About this podcast
Travel tips about Tuscany, Italy including food, wine and lifestyle
About this podcast
Travel tips about Tuscany, Italy including food, wine and lifestyle
Episode 77: Too Good To Be True? The 1-Euro Home In Italy!
If you believe all the news stories and headlines, buying a house for as low as 1-euro in Italy is simple. But is it? We have been doing this podcast for several years now. We travel to Italy (when there’s not a pandemic) yearly. I would say it’s our goal to have a home or an apartment in Tuscany someday. But where do you start? Who do you turn to? Well, our guest on this edition of the Total Tuscany Podcast knows a thing or two about purchases homes and real estate in Italy. Chris Sobolev operates the website Super Savvy Travelers with her husband, Chris. They fell in love with Italy a couple of years ago, started buying property, and now it’s their mission to people like you and me do the same. Property in Tuscany is SUPER expensive. That’s not a surprise as Tuscany is the most popular region in Italy. Chris and Pete and settled in by the sea in Calabria. It’s cheap, beautiful, and provides easy access to other parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. You find or interview with Chris both enlightening and educational. After listening to it, you might be ready to start the process of making your dreams of an Italian home come true!
Episode 76: Let Italy Come To You!
The two of the most popular things to do when you go to Tuscany are drink wine and take a cooking class. Well, since we can't travel right now, what if there was a way to put a sommelier and a Tuscan chef right in your kitchen? COVID-19 has reinforced our need for connection to people. Linda Sorgiovanni from Italy Customized wants to come into your home, virtually. Linda collaborates with her friend Claudio Bisanzio on a unique cooking class and wine tasting with you and your family and friends. The 2-hour experience includes wine, a food menu with step by step coaching during the cooking process, a recording of your cooking class, a recipe booklet, and memories that will inspire you to travel to Tuscany to experience the real thing. This virtual experience's price is very reasonable—$ 50 per person up to four people and $40 per person for larger groups. We recommend that groups are not larger than eight people. In this podcast, you will find that Linda and Claudio are the perfect guests to bring virtually into your home. You will laugh, drink great wine, create friendships, and be inspired to travel to Italy when we are again allowed to do so. This unique experience is a fantastic gift for the holidays. Imagine unwrapping a bottle of Chianti Classico Reserva or a Brunello with a card detailing a night of great Italian food that you will make right along with your new friend in Florence. Yes, there is a pretty big time difference between Florence and the United States. But don't fret; Linda and Claudio are night owls and will work directly with you to schedule a time that works for you and your guests. You can email Linda directly to set up your class. email@example.com
Epissode 75: buon Natale From KM Zero Tours
If you can’t go to Tuscany for Christmas, why not bring Tuscany to you for the holidays? On this edition of the Total Tuscany Podcast, Arriana Cini from KM Zero Tours has the perfect gift to put under your tree. A Tuscan gift box with 100% locally sourced goods from Tuscany. The idea for the gift box is not a new one, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for her business to survive until tourists return the plan and production were expedited. Order your KM Zero Christmas box today and give a gift that is truly unique for the Tuscan lover in your family.
Episode 74: The Giant With Laura Morelli
In our current “new normal” of COVID-19 and physical distancing, sitting on the back porch with a good book sounds pretty relaxing. It won’t take you long to realize your reading a masterpiece by Author Laura Morelli. A historical fiction account of Michelangelo’s The David. Florence, 1500. Fresco painter Jacopo Torni longs to make his mark in the world. But while his peers enjoy prestigious commissions, his meager painting jobs are all earmarked to pay down gambling debts. When Jacopo hears of a competition to create Florence’s greatest sculpture, he pins all his hopes on a collaboration with his boyhood companion, Michelangelo Buonarroti. But will the frustrated artist ever emerge from the shadow of his singularly gifted friend? Our interview dives into the labor of love writing this book was for Laura; it was 20-years in the making! Lots of research trips to Florence and a real understanding of Renaissance Art History. Enjoy, and please give us your feedback in the comments section.
