Do you have a favourite season?
The beauty of Tuscany is that every season offers something special, unique and incredibly beautiful. These four issues of This Tuscan Life, are a collection of the This Tuscan Life magazine.
A collection of the best of Tuscany – the best things to do, visit, eat, drink and celebrate.
It’s Summer, it’s hot and in Tuscany we are spoilt for choice of places to visit and things to do!
In this issue, we take a tour of some of the most popular coastal towns and beaches, giving you a few options of some the most beautiful public and private beach locations in Tuscany. We explain the Italian beach culture and Ferragosto which is probably one of the most important Italian public holidays of the year! Celebrated on August 15, Ferragosto coincides with the Catholic Feast of the Assumption of Mary, a holiday that goes back to the times of Roman Emperor Augustus who introduced the ‘Feriae Augusti’ to celebrate the harvest. Most Italians are away on this day so if you can’t be on the beach, it’s actually a great day to stay in the city and enjoy the quiet streets and fewer crowds in the museums & art galleries.
Florence celebrates their patron saint, John the Baptist in June with a historical soccer game known as Calcio Storico and July 2 and August 16 are when the historic Palio di Siena horse race takes place. Both events are full of tradition, rituals and emotion that has to be experienced to fully understand the passion that takes over both towns during these historic celebrations.
Our recipes this issue follow our beach theme and we pay tribute to Chef Luciano Zazzeri, Michelin Star owner of La Pineta restaurant in Marina di Bibbona who sadly passed away earlier this year. Two years ago I was honoured to meet him, hear his story and enjoy his famous Cacciucco which I am sharing again in this issue.
Chef Arturo Dori shares his version of Spaghetti alle Vongole and I share our family recipe for Conserva di Pomodoro, our bottled tomato sauce. Also make a refreshing peach tart by Toni Brancatisano and enjoy our favourite Summer cocktails by Thomas Martini.
Whether you are on the coast or in the country, or reading this from your loungeroom i
Spring is such a magic time in Tuscany as there is so much to see, do and of course, eat! The temperatures are warming up and everyone is happy to be out enjoying the sunshine, festivals and great food this season brings.
Spring also means Easter and the Tuscan celebrations feature an incredible tradition with the famous ‘Scoppio del Carro’ explosion in Piazza Duomo in Florence on Easter Sunday morning. In this issue, you will learn about this historical event as well as the other ways Easter is celebrated here.
Discover what goes into creating a Richard Ginori porcelain masterpiece, hand-made by artisans in Florence since 1735!
We visit the towns of Bagno Vignoni, Pienza, Lari, Greve and Panzano in Chianti, each known for its own unique and special characteristics and also travel to Pienza where we meet Ulisse and his family at their stunning organic property, Il Podere Il Casale. Here we learn how to make organic pecorino cheese. You will definitely want to add a visit here the next time you visit Tuscany.
We also meet the Martelli family who have been making pasta in Lari since 1926 and Dario Cecchini, the famous butcher from Panzano whose passion for his craft and the food he prepares will make you want to return time and time again.
As you can imagine our Spring recipes are delicious classics that celebrate the artichoke, baccelli (fava beans) and lamb as well as something sweet with a Torta Mimosa and the Tuscan version of hot-cross buns called Pan di Ramerino.
Come visit Tuscany in Spring and watch this unique region re-awaken in spectacular colour after the long winter months!
Autumn is such a beautiful season in Tuscany for so many reasons. Apart from the refreshing morning temperatures, it’s all about the Autumn harvest and in Tuscany, the bounty is so generous. First, there’s the wine harvest known as the vendemmia. It’s the best time to drive through the countryside to admire the vines drooping with their abundant bunches of grapes. Take part in a grape harvest to really appreciate the work that goes into your glass of wine! Autumn also means porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, truffles and late October brings the first of the new olive oil.
We visit the lovely vineyard, Querceto di Castellina and sample some of their delicious wines. This family-run agriturismo offers every comfort – take part in a cooking class or just relax and admire the stunning views of their vineyard rising up before you.
Castellina is one of my favourite towns and local butcher, Riccardo Stiaccini has shared one of his delicious family harvest recipes featuring the vineyard grapes and his pork sausages. We also make some of Tuscany’s most traditional recipes – chestnut slice, schiacciata con l’uva, Tuscan bread soup known as Ribollita and a simple porcini mushroom salad.
One of the oldest wineries in Italy is that of Mazzei, located in Fonterutoli, a charming hamlet in the Chianti Classico region. We chat to Lorenzo Baldacci, Chef of the Osteria di Fonterutoli and well-known restaurateur, Enrico Verrecchia who in partnership with Mazzei and their Belguardo winery in Maremma have opened the Belguardo Osteria in the heart of Florence. Both men share their favourite Autumn dish on the menu, naturally paired with a wine from the Mazzei estates.
You can’t escape this year without celebrating the centenary celebrations of the famous Negroni cocktail, created in Florence by Count Camillo Negroni in 1919. Four of our favourite barmen make us their modern interpretation of this classic Florentine drink.
I’ll be honest. I don’t love the cold and so Winter is not my favourite season but there are many things that make this season so much more bearable in Tuscany. The festivities don’t end with Christmas and New Year. Come February and it’s time for Carnival which means finding lots of sweet cakes and treats in the bakeries. We share recipes for some of the most traditional and our favourites. If you want to witness Italy’s largest and most famous Carnival parade, then you have to visit Viareggio to witness the incredible creations made from the ancient art of paper-mache. You can read about the history of this festival on page 42 and also learn about the famous artist Uberto Bonetti who created the carnival and city mascot, Burlamacco.
On the subject of art, we also meet the Guarnieri brothers, owners of the Art Gallery Studio Iguarnieri, one of the most well known studios of local artists in Florence who have been creating their original fresco art in Florence for over forty years.
Artisans Stefano Bemer, shoemaker and Sartoria Vestrucci have joined forces in San Niccolò. It’s your one-stop-shop for made-to-measure shirts, suits and shoes – a fashionable, artisanal mecca for every gentleman in the city. Speaking of gentlemen, we meet Luciano Ghinassi, Chef and owner of Buca Lapi, one of Florence’s oldest restaurants famous for its traditional Tuscan menu including the Florentine Steak, known in these parts as La Fiorentina! You can read all about Buca Lapi on page 53 and the Bistecca alla Fiorentina on page 58. Luciano was kind enough to share his recipe for Braised beef with onions which you’ll find on page 79 together with another traditional beef recipe-Peposo, created in the Middle Ages, some say by Brunelleschi.
If you are looking to explore, take a visit to the town famous for its beautifully handcrafted knives, Scarperia. If you love antiques then you must visit the oldest antique fair in Arezzo held for the last forty-five years on the first Sunday of the month. And if you’re looking for something with a bit more action, you can always go skiing in Tuscany at the nearby Apennines.
Stay warm and enjoy your Winter in Tuscany!