Long-time innkeepers Mary Jo Brink and Michael Salmon of The Hartstone Inn in Camden, Maine began a new venture (and adventure!) in 2010: Hartstone Inn European Culinary Adventures. We’d heard rave reviews from seasoned travelers who had been on the tours, so when Mary Jo and Michael asked us to document the adventure, we were delighted to help. They currently offer trips to the The Loire Valley in France as well as the Tuscany region in Italy; we photographed the Tuscan tour. As part of the adventure, Mary Jo and Michael rent a stunning villa in the Tuscan countryside and provide daily food-themed excursions for the small group, complete with local guides. Everyone returns in the evening for cooking classes with Chef Salmon. Participants actually prepare that evening’s meal. The quality of the the food products that Michael gathered was top-notch every day and the food was “off the charts”. After experiencing Michael’s cooking and Mary Jo’s hospitality while working for them at the Hartstone Inn in Camden, Mark and I had high expectations for the experience….and those expectations were exceeded, in a big way. If you are interested in attending one of these tours, plan ahead–they are often booked the moment they are announced.Visit their website for more info on the tours.

Check out a few images of the excursions, the cooking classes, food and beauty of Tuscany:


  1. Paula Francese says:

    Makes me want to get on the next plane to Italy! Beautiful photos/beautiful memories.

  2. Joan Wells says:

    Oops! gnocchi, of course…

  3. Joan Wells says:

    Beautiful photos, as always! I’m only sorry I look at them before dinner. Now I’m starving, especially for gnicchi!