One day in Florence

One day in Florence

Florence

Spending one day in Florence may not be enough to discover the city. Florence is a place you have to see once in your lifetime. It is the city of cities for tourists.

Every year millions of people visit Florence.

At the moment, due to the impact of the coronavirus, many visitors stay away… unfortunately.

Fantastic and fun things to do

The city has many great things to offer, such as museums, Renaissance art, churches, wine bars, restaurants and some other well known highlights.

If you only have one day, make sure not to miss the Piazza della Signoria and Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Academia. The greatest masterpiece of the Renaissance.

Visit the Galleria degli Uffizi. Admire the goddess of beauty and love “Venus”. The Birth of Venus is painted by Botticelli.

Definitely a food lover’s paradise in the centre of Florence is The Mercato Centrale. An unmissable destination for fantastic food and a glass of wine.

Ponte Vecchio

Walk over the bridge Ponte Vecchio!

View of Florence and the Arno

Piazzale Michelangelo sits on a hill. Enjoy the panoramic view.

For special exhibitions* go to The Palazzo Strozzi.
*In 2017 I have visited the exhibition dedicated to the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. 

And not to forget The Palazzo Pitti. The Pitti Palace is Medici’s residence and it houses important collections of Renaissance paintings and sculptures.

Just to mention a few things what to do in Florence…

David of Michelangelo

The capital city of Tuscany

Florence or Firenze is the capital city of the region Tuscany. For me it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is the birthplace of the Renaissance.

As I am interested in Renaissance art, Florence is a city where I could return to again and again without ever getting bored.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

Piazza del Duomo

Florence has incredible restaurants, gelaterias, cafes and osteria’s. Caffè Gilli is the oldest café in Florence. It is a cocktail bar with sofas and chairs in a nice chill-out “space”.

From here you have a beautiful view on the square Piazza della Republica, the largest piazza in Florence.

Caffè Gilli

Visiting Florence during Covid-19

This February I have visited Florence. Tuscany was low risk “zona gialla”.

The Italian Dpcm rules related to the yellow zones: all shops and museums are open. Bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open from 5 AM until 6 PM.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Italy is still increasing. Tuscany has been classified as a red, orange and yellow zone.

The anti-Covid regulations are stricter for the red and orange zones. Museums are closed. Hairdressers are closed. Horeca can offer food delivery and takeaway. Traveling is prohibited unless absolutely necessary.

At present Tuscany is a orange zone.

On my way to Piazzale Michelangelo

Museum Le Gallerie degli Uffizi

In 2008 I have visited the Galleria degli Uffizi when I backpacked through Italy. I stayed at Camping Michelangelo for a few nights. I remember waiting there outside for hours to get in the museum.

The Uffizi Gallery is the most important and popular museum in Italy, together with the Vatican Museums in Rome. Two top destinations not to be missed.

Despite having few tourists at the moment, there was a queue to enter the Uffizi. These people were mostly Italian and school children.

Book your ticket online

Through the website of the Galleria degli Uffizi you can book your visit on a date and time of your choice. The price for the online entrance ticket is Euro 16,00 per person. With this ticket you avoid long lines.

Upon booking you will receive a confirmation email. You show your e-ticket to the ticket office where it will be exchanged for an entrance ticket.

Galleria degli Uffizi

Audio guide

To learn more about the museum’s most popular objects an audio guide provides interesting information on the things you see.

The audio guide is available in 4 languages (Italian, English, Spanish and German) and can be rented at the service desk, but only with your own valid ID card.

“La primavera” Sandro Botticelli

Important art works at the Uffizi Galleries

The works in the gallery are shown in the chronological order in which they were painted.

Many art collections belonged to the Medici family. The Gallery’s collection includes masterpieces of Filippo Lippi (Madonna col Bambino e due Angeli), Botticelli (Spring and The Birth of Venus), Michelangelo, Raffaelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Filippo Lippi “Madonna col Bambino e due angeli”

“Nascita di Vendere” Sandro Botticelli

The Galleria degli Uffizi houses art works from Dutch, German and Flemish painters as well.

My favourite restaurant in Florence

Trattoria la Casalinga is situated only a stone’s throw away from the Palazzo Pitti. The location is a bit off the tourist path. This trattoria offers the best Tuscan meals!

