Foodie Tour in Seattle living La Dolce Vita

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Butterfly prawn stuffed with Dungeness crab on arugula salad

Musings of living la dolce vita, the sweet life:

My definition of la dolce vita: To live life fully in each moment, savoring the simple moments, and thoroughly enjoying them. That is la dolce vita, whether I am living in Italy or not.  Even though I write mostly about Italy on this blog, I also want to focus on living ‘the sweet life’ la dolce vita, wherever you are!  And right now I am visiting Seattle with my husband. One of my passions is to savor the culinary delights of a region. To me, that is all part of living la dolce vita, the sweet life.

On the summer solstice, my husband and I enjoyed a foodie tour in Seattle. Time out from a busy work schedule to savor a progressive meal, and talk with the chefs and managers of some of the best restaurants and cuisine establishments in Bell Town and on the Pike.

Hitting up tasty varieties of truffles and flavored salts, aged balsamic vinegars, pestos and more at La Tavola Truffle Shope. We also visited Serious Pie for wood burning oven Italian pizza. We loved the salmon cakes, and my favorite was crab tator tots from Steelhead Restaurant. At the seventh stop, we completed our tour with authentic Italian gelato.

Tasting truffle salt at La Tavola, truffle cafe

Tasting truffle salt at La Tavola, truffle cafe

Unique, simple, fresh, summer flavors.

From Savor Seattle Food Tour: ”Each tour offers a large variety of tastings, while visiting 6-10 different specialty food shops, artisans, and neighborhood restaurants. Although the tours differ in geography, duration, and food themes, they all highlight the vibrant stories of the people and places that make Seattle one of the greatest culinary and cultural centers of the world.”

When you visit a major city, check to see if they have food tours. I’ve also enjoyed one in Boulder, Colorado.




Lucca, City of Bicycles












The 2013 Bicyclists UCI Road World Championships took place in TuscanyItaly, September 21 and 22,  2013 right after my Italy Retreat for Women group left Lucca.

The Championships consisted of 12 events for elite, under-23 and junior cyclists. It was the 86th Road World Championships, the 13th in Italy and the first time that the event took place in Tuscany. The different events took place in FlorencePistoiaPoggio a CaianoCarmignanoLuccaFiesole and Montecatini Terme.

Bike riding and bike racing are popular activities in Italy, especially in Lucca.  Of course, our group did not participate in the championship bicycle race, but we sure had fun riding bicycles on top of the 3 mile wall, and throughout the city center, along with the local Lucchese. Bikes are easily rented near Porta San Pietro, Porta Santa Maria, and other entrances to Lucca for 4-5 euros per hour. You can easily spot the rental stores because all the bikes are lined up outside.

During The Italy Retreats for Women that I lead, I focus on fresh air and outdoor activities. This balances out any gelato and pasta that we indulge in, as seen in my other posts!

I love seeing everyone of all ages riding bikes throughout the town. They inspire  all of the tourists to step it up and get more active. I’ve found that one challenge that some travelers’ experience is jet lag. Usually with short vacations, we don’t have time to wait until we’re completely over it before we start exploring. One simple travel tip to alleviate jet lag is to exercise. Walk a lot in the fresh air or ride a bicycle. Secondly, do not nap during the day, but get right into your day (even though it really is your night time at home). The wall around Lucca just invites us to ride on top, through tree-lined parks and breathtaking views of the mountains.

Riding bikes is the choice of transportation

Riding bikes is the choice of transportation

Some of the Women at the Retreat '"biking the wall" in Lucca










Pam on the Lucca Wall

Pam on the Lucca Wall


More bikes and green door

More bikes and green doors




Section of the wall around Lucca, Le Mura.

Section of the wall (le mura) around Lucca






















Italy September 2013 - 1 047-1

Thermal Springs,Terme in Italy




Thermal waters pool

Thermal waters pool

After a week of hiking in Cinque Terre and biking in Lucca, we trim down to the basics of living the sweet life at a thermal springs outside of Lucca. We change into white robes as we enter the caves of Grotta Giusti in Monsumanno, Italy.  My mind and body crave this gentle ‘steam bath’ to relax, and release toxins.

This is a surreal passage into another time, as less than a dozen of us enter a beautiful series of softly-lit caves. The temperature is a warm 93 degrees Farenheit, 34 degrees Celcius, (lower than our 98.6  body temperature). To my surprise, it is odor-free. We silently walk into different sections of the caves, called Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. We sit in deck chairs in this mysterious other worldly womb of the earth, surrounded by ceilings and walls of beautiful minerals and rock formations.

Away from our normal routine of life, we relax into the silence to RETREAT, REPLENISH and REJUVENATE.

Next, we change into our bathing suits and walk outside to immerse in the large mineral rich thermal pool, where we swim and float, then make our way over to the underwater hydro-massage seats inside the edges of the pool. Like the caves, the temperature is a steady 93 degrees Fahrenheit, 34 degrees Celcius.  We move in and out of the pool, sit poolside on the lounge chairs, and enjoy delicious food and drinks at the poolside restaurant.

Grotta Giusti was discovered in 1849 when some miners saw hot steam rising from the ground while working on the Giusti Family land. The thermal waters contain bicarbonate, sulphate, chloride, calcium and magnesium.  The water feels soft, smooth and like the cave, odor-free. Surrounded by beautiful hillsides, I close my eyes and float on my back. Another  beautiful spot in Italy that nourishes.

I arrived in Monsumanno from Lucca. The train ride from Lucca to Montacatini Terme takes 25 minutes. Outside the train station, I use my cell phone to call a taxi that costs 20 Euros for a 10 minute ride to Grotta Giusti in Monsummano. The phone number is posted on a sign in front of the station. Although not always at convenient times, Grotta Giusti Spa sends a van to the train station at designated times 3 times a day for pickups and departures from the spa.

What spas have you visited in Italy? Want to join me in September, 2013 for my Italy Retreat for Women?

Note: I have not included photos of Grotta Giusti Spa as they do not allow photos taken of their pool and cave area. Please see their website for photos.