Piero and Katie Pagliardini met in 2006 while Katie was teaching English abroad in Le Marche, a region in eastern Italy. Katie, who is from Dallas, was only supposed to stay for one semester, but ended up staying for four years after falling in love with Piero and Italian culture.
After the wedding, the couple moved to Dallas. Living in Lake Highlands, living on Edgecove Road and raising their family, they couldn’t help but feel a gap in their lives.
“When we first moved to the States, Piero always wanted to do something that connected his native culture to Dallas,” says Katie.
Piero started importing and distributing wine and truffles from Le Marche. After meeting the well-known cake maker Margaret Braun and having the opportunity to organize a trip to Italy for her, he decided to start a travel ministry.
He lacked business experience, so he signed up for courses.
“I want to combine the best side of America, which is the business side, with the best part of Italy, which is food and wine,” he says.
in the In 2015 Pagliardini’s Italiana Tours started. Over the past seven years, Piero and Katie have expanded their tour service creating comprehensive food and wine tours specializing in giving their clients the authentic Italian experience right at the place where they first met, Le Marche .
“The tourists who come here can discover the real Italy,” says Piero.
The place is unfamiliar to most, but for Piero it is home. He describes it as very similar to Tuscany without the overwhelming number of tourists.
Food is the heart of the tour. All meals begin with appetizers of local cured meats and cheeses, along with salads and pasta. He says the second course in Italy is dedicated to meat, such as slow-cooked veal, served with a red wine. As a grand finale, customers are served homemade mascarpone or biscotti and a cherry wine for dessert.
“We typically have 11 meals in a week-long tour, and my forte is making sure each one is unique with different wine pairings,” says Piero.
When travelers don’t eat, they learn about food – Cooking classes with local chefs, wine and olive oil tastings and in autumn tours, truffle hunting with a local guide and dog.
“Our constant big complaint is that there is too much food on the tours,” jokes Katie.
Visiting historical sights such as the Ducal Palace and the Church of the Dead, as well as trips to the Metauro River are part of the itinerary. Le Marche also hosts local festivals, the biggest being the Truffle Festival in October, very popular with Italiana Tours.
Art and writing workshops are also available for those looking to find inspiration in Le Marche. These classes are taught by successful writers and artists, some of whom are from Italy, and run throughout the week e.g Author Jen Knox and artist Mary Whyte.
As the business grew in popularity, the Pagliardini family moved back to Le Marche last year to be local for the tours, but kept their headquarters in Lake Highlands.
When asked why they decided to keep the Dallas store, Piero explained that since most of their customers are from the United States, it’s a good idea to keep it in a familiar place.
“The dream still lives on in Lake Highlands,” says Piero.
The Pagliardinis expressed their appreciation for Dallas and the opportunities it offered them in growing their family and business.
Piero and Katie are always looking for new clients interested in their tours and say they will even be offering a neighborhood discount to any Lake Highlands residents interested in a tour.
“We’d love for you to come on a creative retreat with author and Dallas local Suzanne Frank this October,” says Piero.
“It’s open to a variety of artists (painters, writers, photographers) of all levels, as well as those non-artists who just want to switch off and find their inspiration. I hope you can join us this October to soothe your soul in Le Marche on this unrivaled cultural, food and wine tour!”
For more information on Italiana Tours visit italianatours.com.