Two women leaving soft footprints through city streets, country roads, and green mountain paths. Two friends with backgrounds in Fine Art Restoration and Art History who share an appreciation for simple pleasures and a passion for introducing others to Florence and beyond.

Angelica Turi - Tuscan, Licensed Environmental Guide. Elizabeth Namack - American, Licensed Tour Guide for Florence and Province

Come share the journey with us! Reflections and Wanderings through Tuscany and Italy!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Luxury Chianti Villa Cooking May 2015

There may be snow on the ground in many parts of the world, but the days ARE getting slightly longer.

It is time to think about that much needed vacation. Envision yourself lounging by the pool, surrounded by shimmering olive trees and fragrant bushes of lavender and rosemary. Envision sipping sumptuous red wine with friends, as the sunset turns the sky magnificent shades of pink, blue and red. Learn something new- like creating home-made pici pasta or the most fab meat sauce ever.  Get away from it all, turn off all devices, and figure out why the Italian lifestyle is called by many “la dolce vita”.

Why not come to Tuscany this May?

Elizabeth is very excited to be accompanying a culinary week in May 2015!


Where – unpack your bags in a Villa near Panzano in Chianti, in the heart of the world famous Chianti Classico wine district, about 45 minutes from Florence.

When - the best time of year for traveling to Italy - 23 – 30 May 2015

Who – Interested foodies who speak English

Size - Small group guaranteed departure - maximum 10-12 people total

Included –
three hands-on cooking lessons
delicious dinners and lunches
local wines
morning maid service for breakfasts and room straightening
a visit to a wine estate & a local saffron farm
a day excursions to San Gimignano and Siena
a day excursion to the wine towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano & the cheese town of Pienza
a great guide 

Time to –
walk down country lanes
go to nearby villages for shopping
sit under olive trees
pick wild flowers
pause and reflect

Come along 23 – 30 May 2015

Price per person in double room € 2400

Price per person for non cooking guests in double room 
€ 2090

Interested in more info? 
The link is below and please don’t hesitate to contact us:
Elizabeth Namack – Italian Footprints, in collaboration with Stendhal Tours

Post by Elizabeth, photos Elizabeth and from Stendhal TO

Monday, February 9, 2015

More wine in Val d'Aosta, Liguria & Piedmont

Here are some more Italian regions, that specialize in, guess what...

incredible WINES!

Val d' Aosta 

There are numerous good wines in this small mountainous corner on north west of Italy.

At the foot of Mount Blanc (a little over 1200 meters above sea level) there are the highest vineyards of Europe that produce Blanc de Mourgex de la Salle made with the local Prie Blanc. 

Here, in a such cold area the 'fillossera' never arrived, so vines are not draft but planted directly.
There are a number of local vines Myiolet, Aymavilles, Premetta and Fumin. Il Petit rouge characterizes the central region.

One great local red is the so called Donnas. It is made with picoutener (nebbiolo, the same grape of Barolo).


Liguria is one of my favorite regions, and I can often be found here, leading walking groups up and down the steep, challenging trails. It is incredible to think that wine is also produced here.

DOC wines are: Colli di Luni, white or red; Colline di Levanto (for red)

But certainly the Cinqueterre is the highlight of the area.

In Cinque Terre, you find the mineral and sapid white wine well known for centuries and made with the local grapes (albarolo, bosco and vermentino). A memorable dessert wine, sciacchetra, is made here also. It is very sweet. Local lemon liquor can also be found.


Even though I am Tuscan (DOC!), for many good reasons, Piedmont is probably the most important wine region of Italy.

There are 16 DOCG and many DOC.

The grape of the territory is nebbiolo that produces five DOCG wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Ghemme and Roero.

Barolo is consider of the greatest Italian wine. It is made south of Asti, in an area called Le Langhe. Here we find the concept of terroir, so there are small holdings that grow unique parcels of grape that is reflected in the wine. The alcool content is 13%.

