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!
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.
In today's world of unique 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.
Parker Villas just added a new property in Tuscany. It's calledCatini Alto. Here's the description from the Parker Villas website:
Strategically situated midway between Florence and Pisa and rising 1000 feet above the famous thermal spa town of Montecatini Terme, Catini Alto offers an unforgettable medieval village experience, unparalleled Tuscan views and a host of luxurious, modern day comforts. Accessing Lucca, the Tuscan coast and the Cinque Terre is a breeze from this stylish townhouse.
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.
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.
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!
We have done several interviews here on the Total Tuscany Podcast. This being the 58th episode we have introduced you to fascinating people who make Tuscany so unique. With no disrespect to our previous guests, our discussion with Andrew Cotto just might be our favorite.
Why do you ask? Well, there are a number of reasons, but the number one reason is we just connected with him. We are similar in age, love food, wine, people, and most of all Tuscany.
Andrew lives in New York City. He is an author, academic, and if you can’t tell by his last name, comes from Italian descent. When he was in this 30’s Andrew was looking for a life change (don’t we all go through this?) Unlike so many of us he actually acted on his impulse, quit his job, sold some property, and moved to Italy for a year this wife and young daughter.
What came out of that one year? Memories to last a lifetime for sure and the inspiration to write! Andrew has penned three novels; his latest, Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure. We dive deep into the book throughout the interview but here’s a taste of what the book is about... food!
Andrew has a dynamic personality. He’s and award winning author and has written travel articles for the biggest newspapers and magazines in the world and today we are fortunate enough to have him be our guest and share his amazing story with you.
"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
It's human nature to ask ourselves questions like; what am I doing with my life? Am I where I need to be? Is there something I should be doing differently for me that in return will serve others? The introspective thought is healthy and in many cases, people find the answers they are looking for, all it takes is a leap of faith and taking action that sets change in motion.
Rewind to 2012 and picture a 56-year old woman standing outside coffee shop in Rome. She is on the last day of her vacation and realizes that she doesn't want to go home. Sure, all of us have had that feeling at one time or another, but we pass the emotion off as a pipe dream and return to our daily grind of what we call "normal" life. Lisa Condie was fed up with "normal" and after taking a deep breath, she decided that Italy was going to be her new "norm" and start a life many of us dream about, but we rarely try and make it come true.
Lisa has helped hundreds of women find themselves. She also shares her stories on the Huffington Post and Tut, and she's even been featured on the Today Show. Her change has happened so fast she is chronicling her story in a book titled "I Found Myself In Tuscany." How fitting, right?
Be inspired, listen to the podcast and discover the power of making a decision and following through with the action.
We would like to hear your thoughts on this podcast; please leave your comments, thoughts, or questions in the box below. If the moment moves you, please share this link with others you know will be inspired by the story. Go find yourself! If it's in Tuscany, even better!
Find yourself tour photos
Bucket list. We all have one; things we want, adventures we want to try, people we ant to meet. Back in the late-1990's Bill and Patty Sutherland sold ninety percent of their possessions and moved to Tuscany. (Raise your hand if you have thought about doing that once or twice.) Now, the Sutherland's were lucky enough to own a second home in the region, but moving there was bucket list item Bill had been dreaming since he first went backpacking across Europe in 1967.
While enjoying a bottle of Brunello and enjoying the Tuscan landscape at their home, Podere Poggio Castagi, a 300-year-old stone farmhouse that sits atop a hill and surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, the Sutherland's ask themselves a very simple question. Now that we are here, what are we going to do to make a living? As you will find out in this podcast, Bill admits he makes his best decisions when drinking a couple of bottles of wine. (Who doesn't?)
Bill had always had a passion for cooking, taking lessons from Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, and other celebrity chefs. The thought came to him why not create a cooking school in Tuscany?
The setting for Sutherland's cooking school was perfect! They are situated in the heart of Brunello de Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano country, and border on the Chianti win region. This is an ideal spot for wine lovers and presents spectacular views of the Tuscan landscape.
Bill and Patty are extraordinary people and they wanted to make sure they were offering an extraordinary service, something different, something unique, something memorable.
Just like that,Tuscan Women Cook was born. A week long cooking school that emphasizes the quality of a home cooked meal. How do you do that? Well, Bill recruited the women who live in the tiny village of Montefollonico.
So every day you get to wake up and create magic that tastes delicious and will give you memories that last a lifetime. The great thing about Tuscan Women Cook is, you have a different instructor everyday. This means you will get different family recipes and different cooking styles to take home and impress your friends.
Don't worry, it's not all cooking all the time. As Bill tells us in this podcast, the cooking class is an important part of your experience but not the only part. Day trips to Siena, Florence, and other popular destinations in Tuscany.
Your experience with Tuscan Women Cook includes lodging. Here is the description of La Chiusa from the Tuscan Women Cook website.
La Chiusa, an elegantly restored farmhouse, and olive oil mill. La Chiusa’s luxurious accommodations and award-winning restaurant have been critically acclaimed for decades, and travelers from all over the world come to Montefollonico to stay in this enchanting place.
La Chiusa is ideally situated for glorious views of the Chiana Valley—rolling hills covered with olive trees and vineyards, and the ivory-colored hilltop town of Montepulciano in the distance. You can have breakfast on the terrace, enjoying bread that’s been freshly baked in La Chiusa’s wood-burning oven, slathered with jam made from the property’s fig trees. A breeze may blow through, carrying with it the scent of lavender from the herb garden. In the evenings, the sunsets over La Chiusa’s panorama will dazzle you. Here is a country retreat that calms, inspires, and lifts your spirits.
In the podcast you will notice Bill has a Texas accent. Well, when he's not living in Tuscany he's in Texas. The cultures are an ideal mix; it's all about hospitality!
We would love to hear what you think of this podcast, feel free to leave your comments below. Also, take time to follow us on Twitter, like ourFacebook page, and sign up for our newsletter.
Travis Justice & Pat Campagna have been traveling to Tuscany since 2009. They produce the Total Tuscany Podcast and all the content on this website.