Opera In The Kitchen Reviews
``This was an unforgettable experience - one of the highlights of our trip to Florence! Lucrezia is a lovely hostess and a very engaging cook/teacher. We had a wonderful group, enjoyed one of the best meals in Italy, and experienced unbelievable opera while overlooking the twinkling lights of the Tuscan countryside - complete with snow-capped mountains in the background. Highly recommend this experience and Lucrezia. We will definitely come again!``
Without a doubt, the most common question we get asked about from our family, friends, and clients is about wine. Everyone wants to know two things; how good is it, and can you recommend a vineyard tour?
The answers we always give are simple; the wine in Tuscany is fantastic! Also, we can recommend hundreds of vineyard tours.
You want to know makes the wine taste even better? The presentation and the person who is leading the tasting experience.
We first met Anthony Freveletti in October of 2018 as we were leading one of our Total Tuscany Experiences. Our first stop with our private guide, Anna Madafferi from Cool Tours was at this beautiful vineyard outside of Florence, Podere Dell'Anselmo. We were greeted by this American with an Italian last name and an accent that is a mix between Chicago, New York, and Italian. From the moment we stepped out of our van, Anthony was grinning from ear to ear an had a larger than life personality. What followed was the most passionate description of the soil, the vine, the grape, and the process of producing wine we have ever heard. We remember leaving the estate thinking that was the most exceptional wine we have ever tasted! Was it? Who knows, but Anthony sure made us feel like it was.
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.
Kathy McCabe is turning into the face of Italy in America. Her PBS show, Dream of Italy has skyrocketed in popularity, and her stories are inspiring thousands of people to follow their dreams of traveling to Italy.
On this episode of the Total Tuscany Podcast, Kathy joins us from where else, Tuscany! Cortona to be more specific as she is on a trip with her 81-year old father. However, she is also visiting Under The Tuscan Sun author Frances Mayes. Kathy has a special Tuscan Sun episode of Dream of Italy coming out in August. Kathy and Frances have developed quite a friendship and have done several promotional events together leading up to the release of Mayes' new book; See You The Piazza.
Some of you may know, some of you may not. Dream of Italy is a business Kathy Started back in 2002. She was blogging before it was even a popular thing to do. She started and still publishes a subscription newsletter that was printed and mailed to subscribers. As her influence has grown and so has per business. Visit her website now, and you will find a host of offerings from travel planning, travel guides, and a newly launched podcast.
Kathy has no intention of slowing down, season three of Dream of Italy is right around the corner, and who knows may her dreams take her there to live full time, or part-time. Find out as by listening as Kathy gives an inside look at her dream of Italy!
What started as a simple website and blog telling you about the unique and chic in Florence, Italy, has now turned into a 200+ page book.
Nardia Plumridge has published the ultimate guide for the Renaissance City, "Lost In Florence." The travel book is a comprehensive dive to the very best places to eat, drink, shop and explore; so on your visit, you feel more like a local rather than a tourist. Nardia takes you behind the facade of the palazzi to a magical journey down the cobblestone side streets of Florence to discover vintage stores housing designer names, restaurants offering farm-to-table dishes and boutique hotels in 16th-century buildings.
Nardia was a guest on the Total Tuscany Podcast back in 2015. She's a journalist by trade; her passion is telling stories that inspire people to travel and search for the hidden games that are one-of-a-kind. Nadia has contributed to the New York Times and is considered the Tuscan expert for Expedia. The conversation we have with her on this podcast focuses on what went into writing the book, the best times to visit Tuscany and Florence, and where she plans to get "Lost In" next.
The book, "Lost in Florence" features five main sections; Wine, Dine,Fine Sublime and Nine, covering the very best in food and drink, fashion, cultural experiences and Nardia's top nine Florentine markets, Gelatarias, Pizzerias and more. Full day itineraries help you navigate the best of the city, and the day trip section to nearby Siena, Cinque Terre and the Chianti wine region allows you to make the most of your trip.
We hope you enjoy our conversation with Nardia as much as you enjoy her book.
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.
In the latest edition of the Total Tuscany Podcast, we welcome back one of our most trusted partners who we have been working with for almost ten years now. Mario Scalzi from Parker Villas. Mario has been a guest on the podcast several times before and offers a wealth of knowledge on the latest trends in traveling not just to Tuscany but all of Italy.
You might be thinking is a villa right for me? Mario is open and honest about what makes sense and what doesn't. The sweet spot for Parker Villas is groups of 8 to 12 and even higher. So if you are traveling with just you and a couple of friends, a hotel or hostel might be the road you want to go down. Airbnb and VRBO are also options, but again you have to be careful about what you are paying for and what your expectations are.
What makes Parker Villas unique and a company you can trust is that all their properties are exclusive. This means the property you are paying or is not getting brokered like a commodity all over the internet. Mario or members of his staff personally inspect all the properties throughout the year. Parker Villas also has a team in Italy just in case you run into any problems and need help.
What stands out to us the most is the level of customer service Parker Villas gives. Every time we have rented from them; we felt like they genuinely had a vested interest in our entire trip. For many of you, going to Tuscany and Italy is once in a lifetime, so you want to make sure you have a "friend" by your side while you are there.
All of the properties that Parker Villas rents combines Italian charm and history with American amenities. Such as air conditioning, an equal number of bathrooms to bedrooms, and more little things we have come to expect when traveling.
You will find this podcast informative, entertaining, and enlightening. Are you ready to take that trip to Tuscany? Join this fall on our next Total Tuscany Experience. Or if you already have a trip planned but need help with your itinerary and finding things off the beaten path, we are here to help on a consulting basis. Just email us email@example.com to get started.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Travis Justice & Pat Campagna have been traveling to Tuscany since 2009. They produce the Total Tuscany Podcast and all the content on this website.