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N째1/ 2013

TOURISM MADE IN TUSCANY

Free Press

TOURIST POINT NEWS

ART DIRECTOR GIANLUCA DE VIVO EDITOR STILE MANAGER

www.florencetown.com


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Page /Pagina Benvenuti a Firenze Welcome to Florence. City of medieval wonderment and historical roots of the Renaissance period. It began as a Roman city, but after proving itself as one of the most important areas in banking and trade – it was reborn and is now referred to by many as the “Cradle of the Renaissance”. There are plenty of things to digest about the city, such as the history of the noble powerhouse famiglia

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Prendiamo un caffè.

Prediamo un café? Italy seems to have a defined way to go about the day and consume this beverage. It shows based on the many variations this beverage comes in. One would think coffee was invented in this country. Cappuccino, caffe espresso, macchiato, Shakerato, caffe latte, coretto, doppio, in vetro are just the normal requests heard by Italians on a daily basis. There happens also to be an etiquette in going about having coffee throu-

TOURIS NE 05 Page /Pagina Walk & Talk Florence Tour

Today was the perfect day for a walking tour! Since it’s the offseason, I was able to tag along on the Walk & Talk Florence tour this morning. There were only three people on my tour including Mario, our tour guide. I had a great time taking in everything that the city has to offer and the amazing weather

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Piazza della repubblica.

One of the oldest squares in Florence marking the city center, which has certainly seen it’s fair share of activity and excitement over the years. Although this square has undergone some change, one of the great things that both locals and tourists


FREE PRESS/2013

09 Page /Pagina Some pig.

Some Pig! A story which has brought me full circle and back to my adventures in Florence I can say have much to do with the legend of “Il porcellino”. Yes Florence has officially obtained the record longest and most significant relationship of my young life. I love sharing that with anyone who will listen.

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Florencetown favorite: Trattoria borgo Florentines are great at many things, but I’d have to rank their innate ability to network and develop friendships at the top of their “can-do” list. Most often in a small business you rely on not only the quality of your service, but a good word from a fellow business owner and friend in the area. The

T POINT 11 WS Page /Pagina Biking your way to Bliss-A trip to Chianti.

Ahhhh biking in Italy…the national sport, a symbol of hope and pride that dates back to the early days post WWII, and a method of transportation that will forever reign in this great country that boasts so much to see. And what better way to see it all than by feeling the air on your face and the pedals beneath your feet via a bike tour through Tuscany’s wine mecca, Chianti.

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Benvenuti a Firenze. Welcome to Florence. City of medieval wonderment and historical roots of the Renaissance period. It began as a Roman city, but after proving itself as one of the most important areas in banking and trade – it was reborn and is now referred to by many as the “Cradle of the Renaissance”. There are plenty of things to digest about the city, such as the history of the noble powerhouse famiglia Medici, works of artists like Brunelleschi and Michelangelo, as well as the impressive architectural heritage placed throughout the metropolitan area of about 1.5 million inhabitants. However, what you learn may inform you and make want to immerse yourself amongst the charismatic locals, but until you actually experience it for yourself…you can’t truly understand Florence in all its glory.

the wine and food. The authenticity of this city will leave you awe struck and hungry for knowledge and experience, unlike anywhere else in the world.

WELCOME TO FLORENCE. WHERE PEOPLE COME TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUE MEANING OF LA DOLCE VITA. WHERE THE ALLURE OF THE LANGUAGE WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO LEARN IT, ALTROUGHT THE AUTHENTIC FLORENTINE TONGUE IS OF NO USE OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY. THE CULTURAL VACUUM WILL SUCK YOU IN AND STAY WITH YOU ALWAYS. YOU MAY HAVE TO LEAVE IT ONE DAY…BUT TRUST ME WHEN I SAY, IT’LL NEVER LEAVE YOU.

