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Rolling Pins, Walking Sticks in Tuscany

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The International Kitchen is offering two culinary tours to Italy. The first is “Walking and Cooking in Tuscany,” which features six nights at a hotel outside the village of San Gimignano. San Gimignano is known for its medieval towers, which create a unique silhouette against the Tuscan countryside. Participants will explore the back roads and paths of this area with bilingual walking guides. Afternoons feature hands-on cooking lessons with Tuscan chefs, learning recipes for bruschetta, fresh pasta and roasted meats. Departures for the walking and cooking tours are available April through November.

Cost: $1,900 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, transfers, bilingual walking guide, three cooking lessons, most meals, excursions and wine tastings. Air fare is extra.

The second tour offers cooking and dining with local Italian families. “Tutti a Tavola” clients can opt for either a one- or three-day package featuring market visits, cooking lessons in local homes and dinner with the instructors and their families. The lessons are conducted by women who have lived in the Chianti area their entire lives and who are known for their delicious home cooking. Clients can choose to stay in villas or bed and breakfasts, all owned by their instructors. The one-day cooking lesson with market visit and dinner is $185 per person. The three-day program is $500 per person and includes three cooking classes, three dinners and one market visit. Accommodations and air fare are not included.

Contact: The International Kitchen Inc.; telephone (800) 945-8606.

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More Cooking

Explore the culinary riches of the Provence region of France on an 11-night tour beginning Oct. 21. The group will eat with some of France’s leading chefs and join them in hands-on cooking classes with recipes guests can take home. Participants will begin in Nice by exploring the old town and going to La Mere Barale, a restaurant featuring nicoise cooking. Then it’s on to Provence to stay at the Cha^teau de Castellane (home of the Marquis de Castellane) and at the Cha^teau d’Allemagne.

Cost: $3,500 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, accommodations, all breakfasts and some meals, sightseeing, taxes and tips, and cancellation insurance.

Contact: Topa Topa Travel, 530 W. Ojai Ave., No. 101, Ojai, CA 93023; tel. (805) 646-0155, ask for Lavon.

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Best of India

An India-born professor will lead a tour of India Jan. 4 to 23. The tour starts with a city tour of Singapore, where the group stops for a night on the way to India. In India, participants will visit New Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Bombay, Bangalore, Mysore, Cochin, Trivandrum and Madras.

Cost: $4,245 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, airport transfers, entrance fees, ground and domestic air transportation, hotels, lectures and all meals. Sita World Travel is booking the tour.

Contact: Simon George; tel. (562) 985-4848 or (562) 985-7925.

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An Irish Home

Instead of moving guests from hotel to hotel each day, Banner Tours’ Ireland tour will base them in three B&Bs; in a County Clare village. The visit, which runs Oct. 14 to 24, provides daily outings to regional sites with a guide whose family has deep roots in Clare. Guests have the opportunity to get acquainted with the village locals.

Cost: $1,199 per person, double occupancy, including New York-Shannon round-trip air fare, lodging, daily breakfast, admission fees and ground transportation.

Contact: Banner Tours; tel. (516) 363-8927.

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French Christmas

See the South of France in a different light--Christmas lights--with a festive tour through the Provence region. Explore Christmas markets and traditional seasonal fairs while enjoying the sites, sounds and tastes of this time of year.

All tours include attendance at traditional Christmas events such as live nativity scenes and Christmas dinner. Private tours of wineries, museums and cha^teaux are also included.

Based around Aix-en-Provence, other areas visited will be Avignon, Arles, Les Baux-de-Provence, Marseille and the Mediterranean coastline, Moustiers-Ste.- Marie and many lesser-known areas offering the authentic feel of Provence.

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Tours are scheduled Nov. 15 to 23, Nov. 30 to Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 to 21. Because tour lengths vary, so do prices.

Cost: from $3,650 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, hotels, all meals except one lunch, ground transportation and sightseeing.

Contact: Destination France, 150 Fifth Ave., Suite 710, New York, NY 10011; tel. (888) 374-2869.

Spain Discovery Tour

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A tour of Spain that runs Nov. 3 to 12 will be led by Joseph Sanchez, a Spanish author and historian. The tour includes historical sights and overnights in Madrid, Seville, Costa del Sol and Granada. Other visits will be to Segovia, Toledo, Cordoba and Gibraltar. The focus of this trip is to reunite people with their geographic and familial origins through social, artistic and architectural aspects of Spain.

Cost: $1,495 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, hotels, breakfasts, some meals, guides and transfers. Arrangements can be made for a visit first to Portugal or to other parts of Spain.

Contact: Doreen Adams, Andante Travel-Travel Partners at 485 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627; tel. (800) 344-3076.

Ballooning Over Africa

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Balloon over lions and herds of elephant and antelope in the Konkomboury Game Reserve of Burkina Faso Jan. 21 to Feb. 1. At night guests will stay at a comfortable camp in the reserve featuring cabins, swimming pool and full bar overlooking a wildlife watering pool. When not ballooning, guests go by four-wheel-drive vehicle to see animals.

Cost: $3,734 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, all meals and sightseeing. Air fare is extra to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

Contact: West African Safaris, P.O. Box 365, Oakdale, CA 95361; tel. (209) 847-7710.

Find Newfoundland

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Canada’s easternmost province doesn’t have a lot of people, but it does offer unique scenery, history and indigenous culture. An 11-day, 10-night fly / drive tour, on various dates throughout summer and fall, includes a tour of fiords, a schooner ride or excursion to a puffin colony and a ferry ride to Labrador.

Cost: $1,199 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Newark, N.J., a mid-size car, 10 nights’ lodging in B&Bs; or inns and some breakfasts.

Contact: Maxxim Vacations; tel. (800) 567-6666.

Turkish Delights

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Explore mystical underground cities, ancient Greek ruins and exotic seaports, and shop till you drop at one of the oldest covered bazaars in the world on a 14-day tour of Turkey. The tour is available on various dates from November through March. The journey starts in Istanbul and visits the famous Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, a Byzantine basilica and the Grand Bazaar. From there guests travel to the capital, Ankara, visiting the Hittite Museum, and then proceed to the Cappadocia region in central Turkey. Cappadocia has entire cities that were built underground and into the hillsides.

From central Turkey the tour moves on to the Turquoise Coast, first stopping in Antalya to visit the archeological museum and the ruins of ancient Perge. Then guests visit Pamukkale to see gigantic pools of white calcified waterfalls and the ruins of Hierapolis. Also scheduled are Kusadasi, stopping first at the ruins of Aphrodisias; a day in Ephesus, one of the world’s largest archeological sites; and Canakkale, visiting Pergamum, the site of one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. Not forgotten is legendary Troy, with its ruins and replica of the wooden horse.

Cost: $1,499 per person, double occupancy, including air fare on Swissair, accommodations in four-star hotels, sightseeing, all entrance fees, daily breakfast and nine dinners and air-conditioned transportation.

Contact: Troy Tours, 6151 W. Century Blvd., Suite 1114, Los Angeles, CA 90045; tel. (310) 417-3460.

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The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with cruise lines, travel agents or tour operators.


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