Have you ever dreamed about staying in a beautiful medieval Tuscan town, far from the tourist crowds, spending your days exploring the area, drinking local wine and cooking local Tuscan food? I think about it all the time.
I often get Glam Italia Tour clients asking about cooking classes in Tuscany. Some just want an afternoon class, but others want a bigger experience where they get to live in a gorgeous old villa for a week, shop the local village markets and cook with the nonnas. While looking for a unique and completely special experience for my clients I discovered a wonderful week long cooking program called Tuscan Women Cook.
Two ladies from California followed their dreams (and the stories and recipes of their Italian Nonnas) and now have a cooking school in Tuscany. What is even more perfect to me is that their school is in a little town near Siena, but off the beaten track. The town, or more aptly village, is called Montefollonico.
Montefollonico sits perched on a hill between the Valdichiana and the Val d’Orcia, some of the most beautiful areas in Tuscany. The town has a palazzo and is encircled by a 13th century fortress wall. In short, it’s all just dreamy.
But not all of us can just drop tools and go do a week’s cooking class in a hilltop town in Tuscany. So the ladies who own the school put together a cookbook, called Tuscan Women Cook.
Recipes are folded around stories from the area. I love the way they tell you the recipes too. Instead of talking at you as so many cookbooks do, they talk to you. It’s this friendly, chatty tone of voice that makes you feel like you’re cooking with a friend rather than trying to understand chef language in a book.
The food photos of course are lovely, but I also love the photos of local people, and shots of the town.
The book is so fabulous that actress and Food Network host Valerie Bertinelli wrote the foreward! Not only is she of Italian descent, she learned to cook Italian food from her nonna and has an absolute passion for the cuisine. Enough of a passion that she discovered Tuscan Women Cook when she and her husband went to Montefollonico to attend the cooking school for a week!
If you want to cook some wonderful Tuscan cuisine this summer (or anytime), meals that are fresh and simple, don’t cost the earth to make and are total crowd pleasers, even if you’re just cooking for one (and you are the fabulous crowd member cooking for yourself!) you will love this book. It is available on Amazon and I have put it in my amazon store (Amazon.com/shop/CorinnaTravels) Here is a link.
You can find out more aboutt he cooking school here.I have no affiliation with them – I just love the book. I’ve had it for a couple of months now and it is a big success in or house!
Do you belong to my newsletter? Later this summer my newsletter members will be getting a free recipe from Tuscan Women Cook. If you would like to be included you can join the newsletter here.
All images in this post are from Tuscan Women Cook.
This post may contain affiliate links. See disclosure for details.
Last year, right before we went into lockdown, I started using Colleen Rothschild skin care and hair care products. I absolutely loved them (and still do) but for most of the past year talking about beauty products for readers to buy has felt a bit tone deaf. But now we seem to be getting to the other side of the pandemic, the world is opening back up to travel and I just received an order of travel sized products from Colleen Rothschild. And I got a Colleen Rothschild discount code for you! (Jump to the bottom of this post)
But first lets talk about the products themselves.
Colleen Rothschild Quench and Shine Restorative Mask
For the past year I have been using the Colleen Rothschild Quench and Shine Restorative Hair Mask every time I wash my hair. This is a high performance yet lightweight conditioning treatment that doesn’t weigh the hair down. Instead it keeps your hair nourished and shiny and bouncy. It’s quite concentrated (like all her products) so a little goes a long way. I wrote a blog post about it here.
I would go as far as saying this is a hero product – that killer product that makes all the difference in the world, in this case to your hair. An added bonus is it smells really fabulous! I am addicted to the smell of really good haircare products. On photoshoots and commercials when I’m working my day job (makeup artist) I always get downwind of the hair stylist when they start spraying hairspray, if it’s a nice smelling one. Colleeen Rothschild doesn’t have a hairspray yet but I’m hoping they will before long, just because I love the smell of their hair products so much!
I have also been faithfully using the Colleen Rothschild Smooth and Shine Hair Serum for more than a year. This is a really concentrated serum that I run a pump or two through my hair prior to blow drying. The product is just gorgeous, and it makes thick, unruly, difficult hair like mine really manageable, soft and shiny. I swear by it.
