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Megan Palmer Rivera found herself in Italy on quiet country roads, surrounded by unforgettable vistas. While visiting small farms, meeting mushroom foragers and small chocolatiers, Megan was drinking the finest wines, tasting dozens of olive oils and eating like a local. That was five years ago.  

That trip — a 20-day buyer’s tour for her family’s Darien business — sparked a new adventure for Palmer’s Market.

Today, Palmer’s Culinary Tours offer similar exclusive experiences in Europe, carefully curated to delight even the most accomplished traveller or foodie.

“We wanted to offer my experience, perhaps a little less intensive, to our customers,” said Megan, the Culinary Director at Palmer’s.

So, how does a family-owned supermarket enter the travel business? Megan’s mom, Cindy Palmer Dean, who is one of Palmer’s Market’s owners, found the answer. They partnered with their artisanal food exporter, Gioacchino Passalacqua of aTTavola. A gastronome and a native Sicilian, Gioacchino is an experienced world traveler and the popular and knowledgeable tour guide on each trip. Every guest has rated him a 5 star guide.

Since launching Palmer’s Culinary Tours in 2015, groups of 4–14 guests have traveled to Sicily, Puglia and Piedmont in Italy, Andalusia, Spain and Holland. More than 80% of those guests have since booked another tour with Palmer’s.

Each tour takes guests behind the scenes with artisan food producers and includes dining at Michelin-starred restaurants. Guests stay at unique 4- and 5-star hotels. The locations, the wine, check-ins and luggage are all handled by Palmer’s.

Cindy experienced firsthand how the tours take the stress out of traveling.

“I had never been on a group tour before and I couldn’t believe how relaxing it was,” she said of her trip with other Palmer’s guests. “No maps. No fighting with my husband about where to go where to eat. It was just so much fun!”

Sam and Jane Marrone, just recently returned from Palmer’s Spring Sicily tour, and raved of their experience.

“It was magical,” Jane Marrone said. “Magnificent. I don’t say that lightly.”

The highlights included a cooking class with a Michelin-starred chef and a private boat tour of Gulf of Castellammare.

“Each town and group of villages has its own specialties and it was nice to have Gioacchino [Passalacqua] there to explain it all,” Sam Marrone said.

Both felt the pace of trip was perfect — each day was a new adventure — carefully planned and never a hitch. There was plenty of free time for exploring and shopping.

Palmer’s guest Renee Nieto has now booked her fourth Palmer’s Tour. “It was just so easy,” she said. “I am a nervous traveler and everything was taken care of from the minute we arrived until we got back on the plane to come home. I don’t think I could go on a tour with anyone else.”

Cindy says the connections created on the Palmer’s Tours often last beyond the trip overseas. “We’ve met the most amazing people that we wouldn’t normally meet,” she said. “Our guests have ranged in age from 30’s to mid-80’s and they all share a love of exploring, culture, camaraderie, and of course, food and wine.”

Palmer’s Tours are now booking its 2018 season. Destinations include: Umbria, Sicily, Puglia, and Piedmont/Lake Como in Italy as well as Catalonia, Spain. View the itineraries and get more information at PalmersTours.com.