Astrid has been in love with in Italy since the age of 15, when she spent a year in a cultural exchange program near Venice. Astrid later returned to Florence to study art, design, and architecture. During that time she began translating Italian and working as a guide at a culinary school where she was able to combine her love for Italy with her love for food. She has collaborated with food artisans throughout Italy in Tuscany, Sicily, Elba, Liguria, and Morocco. After spending more than five years immersed in Italian cuisine and culture, Astrid continued her culinary adventures in Southeast Asia, Mexico, and eventually back to the states where she formed her own company to take small groups to Italy. Most likely, she is planning her next travel around eating, always a gastronomic adventure.
Elisa, born and raised in Florence, loves to share her city through the eyes of a local. With a a strong passion for travel, language, and cultures, she remains deeply attached to Florence and all its charm. Elisa majored in Linguistics and Fine Art and in 2009 she received her Masters degree and became a fully licensed Tourist Guide. With over a decade of experience in the Tourism business, as concierge of 4 and 5 star hotels, she is an expert of Florentine history. After living in Dublin and Brussels, Elisa is trilingual and conducts tours in Italian, English, and French. Also a mother of two children, Elisa enjoys giving tours adapted to kids, using interesting anecdotes to make legends come alive. She knows the city like the back of her hand and her personality adds even more to the guided walking experience.
friends you will meet
A fourth generation master butcher, Andrea, was born “between prosciutto and everything that occurs on the chopping block” of a butchers shop. His great grandfather arrived by boat from Argentina in 1925. Since then, this family of artisans has been following the old recipes and traditional methods of preparation for over 85 years. The techniques and enthusiasm have been carried down for four generations, as Andrea’s passion is evident in the flavors of his products. Because quality is of utmost importance, he is a firm believer of sourcing locally and being part of the chain of a sustainable community. Andrea works closely with only local farms and carefully selects, carves, and transforms the meat. Although working exclusively with veal, pork, and the autochthonous (Etruscan) Cinta Senese pig breed, his favorite animal will always be rabbit. Andrea enjoys organizing jazz concerts in his butcher shop and traveling the world doing his work as a butcher.
Like his grandfather before him, Luigi and his twin sons Francesco and Carlo run the family operated13th century historical farm. Nestled in the hills not far from Florence, this organic dairy farm was the ancient family manor of the, also mentioned by Dante Alighieri in his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, which represents the tradition and history of indigenous cattle breeding and milk production in Tuscany. For nearly 1000 years, this fortified farm has preserved its structure and function. Full of countless historical events, restored cellars, and noteworthy frescos, the farm continues to produce cheeses, yogurt, milk, ricotta, and meat.
Like his grandfather before, Paolo has a passion for dolci and the magic touch to transform the simplest ingredients into pastries, cakes, and cookies. His quaint artisan pastry shop is a step back in time, a lovely sight to match the intoxicating perfume of sweets. Paolo’s specialty dessert wine and pastry shop displays sweets of every kind imaginable, many of which were created with 18th century recipes. Here in his laboratory, he makes traditional Tuscan desserts as well as inventing his own concoctions by enriching antique recipes. Some of his specialties include chestnut pudding, chocolate pies, pine nut tarts, walnut cookies, panettone with figs, torta della nonna, (“grandmothers cake” made with wine grapes from the harvest), panforte with citron, and ricotta cake.
Massimo grew up hearing tales and legends about truffles from his grandfather, who transmitted his passion and respect for this admired and elegant tuber. As excited he was when he discovered his first truffle at the age of 15, Massimo has the same delight and enthusiasm each time he ventures into the woodlands to share his passion. A second generation tartufaio-truffle hunter, Massimo and loyal dog Pepper, enjoy sniffing out and unearthing one of the most prized culinary delicacies of the world. The rare and prized white truffle, (tartufo bianco pregiato), is found a few feet below ground in clay rich soil, growing in symbiosis with poplars, willows, oaks, and chestnut trees.
For over 150 years, this family of pasta makers continues to make only the best. Founded in 1860, this pasta company is a family run enterprise. Siblings Lucia, Antonio, and Marco are the fifth generation of the artisan family, who continue to run the company today preserving its recipes, ancient traditions, and methods. For many years they have been using wheat germ as an ingredient in their traditional recipes. By selecting the best semolina, which is processed according to specific techniques, they have succeeded in creating pasta with a unique and delicious flavor.
OLIVE OIL PRODUCERS
Siblings, Paolo, Guido, and Emanuela produce exceptional extra virgin olive oil, one of the most valued elements of Italian culture on this ancient old farm established by the Etruscans in 1051. On their family run organic estate, olives have been cultivated for centuries and where a combination of the ideal altitude, particular soil, and technical skills produce oil of the highest quality. Extraordinary care is taken and only the best olives are picked at the correct point of ripeness and cold pressed within 12 hours, which yields very low acidity oil with aromas of fresh cut grass, artichoke, and aromatic herbs. They recognize the wealth of the biophenols in the olive oil, and the importance of a product that not only tastes good but has powerful health-giving properties. Their family produces some of the regions best olive oil.
Winemaker, Emanuela and family maintain the traditions and quality of wines that have been crafted since 1846. They are enthusiastic to share their knowledge for their approach to viticulture, passion for the terroir, and layered historical background. Emanuela provides insight as to why the DOC-Denominazione di origine controllata (“controlled designation of origin”) and DOCG-Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (“controlled designation of origin guaranteed”), the quality assurance labels are so important. For more than 170 years, this old world winery has been cultivating Tuscan varietals, they stand out for their Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, and Sangiovese.
Cooking runs in the family for Chef Matteo. He realized his fascination for combining flavors and passion for cooking at the young age of 14. After spending several months in other gastronomic hubs of Europe, he explored other flavors of world cuisine and expanded his technical skills. Deeply rooted in his culture, he returned to Florence to open his own restaurant where Matteo is head chef at his restaurant, which allows him to practice daily his love for cooking. Continually inventing new combinations and translating his creativity onto a plate, he defines his cooking style as synthesis of innovation and tradition. With ingenuity, Matteo finds tasteful ways to represent antique Tuscan recipes with a new approach. His excitement for sharing the passion for local flavors is evident in his culinary classes and his enthusiasm in the kitchen is contagious.