Rick Steves Europe Awaits Explores Favorite Destinations to Visit Post-COVID

Rick’s new two-hour special premieres June 7, 2021 on public TV stations nationwide

 A new two-hour public television special features travel expert, author, and host Rick Steves as he shares his favorite European destinations to visit as soon as travel is once again possible. From offbeat and romantic to picturesque and restorative, these locations offer inspiration to travel lovers who have spent the past year dreaming of their next vacation when the global pandemic ends. Co-produced and presented by American Public Television (APT), the leading syndicator of content to public television stations nationwide, Rick Steves Europe Awaits premieres June 7, 2021 (check local listings).

Peleș Castle in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. Photo: Rick Steves’ Europe

“When the time is right, Americans will rekindle their travel dreams, and Europe will greet us with a warm and enthusiastic welcome,” says Rick. “Europe Awaits is my dream itinerary: places away from the hubbub, places made for embracing life, and places that are good for the soul. It’s good to dream ̶ and once we emerge from this pandemic, it will be even better to travel.”

Journey (virtually that is) with Rick Steves as he recounts his recommended travel itineraries, a sure delight for both European travel aficionados and novices alike. As usual, Rick’s ability to immerse himself in fascinating destinations pays off for viewers as his presentations create a real understanding of what makes a place so fascinating including its history, culture, food, sights, and people.

In this show, Rick showcases:

– The rich history and cuisine of Sicily;
– Mykonos, the romantic Greek island in the Aegean Sea;
– Rustic and historic Porto, in Portugal’s northern region;

Porto: Portugal’s Salty ‘Second City. Photo by Rick Steves.

– Majestic English country views in the Cotswolds;
– An authentic taste of la dolce vita in Tuscany;
– and Romania, overflowing with vibrant traditional folk life.

“We are proud to be Rick Steves’ public media partner for more than three decades, presenting his insightful and enriching programs as he explores our world,” notes Cynthia Fenneman, President and CEO of APT. “Rick Steves Europe Awaits is a timely and relevant special that sparks our travel imagination from the safety and comfort of home.”

The seaside at Cefalù, on the north coast of Sicily. (Photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

About Rick

A popular public television and radio host, a best-selling guidebook author, and an outspoken activist Rick encourages Americans to broaden their perspectives through travel. He is the founder and owner of Rick Steves’ Europe (RSE), a travel business with a tour program that brings more than 30,000 people to Europe annually.

RSE is designed to inspire, inform, and equip Americans in creating European trips that are

Rick lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington, where his office window overlooks his old junior high school.

About Rick Steves’ Europe, Inc.


Rick Steves’ Europe (RSE) inspires, informs, and equips Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. Guided by Rick’s value-driven vision, his company brings tens of thousands of people to Europe annually on organized tours, producing a wide range of travel content including a best-selling guidebook series, popular public television and radio shows, a syndicated travel column, and a large library of free travel information at ricksteves.com.

RSE’s mission is built around the idea of social responsibility, and it empowers several philanthropic and advocacy groups, including a portfolio of climate-smart nonprofits that it funds through a self-imposed carbon tax.

Rick Steves in his early years of exploration.

Rick Steves Europe Awaits is a production of Rick Steves’ Europe, Inc., American Public Television, and Detroit Public Television. Visit ricksteves.com for additional information.

Select pledge thank-you gifts for Rick Steves Europe Awaits include exclusive access to a live virtual event and Q&A session hosted by Rick from his home in Seattle, WA; DVDs of Rick’s speaking engagements; anthology sets of the Rick Steves’ Europe series; “For the Love of Europe,” a 400-page collection of Rick’s favorite people, places and experiences; and the “Europe’s Top 100 Masterpieces: Art for the Traveler” coffee table book.

Mykonos by Rick Steves.

About American Public Television
American Public Television (APT) is the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations. Founded in 1961, APT distributes 250 new program titles per year and more than one-third of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U.S. APT’s diverse catalog includes prominent documentaries, performance, dramas, how-to programs, classic movies, children’s series and news and current affairs programs. Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s IllustratedAfroPoPRick Steves’ EuropePacific Heartbeat, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Television, Legacy List with Matt PaxtonFront and CenterLidia’s KitchenKevin Belton’s New Orleans KitchenSimply MingThe Best of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, James Patterson’s Kid Stew and NHK Newsline are a sampling of APT’s programs, considered some of the most popular on public television. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service and distributes Create®TV — featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming — and WORLD™, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.