Trattoria la Casalinga

I had lunch with Thomas, a friend of mine who works in the same businesses. He organizes wine tours and tastings in Tuscany.

We discussed various topics. Hopefully we can start a wine project together in the nearby future. Who knows! We feel the absence of (American) tourists. Wine tours and tastings are completely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thomas enjoys wine and he knows a lot about it. He’s an expert. For our lunch he choose the wine Carmignano DOCG from the winery il Sassolo. This wine is made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a full bodied red wine, good pairing with local Tuscan food.

Our lunch menu

We started with chicken liver paté served on crostini and Lardo di Colonnato. As a main course we ordered the Fegato alla Toscana (pork liver). A deeply flavored piece of meat. Liver tastes really good. I like it.

Many people don’t eat organ meats. I can imagine that. Some people don’t even want to think of eating it. Luckily I eat almost anything. Liver is healthy, but you shouldn’t eat it too often.

Our lunch was top notch! Good food, excellent wine and nice ambiance. Great and fast service in Trattoria la Casalinga.

Shopping in Florence

Besides being the cradle of the Renaissance period, Florence is also the ultimate shopping destination in Italy. It is one of the “Made in Italy” fashion capitals, together with Milano. I enjoy shopping in Florence.

February is the period of sales. You find the best sales and discount on fashion clothing.

In the centre’s shopping areas people need to wear face masks. Also in shops face coverings are mandatory.

Before you go into a shop you must clean your hands with hand sanitizer gel.

My shopping addresses

In Florence I have my favourite shopping addresses. I am a regular customer at Intimissimi. I have a card for extra benefits. The service at Intimissimi is good and friendly.

At this moment my preferred clothing store is GUESS. GUESS is an American clothing brand. You’ll find a variety of styles. GUESS is fashionable for men and women. Hip and stylish!

Address: Via degli Speziali 9R, Firenze

Desigual is on one side of the Ponte Vecchio. Another clothing shop in Florence where I often check the latest trends.

GUESS shopping

Getting to Florence by public transport

There are several ways to get to Florence.

I always go to Florence by train from Chiusi-Chianciano Terme. From here it takes 1h 45 m on average to Firenze S.M.N.

You can buy your train ticket through the website Trenitalia or at the train station. A one way train ticket Chiusi – Firenze costs Euro 14,00 (regional train).

The top sights in the historical centre are easily to explore by foot. In Florence trams and busses are widely used.

From Florence you can make day trips by train. Cities such as Siena, Pisa and Arezzo are within easy reach.

Getting to Florence by car

Along the A1 highway is the Villa Costanza Car Park (Scandicci). You can access it both coming from the North or the South. Villa Costanza is the first Drive and Tramway car park in Italy.

Villa Costanza is an ideal alternative to avoid traffic jams in the centre of Florence. The T1 line brings you to the centre.

A single way costs Euro 1,50 and is valid for 90 minutes. Every tram stop has a ticket machine. You’re not able to buy tickets on board.

Running in Florence

Florence is a city where I have left literally many footprints. I ran the Firenze Marathon in 2016.

Firenze marathon 2016

And before that, I’ve participated in many smaller runs. This was the period in which we headed off to Florence almost every week. Even just for a training with Fulvio Massini.

We miss our races in Italy!

Notturna di San Giovanni 10 km run

Firenze Corre

Florence in a day.. enjoy this YouTube video!

I’ve made this video this February to let you experience Florence from a distance.

Ciao e arrivederci!

 

 

Pinot Noir wine from Vigneron Giacomo Baraldo

Pinot Noir wine from Vigneron Giacomo Baraldo

Giacomo Baraldo Vigneron

Giacomo Baraldo is a passionate winemaker from San Casciano dei Bagni (SI). What is a Vigneron? Vigneron is French. It derives from the word “vigne” which means grape vine. It is a person who cultivates grapes for winemaking.

Giacomo makes wine from his own grapes… He is a Vigneron!

Giacomo Baraldo

As a student of oenology Giacomo already started producing wine. After intensive experiences and completing his wine bachelor of science degree in oenology Giacomo became a professional winemaker.

He has a passion for making fabulous wines. He worked hard and didn’t stop until he achieved what he wanted… being one of the most greatest winemakers in the world!

