Mamma’s pasta, boutique wineries and colourful Vespas. Pino D’Aguanno moved to Australia 40 years ago but his Instagram still lives and breathes Italy. These vibrant photos were taken on gourmet tours he caters for small groups and families from all over the world.
It all started in 1997, when Pino joined a few cycling clubs in Australia. He became really good friends with the other members and had an idea to show them his beautiful country. For the next 15 years he organised cycling tours all around Italy. Pino also took groups to France, Spain and Switzerland.
Following his heart and passion, a few years ago Pino flipped the whole idea of his tours, moving away from demanding physical activities towards intimate, relaxed and deeply personal experiences focused on food and wine. Every tour is tailored to individual needs and interests. “I prefer to go with the flow,” says Pino. “I’ll try to tick all your boxes, but if the weather is not nice or something else happens, I’ll quickly come up with a new plan.”
What made you switch to gourmet tours?
I love cooking, good food and good wine. And I love introducing people to unique things. Guiding smaller groups means I can now take people to the places only Italians know about. In October and November, for example, we visit family wineries to see how the grapes get picked and turned into wine. We also go to olive fields and learn to make olive oil.
What was the most unique experience you’ve ever had on a tour?
Last year we had a privilege to try white truffle. Yes, we’re talking that ‘$10,000 per kilo’ truffle! This delicacy is available for a very short period of time and you can’t get it anywhere outside Italy.
Do you take groups to your birthplace of Rome?
Of course! My family still lives there and they are always happy to welcome guests in our beautiful house. We cook dinner together, chat and enjoy the sunset. It’s just fabulous! Many people today prefer to travel on their own. With internet and social media everything became so accessible. But it’s evenings like that you’ll never get to experience without having a native guide.
You probably become really good friends with your guests?
I keep in touch with so many amazing people I meet on a tour! And how else can it be, when we always have such a great time together. Sometimes we go to lunch at 1pm and don’t leave the restaurant for hours! We drink wine, discuss everything from food to sports to politics, soak in the atmosphere, enjoy the moment. It’s something that really brings people together. By the end of the trip we all feel like we’ve known each other for ages.
You also offer Mediterranean sailing trips now. Where does that come from?
I fell in love with yachting when I moved to Australia. Last year I decided to combine my hobby with my Italy tours and created an affordable but luxurious boat tour. We don’t need hotels or cars, so a week on a yacht is almost twice less expensive than a classic gourmet tour. But you still travel in the comfort of a very beautiful boat, with your private cabin and walk-in shower. There are never more than eight people including myself on a yacht, so the signature intimate approach didn’t go anywhere.
When are the next tours our readers can jump on to?
Gourmet tour is scheduled for the end of June, beginning of July, and the yachting tour starts 13 July. But of course, you don’t have to wait for four months. A group of four is all I need to make a tour of your dreams happen at any time.