There is a passion that reigns in Firenze. Where the middle of the streets are strolled by all and sidewalks often seem extraneous. With each corner that is turned, there is a new Osteria to discover, a quiet but unmatched bakery to enjoy, and a lifelong friend to be made. The city prides itself on its welcoming arms and boasts one of the top visited locales the world over. Tourism is a leading industry here, and Florentines do an impeccable job of sharing the richness of their culture and educating you on what makes them tick. As the capital of the Italian region of Toscana, much importance is placed not only on the city center and happenings in each piazza, but in it’s surrounding areas too. Smaller towns like Fiesole, houses one of the most amazing views of city and it’s major attraction, the Duomo. It is the perfect place to sit outside and take in the city with fewer tourists around yet still an amazing glass of vino and clean country air. Additionally, the region of Chianti is just a quick ride away but gives you the feeling of total escapism. Their bragging rights include authentic Chianti wines (a true blend of at least 80% Sangiovese grapes and a combination of others) and Extra Virgin Olive Oils that are often imitated, but can never be duplicated. It’s just as easy to hop a train to famed surrounding cities like Rome, Milan, and Venice – making Florence the hub of accessibility in the great country of Italia. Florence is truly the mecca of all things Italian. Fresh food, fine fashion, the best gelato, and guided tours of everything there is to see…it’s the place where people unexpectedly and wholeheartedly fall in love. With the culture, with the people, with the history, and of course with

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Duomo di Firenze

Ponte Vecchio Firenze


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Walk & Talk Florence Tour Today was the perfect day for a walking tour! Since it’s the off-season, I was able to tag along on the Walk & Talk Florence tour this morning. There were only three people on my tour including Mario, our tour guide. I had a great time taking in everything that the city has to offer and the amazing weather made all the sightseeing that much more enjoyable.

I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT I LEARNED MORE ABOUT FLORENCE IN THOSE TWOAND A HALF HOURS THAN I HAVE THE ENTIRE TIME THAT I’VE BEEN HERE! We got to see SO many things on our tour: Piazza della Signoria, the Duomo and the Baptistery, Piazza Santa Croce, the Ponte Veccio and Palazzo Strozzi (just to name a few). Mario was very knowledgeable about each place we visited and he shared numerous fun facts about Florence throughout the tour. I highly recommend this tour to anyone that wants to get to know the Florence better. Not only did I FINALLY get my bearings in the city, I learned so much about Florence’s rich history and architecture. I wish I had done this tour when I first arrived in January!

Availability: EVERY DAY Time: 10.00 am Meeting point: FLORENCETOWN Office - Via de’ Lamberti, 1 - Florence SEE MAP Price: 19 Euros per person STUDENTS: 10% DISC. / CHILDREN 6-12: 50% DISC. / CHILDREN 0-5: FREE

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Prediamo un caffé? Italy seems to have a defined way to go about the day and consume this beverage. It shows based on the many variations this beverage comes in. One would think coffee was invented in this country. Cappuccino, caffe espresso, macchiato, Shakerato, caffe latte, coretto, doppio, in vetro are just the normal requests heard by Italians on a daily basis. There happens also to be an etiquette in going about having coffee throughout the day. Italians hold this little beverage to a much higher standard than the rest of the world. I’ve yet to encounter a single Italian who doesn’t drink coffee.

I MYSELF HAVE BECAME A COFEE AFICIONADO OF SORTS AND ILL SKIP CERTAIN PLACES JUST TO HAVE GOOD QUALYTY ESPRESSO. WORKING AS A BARISTA YEARS AGO HERE IN FLORENCE, TO IMPROVE MY LANGUAGE SKILLS, GAVE ME A KNOWLEDGE AND TAUGHT ME SOME AMAZING TECHNIQUE TO CREATING THESE TASTY BEVERAGES. NOT TO MENTION I l LOVE COFFE.

Caffè Gilli since 1773 The parlor of florence. It ‘a shame to pass from Florence without stopping to taste the specialties of this bar. Some examples of coffee: Cappuccino, Caffe espresso, Macchiato, Shakerato, Caffè Latte, Corretto, Doppio, in vetro.