Episode 73: Your Place In Florence
The streets of Florence are quiet right now. Italians are looking forward to the day when their surroundings take on a new life, and crowds can gather and feel safe as they look in awe at the architecture. Sit in an osteria and drink wine and eat excellent local cuisine. Or visit the cafe for an afternoon espresso. When the heavy burden of COVID-19 goes away, our friend Federico Bonechi wants you do know that you have a place in Florence that feels like home. When we first visited Federico back in December of 2014, there was only one property, Palazzo Belfiore. We have visited Federico several times on our return trips, and we have watched his buisness grow over the last five-plus years. The addition of Palazzo San Niccolo, and Palazzo Del Moro. Each property is unique, located in a different part of the city, each with the capability of providing you with a short or longer-term stay. If it's a Tuscany countryside experience you are dreaming about, Federico also offers VILLA PIETROSA. You can find all four locations at one website address, www.yourplaceinflorence.com. Like every good business person, Federico is using the lockdown of COVID-19 to reflect and improve when the rooms start filling up again. When the government gives the word go, Federico and his team will be the first out of the starting blocks because of the preparations they have taken during the downtime. Federico is our featured guest in this edition of the Total Tuscany Podcast. In our time together, we discuss what is going on in Italy, how he's doing both personally and professionally, and what the future holds for his business.
Episode 72: Patiently They Sit and Wait
Italy is under lockdown. Many friends and the people you've heard on this podcast are directly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy. When we visited Florence just five months ago, we spent time with Anthony Frevelleti and his wife, Becca. We ate a fantastic meal together at Ristorante Accademia. Drank several bottles of amazing wine, and then walked the streets, enjoying all the Christmas lights and decorations. Good times! Today the Freveletti's are confined to their home outside of Florence. They are homeschooling their daughter, having their groceries delivered, with little to no contact with the outside world and adding to their stress, worrying about their son, who is in Florida. The good news is Anthony can still ship wine all over the world. So he LOVES it when the delivery driver shows up to pick up a shipment for one of his clients. You can support Anthony and Becca by visiting their website and order some of the most fantastic juice Tuscany as to offer. In the first half of this edition of the Total Tuscany Podcast, we talk to Anthony and Becca about what they are going through. The second half is a conversation with Anna Madaffari, who owns and operates Cool Tours. We also spent a day with her in the Tuscan countryside when we visited last December. A day to remember that ended with a conversation we featured in episode 67. Anna is a private driver and relies 100% on tourism. She hasn't worked or had a source of income for over a month. Anna is someone who during the busy time of the year and works 45 to 50 days in-a-row. Even during the slow months, she has three to four hours a week. Today the cancellations far outnumber the bookings. Anna is worried and for a good reason. Anthony, Becca, and Anna are open and honest about what they are experiencing right now. Their vulnerability tears at the heartstrings and is a reminder that COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on lives, whether you have the virus or not.
Episode 71: The Impact of the Coronavirus in Tuscany
Coronavirus has a significant impact all over the world. Our friends in Tuscany are not immune to what is going on, and for all practical purposes, tourism has come to a complete halt throughout the country. Many of our friends who you have heard on this podcast are directly affected both professionally and personally. Now is the time to listen to them and learn how you can help right now and in the future. Jacopo Di Battista and Mary Shea help run their family estate Querceto Di Castellina. The agriturismo is supposed to be getting ready for the busy season, but the pandemic has forced cancelations for March, April, and even into May. They are worried, but optimistic at the same time.