When I wrote about the products last year I hadn’t yet tried the shampoo. In the interim time I have started using it too, and like all CR products, I love it.
I also wrote about wanting the Colleen Rothschild travel sized hair products for when I start traveling again post pandemic. At the time there was no sign of travel on the horizon so I didn’t order the travel set, but now I am booked to head back overseas next month (fingers crossed), so I got my hands on one for the trip. Since last year a new product has been added to the travel set, and it’s a product I haven’t yet tried, the Protect and Perfect Styling Cream.
Being that over the past year I have tried almost all of the Colleen Rothschild products I know it is going to be of that same super high standard. As a consumer I am fiercely loyal to the brands I use, right across the board. If something is working really well for me I like to stick with it, whether it’s a shoe brand, laundry detergent, jeans, coffee or in this case skin care and hair care. As a makeup artist over the past 30 years I have learned it is really bad for your skin to keep changing brands, be it with skin care or makeup products. So I find something that works, and I stick with it. And this is how I became so devoted to a brand I hadn’t even heard of 18 months ago.
I reached out to the company and asked if I could have a discount code for my blog readers and for my newsletter members. (Do you belong to the newsletter? It’s fabulous. You can join it here) They gave me the code CORINNA20 which gets you 20% off any and all products that are not part of a sale, or promotion priced. This month, May 2021, Colleen Rothschild Beauty has a Friends and Family 25% discount happening, which of course is a better deal than my CORINNA20 code, so of course you should use that one. But as you reorder products and try new things, if there is no other Colleen Rothschild discount code available at a better rate, use the CORINNA20 and save yourself some money!
Now that the EU is set to open for international travel this summer we need to make plans for how we will both stay safe and not become super spreaders of the coronavirus while traveling.
On April 25th 2021 the EU announced their recommendation for member states to open for international travel this summer. The plan is still being worked on and fine tuned but some countries including Greece are opening as early as mid May.
What You Need To Know About Travel To Europe
The headlines on the EU announcement said that fully vaccinated travelers from approved countries would be allowed entry, however, there are a few items buried in the fine print that you need to know about.
Each member state (country) will reserve the right to close its borders to anyone coming from a country where the virus rate is considered too high, and each country gets to decide for themselves what constitutes too high. This is worth paying attention to, especially if you are planning a multi country European trip. For example you may be planning to go to Paris then head to Barcelona, but if France’s covid infection rate goes higher than Spain’s threshold you could find yourself stuck at the border or the airport.
Each member state will have its own rules for entry. Some may be fine with you just waltzing on in, some will require a rapid test, others will require a 72 hour PCR test prior to entry. It will be your responsibility to find out the requirements for each country on your list, and to source where you can get the required testing. This is unlikely to be free, so you should budget for each test. I read today that in Italy you can expect to pay $25 for a rapid and $75 for a PCR test.
You may be wise to just stick to one country.
If you are traveling from the U.S. at this time (May 2021) you will be refused boarding on your return flight unless you have proof of a negative test in the 72 hours prior to flying home. You will need to source out where you can get an approved test, make an appointment if required, and find out which forms of payment will be accepted, prior to travel.
Each country may have dofferent rules regarding masks and social distancing, and it may change from on day to the next as case numbers rise and fall.
One alarming feature of the EU travel plan is that it allows travelers who can prove recent recovery from covid and travelers who just have a negative covid test in the 72 hours prior to travel. To my way of thinking, this is a giant problem just waiting to happen.
It means you can be amongst travelers from places with excessively contagious variants, who have left home unvaccinated, and who can expose you to variants and mutations not swirling around your country/state/city yet. “Negative test travel” is what moved the U.K variant, The Brazilian, South African and now Indian variants around the world. In all likelihood travelers being allowed entry to any country based only on a negative test is only going to spread new and yet unknown variants around the world. I think it is madness. But of course, I’m not an epidemiologist or an infectious disease specialist, so hopefully I am wildly wrong.
