Le Marche Lifestyle: The Pagliardini family’s food and wine-focused travel business is located in Lake Highlands

sEero and Katie Pagliardini met in 2006 when Katie was studying English abroad in Le Marche, a region in eastern Italy. Katie, a Dallas native, was only supposed to stay for one semester, but after falling in love with Piero and Italian culture, she ended up staying for four years.

After marriage, the couple moved to Dallas. They were staying at Lake Heights, living on Edgecove Road, and raising their family, but 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 local culture with Dallas,” Katie says.

Piero began importing and distributing wine and truffles from Le Marche. After meeting well-known cake baker Margaret Brown and giving her the opportunity to organize a trip for her in Italy, he decided to set up a tour service.

He lacked business experience, so he signed up for classes.

Piero and Katie Baggliardini with the family. Family photo provided by Dark Horse Photography LLC

“I would like to share the best aspect of America, which is the business side, and combine it with the best part of Italy, which is the food and the wine,” he says.

in In 2015, Pagliardinis launched Italiana Tours. Over the past seven years, Piero and Katie have developed their own tour services, creating immersive food and wine tours that specialize in giving their clients the authentic Italian experience at the place where they first met, Le Marche.

“For the tourists and the people who come here, they can discover the real Italy,” says Piero.

For most people, the site is unfamiliar, but for Piero it is his home. He describes it as being very similar to Tuscany, without the huge number of tourists.

The food is the heart of the tour. All meals begin with an appetizer of local cured meats and cheeses, along with salads and pasta. He says the second dish in Italy is for meat, such as slow-cooked veal served with red wine. At the grand finale, customers are offered homemade mascarpone or biscotti to sweeten with cherry wine.

“We usually go for 11 meals in a week’s tour, and my strong point is to make sure each one is unique with different pairings of wine,” says Piero.

When travelers don’t eat, they learn about food – Cooking lessons with local chefs, wine and olive oil tastings, and on fall tours, truffle hunting with a local guide and dog.

“Our big constant complaint is that there is a lot of food on the tours,” Katie jokes.

Visiting historical landmarks such as the Ducal Palace and The Church of the Dead, and trekking to the Metauro River are sprinkled into the itinerary. Le Marche also hosts local festivals, the largest of which is the Truffle Festival in October, a favorite of Italiana Tours.

Arts and writing workshops are also offered for those interested in finding inspiration at Le Marche. These classes are taught by successful authors and artists, some local to Italy, and run throughout the entire week, such as Author Jane Knox and artist Mary White.

With the business gaining popularity, the Pagliardini family returned to Le Marche last year so they could be on the ground to take the tours, but they kept their headquarters in Lake Highlands.

When asked why they chose to keep the business in Dallas, Piero explained that since most of their clients are from the United States, it seemed like a good idea to keep it in a familiar location.

“The dream is still living in Lake Heights,” says Piero.

Pagliardinis appreciated Dallas and the opportunities it provided them in growing their family and business.

Piero and Katie are always looking for new clients interested in their tours and say they’ll even include a neighborhood discount for any Lake Highlands resident interested in a tour.

“We would like them to join us in October for a creative retreat with the author and local Susan Frank in Dallas,” says Piero.

“It is open to many artists (illustrators, writers, photographers) at any level, as well as to non-artists who are just looking to get away and find inspiration. I hope they can join us in October to restore their spirits at Le Marche, on this unrivaled tour of culture, food and wine! “

For more information about Italiana Tours, visit italianatours.com.

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