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.
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.
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 what visitors want changes over time.
Take Florencetown, for instance. Many of the company's offerings are group outings. Several people, many who you don't know, take a tour to see David, ride Vespas, or retrace the footsteps of the Medici family. Typical things a lot of us do when vacationing to Tuscany, but leaves us feeling more 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.
More Florencetown Priviate Offerings
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.
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!
"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
Looking back, that quote from Wayne Dyer had significant meaning for Lisa Condie. Lisa has been a guest on this podcast before, talking about her tour company, Find Yourself in Tuscany. She's a model for greatness and inspiration for women everywhere. Successful and living abroad in one of the world's most beautiful cities, Lisa is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TUT, and she's been featured on the Today Show.
Lisa is in control and maybe the happiest she has ever been in her life.
I have some news for you, like almost every real success story, the journey along the way is filled with pain, disappointment, regret, even suffering.
In her book, I Found Myself in Tuscany, Lisa describes in great detail her first three years in Tuscany. She describes her journey of becoming an ex-pat much like a love affair; infatuation, doubt, and finally total acceptance.
But why in the world would a beautiful mother of two, successful business owner from Salt Lake City, Utah end up in Florence, Italy in the first place?
That answer is how Lisa found herself in Tuscany. She is incredibly open and honest in our interview. Her story is one that many women are living today but don't know how to change the narrative.
Lisa is the first person to admit you don't have to move to Florence, Italy to change your life; it's what worked for her. But if you want to change, if you want a fresh start, it's possible, and the story Lisa tells in her book just might be your inspiration to say, now is the time.
After hearing Lisa's story, you may just want to join her in Tuscany! She has a Signature Tour planned for April and October that is eight days and seven nights. Lisa can also help you customize your Tuscan vacation itinerary and plan a retreat.
Lisa Condie found herself in Tuscany, will you?
This is an honest and inspiring memoir written by one of the most honest and inspiring women I know! Far from the "same old story" about an American woman coming to Italy to find love and passion, this is Lisa's real journey to get to know herself as well as her new host country after her life had taken an unforeseen turn. Lisa tells her story in clear and descriptive prose--you truly feel as though you are with her as she navigates her way through the Italian language, makes friends up and down the Tuscan region, discovers new places that become extremely dear to her, and ultimately starts her own business so that she can share her discoveries--and her joy--with others. Read this book if you are looking for inspiration from a strong, smart, determined and loving woman who transformed her life and found happiness, yes, in Italy--but more importantly, inside herself.-Alexandra Lawrence
Travis Justice & Pat Campagna have been traveling to Tuscany since 2009. They produce the Total Tuscany Podcast and all the content on this website.