As a tourist here one should know that there are rules to drink coffee like an Italian. Rule 1: NEVER I mean NEVER drink coffee with a meal. Rule 2: Coffee is drank fairly quickly usually best to order at the bar or ‘al bar’ and sip there. Most sitting will be charged a service fee and you pay double. Rule 3: Do not drink cappuccino after midday. You will get looks lol! NEVER with a meal or after. Acception is made to drink with a pastry at breakfast dunking and spooning the left over schiuma is also allowed. Rule 4: NO asking for non-fat, skim, 2%, or soy milk. If you can’t handle dairy or want to avoid calories just lay off the white stuff. Rule 5: You can ask for decaf These are just some of the basics. Once you have had quality coffee it hard switch back to whatever you had been drinking before. No extras like mint chocolate chip seasonal stuff exists here. Taking coffee or offering one is a very casual thing thing. Italians drink a lot of coffee mainly in small shot like glasses though out the day. I’ve listed all the coffee definitions to guide you as well. See you on my next adventure with Florence town. Cafe- single shot of espresso Doppio-double espresso Macchiato- espresso with a spot of steamed milk Cappuccino- steamed milk with equal part espresso

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Caffe latte- like a cappuccino but with more milk than espresso Coretto- espresso with a shot of grappa or sambuca Al vetro- espresso served in a glass instead of ceramic Ristretto- more concentrated than espresso with less water Shakerato- coffee shaken with ice and sugar served cold

TAKE A TOUR OF FLORENCE AND FIND INTERESTING FACTS AND RULES LIKE MINE AND EXPERIENCES TROUGHT FLORENCETOWN.COM OR SIMPLY LOG ON TO NAVIGATE THE SITE AND ASK QUESTIONS.


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Florencetown Favorite: Trattoria Borgo Antico Florentines are great at many things, but I’d have to rank their innate ability to network and develop friendships at the top of their “can-do” list. Most often in a small business you rely on not only the quality of your service, but a good word from a fellow business owner and friend in the area. The principals at Florencetown, Luca Perfetto and Urbano Brini, have done just that. By frequenting local hot spots and restaurants they love over the years, they have taken Florence by storm -- creating partnerships that are absolutely a vital component in their growth and good name in Florence. So…I decided to sit down and do some digging with one of Florencetown’s dear friends in the hospitality industry, Andrea Melani – owner and restaurant virtuoso at Santo Spirito locale, Trattoria Borgo Antico. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know him as a good friend, but it’s always great to see someone’s love of career shine through when you start to talk shop. He was nice enough to indulge some of my questions in an interview we did where all the action takes place {and over a glass of Prosecco of course}… We want to know about you – what are your hobbies and favorite things to do around town? When I’m not working, you can usually find me somewhere near the water. I’m crazy for sailing and other water activities like kite boarding and fishing. Since I’m fully engaged with people at all times in the restaurant, I try and take any opportunity I can get alone to relax and spend time at the seaside throughout the whole year – no matter what season. I also love to ride horses in the Chianti area. My family has two horses, so I try and find time to do that when I can. Anything involving nature makes me very happy. If I stay in Florence I enjoy the nightlife at Colle Bereto, walking around Santa Croce, and Piazzale Michelangelo {I love that it’s the like the countryside but still very close to the city}. What is your position/role at Borgo Antico and how did you get there? I started at Borgo Antico back in 2006. I didn’t start as a waiter because I was a friend of the former owner, so I was lucky enough to begin in management. After working here for a few years and growing into the surroundings, myself and three other partners took over and bought the restaurant in 2010. Since then, we’ve been doing well -- working hard to maintain the business, and doing our best to market what we have. Wow. Sounds like you are pretty busy. You must have had experience in hospitality before this… Yes. I went to ITT, the Tourist Technology School

(Instituto Tecnico per Il Turismo), and I worked in a couple of places before that. I also studied in the United States and worked at a place in Mill Valley, California, called Il Frantoio. After that I spent six months working for a friend in New York at a restaurant called Il Meditteraneo, which was a great experience. Can you describe the menu a little? On our menu we have a base of about seven dishes that never change. They range from fish, to our pride and joy; Florentine meats, and they are the dishes we are most proud of. Having taken lessons and learned what we know from our Grandparents and family traditions, we proudly stand behind the choices we offer. In addition to those menu items, the chef (one of the owners) makes seasonal changes about five times a year. Sounds amazing – I can’t wait to eat after this! With delicious food originating from your Chianti-based familial roots, it must make for a very comfortable dining atmosphere. Can you tell me about the overall feeling people get when they come here? We want people to feel like family when they are here. Everyone is welcome: families, International travelers, and locals. We want our kitchen to feel like home. Any advice to tourists when it comes to dining in the area?