About Detroit Public Television
Serving Southeast Michigan, Detroit Public TV (DPTV) is Michigan’s largest and most watched television station, with the most diverse public television audience in the country. DPTV is the state’s only community-licensed station, meaning it operates independent of any educational, government or other institution. Its funding comes solely from the community. Each week, more than two million people watch DPTV’s four broadcast channels, and nearly 200,000 people listen to its radio station, WRCJ 90.9 FM for classical days and jazzy nights. In addition, DPTV is building the next generation of public media with a rapidly growing digital presence, which now reaches more than half a million unique visitors through its website, YouTube channels and social media platforms each month. Visit DPTV.org.

Where’s Rick?

Join Rick as he travels across the world and web with an exciting itinerary of virtual events.

MAY 24: Iran: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Pacific  |  Register for Free

MAY 26: Bellingham City Club: Rick Steves on the Future of Travel
12:00 p.m. Pacific  |  Register for Free

MAY 31: Monday Night Travel: Europe’s Eccentric Art
5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Pacific  |  Register for Free

JUNE 7: Monday Night Travel: Europe Awaits!
5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Pacific  |  Register for Free

JUNE 15: World Affairs Council of Tennessee: A Conversation with Rick Steves
7:00 p.m. Central  |  Buy Tickets

JUNE 17: WJCT: An Evening with Rick Steves
7:00 p.m. Eastern  |  Register for Free

This is Sunday Dinner: 52 Seasonal Italian Menus

When I first met Lisa  Caponigri, it was at Tosi’s, the 75-year-old restaurant with a fantastic Italian garden in Stevensville, Michigan when our mutual friend Don-Nee German invited us to dinner. Don-Nee knew I wrote about food and  Lisa, who lives in South Bend, Indiana had just written “Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinners,” her fond recollections of when people gathered at the dinner table every Sunday night. It sounded super, filled with recipes created by Lisa or passed down through the generations in her family, it reflected her Italian heritage.

For some reason life was so busy, that neither she nor I connected to talk about her cookbook. Flash forward to now and Lisa has written a second book, “This is Sunday Dinner: 52 Seasonal Italian Menus” published by Sterling Epicure.

“I decided to divide this book into four seasons and four regions,” says Lisa, who spent her childhood in Naples, visiting her grandmother in Sicily during the summers, and also spent two years outside of Milan and ten years in Florence where she worked for Gucci and also traveled to Piedmont in winter. “Italians have had to eat seasonally. You just buy from the farmer’s markets—I had one in my neighborhood–and use the ingredients available there.”

According to Lisa, farmers’ markets abound in almost every neighborhood and each one carried vegetables and other food specific to the area where they’re established.

“We have vegetables in Sicily that they don’t grow in Tuscany,” she says, noting the differences between American supermarkets where so many vegetables and fruits are always available, even if not the same as locally grown and in-season offerings.

The chapters in her book, Winter in Piemonte, Spring in Campania, Summer in Sicily, and Autumn in Tuscany showcase the local foods of those areas during specific seasons through a series of 5-course menus Lisa crafted for each. The recipes are very simple, something that isn’t always typical for Italian cookbooks, and each can be enjoyed by cooking the entire menu or picking dished that most interest you.

For example, in Spring in Campania, Menu 44 includes Torte di Risotto (Risotto Cakes), Zuppa di Spaghetti Spezzati (Broken Spaghetti Soup),  Giambotta con Uove Fritte (Giambotta with Fried Eggs), Insalata del Nonno (Grandfather’s Salad), and Albicocche in Miele or Apricots in Honey. As elaborate as the menu sounds, each individual recipe is easy to make.

“So simple and so many recipes–I’ve never seen a recipe for an orange cake like the one in the book,” she says about Torta Napoletana di Aranci con Glassa di Arance, the Neapolitan Orange Cake with Orange Glace (Spring in Campania: Menu 22) that has more words in the title than it has ingredients or in the instructions.   

