In this travel blog, I would like to share a few delights experienced during this holiday with my friends. In the previous blog Tuscany with the girls, I covered the hotel where we stayed in Florence, some restaurants we dined at, some sightseeing tips and a tour of the movies filmed there.
Here I would like to speak about other things, mainly to do with food and drink.
First thing in the morning, what do we need? Coffee!
For Italians, it’s in their culture to have several coffees daily. Every cafe in Italy of course serves your espresso, espresso macchiato, americano, espresso doppio, cappuccino, caffe latte and the list goes on. It is quite usual for Italians to drink it on the go and standing up. What I learnt on this holiday is that in Florence city, they have a special coffee on their menus and it is called “Marocchino”. It is served in a small glass and consists of a shot of espresso, cocoa powder and milk froth!
How to order your coffees in Italy – a Quick Guide
Caffè: This literally means “coffee,” but please note in Italy, it’s an espresso! So you don’t have to say “espresso” when you order.
Cappuccino: Espresso topped up with hot, foamed milk. It’s named after the Capuchin monks, because of the colour of their hoods.
Caffè macchiato: This means a “stained” coffee, and in this case, it’s mixed with a splash of hot milk.
Latte macchiato: Guess what this means? “Stained milk”—in this case, it is a lot of milk with a dash of coffee.
Caffè americano: If you order an “American coffee,” you’ will get a mix of Italian espresso with hot water added.
Caffè lungo: A large coffee, i.e. with more water. It’s different to the americano in that the difference actually happens at the espresso machine
Sfogliatelle alla Napoletana
One of the girls who has been to Florence many times, suggested we try these delicious pastries with our morning coffees and how right she was about them being amazingly divine! They reminded me in look and texture of the traditional Maltese “pastizzi” snack in texture, but these are lighter and are filled with sweet ricotta cheese, cinnamon and vanilla flavouring. Trust me, it tastes like heaven in a bite! Try one if ever you come across them in Italy.
Tuscany is famous for its pecorino cheeses so if you are a cheese lover, here you will find a wide choice of products to your liking. From North to South, we learnt that Tuscan cheeses are made following ancient techniques and production processes handed down over the centuries, from one generation to the next. There is a large selection of fresh and aged Pecorino cheeses. (The word Pecorino derives from the Italian word “pecora” which means sheep).
After Sardinia, Tuscany is one of the largest producer of sheep milk in Italy. Pecorino cheese in Tuscany has ancient origins dating back to the Etruscan times. Sheep farming is spread across the country but the highest concentration is in Grosseto and Siena.
During our wine tasting tours, in Montepulciano, Cortona and Chianti, we got to sample some interesting combinations including Pistoia Mountain Pecorino produced for centuries using raw sheep’s milk (unpasteurized milk), some aged Pecorino Baccellone and goat cheeses from the Mugello and Maremma that are flavoured with black and red pepper, chives, garlic, oregano, chopped almonds and basil. These are only a tiny sample of the cheese that Tuscany has to offer. There are more than 30 types of traditional Tuscan cheese products and hundreds of other local delicacies that are worth a taste! So, that means I have another excuse, apart from the shopping to re-visit!
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Unless you are vegetarian, one cannot visit Florence without ordering a Bistecca Fiorentina. T-bone steak is one of the most famous dishes you may find almost everywhere in Florence. The name refers to the particular cut of the meat. Normally the Fiorentina steak is cooked on a wood grill. In some restaurants, you can admire the interesting way they align the steak in vertical pairs. As a measure, if you order one bistecca for two, expect to spend at the very least 40 euros for around a kilo of steak. They serve excellent ones at Mamma Gina, Trattoria Marione and Osteria de Giovanni.
Wine Tasting Tour at Castello del Trebbio
Last but not least, we enjoyed a pleasant and informative excursion to Castello del Trebbio. Located on a 350-hectare estate with vineyards, this enchanting castle in the twelfth century belonged to the renowned Pazzi family. In the fifteenth century, ownership was transferred to the Medici family who converted it into a villa. The current family purchased it in 1968 and today they have restored it beautifully, staying true to its origins.
The estate situated in magnificent surroundings, like you see in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, it comprises about 60 hectares of grapes, 10,000 olive trees and a forest. We enjoyed a well-presented tour of the castle, the old and the new wine cellars including a wine and olive oil tasting. Our fabulous and very friendly guide Alberto gave us information about the history of the castle and also enthusiastically gave us a few tips about wines, how to taste them, how to hold the glasses to observe the colouring, and things I did not know before this tour. These wines and olive oils are the real deal. Outstanding quality. If you are looking to go on such a tour, I highly recommend this venue.
We were also informed that they offer wedding packages including accommodation and dining options at their award-winning restaurant La Sosta del Gusto. We were hoping that one of the single ladies on the trip would choose this venue to hold their wedding ceremony, so that we could all come back for a few laughs and cheers together.
Thats it from me in this blog. I hope you found it a little informative.
Until the next, destination, keep following my fashion and travel blogs on www.graziellecamilleri.com/blog for updates!