Episode 70: The Personal Touch of Florencetown
Esperienza personale. Translated to English, personal experience. Urbano Brini is on a mission. He wants everyone who visits Florence and Tuscany to have a once in a lifetime adventure. Several years ago, he started Florencetown Tours. What began as a simple self-guided bike ride around the city has grown into something much bigger. Something more unique. Something more personal. Last December, I visited Urbano in his office, located a stone's throw from the Arno River. The view alone must provide Urbano with some of his most creative ideas. He is laser-focused on customer service and has a keen understanding of what savvy tourists desire. Urbano will be the first to tell you that what visitors want changes over time. Take Florencetown, for instance. Many of the companies offerings are group outings. Several people, many who you don't know, take a tour to see David, ride Vespa's, or retrace the footsteps of the Medici family. Typical things a lot of us do but leaves us feeling like a tourist rather than having the authentic experience we yearn for when visiting Italy. Urbano and his team noticed this and wanted to offer their clients something more. They didn't need to reinvent the wheel; they just needed to look at the way people want to experience Florence and Tuscany differently. By differently, we mean privately, uniquely, and off the beaten path. Something that when you tell your friends what you did on your trip, they say, wow! How in the world did you get to do that? Urbano makes dreams come true. It shouldn't be that much as a surprise, as you will find out by listening to this podcast, Urbano is one of the biggest dreamers of them all. We are lucky that he wants to share them with the world.
Episode 69: Mario Scalzi Discusses The Gems of Tuscany
When you sit and talk to Mario Scalzi about Itlay, it's like a living version of Google. Ask Mario a question, and he doesn't even need time to think, he answers instantaneously. Maybe Amazon can rename its Alexa to Mario. "Hey Mario, what about the Marche region of Italy can you tell us?" If you want the answer, you will have to listen to this edition of the Total Tuscany Podcast. Mario is one of our regular guests on the podcast because he brings so much value to you when we talk with him. Of course, we always find time to talk about his company, Parker Villas, but the stories he shares about going off the beaten path are what inspire to plan our next trip! When planning a trip, you are going to need a place to call home. Sure there are several places you can rent from online. But do you really know what you are getting? Take the guesswork and the worry out of your rental property. Parker Villas offers exclusive homes throughout Italy. What does exclusive mean? Well, you can't rent them anywhere else. Every villa has been inspected and meets the five star standards that Mario has demanded since he founded the company in 1993. "So Mario, what about Etruscan history can you tell us?" Again, if you want the answer, listen to the podcast! Not only will you get lots of information in detail, Mario tells us the best places to visit if you want to experience the history of the ancient people had had a significant impact on Roman culture.
Episode 68: Urban Adventures Florence
It was a brisk December afternoon, my wife and I were sitting in the Piazza della Republica in Florence waiting to meet up with our friend Linda Sorgiovanni. You've heard Linda on the podcast before, she owns and operates Italy Customized with her business partner Alberto Bassilichi. However, our afternoon plans were to experience the other business they own and operate, Urban Adventures Florence. We were excited because Linda was going to give us a sample of the Florence Foodies Walk. The walk, a two-and-a-half exploration of the city streets, where we found some hidden gems and experienced the following: Truffles. Gelato. Chianti. Olive Oil. All the essentials of the Italian food pyramid were included on this Florence tour. Leave the diet at home and embrace the feast that is Florence. Gain insight into the best local food stores, restaurants, and wine bars Sample delicious local fare including earthy truffles and artisan chocolate Learn about local extra virgin olive oil (and sample some, too!) Experience a localized food history lesson before sampling the best gelato in town Relax with a glass of chianti at the end of the tour A local, English speaking guide gives the tour, and for about 75-bucks, everything you eat and drink is included. We were fortunate to have Linda give us a private walk, but it would have been amazing to have other people to share the experience with and get different reactions. Our first stop was a new Antinori wine bar/restaurant that included a small museum. Besides giving the history of the Antinori family, the courtyard housed a replica "Crazy Cart," which could haul up to 2000 bottles of chianti. The next stop was a short walk from the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. We went behind the scenes at Top Bakery, where the owners were making their world-famous Panettone. A sweet cake popular around the Christmas holiday. Close your eyes and imagine the most fabulous smell a bakery can produce. That's what we experienced at Top, and everything we tasted was just as delicious! It was time to sit down, Linda had something special planned as we walked into Procacci, a wine bar. We stared with the most refreshing glass of Prosecco and followed it up with not one, but two truffle and butter sandwiches that were simply unforgettable! Our final stop, Forno di Antonio Mattei. A quaint little shop where we sampled biscotti. Not only did we taste several varieties, but the shop documents the history of the family and the business that is still thriving today. We purchased our biscotti in the replica "hatbox" that was traditional before modern packaging. We ended our tour at Linda's office to record this podcast. Enjoy! You will want to experience one of the Urban Adventures Florence tours. We want to save you some money doing so! When you book online, enter the promo code, TOTAL TUSCANY, and you will save 5% off the purchase price. If you love (or like) food, and wine, Urban Adventures Florence will give you the best day ever!
