George

When I decided to write full time in 2011, I wanted something I could write with Linda. So I did some research and decided that travel writing would be fun, talked to the Kennebec Journal/ Morning Sentinel editor and the Travelin’ Maine(rs) was launched.

It’s been quite a trip.

And now we’ll be launching our Maine travel book at an event sponsored by these newspapers at 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Maine Lakes Resource Center on Route 27 in Belgrade Lakes. You can reserve a seat at centralmaine.com/authortalks or by calling 621-5606. The book features our favorite inns, restaurants and events from the first three years of writing the Travelin’ Maine(rs) column.

The event will be fun, and not just because we get to talk about food. We’ve gotten gift certificates for meals at some of our favorite places and will give them to folks in the audience. Trust me, you will be blessed to win one of these certificates.

The book, published by Islandport Press in Yarmouth, includes a section on 24-hour (or longer) get-aways, featuring some of our nicest inns and lodges; a section on special places for special celebrations; and a section about favorite restaurants, organized by area. At my insistence, there’s also a section on brew pubs.

We’ve learned quite a lot in the last five-and-a-half years of travel writing and will tell you about some of this at the event.

For example, we have learned that mattresses matter. And so do sheets. In one historic coastal inn, at breakfast many of the guests were raving about the comfortable sheets. They were directed to the Inn’s gift shop, where many purchased, at a very high price, the same sheets to take home.

The best thing about the column has been the response from readers. Yes, you.

Many of the places we’ve written about were originally recommended by readers. We love to hear from the owners of places we write about that many of you followed us to these great places after you read about them in our columns. Not long ago, an innkeeper emailed to say a couple had just arrived at their inn, carrying our column, and asking to stay in the same apartment we stayed in and wrote about. Nice!

We used to get a lot of requests from readers, saying they were going to a specific town, and knew we’d written about restaurants there, but couldn’t remember the restaurants, and asking us to give them the names. That led me to create a Best of Maine section on my website, www.georgesmithmaine.com, where you can select a town and get all the columns we wrote about places in that town.

It’s been especially fun to get to know the owners and workers in the inns and restaurants we’ve written about. As you know, we enjoy writing their stories. These are consuming businesses, and the folks who own and manage them work hard. We have a lot of admiration for them.

We’ve also appreciated the chance to write, occasionally, about our out-of-state trips. Regular readers will know that we especially enjoy Italy and have a favorite place to stay, Il Santo in Greve, about 30 minutes south of Florence, in Tuscany. Il Santo is a small family winery and agricultural tourism venue with one large and one small apartment. We got so many requests for help planning trips to Italy that I did a how-to-do-our-trip briefing paper and shared it with anyone who asked.

So far, thanks to us, more than 40 Mainers have stayed at Il Santo. Allesandro says we are his partners.