Other rappresentative wines of the area: Barbera d'Asti (a spicy elegant wine), Dolcetto superiore,
Moscato d'Asti and Asti Spumante, an interesting red (made with dolcetto, a local grape).

And not to be forgotten are the local white vines: Arnais, Cortese and the DOCG Erbaluce,  which make a delicate white, as well as a raisin wine.

- Post by Angelica
- Photos by Angelica and Elizabeth

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lets have a glass of Tuscan wine!

The famous Chianti fiasco wine cart in Rufina
Italy boasts a wealth of local vine varieties, among the most numerous in the world, which characterize so many different wines.

International vine varieties- like Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, etc, have been introduced recently in the last 40 years. For example, on the Tuscan coast near Bolgheri, the most popular wine is made of this type. I am talking about Sassicaia, which did not fall in any disciplinary category, and was thus called a Super Tuscan.
In the vineyard

In recent years Chianti also admits a small percentage of international varietals in its blend.

Let's see the wines that characterize Tuscany. The Prince of the land is the Sangiovese, with two clones:
Sangiovese big: Brunello, Blackthorn kind
Sangiovese big: Lamole
Sangiovese small: Morellino
Traditionally from a tannic wine to mitigate its acidity, Sangiovese was cut with Canaiolo, Black, Bashful etc. Today, it is often blended with Merlot.

The Region of Tuscany boasts 11 DOCG and 36 DOC.

The DOCG are: Brunello, Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti and Chianti Classico, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Morellino di Scansano, Suvereto, Cornia Valley Red, Elba Aleatico Passito, Montecucco Sangiovese, Carmignano.

Frassina winery, Brunello!
The DOC: Montecarlo (famous for white), Cortona (famous for Syrah), White Pitigliano (known for kosher wines), Montescudaio (very mineral based wines) and many many more other wines...

Among the historical curiosities which I would like to mention is the case of Carmignano, a fantastic red made a few miles west of Florence, in an area populated originally by the Etruscans. Since the 17th century Carmignano produces a blend of Sangiovese with French varietals Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon!

Even, Montecarlo,  near Lucca,  produces a great DOC white (beside the red) and since the 19th century admits international varieties, like Sauvignon, Semillon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon that have been used in their blends.

In the area South of Siena well-known wines are to be found: Brunello and Nobile di Montepulciano.

Brunello di Montalcino - One of the first great Italian reds in Italy. In 1966, Brunello took the certification DOC and then in 1980 DOCG.
100% Sangiovese from which derives the name Brunello, for its intense color dark, (other synonyms: san giovese big, blackthorn). This full bodied wine refines two years in oak barrels and then three years in the bottle.
Ancient estate: Biondi Santi, Production leader: Banfi.

Frassino winery in Montalcino

Rosso di Montalcino - is more fine and fruity and similar to Pinot Noir from Burgundy.

Nobile di Montepulciano - is made from Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) for a minimum of 70% and a maximum 20% of Canaiolo. It ages two years in the barrel. The reserve is made only in the best years. This is a wine known since the Renaissance for its elegance, and was loved by Popes and sung by the poet Poliziano. For this reason the name "noble" and also probably because it was produced by noble families.
Brunello anyone?

Chianti - In the hilly area between Florence and Siena wine has been produced since ancient times.
There are two DOCG: Chianti Classico (the historic area of production) and the Chianti.
Summarizing, we can say that Lamole represents Burgundy of Italy (the most important French red) and Radda in Chianti the cru (land more suited) of Chianti Classico.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano Docg - One of the first whites to be given the Docg rating. Found only around the town of San Gimignano. For Vernaccia, other cultivars are not admitted.  

Vin Santo - It is a blend of grapes Trebbiano, Malvasia, St. Columban and Grechetto. It is a raisin wine, traditionally used at the celebration of the Mass and was aged seven years in the olden days. Now only eleven months. It reminds me of sherry. Today Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice is also produced with Sangiovese grape. A great Vin Santo comes from Montepulciano.

