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.
Tucked away in the hills outside of Castellina in Chianti is one of our favorite places to visit when we are in Tuscany. It's a family run estate called Querceto di Castellina. Our love affair with the estate started when we stayed on the property in 2011, and it is one of the stops on the Total Tuscany Experience.
The buildings on the property date back centuries. The winery has been sustainable since 1998, and it has been certified organic since 2012. In our book, Querceto di Castellina is certified awesome! Not only does it produce amazing, the Matriarch of the family, Laura cooks incredible Tuscan dishes that are simply to die for.
Mary Shea, the Marketing Director at Querceto di Castellina, is always looking for new ways for visitors to enjoy the estate and the Tuscan countryside. A couple of years ago a corporate client asked if they could have a large dinner in the vineyard. It had never been done at the property before, Mary and her team pulled it off without a hitch. That experience got Mary thinking, why not make it a regular affair so more people can enjoy the experience.
If you can't make it to one of the vineyard dinners, there is no need to worry. Querceto di Castellina has so much to offer, there really is a picture to take in every direction you look. There are also plenty of spaces to sit back, relax, and take in the Tuscan countryside.
From wine tastings, lunch, cooking classes, and apartments that sleep anywhere from 1 to 10; Querceto di Castellina really is the epitome of Tuscan authenticity and hospitality.
Are you ready to visit? Your trip is already planned, join us on the Total Tuscany Experience September 29-October 6, 2018.
Planning on going to Tuscany but don't know where to start? We can help! Email us email@example.com and we will work one-on-one with you to help plan and coordinate the perfect trip.
If you are a regular listener to the total Tuscany Podcast, you know that Pat Campagna has a great passion for the region. If you are not a regular listener well, then you will hear Pat's enthusiasm as he details his five favorite things about Tuscany.
Visiting Tuscany, or Italy for that matter is not about travel and tourism, it's about the experience. You can travel anywhere, but it's what you do, what you see, what you taste and smell once you get there that makes the memories last a lifetime. Food, wine, people, landscapes, art, it all comes together to what we think is euphoria.
Sitting around the table with food, wine, and a a full day of experiences make for the best conversations.
Visiting local hilltop towns and watching local artists in action gives you a feeling that everything is genuine and you are taking home something that is unique to you and your experience.
The landscapes at every turn will take your breath away. Sometimes you just have to stop, get out the car and take it all in.
It's the people you meet in the places you visit that make a at trip a a true experience. The more we learn not just about the places we visit but about each other is what makes the world a better place to live in.
"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
In this latest conversation with Mario we discuss the following:
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
When it comes to tourism in Tuscany, Querceto Di Castellina has what I call the holy trinity for visitors.
If you are a regular listener to the Total Tuscany Podcast, you know that we've talked about Querceto before, way back on Episode #3 with Jacopo di Battista. While traveling to the United States to promote the wines of Querceto, Jacopo met the love this life, Mary Shea. Having done consulting work in the food and wine industry, Mary knew a good wine when she tasted it. However, we aren't quite sure if that was prerequisite to getting the first date but I'm sure it didn't hurt.
After a long distance courtship, Mary has moved to Tuscany to be the Marketing Director for Querceto. She manages the brand from a social and visual aspect, but Mary also makes sure the hospitality and service you get when visiting Querceto are second to none. It's no secret that tourism in Tuscany is very competitive and visitors looking for a unique and memorable experience.
Querceto is a family owned Agriturismo and the wines produced on the estate are certified organic. Currently, there are five different vintages produced at the farm that dates back to the 14th century.
The estate also produces olive oil and Grappa di Chianti Classico
affinata in Barriques.
When you think of matchmaker, what comes to mind? An internet dating service? It's fine if you do, a simple Google search of the word yields 11,500,000 results.
The 1997 movie of the same name starring Janeane Garofalo might jar your memory or if you are little older, the 1958 cinema not so classic with Anthony Perkins (before Psycho) and Shirley MacLaine.
Our friend Mario Scalzi is an Italian matchmaker. No, Mario is not a broker of relationships. Instead, he looks to make the perfect pairing between you and the villa you choose to stay in when visiting Italy. Mario started Parker Villas over 20 years ago; full disclosure, we have rented from Parker Villas on three different occasions and give the company our highest recommendation.
This interview marks the 3rd time we have featured Mario and Parker Villas on the Total Tuscany Podcast. Why do we keep having him back? Simple, we think Parker Villas has the best selection of villas in Italy and Tuscany. Besides have the best collection of vacations homes, Parker Villas offers 5-star customer service. This attention to satisfaction so important as you are getting ready to make an investment in what might be the trip of a lifetime.
Why are we having a conversation with Mario again? First, the Parker Villas Spring Sale is going on right now, and you can get great deals on vacation homes all over Italy including a large selection in Tuscany.
Also, with the 2016 booking season about to hit a fever pitch, we thought it would be a good idea for you to hear about some of the new properties Parker Villas is offering and what are the major differences that set it apart from its competitors.
Make sure to listen all the way to the end, we have a teaser for you on something big we are working on at Total Tuscany. We want to know what you think of the podcast; please leave your comments below. Your feedback and suggestions are very helpful and give us great ideas on how we can tell stories that interest you.
Thanks for listening and tell a friend or two about us. We'll talk to you next week with another Total Tuscany Podcast.
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!
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Travis Justice & Pat Campagna have been traveling to Tuscany since 2009. They produce the Total Tuscany Podcast and all the content on this website.