Giacomo is a native Tuscan. He travelled around the world to discover the winemaking industry. He visited some of the best wineries in France.

France is the country of the most finest and expensive wines. For wine studies France is the country to learn the secrets of quality wine making. For a taste of fine work, training and educational programs Giacomo headed to Bordeaux (Margaux), Graves and Burgundy. All prestigieus wine regions in France.

Winemakers and wine growers in France taught him everything about wine and winemaking. In Burgundy he got to know the basics with white wine.

San Casciano dei Bagni (SI)

Giacomo lives with his family in San Casciano dei Bagni. San Casciano dei Bagni is a medieval town located in the southern border of Siena.

San Casciano dei Bagni

The village is known for its natural outdoor thermal springs and roman baths. The thermal waters contain sulphur, calcium and fluorides. A perfect opportunity to relax for FREE all year!

Vineyards

Tuscany is a region best known for it’s Sangiovese-based dry red wines. In San Casciano dei Bagni the family Baraldo owns about 3,5 ha of vineyards for the production of red and white wines.

They make red IGT as well as white wine: Grechetto, Chardonnay, Malvasia and Trebbiano.

Pinot Noir

Giacomo works together with the Greystone winery in Waipara valley, New Zealand. Here he put his knowledge of wine making into practice.

In Waipara valley Giacomo buys Pinot Noir grapes from vine growers. He makes his own premium quality wine from Pinot Noir grapes.

Pinot Noir Giacomo Baraldo Vigneron

Pinot Noir Giacomo Baraldo Vigneron

The front label of the wine bottle shows the Kiwi. And on the back label is the following tekst written:

Contains 100% of Pinot Noir
Contains 100% of my work
Contains 100% of my passion

In many wine shops in Italy you can purchase the Pinot Noir wines from Giacomo Baraldo. Even in Montepulciano!

For our lunch in restaurant Daniela we ordered the Pinot Noir wine from New Zealand: 2018 18,5 K Pinot Noir Giacomo Baraldo Vigneron. The wine was not filtered and not fined.

By holding the glass the wine has a pale red color with charming red fruits of cherries, wild strawberries, pomegranates, coffee, cacao and herbaceous.

A special wine with an elegant texture. It is a great wine to pair with antipasti misti and pasta dishes.

Antipasto misto

Pappardelle al ragù di cinta senese bianca

Millefoglie con crema chantilly, fragole e panna

Screw cap

There is the romance and tradition with the classical cork. Almost all Italian wines have a cork.

New Zealand is a young and innovative wine country. New Zealand wine is sealed with screw caps. Whether they are cheap wines or among the best bottles in the country.

Ristorante Daniela

The family Baraldo owns and operaties restaurant Daniela in San Casciano dei Bagni. The restaurant serve local Tuscan cuisine. It’s not just a restaurant, it is a place where besides the good food, you will get good service and good wine.

Ristorante Daniela is a unique experience and really recommended. Siete i benvenuti!

Address: Piazza Matteotti 6, 53049 San Casciano dei Bagni (Siena)

Entrance restaurant Daniela

With friends after the lunch

 

Pasta i pici at restaurant La Solita Zuppa | visit Chiusi Tuscany

Pasta i pici at restaurant La Solita Zuppa | visit Chiusi Tuscany

I pici

Pici pasta are thick homemade spaghetti. In Italy it is a first course. The pasta is also known as Pici Senesi. They are originally from southern Tuscany around Siena. Hence the name Pici Senesi.

I pici

In Montalcino they are called “i pinci”. Montalcino is a hill town and comune in the province of Siena.

It is not difficult to make fresh pasta i pici. Still me, as a foreigner in Italy, I am not used working with flour and water. I don’t have the technique of pasta making, unfortunately. I prepare more easy, healthy and quick meals.

The ingredients of the pasta dough for i pici are simple: flour, water and olive oil.

Homemade pasta i pici

With your hands flat you roll the pasta from the center outwards.

Pici is a fat and rough pasta. There are many varieties to choose among i pici:

Pici all’aglione –tomato and garlic sauce-
Pici ragù –meat sauce-
Pici al ragù d’anatra –duck sauce-

In supermarkets you can buy fresh pici. The pici from the supermarkets are delicious as well. I eat them often with “ai frutti di mare” (fish) or with fresh made Pesto Genovese.