Episode 67: Cool Tours With Anna Madaffari
It was a bright sunny morning mid-December in Florence. My wife and I waited outside our hotel in Florence, about 400 yards from the Dumo. We were meeting our friend Anna Madaffari who operates Cool Tours. Our plan for the morning was simple. We would walk to Caffe Gilli, have a cappuccino and a pastry, catch up with Anna whom we hadn't seen in a year. In the large crowds walking to and from the most famous landmark in Florence, emerged the spunky Italian with a smile a mile wide dressed in her traditional black. She was bundled up more than we were as the temperatures were cooler for her, but mild for us considering we were coming from winter in the Midwest. "Buongiorno!" Anna lets out, followed by a peck on each cheek; she repeated the greeting for my wife. "I am parked around the corner, let's get in the van," Anna said. "But what about our morning plans?" I said. "Oh, we will stop and get a coffee, but it's too nice of a day not to go for a drive and see something new," she said. It seems like Anna is always working. If you follow her on social media, you know she is doing tours almost daily. Her silver Mercedes van that seats eight is perfect for a trip to the Tuscany countryside. After our quick hits of caffeine, we were off on a new adventure. Our first stop, a place we have never visited before, a small hilltop town in Chianti, Barberino Val d'Elsa. For the most part, everything was closed, and the streets empty. I don't want to paint a gloomy picture; it was quite peaceful. We were able to roam at our own pace taking in the historic structures and spectacular views of the countryside from the city wall. After about an hour's stroll, it was time to climb back in the van. It was nearing lunchtime, and we were getting excited about our next stop - even though we didn't know where we were going. Winding through the switchbacks of the Chianti hills, the Cool Tour's van ascended a steep incline. Once at the top, there was a gated villa on our left. A small wooden sign hung on the gate that was hard to read unless you were three feet from it. It read, I Balzini. I can try and describe the estate, but I wouldn't do it justice; their website captures it perfectly. I Balzini is a classic example of a Tuscan working farm that has grown from the former country farmhouse around which vineyards and olive groves were cultivated. The central block of vineyards is located directly in front of the house, which serves as the owners’ residence as well, while a second vineyard parcel is just a short distance away. A wood and a small lake complete the property, giving it a harmonious and cozy air, one gathered in upon itself, and from which one looks out over some of Tuscany’s most celebrated villages. The long sunsets over the vineyards are perhaps some of the loveliest images to be admired at I Balzini and are the result of the extremely felicitous exposure of the property, which enjoys a special luminosity. The name “Balzini” comes from the Tuscan word for small terraces, the exact site on which the vineyards were planted. Anna introduced us to Nicola, who helps manage the estate and the three large but friendly dogs whom Nicola tries desperately to keep from escaping. While Anna made a couple of phone calls, Nicola took the time to give us a tour of the organic farm. The small cellar that houses what we are about to find out are some amazingly great tasting wines. Next, it was off to the tasting room for lunch and food. On the table were red, green, white, and black label wines. Each with its own unique taste that paired perfectly with our appetizers, pasta, and chocolate lava cake for dessert. My wife and I were seduced by the atmosphere, the smells, the tastes and purchased six bottles, two red labels, two white labels, and two black labeled bottles. They arrived at our home in Nebraska about three weeks later. After about two and a half hours at I Balzini we climbed back into the van to head back to Florence. We made one more quick stop at the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial. This is the final resting place for 4,398 Americans who helped liberate Italy in World War 2. It is one of two American cemeteries in Italy and a must-visit for any American. We left the cemetery in the late afternoon as the sun was setting into the horizon. Anna maneuvered the streets of Florence and was able to find a parking spot on in the Oltrarno side of the Arno river. We walked to a tiny but upscale wine bar where we sat next to a large window overlooking the Arno. Anna ordered water, my wife and I ordered wine. It was like a dream, and I didn't want the day to end. So I counted down, 3, 2, 1, and started interviewing Anna with my portable recorder. The result, the 67th episode of the Total Tuscany Podcast which you can listen to by hitting the play button at the top of this page. We talked about our perfect day together, her growing business, and what you can expect when you hire Anna to be your guide a day or even longer. Anna is simply the best! If you are going to Tuscany, do yourself a favor and hire her. Your experience with this sweet, spunky Italian will most likely turn into the most memorable part of your trip. You will see Tuscany through her experienced eye and know the place better.
