New Culinary-Based Tour Group Highlights Cuisine of Italy

At the New York Times Travel Show this week, we wandered by a stand displaying a gourmet spread of food in a basket bearing a familiar logo. The food store-cum-restaurant concept EATaly, co-sponsored by celebrity chef Mario Batali, has become a popular attraction in New York City, and now it has partnered with travel network Liberi Tutti and New York-based tour operator Shop Wine and Dine to offer distinct culinary tours of Italy.

The company, EATinerari del Gusto, brings visitors to the Italian countryside, and let them visit wineries, olive oil and balsamic vinegar producers and proscuitto factories. The tours generally focus on Piemonte, Sicily, Tuscany and Umbria, and can be combined with destination wedding travel or girlfriend getaways.

The agreement started almost a year ago, but the brand is just launching in the US now that the itineraries, (sorry, EATineraries) have been created.

The company's US representative, Anna Maria Sorrentino, was born in Turin, where the first EATaly was created, and wanted to partner with the New York branch from its opening in 2010. After years in the travel industry in both Italy and the US, she knew she could bring something unique to the table—both literally and metaphorically. "I have a very strong sense of logistics and how the product should be structured so that it's appealing to the US market," she told Travel Agent by phone after the New York Times Travel Show had wound down. "We look for something a little different. We combine festivals that are indicative of Italian culture, and a lot of them focus on food and wine, because that's the heart and soul of Italian culture. We're better able to offer an experience that is different from other tour companies." EATinerari del Gusto offers travel agent commissions between eight and 10 percent, depending on the overall difficulty of the tour.

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