Of course fresh pasta tastes better, but with a little creativity and flexibility you can make the best pasta dishes at home!

Restaurant La Solita Zuppa

The owners of restaurant La Solita Zuppa are Andrea with his wife Lorella Casagni. Andrea is a top chef and sommelier. La Solita Zuppa is a Slow Food restaurant in Chiusi città, the old town.

La Solita Zuppa offers traditional dishes. On the menu you can choose from many pasta dishes with typical and local ingredients.

Every morning they make their own fresh pasta. When I visited La Solita Zuppa Andrea had prepared the pasta dough for me to roll out.

It was a nice thing to do! For a moment I felt like an Italian “mamma” with many pasta making experience.

Having dinner at restaurant La Solita Zuppa is perfect for an evening of typical Tuscan plates. The atmosphere is cosy. The service is friendly and professional.

I pici al tartufo bianco

The dishes they offer are delicious and based on its long history and location. And if you love wine you should check out their wine list. Most of the wines are local and match excellent with the food they serve.

Cheese desert

After weeks of lockdown they have opened their restaurant since May 27. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance. La Solita Zuppa is closed on Tuesdays.

Lampredotto

La Solita Zuppa is famous for their Lampredotto sandwich. Lampredotto is a local Tuscan street food specialty. It is the fourth stomach of the cow. Tuscany has a tradition of eating internal organs. They use these organs to create delicious dishes with a strong and spicy flavor.

Personally I don’t like Lampredotto. It has a rich fatty texture.

But the tradition of food is important for the locals. It is a way of life and history. Most of the people in Tuscany love eating Lampredotto.

Chiusi – Siena

Chiusi is near Montepulciano. In a relaxing countryside sits the ancient city of Chiusi. It is situated on a hill overlooking the Val di Chiana valley and the Umbrian hills.

Chiusi città is the old town and Chiusi Scalò is the modern area.

The story of the Tuscan town Chiusi is closely linked to the Etruscans. In every corner you can breathe in the Etruscan presence and there are many details that refer to king Porsenna.

The burial place of the legendary Etruscan king Porsenna would have been beneath the town of Chiusi. As we know now, the underground routs, the labyrinths, were part of a water supply system dug by the Etruscans.

Chiusi is an appreciated city by visitors. In the ancient town you find a number of historical and archeological sites. One of the most interesting museums to visit is the “National Archeological Museum”: Museo Nazionale Etrusco. The museum reconstructs the history of Chiusi and its territory through numerous finds from the Iron Age to the Lombard age.

It is one of the most important museums in Italy for its knowledge of Etruscan art.

How do I reach Chiusi

There are different ways to get to Chiusi. By car and by train. Chiusi Scalò is an important train station. Operated by Trenitalia, from Rome and Florence are several train services.

It is very easy to find a taxi in Chiusi Scalò. There are also busses that take you from the station to the centre of Chiusi.

Gelateria

One of my favorite gelateria in Chiusi Scalo is Green Bar in Via Cassia Aureli I, 107. This gelateria is at walking distance from the train station.

Lago di Chiusi

Chiusi’s Lake is only 5 minutes drive from the centre of Chiusi città. You can bike and hike in this wonderful nature area. For food lovers I recommend restaurant Pesce d’Orco. They offer traditional fish “pesce di lago brustico” from the Etruscan civilization. Yummy!

Il brustico “pesce del lago”

Running

Every year in September is a run and walk around the lake: Giro Lago di Chiusi. It is a 18k run. A nice run experience! And if you don’t run you might participate to the organized walk.

Enjoy!

Running in Tuscany

Giro Lago di Chiusi

 

Olive oil mill in Montepulciano

Olive oil mill in Montepulciano

Il Frantoio di Montepulciano

Frantoio means olive oil mill or olive oil press. Many olive oil producers rely on an external frantoio. Il Frantoio di Montepulciano is established in Montepulciano and counts 600 members. It is a farmers cooperative that supply members various services for the production of extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil production in Siena

The olive groves are cultivated in the province of Siena. The gently rolling hills around Montepulciano are suitable for cultivating olive groves. The altitude of the hills are about 300-650 m above sea level.

