Feast on History™ leads food, wine and art focused tours of Campania.
Who comes on Feast On History Small group tours?
Our guests are curious, thoughtful people of all ages who want to get to immerse themselves in Italian culture. Past guests include singles, couples, adult children traveling with parents, couples celebrating anniversaries. Guests have ranged from 26-80 years of age. Our small groups of no more than 14 people allow for people to get to know each other.
- You want to get off the proverbial beaten path and go where the Italians go. Our tours are crafted to showcase restaurants, farms and sites that aren't always in guidebooks and that are beloved only to locals. We go where the Italians go.
- You want an authentic experience of Italian life, but also really want to enjoy being away from home and work. We let you sleep late and craft each day to have a nice balance of relaxing and sightseeing. Some days we might get up early (9am is our earliest departure time), but we balance it out the next day with a morning to sleep in or enjoy cappuccino on your own private terrace.
- You don't speak Italian, but would still like to get to know real Italians. You're in the care of our Italian family who will treat you as family. All the people we collaborate with for our tours are people we know, like and trust as friends.
- You don't want to deal with driving or train schedules. We have our own driver for the week so you don't have to worry about figuring out how to get to all these off-the-beaten path places or drive along mountain or coastal roads. He lives in the area and knows all the special roads where we can enjoy a sea view or see the ancient walls of a city, and he knows the very best place to stop for gelato in all of Southern Italy.
- You want to eat and drink the very best, most local thing in every place you go, but don't have the time to spend months researching food blogs to figure it all out. We pick the places and select the best of what is most characteristic of the place, the freshest, in-season or the specialty of the house. We balance fancy restaurant meals with rustic home cooking. You'll also take at least one cooking class on our Cilento tours. It's best if you're an omnivore, but we can manage and prepare for any food allergies or intolerances when you let us know in advance.
- You love art and museums, but... not for hours on end. You want to know about a place, but you don't want to have to read every label. We believe a great museum is followed by an even better meal. We design our cultural visits to be engaging experiences mixed with food and wine experiences.
Where other tour operators in the region accept between 20-40 guests per tour, our groups accept a maximum of 14 guests.
We are a family business and our guest reviews attest to how each guest is treated as a member of our own family.
OUR CORNER OF ITALY: CILENTO
Campania is the region south of Rome most famous for Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi coast. Our home in Campania is a sub-region called Cilento (pronounced chee-lento) which has a spectacular coastline on the Tyrrhenian sea and rugged mountains where people will find some of Italy's most ancient and traditional small villages. The Cilento National Park attracts hikers, mountain bikers and other adventure sport enthusiasts. Once part of the Magna Graecia, there are ruins from colonies in Cilento including Velia, the home of the Eleatic school and the philosopher Parmenides, and the magnificent temples at Paestum or Poseidonia. Medieval towers from the Normans and Frederick II can be found throughout the mountainside.
There are several UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Cilento: The Greek and Roman ruins at Paestum and Velia, the medieval village of Castellabate, the monastery of San Lorenzo di Padula and Cilento, Vallo di Diano National Park.
The "Mediterranean Diet" was designed by Dr. Ancel Keys after he observed the longevity of people living in the Cilento. The local cuisine is known for chickpeas, wild greens, anchovies, rosemary. The Cilento is also famous for its buffalo mozzarella production which has been granted the prestigious DOP status. Large local farms also produce excellent tomatoes, artichokes and kiwis that are exported worldwide.
OUR HOME IN ITALY: BORGO LA PIETRAIA
On the mountain road between Paestum and Capaccio is Borgo La Pietraia. In collaboration with renowned architect Nicola Pagliara, the Scariati family created this modern agriturismo to look like a small village. Above all, the Scariatis, who have lived in Capaccio for centuries, want to share the beauty of the Cilento countryside and the bright blue horizon overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea.
Borgo La Pietraia enjoys a majestic panorama of mountains and sea stretching from the Sorrento peninsula to the Cilento coast. The buildings and terraces are all built from local stone, making the property feel as though it grows organically from the landscape, in complete harmony with nature. It is a true paradise insulated with pomegranate and olive trees and scented by hedges of bay leaves, rosemary and other Mediterranean herbs and flowers.
All rooms have:
- En suite bathrooms with luxury showers, a heated towel rack and a bidet
- Private terrace overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea with table, chairs and a lounge chair
- Air conditioning and heating units that can are set by the guests
- Flat screen television
Borgo La Pietraia also has:
- A swimming pool with sea views open between mid-May and late September
- A restaurant that serves local Cilento cuisine with fine dining presentations. The olive oil is grown on the property as are most of the herbs. Meat, cheese and vegetables are sourced from farms immediately adjacent to the property.
