A BESPOKE FOOD TOUR WITH FLORENCE & CHIANTI
I guess most peoples travel plans usually involves acquainting themselves with the local food scene, well for me it’s quite the necessity! So for this reason it was imperative to employ the help of Florence & Chianti Tours. I introduced the company in my previous post about the Florentine Artisans of Oltrarno, which you can catch up on below if you’ve not had a chance…
A Bespoke Food Tour with Florence & Chianti
QUICK RECAP ON FLORENCE & CHIANTI
Just to recap Florence & Chianti are a company headed by the very knowledgeable Aniko who exuberates her passion for the Renaissance city through her tours. Aniko has a clear aim for delivering her tours, which is quite simply that they don’t take a cookie-cutter approach and each one is customised carefully for the guest based on their interests. This way tours remain quite authentic and Aniko uses her expertise to introduce you to spots that you would never have thought of or discovered independently!
One Friday morning, myself and Dr C were treated to a culinary tour constructed by Aniko, with a meeting point at Piazza Santa Maria Novella, let us get noshing on the delights of Florence
Please note as tours are custom made, itineraries may differ largely dependent on interests and suitability.
POTIONS FROM THE MONKS TO START
It’s ironic with my many visits to Florence that I’ve never stepped foot in the beautiful Official Pharmacy & Perfumerie of Santa Maria Novella, which was first opened in 1381 by the Dominican friars of Santa Maria Novella. A very grand building with a warren of grand rooms adorned with gothic paintings, the Medici fleur de Lys coat of arms, chandeliers and other intricately designed features.
The pharmacy to this day serves as a perfumerie with scents stored in beautiful ‘potion’ like bottles.
The Tisaneria tea rooms are towards the back of the pharmacy serving a fine blend of potions as well as regular tea concoctions. Aniko ordered us two of the most unique tea time tipples I’ve ever tried…
Alkermes, once used as a health tonic, is based on a mix of spices and used rose water as a base with a strong cinnamon flavour and went very well with the accompanying chocolates.
Cincona was the darker of the two tonics and had a sherry-like taste, which was much stronger and is said to have been used by the monks to treat malaria due to its quinine content.
Tucked away in the streets close to the Duomo is a delightful local hangout. Osteria Nuvoli is a small two-level trattoria.
Serving fresh but simple regional fare this typically decorated, warm and friendly restaurant was perfect for an intimate encounter.
We tried some of the incredibly fresh cheese, olives and Dr C was treated to some Prosciutto all served up with a delicious Chianti. It was also lovely to support this small independent business and meet the owner. I probably would have walked right past this place, yet it’s perfect for an Aperitivo or traditional meal.
LUXURY TRUFFLES & PROSECCO
Be-lavie has a focus on magical sprinkles of luxury and being in Tuscany also means that we had to take Aniko up on her offer of tasting truffles and prosecco, which incidentally is a pretty fine mix as recommended by yours truly! Oh, and you know how I’m practically Florentine these days!!
Procacci dates back to 1885 and is primarily a café specialising in tartufi (truffle) finger sandwiches and sparkling wines. As it’s on the great shopping street of Via de Tornabuoni, it makes for a great stop to refuel with a snack!
Again a great find but not necessarily one I’d have thought of visiting solo and a fab insight into different truffles.
A SHORT BREAK TO ABSORB LOCAL HISTORY & CULTURE…
Some of the many joys about this food tour was Aniko sharing some interesting snippets of information such as the 69 ‘hole in the wall’ wine windows, which started around the time of the plague!
Additionally, we popped into one of Aniko’s favourite quiet almost temple-like church hidden amidst the narrow lanes of historic Florence.
OLIVE OIL & BALSAMIC VINEGAR
In Italy you just have to embrace the olive oil and balsamic culture and La Bottega Dell ‘Olio is just the place!
A small shop filled with products made from olive oil as well as in bottles for consumption was quite the treat as we also got to taste the different types and educated on why extra virgin olive oil is called so!
Also some great thick balsamic vinegar that works well poured over gelato! We left being educated and appreciative of the different flavours and intensities of something we eat daily.
BISCUITS TO END
We ended our food tour at the Forno di Antonio Mattei, who produce the famous biscotti and cantucci. A family business with their headquarters in Prato, about 20 minutes by train from Florence, this small shop also houses a museum.
The museum charts the history to present day of their biscotti and Cantucci and it was the perfect way to end the tour with an espresso and biscuits.
Tucked away on a street just off Via de Tornabuoni, this is a fine example of places that I wouldn’t have discovered myself.
Once again Florence & Chianti delivered on it’s philosophy of providing a bespoke and personal tour, which suited our needs and interest perfectly. There was a fine mix of styles, including, traditional, luxury and a few local interests such as the olive oil in between. It’s also a great introduction to be able to return and purchase local produce. We opted not to visit the market as it’s something that I’ve done numerous times already and this is something, which is great about having a personalised tour. You get a chance to input into your experience.
With be-lavie’s focus on sustainability one of my take home facts from Aniko was that the Florentine cuisine very much focusses on using every part of the meat, fish or vegetable. Wastage is kept to a minimum and food is therefore simple with few exquisite flavours.
Personally I believe, there is no better way o explore a city than through the eyes and experience of locals.
For further information about the artisan tour and other bespoke experiences, please contact Aniko via her website or Email below…
Florence & Chianti Tours (Website)
Disclaimer: Our bespoke food tour was kindly gifted to us by Florence & Chianti in exchange for this review however all views, opinions and photography are my own and remain copyright of be-lavie.
So who’s off to Florence soon and wants to go on a bespoke food tour? Do you book personalised food tours when you travel?