The Best Masks For International Travel
It looks as though masks will be a requirement both throughout your flight and in many indoor and outdoor settings while you are traveling.
Some airlines are not accepting non-medical masks. This means you cannot wear a cloth mask, a facial shield, masks with valves, or handkerchief/scarf masks. Your only options are medical grade / surgical, disposable masks.
If you have worn the typical 3 fold paper masks you probably already know they aren’t always that comfortable when they’re on for multiple hours. The best medical grade masks in terms of comfort are the N95 and KN95 masks. What makes these so good is they seal nicely around the face without having gaping pockets at the sides, so are safer when dealing with an airbourne virus. Personally I like that they have a nose seal,so they don’t fog up your glasses, and most importantly (to me) is they have a large pouch in front of your mouth and nose, so you don’t feel like you’re suffocating. There’s no fabric or paper sucking up against your mouth or nose while you’re seaking or just trying to breathe.
I use KN95 masks when I’m on shoots. (I’m a makeup artist). I can have them on for 10 hours in the Phoenix heat and not feel like I’m about to get smothered. Plus, being a natural chatterbox I can talk to the talent and crew all day long and not be hampered by fabric or papersticking against my mouth and nose.
When Germany announced only people wearing surgical, N95 and KN95 masks would be allowed on any Lufthansa flight, other airlines followed it immediately and the masks all sold out overnight. I figured it could become a thing with international flights so I ordered a package of white KN95 masksand a pack of black KN95s. I’ve been saving them for travel when the world finally reopens. (They took about a month to arrive because everything was on back order.) They are readily available now, but as international travel picks back up this summer you can expect them to get back ordered again. I recommend getting a couple of packs now, while they are in stock.
I recently ordered a box of colored KN95 masks from Amazon to use on an upcoming trip to Italy. I have to be there for work (I’m soooo excited!) and wanted to have disposable masks with me, but didn’t want to be relegated to black and white masks. I got a box of 36 KN95s.
Each mask is individually plastic wrapped, keeping them hygenic and making them easy to pack, and to throw spares in my handbag and carryon bag. If travel does in fact open as it is supposed to, and if this work trip can happen, I will be in Italy for 14 days. The packaging on these masks makes them easy for me to plan out 14 days worth and not take up a ton of space in my suitcase. They come in a variety of color combos – I got particularly girlie colors, but they have plenty of guy options too.
When traveling internationally, both during you flight and while you are at your destination, you need to follow some mask etiquette.
The first thing to know is no one is having fun wearing a mask. Whether you believe in covid or not, whether you like wearing a mask or not, we all are stuck having to wear one. It is what it is. If the rules say you have to wear a mask, don’t complain, just do it. Don’t be a Facebook Karen, don’t squawk about how you can’t breathe or some nonsense about breathing in CO2. If you seriously feel you cannot wear one, stay home.
Change out your mask during the flight, but don’t drop your used mask on the floor. The cleaning crew shouldn’t have to handle your germy, used mask. You probably won’t feel overly comfortable if the stranger sitting next to you is dropping dirty masks on the floor and leaving them there.
Pack a large ziplock bag into your hand luggage, mark it dirty masks with sharpie, and put your used masks inside, zipping it closed. When you arrive to your destination, drop the sealed ziplock bag with used masks into the trash.
While at your destination only ever dispose of used masks in a trash can. If you think you will be changing your mask during the day pack a sandwich sized ziplock bag into your handbag/backpack/whatever you’re carrying, and eal your used mask inside. Even if you are convinced you don’t have the virus, always dispose of used masks respectfully. You wouldn’t like a bunch of foreigners dropping dirty masks in your front yard or in front of your place of work, so don’t do it to theirs.
After changing your mask use hand sanitizer. Even if you don’t think you need it. Anyone watching you will feel more comfortable seeing you being hygenic. It’s a small thing to do, but the small things in life are the big things.
If you want more information about international travel during covid, mask rules while flying internationally, and updated details on travel in Europe this summer, join my newsletter. The Glam Italia newsletter only comes out twice each moth but is full of information for travelers and armchair travelers! You can get the scoop here