Episode 66: Holiday Wine Shopping and Harvest 2019 Review
Happy Holidays! Stop looking for the perfect gift, do all your Christmas wins shopping at CSIWines.com! Our good buddy Anthony Frevelletti is back with us, and he tells us you can have some incredible wine from Tuscany under your tree by Christmas day! Also, Anthony is super excited to share his thoughts on what he thinks was an incredible harvest for 2019, and what makes it unique, especially for the smaller producers in the Tuscany. If you have heard Anthony on our podcast before you know that he is uber passionate bout wine and he does not disappoint in this episode.
Episode 65: Naked In Italy
I sat at the kitchen table between my Italian boyfriend, Francesco, and his mom near the sink, trapped in an awkward place where her insults had to pass through me to get to him. All of the blood in her body had rushed into her face as she listed off the many reasons American women make terrible mothers. She lifted a saucepan in the air like she was about to bludgeon me with it, then turned and chucked it into the soapy water, sending a tidal wave of suds crashing onto the counter. When she turned her back to violently scrub the dishes, I snuck out the sliding glass door. That’s a passage from the book “Naked In Italy,” a memoir by M.E. Evans detailing her not-so-fairytale adventure of living in Florence. Sure there were the rolling hills of the Val d'Orcia, cheap wine, and good looking Italian men. But as M.E. explains in the book and this podcast, no matter how hard you try, you can’t escape life. Our conversation with her is candid. She doesn’t hold back, and her humor that is on display in the book comes out as quick wit on this podcast. If you love to laugh, if your cherish honesty, and if you like the roller coaster of life with Tuscany as the backdrop, then you are going want to buy Naked In Italy today! You won’t want to put it down.
Episode 64: Opera In The Kitchen
When we plan a podcast, we are always looking for a new and unique experience to inspire you to travel to Tuscany. We have done just that in this episode. Lucrezia Cammito is and entrepreneur who’s taken her passions, cooking, and opera and brought them together in a quaint setting in the Tuscan countryside. Opera in the Kitchen is specially designed for small groups, 10-12 people, and promises to make memories that will last a lifetime. You get to pick your vegetables and herbs. You learn to prepare and cook pasta from a professional chef. You dine at sunset while drinking some of the most exceptional Italian wine. The Opera In The Kitchen experience has been so popular, Lucrezia is bringing her talents to the United States in November. She will be visiting Atlanta, New York, Miami, and Houston. Additionally, she is working on new experiences she plans to launch for guests in 2020.
Episode 63: The Best Wine Tasting Ever
Without a doubt, the most common question we get asked about from our family, friends, and clients is about wine. Everyone wants to know two things; how good is it, and can you recommend a vineyard tour? The answers we always give are simple; the wine in Tuscany is fantastic! Also, we can recommend hundreds of vineyard tours. However, the best tasting we've ever had was at a small vineyard outside of Florence. Was it because the wine was excellent, maybe but we think it was because of today's guest, Anthony Freveletti.
