Le Marche Lifestyle: The Palliardini family’s food and wine tourism business is based in Lake Highlands

Piero and Katie Pagliardini met in 2006 when Katie was teaching English abroad in Le Marche, a region in eastern Italy. Katie, a Dallas native, was only supposed to stay for one semester, but after falling in love with Piero and the Italian culture, she ended up staying for four years.

After they married, the couple moved to Dallas. They lived in Lake Highlands, lived on Edgecove Road, and raised their family, but they couldn’t help but feel a 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 Katie.

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

He lacked business experience, so he enrolled in courses.

Piero and Katie Palliardini with family. Photo of a family photo courtesy of Dark Horse Photography LLC

β€œI 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 Katie have expanded their travel service, creating captivating food and wine tours that specialize in bringing the authentic Italian experience to customers right in the place they first encountered, Le Marche.

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

To most the place is unknown, but to Piero it is his home. He describes it as very similar to Tuscany, without the huge number of tourists.

Food is the heart of the tour. All meals begin with appetizers of local cured meats and cheeses, along with salads and pasta. He says the second course in Italy is all about meat, such as slow-cooked veal served with red wine. For the grand finale, customers are served homemade mascarpone or biscotti for dessert along with cherry wine.

“We usually have 11 courses within a week’s 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 lessons with local chefs, wine and olive oil tasting, and in the fall tours, truffle hunting with a local guide and dog.

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

A visit to historic sites such as the Ducal Palace 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 being the truffle festival in October, which is a favorite of Italiana Tours.

Art and writing workshops are also offered to those interested in finding inspiration in Le Marche. These classes are taught by accomplished authors and artists, some local to Italy, and span the entire week, such as author Jen Knox and artist Mary White.

As the business took off, the Palliardini family moved back to Le Marche last year so they could be on site for the tours, but kept their headquarters in Lake Highlands.

When asked why they chose 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 in Lake Highlands,” Piero says.

The Palliardinis expressed their appreciation for Dallas and the opportunities it has given them in growing 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 a tour.

“We’d love to have them join us this October for a creative retreat with writer and Dallas local Suzanne Frank,” Piero says.

β€œIt’s open to a variety of artists (painters, writers, photographers) at all levels, as well as those who aren’t artists who just want to escape and find their inspiration. I hope they can join us this October to reclaim 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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