Hometown: London/Loro Piceno.
Occupation: Producer and purveyor of fine olive oils.
Favorite destinations: I find myself drawn on the one hand to big cities: Paris, New York, Stockholm, Rome, Barcelona, Toronto. And on the other to tiny islands: Malta, Sicily, Bali, Sardinia, Tasmania. The former because of the amazing and diverse food that lurks there, the latter for the scuba diving.
Dying to visit: The ocean floor, round about where HMS Titanic crashed into the benthos.
Bizarre travel rituals: I always think about my plane crashing; if I don't touch my nose as soon as this thought crosses my mind, my premonition will come true.
In-flight relaxation regime: I have an extraordinary capacity to sleep on any sort of moving vehicle, plane, train, car, or even as a scooter passenger. This can be embarrassing (mid-conversation tends to gives offense) but usually I think of it as a bit of a superpower. It's like time travelling with a cricked neck.
Always in carry-on: iPhone (I'm an Instagram addict, I'm afraid). Organ donor card.
Concierge or DIY? DIY
See it all or take it easy? See it all. Traveling for me is about learning. I want to see, taste, smell and touch everything. I will forsake comfort and relaxation for any new experience. Luckily I am married to a similar restless soul, so at least we avoid any arguments. It's just the poor kids who get the rough deal and beg for some "sitting down time."
Drive or be driven? If I'm in a car with Cathy, my wife, then she drives. I sleep and navigate when she manages to prod me awake. Otherwise, I don't really trust anyone else, so I will drive.
Travel hero: My travel hero is Matthew Fort who wrote Eating Up Italy: Voyages on a Vespa. It recounts his journey from the southern tip of Italy to its northern borders, eating, laughing, and crying along the way. His book has inspired me to hatch my own plan where, with the family, we'll spend a summer driving a mobile deli van from one end of Italy to another. Along the way we will sell our olive oil in local markets, swap it for local delicacies, and cook it with new friends.
Weirdest thing seen on travels: Mummified priests and babies in the Catacomb dei Cappuccini in Palermo.
Best hotel amenity: Kitchenette — I like to buy local ingredients and cook something simple for myself and the family every once in a while.
I dream about my meal at Da Felice in the Testaccio quarter of Rome. The cacio e pepe there is part theatre, part cooking lesson. The cooked spaghetti, pepper, and cheese are brought to your table and literally thrown in the air as the waiter tosses them with great panache and bravado. It is hard to believe such a simple dish can be so divine.
Everywhere I go, I check out the municipal steps. Cathy and I are rarely happier than when we sit on a library/townhall/art gallery's stone steps; she is reading to me from a novel and I'm watching the people go by as the words drift over me.
When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by walking everywhere.
I always bring home a local spice mix, alcoholic beverage (for my favorite drinking game: World of Booze), or some arcane cooking utensil (ex: prickly pear de-prickler).
If I never return to Cuba it'll be too soon because the sex tourism was sickening (at least when I was there 15 years ago).
I travel for the learning experience. Walking into a shop to buy food is always an education in a new country.