To make cooking even easier, she now has four of her sauces available at Whole Foods stores in Indiana. Called Lisa’s Italian Sunday Sauces, she uses all organic ingredients and only San Marzano  tomatoes—what she says are the only tomatoes we use in Italy for sauces. Her Three Meat jarred sauce, based on her Neapolitan grandmother’s recipe, is the only three meat sauce bottled in the United States and is perfect for such dishes as lasagna.

“My Classic Red sauce is my Sicilian grandmothers recipe, my Vegetable Primavera is an invention of mine that I started making when my children were small so they would be eating veggies in their sauce and not know it,” she says. “It contains fresh organic carrots, organic sweet onions, organic celery, fresh herbs and spices. This sauce is wonderful on pasta but also with chicken and fish. My fourth is my Creamy Vodka which I perfected while living in Tuscany. It’s tomato based with cream, vodka and just the right amount of crushed red pepper.” 

       While Lisa knows how to cook the traditional Italian dishes we’re all familiar with—after all she learned from her grandmother—she says there’s so much more to Italian food than we might typically eat in the U.S.

“So many people go to Italy and take cooking classes and I wanted to explore that in the book,” she says, explaining why she included so many unique recipes.

She describes both of her books as being not only about good food but also about lifestyle and tradition.

“It’s about gathering those you love in the kitchen and cooking together, eating together, and building memories together,” she writes. “These are traditions that never grow old, that never go out of tyle. They’re classic, timeless—what memories are made of.”

Lisa has lived in South Bend for the last decade.

“We’re the quintessential Italian family, we never move far from each other,” she says. “All three of my children live nearby and my 97-year-old mother lives next door,” she says.

But she still gets back to Italy, finding that despite all the years she lived or visited there,  each trip teaches her more and more about the country and the food.

The following recipes are from “This is Sunday Dinner.”

Torta di Pomodoro/Tomato Pie

For the Pasta Salat a (Pastry Dough):

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup grated fontina cheese

For the Tomato Filling:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 white onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon Sicilian sea salt, fine

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups Roma tomatoes, chopped

3 tablespoons unbleached flour

1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

To make the dough: Place flour, butter, salt, and garlic into a large bowl, and mix together until it forms a coarse dough. Drizzle in some of the cold water and stir the dough gently with a fork until it comes together. (Add a bit more water, if needed; it’s better to have dough that is slightly wet than too dry.) (The dough may also be made in an electric mixer or a stand mixer.) Separate the dough into 2 balls, one that is approximately 3/4 of the dough and one that is about 1/4 of the dough. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 15–30 minutes at room temperature.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook the onion and garlic until they are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the flour, stirring the mixture to thoroughly incorporate the flour. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

Roll out the larger ball of dough and line a 9–9 1/2-inch pie pan with the dough. Pour the filling into the pan. Roll out the second ball of dough into a rectangle, and then cut it into 1/4-inch strips to form a lattice on top of the tomato filling. Bake the pie in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 minutes.

Broken Spaghetti Soup/Zuppa di Spaghetti Spezzati

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large white onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

8 cups vegetable broth

1 herb bundle (1 bunch flat leaf Italian parsley and 1 bunch fresh thyme, tied together)

1 pound spaghetti

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a 6- to 8-quart pot, melt the butter and heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until translucent. Add the broth and bring it to a medium boil. Add the herb bundle to the mixture and let it cook for 5 minutes. Then, remove the herb bundle.

When the broth comes to a medium boil, break the spaghetti into 1-inch pieces and drop them into the broth. Add the pepper. Cook for 7 minutes. Serve with warm focaccia or Italian bread.

Neapolitan Orange Cake with Orange Glaze/Torta Napoletana di Arance con Glassa di Arance

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the cake pan

2 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Juice of 2 oranges (approximately 1 cup)

Zest of 2 oranges

Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter a 9-inch cake pan.

Melt the butter in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Set the melted butter aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, and 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the melted butter and slowly stir in the flour, baking powder, orange zest, and 1/2 cup of the orange juice. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.

To prepare the glaze: In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of orange juice and the remaining 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar. When cake has cooled, place it on a cake platter and drizzle the orange glaze on top of the cake.

Lisa’s Tip

I like to poke holes in the cake with a toothpick before I glaze it, so that some of the glaze goes into the cake as well.