In the province of Siena are many small producers who cultivate olive trees. The farmers take care of the plants by pruning and harvesting for having good olive oil every year.

After harvesting by hand or with mechanical shakers the farmers bring the olives in boxes to the olive mill “frantoio”. 

The olives are washed to remove dirt. When ready, the olives will be crushed and pressed cold (26-28 degrees) in a modern machine.

Thanks to the cold press the olives keep their properties for a high quality extra virgin olive oil.

After the extraction of the oil, the olive oil will be soon packed in bottles, cans or in small tins.

Different types of olive oil

Il Frantoio di Montepulciano produces different types of high quality olive oil. Olive oil extra virgin from il Frantoio di Montepulciano is obtained from the olive varieties Leccino, Frantoio and Moraiolo.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva 100% Italiano

Oil produced with a range of traditional Tuscan olive varieties and other Italian olives (Puglia). This extra virgin olive oil presents a bitter taste.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva DOP Terre di Siena

DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) guarantees the area of production and qualitative characteristics of the olives. Olio extra virgin di Oliva DOP Terre di Siena is a very high quality olive oil.

The olive oil is green in colour. It has a strong taste. An excellent olive oil for dressings.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva IGP Toscano

IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) is similar to DOP. IGP olive oil extra virgin is obtained with olives grown in Tuscany. This oil is quality guaranteed.

Olio extra virgin di Oliva Biologico

Organic extra virgin olive oil is olive oil produced following the European regulation on organic production and labeling on organic products. The olive oil must be obtained from locally grown organic olives. These olives are not treated by chemicals.

This organic oil has a smooth flavor and a soft taste. 

Information olive oil

All products mentioned above have different flavors. But the fresher the oil is, the better it tastes. Above all extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and consumption of olive oil may benefit your overall health in several ways.

Throughout the year you can visit the mill “Il Frantoio di Montepulciano” and taste the oils that are produced.

A video of the production process

From harvest to olive milling to hand-bottling: extra vergine olio d’oliva.

 

Wine and food experience in Montepulciano

Wine and food experience in Montepulciano

Wine and Food experience

The nicest part I love of the Wine and Food Experience is meeting people and sharing my passion for wine. I love tasting wines in good company.

Wine tasting at Cantina Gattavecchi

All my guests come from everywhere: America, South Africa, Holland, Belgium, Italy… The Wine and Food Experience always starts by telling the history of Montepulciano and the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano is situated in the center of an area rich in history, art and wine. The village is only at a stone’s throw away from Pienza and 40 minutes drive from Siena.

San Biagio church Montepulciano

Did you know that the locals call themselves “Poliziani”? Which was the former Roman name of the town? And that Poliziano also the name was of a local humanist and famous writer (Angelo Ambrogini) living in Florence and born in Montepulciano?

Some identification detail of the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a precious product and was the first classified wine as DOCG. It is the “King of all Wines” by Francesco Redi 1685.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

The local economy in Montepulciano is mainly agriculture and tourism. The wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a symbol of the village Montepulciano.

Sangiovese –Prugnolo Gentile- is the grape that gives the wine an identity. A wine that achieves an unmistakable taste, after 2 years of aging in wood.

Sangiovese grapes

Food is also an important item while drinking tannin wines. Tannins provide texture and structure in a wine. The flavors that appear in the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are mostly plums and cherries.

A pairing principle of the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano with food is that it interacts with rich, fatty and salty dishes, like wild boar, meat, pasta with ragù and old cheeses. They diminish the perception of tannins, making a wine like Vino Nobile more smoother.

Local pasta “i pici”

In Montepulciano, Montichiello, Pienza and Montalcino is the most renown dish “i pici”. A thick handmade pasta of local flour water and few salt.

Pasta i pici

In the Cantina of Gattavecchi the restaurant offers a wide choice of Tuscan specialties. I love the local pici, especially the Pici all’aglione. The “aglione” is a spicy garlic tomato sauce… yummy!

Aglione

Yesterday I had a lovely group of American guests who had the chance to do an amazing experience with chef Lilian. She showed us how to make home made pasta.

 

Chef Lilian Gattavecchi in Montepulciano