With my calendar full of appointments I head tomorrow to Piemonte, Toscana and Roma. With a well planned list of stops I have used Google maps to plan each and every day. Divided into each day there is a map, contact info, and managers name to make sure that every minute is used wisely. This is called R&D- Research and Development, this is where I travel specifically to gather information to be able to sell and discuss the finer aspects of Italy with you.

Many friends ask to come along on R&D, but I have learned this can be a conflict. For friends, going to Italy is a vacation , for me Italy means work. I do not schedule in time to sit in the piazza and drink a cafe.

During this particular trip I have 39 villas and hotels to review in 10 days. It is an aggressive schedule, with only two days planned in as play days. Upon arrival, at Malpensa, and with a rental car, I will drive to the Langha and Roero with the first appointment scheduled for 11:30. Call me crazy, but I do not use a GPS. I take along a trusty Michelin Map ( now on version #4 having worn out the other editions).

The goal is to review hotels newly opened, and villas in Tuscanys' central core as this is a new service we will be offering. Oh and to have risotto with truffle at least once.

Two days into the research, and I feel like Anthony Bourdain where I cannot even recite to you where I have been. Today I started touring a lovely Relais of 16 rooms a renovated monastery overlooking a pristine valley, with swimming pool ( no the monks did not have that) the rooms simly decorated ( after all they were once cells) but now with halogen lamps. From there I reviewed a beautiful beautiful villa with 4 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, heated pool and hectares and hectares of land. The owner was asking Eu 20,000/week for the rental. The property lovely only issue was it was in the countryside in farm country and not in wine country.

Selling truffles on the side of the road Selling truffles on the side of the road

From there, I raced to Monforte d'Alba to see a newly refurbished villa ( 4 bedroom ) quite fine with pool, would be rented so easily. If I were you I would book it now for next October for truffle season. Stumbled upon a very very chic renovated palazzo

in town and was able to squeeze into the day a classic fried egg shaved with truffle and glass of Nebbiolo. Then to a hotel castello in the Langha proper to a Modern resort complete with Michelin ristorante on the premises and an Aveda Spa, which unfortunately I could not stay and test. But the very highlight of my day was encountering this Trufalao who was hawking his wares out of his new Audi A6 wagon in the parking lot.

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