Friday, December 2, 2011

San Miniato White Truffles Fair, 2011



Located halfway between Pisa and Florence, San Miniato is a medieval hilltop town with a beautiful historic centre, dominated by the cathedral, the Episcopal palace, the municipal palace and the tower fortress. It overlooks the Arno, Era and Egola valleys.


White truffles from the area

The beautiful area around San Miniato produces around a quarter of Italy's white truffles, a fact celebrated by this quaint medieval town in its annual fair on the second, third and fourth weekends of November.
As well as stalls and tastings with fresh truffles, there are open-air plays, marching bands, special menus in restaurants, and a local market.





Pecorino cheese (sheep's milk) with white truffles
Here are some more pictures from the fair....



Local olives

The San Miniato National White Truffle Market transforms the city into a huge open-air tasting workshop for the entire month of November. Here the truffle is king, displayed in all its glory in the historical Piazza del Duomo. Other squares around the town also have their own markets, which are a tribute to the typical flavours of the hill country around San Miniato. 

View from the tower fortess
Ready to get to know Tuscany?..... Ciao, a presto!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pasta Burro e Basilico




I would not call this dish a typical Tuscan one, but it has been one of my favorite and my mom specialty since I was a little kid. 
It is a very simple and quick dish to make, and it does not require any cooking. It is just perfect for those summer days when you do not want to turn on your stove. 
Since we started our tours in 2007, pasta burro e basilico has been one of  our guests favorite dishes, so I decided to make it and post my mom's recipe. I truly hope that you and your family, will enjoy it as much as we always do. 


Pasta with butter and fresh basil.


Ingredients (4 people)
- 400 gr Spaghetti
- 2 garlic cloves 
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
-`Plenty of fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup of Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil


Method
- Crush 2 garlic cloves and add those with all of the above ingredients in a large bowl.
-In the mean time cook pasta in salt water until cooked "al dente". Drain and immediately put pasta in the large bowl. Mix well and add some extra grated parmesan cheese and olive oil. 
- Serve with few basil leaves on top and enjoy.


Seriously, you could make this dish in less than 15 minutes. Let me know how it will turn out. 


Buon appetito e a presto!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Panzano in Chianti, one of the most beautiful place on earth.


The giant bronze statue of Saint Francis of Assisi looking over the vineyards of Il Molino di Grace.


Il Molino di Grace is a beautiful winery located in Panzano in Chianti, between Greve and Castellina, in the heart of the conca d'oro (Golden shell: name for its amphitheater shape) area of Chianti Classico.
The Conca d'Oro is blessed with a perfect micro-climate, with a high altitude, and majority of south facing vineyards.  
In 1995, Frank Grace and his son Tim Grace fell in love with this place and decided to purchase these vines and start a winery. Today Il Molino di Grace (windmill of Grace), is one of the best winery in the area, producing wines of exceptional quality under the consulting of Franco Bernabei, using only Sangiovese grapes.


The winery is also sustainable, using 100% organic fertilizer. Their top wine is called Gratius, a single vineyard Sangiovese, but my favorite is always been their Chianti Classico Riserva... absolutely gorgeous!
I just want to thank the Grace family for making such amazing wines, where only the local grape Sangiovese shines through.
Visit Il Molino di Grace with us, and have a private tour with Tim Grace, one of the most passionate and nicest person that I've ever met.


Cheers!



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Varramista... a Very Special Place





Villa Varramista estate are located just outside the small village of Capanne, my family's hometown. 
Varramista has a long history that dates back to 1300. The Republic of Florence donated the Varramista estate to Gino di Neri Capponi who led the Florentine army to victory against the city of Pisa in 1406. Gino di Neri Capponi is said to have built the Villa as a solid outpost against the Pisans.

The villa, as it stands today, was completed between 1580 and 1589.
It's fame as the Piaggio's (designers and manufacturers of the legendary Vespa scooter) country residence has grown in recent decades.
Varramista belonged to the Capponi counts from 1406 until 1953, when Dr. Enrico Piaggio, purchased it. 
This spectacular estate welcomes you with a striking driveway of oak trees. The current entrance to the Villa whichi dates to 1600; brings you to an Italian style gardens and fountains. The estate produce olive oil and one of the greatest Italian wines I have ever taste  made entirely from Syrah grapes.
Inside the Villa's main room, the first exemplar of the 1946 legendary Vespa scooter takes its place.



Just outside the property, my father's uncle was executed by the German Nazis at the end of WWII.
Vanni Leopoldo Salardo was only thirty five years old (about my age today), when he died. He was the one "guilty" of helping the US army, that was coming from the south.
The picture posted, show the commemorative plaque that was given to our family by the mayor in the 56 anniversary of his death. 
















  

Monday, December 27, 2010

Antica Macelleria Norcineria Marianelli


The small medieval village of Montopoli in Val d'Arno, is home of one of the oldest and most traditional butchery in Tuscany. 
Antica Macelleria Norcineria Marianelli celebrated this year one hundred years in business. It was founded in 1910 by the Marianelli family, today Luca Marianelli and his sons still running this Tuscan jewel.
This butcher shop is a Norcineria, which specialize in pork meat. It is also one of the numerous "food heaven" that Italy has to offer. 
Three of their products have won a Slow Food special award in the category food biodiversity.
My favorite is the ancient Nodino of Montopoli, the other two are the Stradivario ham, aged in ashes and the Costolaccio pancetta, aged in local wine.
The ancient Nodino is a traditional salumi from the village of Montopoli, recipe dates back to the middle age. Today the Marianelli family carries on the tradition using only local spices, exposing it to tramontana wind and then, slow aging it in tufa cellars.
The village of Montopoli Val d'Arno is located in the province of Pisa, halfway between Pisa and Florence. 
Get to know Luca and his family; masters Norcini for five generations. For any questions please write me an e-mail; tours@utuscany.com

Ciao, 
Gianni.











Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanks everyone for a great 2010 season!


I just want to thank all of our guests that join us on our 2010 tours and all of our fans. Without all of you I could not realize my dream of doing what I love.

This past September has been a great in Tuscany, very few rainy days, and temperatures were comfortable throughout the whole month.
This year we have had three groups for a total of twenty wonderful guests. The photo was shot at Capanne, my hometown's Gelateria, owned by Giovanni Zappolini also simply known as "Corbellini".

Giovanni used owned a stationery shop for years in the small village of Capanne but he always had a deep passion for food and hospitality. Couple of years ago, he decided to turn his store in a gelateria, investing large amount of money and lots of sacrifices. Today is still running it by himself, making traditional Tuscan gelato from scratch.

We will be soon releasing dates for our 2011 tours. We are going to have new activities, brand new upgraded locations and new towns to explore. 

Send us an e-mail at tours@utuscany.com if you want to subscribe to our newsletter, to receive news, info, recipes and more on our tours and Tuscany. You can "like" us on Facebook simply searching Undiscovered Tuscany,LLC.
We are also on twitter at http://twitter.com/utuscany

Join us, the trip of a lifetime awaits you!

Gianni

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Un Negroni



Negroni is the only Tuscan cocktail recognized by the IBA (International Bartender Association).
It is made of one part of gin, one part of sweet vermouth, and one part of Campari
( a traditional Italian bitter), served in an old fashioned glass, on the rocks, and garnished with a slice of orange.
It is today, the most popular aperitif cocktail in Italy.
It was invented in 1919 at Caffe' Casoni, today called Caffe' Giacosa, a beautiful and historic bar in downtown Florence.
Count Camillo Negroni invented it by asking his bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to strengthen his favorite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than the normal soda water. 
The bartender also added an orange garnish rather than the typical lemon garnish of the Americano to signify that it was a different drink.
The legendary drink was born and everyone started ordering it "Americano alla Negroni". The name was soon changed to Negroni.
Negroni is considered an aperitif, a pre-dinner cocktail intended to stimulate the appetite. Negroni, gained popularity very quickly, becoming one of the most famous
cocktail world-wide. 
It is now, one of the twenty three official pre-dinner IBA cocktails.
Next time you are in Florence, make sure to stop at Caffe' Giacosa in Via della Spada and order a Tuscan classic: " Un Negroni"....

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lunch in Montaione


Montaione is a lovely medieval village, located between Pisa and Florence.
We visit Montaione in our way to San Gimignano, a very popular tourist destination, just to show our guests a typical Tuscan village where traffic, buses and souvenir shops are truly unknown. 

Here, we always have a picnic lunch, enjoying it on a bench under trees with a mind boggling view of the Tuscan countryside. 

Early in the morning, I make sure to get sandwiches, beers and soft drinks at an amazing bakery called "Il Gastronomo", located in the small village of Capanne, near Pisa (where my mom and dad live).

Sandwiches are simply fresh oven baked Schiacciata bread and Mortadella. This is for me one of the best sandwich I have ever had in my entire life, and the funny thing is, that it is just bread and deli meat. 

No cheese, no condiments, no produce...schiacciata e mortadella with one the most spectacular view is something that can not be describe by words or pictures, but you have to live it and experience it with all of us!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

La Spuma



Spuma is a traditional Tuscan nonalcoholic beverage. It is a soft drink, very similar to a soda. There are two kind you can choose from, one is called spuma bionda, which is blond in color and it tastes like a ginger ale, the other is called spuma al cedro which is green in color and it tastes like a citrus soda.


It used to be the favorite soft drink choice, inexpensive and locally made, nowadays unfortunately replaced by the globalization of Coca Cola brands.
However, you can still order spuma in every coffer bar in Tuscany. It is a drink that everyone enjoy, from kids to adults. Old men playing cards at the bar usually top off a glass of wine or beer with some spuma, calling it miscela.


It is a great alternative of water and it is a very popular drink during hot summer days.
Spuma is one of the greatest and most traditional soft drinks deeply rooted in our culture. It is highly addicted (I remember as a kid, drinking it by the liters and not even realized that) and probably not the healthiest beverage on earth but I strongly suggest to order, one or two glasses when you are in a coffee bar (simply called bar) in Tuscany.


Salute!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Testaroli con Pesto




Testaroli  is propably the oldest type of Italian Pasta. Testaroli were know since the Roman Empire and Testaroli with Pesto sauce are a traditional dish of Lunigiana, a beautiful area in the North-West part of Tuscany, bordering Liguria, where pesto was invented. 
The name Testaroli comes from "testo" which was a domed griddle (made with cast iron or stone) on which the pasta dough was cooked.


The dough is just flour and water, in the past only water and Farro from Lunigiana were used (a typical grain  of the area) . 
The procedure is interesting because the dough is first cooked into a crepe and then cut into strips then diamonds (or squares) and finally boiled like pasta. They have a unique consistency, almost like gnocchi and soak up the Pesto sauce wonderfully.

Testaroli is a dish which belongs to the so called "poor cousine" and is a part of cooking tradition of Lunigiana. Discover this wonderful dish and be part of our culture! 
Viva la Toscana!

BENVENUTI IN TOSCANA!

Hello and welcome to Tuscany.
Join us for the trip of your lifetime. A Presto!