A warm welcome to all of the members of our Aroma Tours Newsletter in over 30 countries around the world.
Robbi and I are excited to be at the beginning of another wonderful year of Aroma Tours adventures and we feel truly blessed to once again be able to share our passion for the fabulous places and experiences that we love with delightful people from around the world.
After 25 fabulous years and as we begin to contemplate throttling back on the number of tours we will be offering, the start of each year's tour season is becoming even more poignant for us.
This year has proven to be our most successful season ever with all of our tours now either sold out or down to the last few places! As always it is our returning guests and their friends who are leading this fabulous response.
Robbi and I would love to share a wonderful journey with you on one of our delightful small group tours this summer. However, with only a dozen places remaining for 2019, we encourage you to "Sieze the Day" in order to be sure of securing your place(s).
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.
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:-
|Current 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||2 vacancies|
|Essential Provence||1 - 8 July 2019||3 vacancies|
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
|12 - 19 July 2019||1 vacancy|
|Sojourn in Provence (private group)||20 - 27 July 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Aromas of Tuscany||3 - 10 September 2019||3 vacancies|
|Flavours of Italy||10 - 17 September 2019||3 vacancies|
|Bali Women's Retreat||7 - 14 September 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Bali Women's Retreat||16 - 23 September 2019||SOLD OUT|
Next year's tour season is already off to a flying start with several tours already going strong:-
|Current List of Tours for 2020|
|Flavours of Spain||18 - 25 May 2020||8 vacancies|
|Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage||25 May - 1 June 2020||4 vacancies|
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
|10 - 17 July 2020||8 vacancies|
|Bali Women's Retreat||5 - 12 September 2020||7 vacancies|
Photos are a great way to enjoy and be inspired by the lovely places and experiences that we shared with our guests last year.
This tranche is from our journeys amongst the beauty of Provence with its sweeping purple lavender and golden sunflower fields, colourful markets, lovely hilltop towns, stunning restaurants and food and wines. Provence will make your heart sing and both our Heart of Provence and Essential Provence tours are a delightful exploration of this most beautiful of regions.
We invite you to join us to explore some of these wonderful places, people and experiences with us and take your own "selfie" memories.
The generic name "Parmesan" is most commonly used to describe industrial, mass produced, hard textured cheeses manufactured in vast mechanized plants.
However, the "true" Parmesan cheese, more correctly known as "Parmigiano Reggiano" [ The King of Cheeses ] is only made in a precise "zona typica" in central Italy which includes the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena, Mantua on the right bank of the Po river and Bologna on the left bank of the Reno river.
There, in 650 small factories called "casellos", skilled cheese makers use a traditional method that has changed little since the 13th century to produce between 4 to 10 cheeses a day per castello. It is very much a matter of quality rather than quantity!
To make each 35kg "wheel" of Parmigiano Reggiano requires 560 litres of highest quality whole milk delivered fresh, each morning and evening from nearby dairies; un-homogenized and with its natural flora intact. The evening milk is allowed to rest overnight in trays and the morning milk is used after it has rested for about one hour.
First a portion of the naturally accumulated cream is skimmed off and the evening and morning milks are mixed together in a copper kettle shaped like an inverted church bell. Then an aliquot of natural whey [ which contains lactobacilli ] is added and the milk is slowly heated to 33°C with constant stirring to cause partial fermentation and to raise its' acid content.
The heat is then turned off and natural rennet is added, after which the mixture is allowed to coagulate for 12-15 minutes to form curds. The curds are then broken up manually using a sharp-edged tool known as a "spino" [ thorn-bush ] to create fragments the size of wheat grains which are "cooked" by slowly heating them to 45°C, followed by rapid heating to 55°C.
The batch is then cooled to allow the cooked granules to precipitate in the bottom of the kettle and after about half an hour the cheese is scooped into a sieve-cloth with a wooden paddle. It is then placed inside a circular mould called a "fascera" which gives the cheese its characteristic "wheel" shape.
After draining for a few hours the cloth is removed and the freshly made cheese is branded with the words "Parmigiano-Reggiano" to designate its pedigree. It will remain in the fascera for several days resting on its' flat ends with frequent turning until set, after which it will be immersed in brine for 20-25 days.
The final stage is maturation, which takes place in a temperature controlled storehouse called a "cascina" where the cheeses are stored for approximately 1 year on massive wooden shelves with regular brushing, turning and checking. Each cheese is graded and a wheel is designated ready for market when it makes a characteristic vibration when struck with a small hammer.
The temperature controlled storage warehouses for the cheeses are huge and the contents are a treasure worth many millions of Euros.
Several years ago a significant earth tremor was experienced in the Po valley region and as a result a great deal of damage was done to these cheese treasure houses.
The pictures taken at the time say it all:-
We enjoy a fascinating visit to a Parmigiano Reggiano cassello during our Flavours of Italy Tour and it is an awesome experience indeed.
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!
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.
We have collected many lovely comments from our guests over the years but this one from Shannon and Scott Peck from the USA is one of our favourites.
"Our two Aroma Tours of Provence were beyond our wildest imagination in every way!
From the moment the tour began we found ourselves smiling and relaxing under the wonderful care of Robbi and Jim, who were both entertaining as well as super organized down to every detail. We didn't have a single worry the entire time!
Our job was to enjoy ourselves! That was rule #1! Their selection of places to see and things to do were superb! Every day we found ourselves almost overwhelmed by the beauty surrounding us, the exquisite meals, the history and inspiration.
We returned home feeling the most enriched we have every felt. I kept using the phrase, "blissed out!" throughout the tours. We miss Provence and its wonderful people!
We can never thank Robbi and Jim enough for the trip of our life time! And we deeply appreciate their constant care-taking and empathy towards our happiness, every day! It worked! You two are geniuses at this!" You did it all with great heart!
We look forward to another tour in the near future! Please don't retire just yet!" Thanks a billion for all the laughter, fun, and great times learning and experiencing the most wonderful place on earth!"
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