Elba Aleatico Passito - sweet and aromatic.

Morellino di Scansano - 85% Sangiovese. This wine has recently become more and more popular. It is a wine to be drunk young and it not suitable for aging, as it can be a bit acid.

Montecucco Sangiovese - This is an interesting wine. A smooth wine of high quality. 

Val di Cornia - This is a young wine area. Emblematic and beautiful the winery of Petra designed by Mario Botta

Suvereto - The most interesting wines of the Val di Cornia come from this area.

Historic Cusona winery near San Gimignano

There are so many other wines to learn about, taste, and enjoy!

Contact us and we will happily help you arrange your own winery experience- whether a one day tour or a week long adventure!

Post by Angelica
Photos by Elizabeth

Monday, January 5, 2015


Andrea Mantegna, Adoration of the Magi, 1462, Tempera on panel, Uffizi Gallery
The 6th of January is another holiday in Italy.

The Epiphany.
Gentile da Fabriano, Adoration of the Magi, 1423, Tempera on panel, Uffizi Gallery

This day is the celebration of the Son of God, seen in Jesus Christ.The Epiphany is represented traditionally by the Magi (The Three Kings) who came to honor and give gifts to Baby Jesus.

Filippino Lippi, Adoration of the Magi, 1496, Tempera on panel, Uffizi Gallery
(This altarpiece was placed in the church of San Donato a Scopeto in substitution of Leonardo da Vinci’s work of the same name, which never got completed (see below)!)

Before the advent of “Babbo Natale” in Italy, this day was also the traditional gift exchange day. The good witch “Befana” arrives in the night on the eve of the 6th, giving a stocking full of goodies to the good children (and a little bit of coal to those who are not). We have written about the Befana before here.

Lorenzo Monaco, Adoration of the Magi, 1420–1422, Tempera on panel, Uffizi Gallery
The Adoration of the Magi is a subject especially loved by Renaissance Merchants, Bankers and Artists.  The subject matter is the Birth of Jesus. The three Magi visit Jesus after following a star in the sky. They bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew writes about it in the Bible (2.11). The Adoration of the Magi was a great excuse for artists to show off their technical skill-depicting a complicated scene with a long procession of people and animals, wearing exquisite clothing. Artists loved to include exotic animals such as monkeys, leopards and lynx. It was also a great excuse for rich merchants to include themselves in the paintings- to flaunt and show off a bit too, since they often felt they were like real kings!

Sandro Botticelli, Adoration of the Magi, c. 1475–1476, Tempera on panel, Uffizi Gallery
Members of the Great Medici Family and Botticelli are included in this painting!

Elaborate clothing Detail of Gentile da Fabriano's Kings

So were there really three kings and where did they come from?

The original Greek calls them magi, the source of the word Magician. In fact these men originally were more like astrologers and came from the Persian court. There is no direct evidence that they were Kings and that there were only three, although from Medieval times the legend was spun as such.

Leonardo da Vinci, Adoration of the Magi, 1481, Oil on wood, Uffizi Gallery
(Never finished, Notice the new triangular composition)

(At the moment, January 2015, not on display in Gallery, under restoration) 

Their legendary names are Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar, and they came from the three known continents of the time- Asia, Africa and Europe. This is the reason one king is often shown dark skinned.  The gifts they present are of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (the latter herb was used to anoint Jesus’ dead body for burial).

Albrecht Dürer, Adoration of the Magi, 1504, Oil on wood, Uffizi Gallery
Join us for a tour of the magnificent Uffizi gallery and you can personally see these fantastic paintings depicting the Adoration of the Magi.

In today’s post I show seven paintings that can be found in the galleries. Be on the lookout, though, when going to the gallery, there are more!!

- Post by Elizabeth, Images Internet