Episode 62: Renting A Villa With Peace of Mind
In today's world of travel of experiences, people are quick to rent a property on the internet sight unseen where reviews are manipulated, and pretty pictures don't tell the whole story. When it comes to a trip of a lifetime to Tuscany, or even Italy for that matter, why chance it? You shouldn't and why Parker Villas is the best when it comes to first-class rental properties and excellent customer service and satisfaction.
Episode 60: Lost In Florence-The Book!
What started as a simple website and blog telling you about the unique and chic in Florence, Italy, has now turned into a 200+ page book. Nardia Plumridge has published the ultimate guide for the Renaissance City, "Lost In Florence." The travel book is a comprehensive dive to the very best places to eat, drink, shop and explore; so on your visit, you feel more like a local rather than a tourist. Nardia takes you beyond the facade of the palazzi to a magical journey down the cobblestone side streets of Florence to discover vintage stores housing designer names, restaurants offering farm-to-table dishes and boutique hotels in 16th-century buildings. Nardia was a guest on the Total Tuscany Podcast back in 2015. She's a journalist by trade; her passion is telling stories that inspire people to travel and search for the hidden games that are one-of-a-kind. Nadia has contributed to the New York Times and is considered the Tuscan expert for Expedia. The conversation we have with her on this podcast focuses on what went into writing the book, the best times to visit Tuscany and Florence, and where she plans to get "Lost In" next. The book, Lost in Florence features five main sections; Wine, Dine, Fine Sublime and Nine, covering the very best in food and drink, fashion, cultural experiences and Nardia's top nine Florentine markets, Gelatarias, Pizzerias and more. Full day itineraries help you navigate the best of the city, and the day trip section to nearby Siena, Cinque Terre and the Chianti wine region allows you to make the most of your trip. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Nardia as much as you enjoy her book. Lost In Florence website Hardie Grant Publishing
Espisode 59: Italy Customized With Linda Sorgiovanni
Hosting a podcast explicitly dedicated to Tuscany has many advantages. The one we like the most is the network of friends that we have made over these 59-episodes. We hope that when you listen to every episode that you feel you have created a bond of some sorts with our guests as well. Italy, in particular, Tuscany is something we want, and our guests want to share with the world. We do it with our podcasts and our Total Tuscany Experience. Today's guest, Linda Sorgiovanni is a partner in the agency, Italy Customized. Anything you want, Linda and her partner Alberto Bassilichi can make happen. Helicopter tours? It's Done! Private yacht to the Italian Riviera? No problem! Drive around Italy in a Ferrari? Here are the keys! Private villa for a family gathering? The doors are open! We have discovered that not one size fits all when it comes to travel. Some of you like to do your planning. Some of you are not that detailed and want everything mapped out down to the smallest detail. This service is where Italy Customized comes in and is here to help. Linda has lived in Florence for the past 18-years; she has dual citizenship, Australian and Italian. Her credentials described on the Italy Customized website tell you she had cut her teeth in the travel and tourism industry. "Her work in Italian Travel and Tourism began in the UK where she worked as a consultant and travel planner of events to Verona and Milan for opera, ballet, and classical music. After obtaining certifications as a Tour Leader and Chauffeur Driver, she worked as a freelance professional for top travel agencies and direct clients from all over the world as a Be-Spoke / FIT travel planner all over Italy. Her role as a tour leader included Small group and private luxury food, wine, and active vacations — tours to exclusive boutique wineries and famous hill towns." Our interview covers a lot, like the strangest request Linda has gotten when putting a tour together. She also reveals her hidden gems. Those places off the beaten path that tend to go unnoticed by tourists because they are on the road(s) less traveled. Linda is part of our network of friends. We share a common passion, a love for Italy and the desire to tell stories or create an experience that inspires you to travel, experience a different culture, and take in a part of the word that still seems it like it was centuries ago. We would love to hear your stories! Email us your pictures, and where you are at and with your permission, we will share them on our social media channels. The more we share, the more we inspire. The more we inspire, the more we live!