Back in February of 2018, Alessio and I went on a Mini-Moon. For those who haven’t heard me excitedly explain what a Mini-Moon is – it’s a tiny honeymoon for when you don’t have time to go away for a long vacation. And believe me, it’s great.
Because Alessio’s a snack, he planned the whole thing and I’m just here to talk about the things we did, i.e. the things you should do if you go to Tuscany!
One of the most memorable weekends of my life! Alessio found this gem of an experience just outside of Florence and worked with Lucrezia, the proprietor, to make the whole weekend just wow.
Opera in the Kitchen is a getaway that includes all the best parts of Tuscany. The food, the wine, the olive oil, the company, and the music. The experience starts with a tour of the villa in the town of San Casciano in Val di Pesa, including their garden overlooking olive groves where we picked some herbs for our meal. After exploring and taking in the incredible view, we all gathered in the kitchen to put on matching aprons and launch into a cooking class for traditional Italian food. I learned how to make pasta, including rolling it out and stuffing ravioli! We also made small tartlets with savory filling for our appetizer, and a super fluffy tiramisu for dessert (Alessio cracked his first egg!) After prepping everything, we were handed some fine wine and settled in the cozy living room to sip and watch the sunset before dinner was served.
Dinner was incredible, partially because Lucrezia is a great teacher, and partially because the finishing touches made to the food.. *Insert Italian kissing fingers gesture here*. As all great dinners go, when we finished I was stuffed and very happy.
Our second dessert was a private opera concert, where the night became more unforgettable. If you’ve never experienced holding eye contact with a passionate soprano as she serenades the room with sweet, beautiful, opera, book your tickets to this experience right now because it’s amazing. I learned that “Quando m’en vo'” is my favorite opera song, and that listening to opera in Tuscany overlooking olive groves was exactly what I needed for the perfect Mini-Moon.
Go Drink Wine
The air, the sun, the soil, there are so many reasons that grapes from Tuscany taste great. Alessio took me for a tasting and tour at Solatione Winery (which Lucrezia from Opera in the Kitchen suggested!) and we were both blown away. While drinking some great wine and snacking (snacks!), I learned how to properly taste wine like the fancy people who swirl and sniff wine at restaurants! (see fun fact 1). We also discussed how to determine which bottles are actually produced properly and from the correct region! (see fun fact 2)
Francesca, our tour guide and sommelier, was great. When we were leaving, she was kind enough to help with directions (because in Tuscany the roads don’t make sense and maps are variable). She drew a map on a Solatione placemat, which is now a framed mini-moon souvenir sitting in our apartment!
Fun Fact 1: The swirl is done to aerate the liquid which improves the flavor
Fun Fact 2: If you’re looking for a Chianti Classico wine, make sure you look for a black rooster sticker on the label! Just like the rooster behind our heads in the picture above.
Food Food Food
The Tuscan region of Italy is know for it’s amazing food, especially when it comes to meat. If you’re there, try a Fiorentina – a huuuuge delicious cut of steak that’s seared at a super high heat and then drizzled in lemon. The next day, or week (whenever you have space to eat again after your fiorentina), head to A Casa Mia where you’ll find food and an atmosphere about as local and homey as it gets. The place is tiny, and the menu is delivered only by voice (even on their website there’s just a note saying you’ll be told the menu when you arrive!).
Wow is the pasta amazing. Alessio had penne with a rabbit meat sauce and I knocked my socks off with bucatini in a spicy light tomato sauce. If you’re brave, there’s a huge appetizer tray that would feed a family of four. While in Tuscany, get ready to eat!
The last thing to do, which is actually just built into all of the above, is exploring and taking in the countryside. Tuscany is stunning with its sprawling hills. If you ever get the chance to walk through an olive grove, look closely at the unique bark on the trees. Take a peek at the stone villas with their window shutters and quaint balconies. Watch out for the flocks of sheep that meander about, grazing as they go. Take a deep breath of the clear, fresh air that fills the soul. Most of all, embrace la bella vita and enjoy yourself.
Arrivederci da Toscana!