Dine Through Italy And Sicily With Tasty Suitcase Travel Tours

By Michelle Colesanti

When most people think of visiting Italy, the thought of good food is high on the list of reasons to visit this scenically beautiful and highly cultured country. Cinzia Cripe knows this first hand. Born in Bergamo, a town in northern Italy, she came to the U.S. in 1990, first settling with her husband in North Dakota. She has lived in Florida for the last 20 years, but returns annually to her homeland to visit family.

As a chef, who owned her own restaurant, Luna Rosa, when she first moved to the area, sharing her love of cooking comes naturally to her.
She currently works as a chef at Rolling Pin Food Emporium, but her main love remains with combining cooking, travel and food.

Cinzia started receiving requests from catering customers to bring groups to Italy. She loved the idea of sharing her culture and food with others, and has been offering trips for the last year and a half.

She said, “I don’t want to do anything tourist related, my trips offer time visiting farms and wineries where you can give time and attention to the flavors – to get the essence of the trip.”

Each tour offers sightseeing, cooking classes with Michelin Star Chefs, super deluxe accommodations, and first class restaurants.

Debora Felton, a Sales Associate at Rolling Pin, traveled with Cinzia’s group to Sicily in September 2016. “As a USF Humanities major with a Food Studies Certificate, I was given this trip as a gift from my brother and friends so that I could experience the influence of other cultures through the food. I fell in love with the country.”

Kathy and Mark Nixon were also on the tour. Mark had recently retired and they had another trip scheduled, but really wanted to visit Sicily.
“We were friends with Cinzia and very interested in the concept of food, the culture and the history so chose to go with her. We’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Kathy noted. She was impressed with the welcoming spirit of the people.

Mark thought Sicily was interesting because it is a place of so many different cultures from the Roman Coliseum to normal cities and towns. He enjoyed visiting the fishing villages, farms and green houses.

Cinzia plans to offer five or six trips a year and will also expand to other areas in Europe, including a trip to Paris.

The groups consist of at least 10 people, but no more than 16. She also offers her services to private groups of 10 or more, where the trips are customized according to the requests of the travelers.

Her next tour will be to Sicily from August 26 to September 5. The deadline to sign up for this tour is Wednesday, March 15. It will be followed by another one to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast from September 9-17, with a signup deadline of Monday, March 20.

For more information on the tours, and upcoming dates and deadlines, call 298-9538 or email cinzia.cripe@yahoo.com. Visit www.tastysuitcase.com.