About Us

Cantina Direct is the new retail arm of CIU Travel, owned and operated by the travel consulting, opera singing, husband and wife team of Maria Gabriella Landers and Brian Dore. For the last 17 years, Maria and Brian have split their time between their home in Umbria and the U.S, with a short time in Germany as well, creating private custom itineraries for travelers in Italy, and recently, Switzerland. Years of lugging suitcases packed with gifts of Italian cheese, oil, wine, pasta, sweets, etc., have eventually culminated in a website where favorite authentic Italian products can be purchased and shipped directly to the U.S. Of course, there are products available in the States that are made in Italy, but living in Italy with immediate access to the best local ingredients can truly spoil the taste buds! Maria and Brian realized that a lot of the so-called “authentic” products being imported are mass produced, low-quality imitations. CIU travelers in Italy often comment on how much better the food is in Italy, and one reason is the quality of basic ingredients - oil, cheese, vinegar, etc. During the 2020 Co-vid pandemic, Maria and Brian spent most of the year in the States, and eventually ran out of their favorite products. CIU travelers were also contacting them to ask about where they could find oil, wine and other products on par with what they had discovered in Italy. Cantina Direct was born!

Maria Gabriella was born in Frankfurt, Germany and grew up in Springfield, Il. She has a background in art history (Barnard College, Columbia University) and studied opera performance at The Juilliard School. With winnings from a vocal competition, she studied the Italian language in Perugia, Umbria and has been in love with Italy ever since. In 2009, Maria Gabriella was named an Ambassador of Italian Culture by Perugia’s Università per Stranieri.

Brian studied American History and Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Music Performance at the Manhattan School of Music, and Italian at the Università per Stranieri in Perugia. He cooked professionally in New York restaurants for several years before embarking upon a career as an operatic baritone. He has sung opera professionally in the United States and Europe. From 2007-2011, he was a principal baritone at Theater Dortmund in Dortmund, Germany, singing 200 performances of 17 roles. With his love of food, wine and music, it was only natural that he became an ardent Italophile.