- Parking (if needed)
Danielle Oteri is an art historian and an expert on the history of Campania. She has taught art history at Seton Hall University and has been a Lecturer at The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Program Director of the International Center of Medieval Art.
Danielle's art, food and history writing has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Grove Dictionary of Art, Gothamist, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NPR and Roads & Kingdoms. In 2010, she won a food writing award from the American Institute of Wine and Food. Currently she is the Museum Travel expert for About.com.
Christian Galliani is a sommelier and leads all the wine programming for Feast on History. Christian earned his a certificate from the Sommelier Society of America, has managed two Manhattan wine stores and was part of the wine team at Del Posto. While serving as lead sommelier at Tarry Lodge they won Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world.
He is an expert on the wines of Irpinia and has been interviewed by Today.com, Cooking Channel, Corriere della Sera and has appeared on Rai Italia for his advice on the best wines of Southern Italy.
Our Story by Danielle Oteri, founder
I grew up in the New York suburbs listening to my grandmother's stories about Capaccio, a small mountain village overlooking the sea in the Cilento region of Southern Italy. I listened rapturously to her stories, taking each one into my heart and picturing it in my imagination. I don't remember seeing photographs of Capaccio, but I was fascinated by the thin airmail envelopes exchanged between New York and Italy, filled with letters and photos of relatives I barely knew.
During graduate school when I lived in Florence, I finally made my pilgrimage to Capaccio. By then my grandmother's memory was fading, but always seemed to sharpen when I showed her photos of her beloved hometown and spoke about the beautiful land and history I had discovered there. After she passed away, contact with our Italian family ceased.
Ever in my heart, I began to collect my grandmother's recipes. Research led me to Arthur Schwartz, a New York food critic, radio personality and cookbook author who ran a successful cooking school near Capaccio.
We became fast friends. In 2013 Arthur invited me to lunch in Little Italy to meet his dear friend, Baronessa Cecilia Baratta Bellelli, who runs the two farms where Arthur hosted his Italian cooking school. I told the Baronessa about my connection to Capaccio and she immediately asked for my grandmother's surname.
"Scariati, of course," she said. "You know your cousins recently opened a beautiful hotel in Capaccio?"
My heart leapt. I had been to my now deceased great-uncles home, but did not know the myriad of other cousins, older and younger than me, who still lived in Capaccio. She wrote down my contact information on a scrap of paper.
A week later, my phone rang and an Italian phone number flashed on the screen. The joyful voice on the other end was Giovanni Scariati, an Italian cousin. Indeed, he had built Borgo La Pietraia an agriturismo that was a celebration of the local land, food and history.
He insisted I come visit them as soon as possible and that I connect with his children on Facebook who ran the office and the restaurant at the Borgo.
I quickly connected with Arianna and Antonio on social media and was stunned to see their faces which resembled my own. We had never met, yet shared so much.
My first visit to the Borgo began with a very delayed flight where both nerves and fatigue left me fumbling to speak any comprehensible Italian. But as I drove across the countryside, I remembered the familiar landscape and my mind flooded with grandmother's stories.
Giovanni, Arianna and Antonio greeted me warmly and led me to the dining room. A glass of cold Falanghina wine had already been poured for me and the table set with a plate of handmade cavatelli dressed with zucchini flowers. I sat down and noticed that next to my plate was a small pile of photographs of my grandmother, grandfather and uncle, all deceased and deeply missed.
These were the photos my grandmother had tucked into envelopes and sent from New York to Capaccio over many decades. I was home.
In 2015 my husband Christian and I launched our first Feast on History tour bringing together my art history expertise, his work as a sommelier and the extraordinary setting created by the Scariati's at Borgo La Pietraia. Among many wonderful excursions and meals on that first trip, our 12 guests also took a cooking class with the Baronessa, the woman responsible for connecting me once again to my Italian family. I am eternally grateful to her.
I discovered that my grandmother's gentle warmth and wit was a family trait. The ethos that "God is in the details" is expressed in every stone at Borgo La Pietraia, in every meal we serve our guests, and in the heart soaring view of the ocean and sky from each room on the property.
Everyone we collaborate with for our food, wine and art focused tours of the Cilento, from our drivers, to winemakers, farmers or tours guides share our abiding love and respect for this ancient land, food and history.
We created Feast on History to share our love of this place. The peace that exists here is transformative.