I’m proud of our Tuscan kitchen, so I try to tell people not to look for things like burgers {even though we offer them here} or chicken with curry – things that aren’t Italian. I always recommend Tuscan style food like Bolognese and Florentine steak. An example of a “mistake” some may make is putting Parmesan on linguine with clams. Our chef has worked hard to study and learn traditional recipes that are perfect just as they are. Please don’t ruin that! Additionally, I’m in the first level of schooling to become a Sommelier and it’s not always vino rossi with steak and vino bianco with fish. There are white wines you can pair with meat and red wines that certainly go with fish. We always help our customers choose something that will complement their food, so they have the best experience they can. Speaking of tourists, tell us about your customers. Are they mostly locals? Tourists? Who can we expect to see when we come in? After personally experiencing the New York eating style, where restaurants stay open all day and don’t close midday, I wanted to be open from midday to

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midnight offering that to our range of customers. Our customer base are mainly locals – and tourists want to go where the locals are…So, in the morning, from midday until about six o’clock people come in for lunch – mostly those who work in the neighborhood. From about six to eight we see a lot of tourists, people that don’t know the area as well and have most likely heard about us through advertising or word of mouth. From eight until eleven, we see a lot of Florentine locals, and after that we turn up the music and really have some fun. We like to have a good time and are proud of what we do, so we take all the chances we can to celebrate and enjoy life – with everyone! So meeting new people must be a little easier when you dine at Borgo Antico? Definitely. When the restaurant is really full, people share tables and we put small parties together at one big table. For example, at a table for six, we may put three groups of two together, which always allows people to get to know each other. It’s a great way to meet others and share stories of food and travel during your experience. There’s nothing better than great food and great conversation; leading to great friends. Speaking of which, tell us about your connection with Florencetown. How did it come about and why does it work so well between the two companies?

LUCA AND URBANO STARTED COMING INTO THE RESTAURANT IN 2006 AS CUSTOMERS, AND WE BEGAN TO TALK AND EXCHANGED STORIES ABOUT THE STRAT OF THEIR COMPANY AS WELL AS MY START AS OWNER OF BORGO ANTICO. WE REALIZED WE SHARED THE SAME VISION IN HOSPITALITY SO AFTER THAT WE STARTED REFERRING CUSTOMERS TO ONE ANOTHER–HELPING TO PROMOTE THE BUSINESS. Feeding off each other’s passion, we started traveling together in the off-season to learn how to market our work and find out what tourists are looking for. Since then, we’ve become great frien-

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ds and have continued to send customers to each other, cross-promoting and growing simultaneously. As a team, our dream is to open exclusive “members only” locations, taking our Italian influence all over the world and providing customers with an elite dining experience unlike any other. Think SoHo House in New York and A Casa Tua in Aspen and Miami. Sitting down with Andrea reminded me of what I’ve always loved about hospitality -- how it is truly an industry that brings people together. After the interview a group of us {including Luca} dined in the restaurant and Andrea personally took care of catering to our every need throughout the entire experience. Even though I’ve eaten there more than I have anywhere else in my short time spent here thus far – this time it was different. When I watched Andrea buzz around the restaurant serving food, overseeing la cassa, greeting regulars, and assisting his staff with their duties – I could see the great love he has for his craft. When I asked him if he had any finals words before we wrapped the interview he left me with this heartfelt statement… “I do this for the passion and the love – that’s what is most important. No one is here without reason. When we stop the passion, we need to change our work.” Thank you, Andrea! For more information on Trattoria Borgo Antico, please visit their website at: http://www.borgoanticofirenze.com Any advice to tourists when it comes to dining in the area? I’m proud of our Tuscan kitchen, so I try to tell people not to look for things like burgers {even though we offer them here} or chicken with curry – things that aren’t Italian. I always recommend Tuscan style food like Bolognese and Florentine steak. An example of a “mistake” some may make is putting Parmesan on linguine with clams. Our chef has worked hard to study and learn traditional recipes that are perfect just as they are. Please don’t ruin that! Additionally, I’m in the first level of schooling to become a Sommelier and it’s not always vino rossi with steak and vino bianco with fish. There are white wines you can pair with meat and red wines that certainly go with fish. We always help our customers choose something that will complement their food, so they have the best experience they can.


