he weaves stories with a wealth of information about opera, history, and the culture of Italy.

Besides, how can you not love a book written by apleasure activist’? Fred’s short explanation of this passionate title is “a vibrant and positive approach to everything we experience.”

One of the reasons I teach annual Italy Retreat for Women is so we can discover the sweet life, “La Dolce Vita”. To me, this means that you create your life by choice not by default. That you find joy in the moment, that you dare to dream and think of bigger possibilities. Dare I say, that we all can become 'pleasure activists'?!

Fred further explains the meaning of a ‘pleasure activist’ on his website:

If we meet a new, interesting person and open all of our senses to him or her, we have a much stronger experience of why that person is so compelling. In the media and in our social training, our minds are filled with so many strategies for happiness and success, but they all involve calculated behavior that may be counter to our nature and instinct, which form the sixth sense. When we are alive to all that we see, hear, smell, savor and feel, we refine what we call taste and, moreover, add to that mysterious but essential human characteristic we call instinct.

I would never say that the fullest use of our senses is the secret to happiness and fulfillment. Such an assertion is too pat and general. But any behavior that can contribute to our becoming more fully human and insightful is one that should be prized. And that, to me, is pleasure activism.

Do yourself a favor, and order Italy for the Gourmet Traveler now. Do yourself another favor, and join me in Cinque Terre, Italy on my Italy Retreat for women to live La Dolce Vita, the sweet life, this year from September 11-19.

What's your favorite place in Italy? Leave a comment and let us know!

Photo Credit: Sophocles Alexiou


  1. Last summer I spent a week in Cinque Terre with my husband and teenage kids. I don't think a day goes by when I don't reminisce about our holidays on the Liguria Sea. I still dream about pesto pasta, seafood spaghetti and a glass of limoncello, espresso and gelato for the final touch. Relaxing on the seaside promenade and munching on superior focacce, after a long trek along the steep coastline from Monterosso to Riomaggiore was pure heaven. Or a plunge into the turquoise water with inspiring views of the pastel houses that climb up seashore cliffs was just amazing. It was a dream vacation and we shall return.

  2. Thanks for sharing about your trip to Cinque Terre. It makes me smile. You described it so well. Soul satisfying. Check out my recent blog June 11 about "100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Visit" for the book giveaway contest.