Le Marche Lifestyle.  The Pagliardini family’s food and wine-based travel business is based in Lake Leylands.

Le Marche Lifestyle. The Pagliardini family’s food and wine-based travel business is based in Lake Leylands.

P:iero and Katie Pagliardini met in 2006 when Katie was teaching English abroad in Le Marche, a region in eastern Italy. Born in Dallas, Kathy was only supposed to stay for one semester, but after falling in love with Piero and the Italian culture, she stayed for four years.

After getting married, the couple moved to Dallas. They settled in Lake Highlands, lived on Page Road and started their family, but they couldn’t help but feel the void in their lives.

“When we first moved to the states, Piero always wanted to do something that connected his home culture to Dallas,” says Cathy.

Pierrot began importing and distributing wine and truffles from Le Marche. After meeting famous cake maker Margaret Brown and having the opportunity to organize a trip to Italy for her, she decided to create a tour service.

He lacked business experience, so he enrolled in classes.

Piero and Cathy Pagliardini with family. Family photo courtesy of Dark Horse Photography LLC

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

In In 2015, the Pagliardinis launched Italiana Tours. Over the past seven years, Piero and Cathy have developed their travel service, creating in-depth food and wine tours that specialize in bringing their clients an authentic Italian experience in the very place where they first met: Le Marche.

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

For many, the location is unfamiliar, but for Piero, it is his home. He describes it as very much like Tuscany without the overwhelming number of tourists.

Food is the heart of the tour. All meals begin with local cured meat and cheese appetizers, salads and pasta. In Italy, he says, the second course is then dedicated to the meat, such as slow-cooked veal served with red wine. For the grand finale, customers are treated to homemade mascarpone or biscotti for dessert, along with cherry wine.

“We usually have 11 meals per week on tour, and my forte is making sure each one is unique with different wine pairings,” says Piero.

When travelers aren’t eating, they’re learning about food. cooking classes with local chefs, wine and olive oil tastings, and autumn excursions including truffle hunting with a local guide and dog.

“Our constant big complaint is that there’s too much food on the tours,” Kathy jokes.

Visits to historical attractions such as the Palace of the Dukes and the Church of the Dead and excursions to the Metauro River are included in the itinerary. Le Marche also hosts local festivals, the biggest of which is the truffle festival in October, a favorite of Italiana Tours.

Art and writing workshops are also offered to those looking to find inspiration at Le Marche. These classes are taught by successful authors and artists, some local to Italy, and last throughout the week, e.g. author Jen Knox and artist Mary White.

As the business grew in popularity, the Pagliardini family moved back to Le Marche last year so they could be on-site for tours, but kept their headquarters in Lake Leylands.

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

“The dream still lives on at Lake Leylands,” says Piero.

The Pagliardinis expressed their gratitude for Dallas and the opportunities it has given them to grow their family and business.

Piero and Katie are always looking for new customers interested in their tours and say they will even include a neighborhood discount for any Lake Highlands residents interested in taking a tour.

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

“It’s open to a variety of artists (painters, writers, photographers) at any level, as well as non-artists who are just looking to get away and find their inspiration. I hope they can join us this October to restore their soul in Le Marche on this unparalleled culture, food and wine tour.”


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

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