FREE PRESS/2013

Some Pig! A story which has brought me full circle and back to my adventures in Florence I can say have much to do with the legend of “Il porcellino”. Yes Florence has officially obtained the record longest and most significant relationship of my young life. I love sharing that with anyone who will listen. Nickname little pig is the Florentine name of this bronze boar who's replica lives on the south side of Mercato Nuovo. You can see people during the day and evening taking photos, rubbing his nose, or putting coins in his mouth and making wishes. Each time I stroll past the little guy I have a nice giggle. As I fell in love with the city a walking tour led me past this pig and gave The popular Name of The bronze Statue of The “PIGGY” is a missnomer because it comes from a roman copy of a hellenistic, that Pope Pius IV gave to cosimo I in 1560, during his visit to rome.

Popular traditions has it that touching the nose of the pig brings good luck, that fact shines daily for continous polishing of hundred of hands. The complete procedure for obtaining a good omen would put a coin in the mouth of the pig after having rubbed his nose: if the coin falls beyonde the grate where the water falls will bring good luck, otherwise not. In act, the inclination is such that only the heavier coins fall into the craks, to the satisfaction of the municipale administration that can collect.

LA FONTANA DEL PORCELLINO IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR MONUMENTS OF FLORENCE, LOCATED AT THE EDGE OF THE LOGGIA DEL MERCATO NUOVO, NEAR THE PONTE VECCHIO. me his story. It is said that if you rub his nose it will bring you the promise of returning to Florence. Clearly his nose and quite shiny (wink!) Me being just as superstitious as my Italian counterparts believes that subconsciously I set myself to a goal in doing this and eventually obtained it. Not once or twice but Im on a third and not last trip to this enchanting place. Did I mention Im now considering myself Italian by default? You can also find a tour of Uffizi gallery with more works of art collected by the Medici or a walking tour of the city to see him yoyself at Florencetown.com. Florence town office is just steps from the famous pig. Be sure to stay tuned in for my next adventure.

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Piazza della Repubblica. One of the oldest squares in Florence marking the city center, which has certainly seen it’s fair share of activity and excitement over the years. Although this square has undergone some change, one of the great things that both locals and tourists have come know and love are joyous events that bring them all together. From young to old, American to Florentine – this is where a lot of the action takes place. Enter one of the most massive and fruitful “farmer’s markets” (that’s what we’d call it in America) I’ve yet to see in my time in Florence. Il Mercato dei Sapori e dei Mestieri – a small slice of heaven that happened on Sunday just a block away from the Florencetown doors and steps from their Tourist Point -- where folks gather to find information and meet before excursions. As if the center isn’t exciting enough, picture the amount of passersby multiplied and the people watching that much more entertaining. Dozens of tented vendors set up amongst the troves of people to tout their treasures of all categories – art, fresh produce, cheese, grappa, vino, pane, cioccolatto, and meats…to name most. Spectators stationed along the streets to enjoy the crowds and snack on samples of fresh parmaggiano and slices of salami. It was a fresh food and beverage haven and I felt overwhelmed with culinary joy. Since I truly believe one of the reasons Italians were placed on this Earth was to feed our bodies and souls with incredible food, you can bet your last euro that I found my way to as many samples as I could get to. After doing a lap and editing down my top picks, I stopped at the Tinti winery tent. I sampled some vino bianco as well as Chianti, and was taken with both the wines as well as the adorable duo that helped me. Patient with my choppy Italian and as sweet as could be…sold! Two bottles of wine were in my grocery bag for just eleven euro. I continued on and everywhere I looked each booth was perfectly representative of the product while vendors greeted folks of all ages with a smile on their face and an inviting gesture to check out the fruits of their labor. Next stops; fresh spices at Azienda Agricola Picchi to peruse rosmarino and timo variegato, Il Lebbio to soak fresh pane with amazing olive oil and sample a few more wines, and then a closer look at il dolci that rounded out the finish line of tents.

A few steps from Republic Square is the har rock cafe in florence

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I couldn’t help but be drawn to fondue fountains with fresh strawberries, sweetly packaged cookies, and let’s not forget the gelato – which of course had the longest line of patient patrons which didn’t surprise me at all. After filling my bag with too many goodies getting my daily arm workout in (thankful I live near the Florencetown office), I planted myself next to a couple of locals and listened as a guitarist serenaded the seemingly never-ending crowd.

WITH THE ARCH OF TRIUMPH AS MY GRAND BACKGRAUND I SAT AND SNACKED ON MY INSITIABLE PURCHASES. THIS WAS BY FAR THE PERFECT WAY TO SPEND A SUNNY SPRING SUNDAY, A TIME FLORENTINES LOOK FORWARD TO ALL YESR.


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Biking your way to Bliss - A trip to chianti. Ahhhh biking in Italy…the national sport, a symbol of hope and pride that dates back to the early days post WWII, and a method of transportation that will forever reign in this great country that boasts so much to see. And what better way to see it all than by feeling the air on your face and the pedals beneath your feet via a bike tour through Tuscany’s wine mecca, Chianti. The day began bright and early as twelve anxious Americans piled into a comfortable van en route to the Florencetown bike storage facility. Once we arrived our guide, Joey, greeted us. He was an enthusiastic Australian turned Florentine resident, and clearly no stranger to cycling. Joey took the time to tell us what to expect from the day, go over some safety measures, teach us about the speeds of the bikes, and answer any questions we might have before getting us fitted and geared up. Helmets were handed out and water bottles (a gift from the crew) were filled, and then it began. Tourist tip: Wear something comfortable – sneakers, workout clothes, and don’t forget your sunblock! Now, I’ll tell you something…riding a basic biccicletta around Florence is one thing, but this was the type of ride where you really work up an appetite and feel a sense of accomplishment while taking in your surroundings. The first leg of the ride was an uphill battle to a picturesque church with a gated entrance. A first stop not only to snap some photos but also to catch your breath! At least when I looked around at the other riders, I realized I wasn’t alone in my

struggle, but Joey assured us that there weren’t any more hills like that. Luckily, he was telling the truth. The ride was absolutely breathtaking. With each corner we turned I saw more rolling hills and plush countryside; I truly felt like I was escaping for the day. We continued to ride on and took multiple stops so Joey could motivate everyone as well as teach us something along the way. I was incredibly impressed with his knowledge of the Florentine vegetation when he taught us about the famous Cypress trees and Stone Pines (that produce pine nuts) as well as vineyard tips and facts. This wasn’t just a guided ride, rather an educational lesson about the Italian countryside in all its wonder. Our first break off our bikes was at the darling, Bar Alimentari. Here, Joey introduced us to Cristina behind the bar and offered his expertise on some of the meat and cheeses we could try. It was a great little pit stop to taste the biscuits and take a coffee before getting back on our bikes until reaching our destination. Amongst our group was a family of three -- Ken, Colleen, and Jackie – taking a family vacation. I deemed Ken the “Tour Dad”, as he went out of his way to meet everyone on the tour and make sure we all had everything we needed. From biscotti for all at Bar Alimentari, to a bottle of wine at our lunch table…he was amazing. In fact, the whole group was wonderful and really seemed genuinely happy to be on this excursion. Not long after that we were at our final destination – the hidden wonder that is Principe Corsini at the famous Villa Le Corti. The story of the Corsini family coming to Florence in the 1100’s was nothing short of fascinating. The family acquired the land in the 1500’s and worked hard to preserve careers in religion and banking, so as to protect their land

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(which originally stretched all the way to Rome) and assets. What exists today is a family run vineyard producing both wine and olive oil, and a long-standing family history that has withstood trials and tribulations of years past. We were taken on a tour of the winery, given detailed information regarding the winemaking process and explanations on the different types of wines produced, and finished the day up with a typical Tuscan three-course lunch. We started with an asparagus flan, moved onto tuna and zucchini fettuccine, followed by the last course –

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beef ragu. Of course lunch wouldn’t have been complete without tastings of two of their most popular wines…Le Corti and

Don Tommaso. Great food, great wine, and wonderful company. Principe Cor-

sini did not disappoint. Tourist Tip: You can buy wine after lunch so either wear a backpack on your journey or send your bottle back in the tuk tuk or chase van – this way your bottle doesn’t break on the ride back! We were taken through the end of the winery tour then sadly had to saddle ourselves back on the bikes to ride back. Fortunately, going home entailed more down than uphill slopes and we felt like pros navigating the roads. However, Joey stayed with us and made sure everyone was safe and accounted for the whole time. ces on all of them. Felici tutti in sella! (Happy riding everyone!)


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