The (Tuscan) History of Opera

I recently learned that opera is the Italian word for “work.” I found that surprising for a couple of reasons. First, I think of opera as a form of expression so full of beauty, grace and emotion, that it could not possibly have anything to do with work. Second, I always understood lavoro to be […]

Read More...

Ribollita

One of the hallmarks of Italian cooking, which sets it apart from the way we cook and eat in many parts of the US, is nearly complete devotion to the season. It’s cold outside and I’m starting to think about which warm, comforting, delicious foods they must be making in Tuscany right now. Dark green […]

Read More...

Homemade Pasta…It’s That Easy

Laura and I consider ourselves very fortunate to enjoy the many perks of our business, but our favorite is most certainly the people we get to meet, spend time with and plan holidays and vacations for with Tuscan Travel Group. Recently, we spent a fun night learning the art of homemade pasta with our friend, […]

Read More...

Fall Roundup- TTG Favorites

The mornings are growing crisp and the leaves are turning yellow. In the markets, sweet plums and peaches are replaced by earthy squashes. It’s darker in the afternoons, bringing a sense of hurry-up to the hours after school and before bedtime. It must be fall. I’ve always been a big fan of this time of […]

Read More...

Pizza in Italy

It’s a simple, 5-letter word. It evokes positive feelings for almost anyone that has ever lived. It’s not spelled the way it would be pronounced in English. And yet everyone in the English speaking world (and beyond) knows exactly how to pronounce it. It’s pizza. This is not the first time we have written about […]

Read More...

Summer Raves and Reviews

Summer is our high season for travel and we were fortunate and grateful to hear back from three of our clients with words of joy and fun in the stories they shared with us upon their return. They stayed in one of our favortite towns, Impruneta at Casa dell’Arte. They filled an entire villa with […]

Read More...

Aperitivo or Apericena?

I thought I was pretty hip to Italian culture. Well, no actually I knew I was not that hip, but I did think I knew about things like which delicious beverages to drink at which times throughout the day. Early morning cappuccino- check; after lunch caffe- got it; pre-dinner aperitivo- yes; red wine with dinner- […]

Read More...

Let’s Celebrate Ferragamo

I recently learned a really random fact, which I happen to think is incredibly cool. This summer marks the 90th anniversary of the return of Salvatore Ferragamo to Italy after his 13-year stint as “shoemaker to the stars” in Hollywood. Upon learning this, I promptly did my research on Ferragamo’s life, and discovered that he […]

Read More...

The Story of Prosecco

Multiple posts in this blog have been devoted to fine Italian wines. We’ve shared with you the secrets behind our favorite Brunello wines, and the beauty of the rolling hills that generate the grapes for a smooth glass of Chianti. But let’s leave the bold reds aside and spend a little time on a wine […]

Read More...

Summer Reading

I’m one of those people who loves reading but considers life way too short to spend time on a so-so book. If you want to maximize your time spent with books this summer, and also escape to Italy in your mind, read on… Florence in Ecstasy (Jessie Chaffee) Florence in Ecstasy is Jessie Chaffee’s first […]

Read More...

Tuscany with Kids- Top Ten Tips

Traveling to Tuscany this summer with the whole brood? Worried about jet lag, heat, little complaining voices? Well, we’ve been there and have some advice to share. Here are our top ten tips for traveling to Tuscany in summer. 10. Book an overnight flight– This is especially important if you live on the West Coast. […]

Read More...

A Beach in Florence?

Last summer, we posted an article about ways to escape the Florence heat. As temperatures heat up in Tuscany, it’s worth another read- here. Our advice remains the same. If you play your cards right by following the suggestions in that article, and stop at least once a day for gelato, you’re sure to have an […]

Read More...

Gelato

Like many enduring works of art, gelato first came about in Florence during the Renaissance. I suspect many of our readers will think I’m so taken with Florence that I just assume its citizens invented all the best things in the world. But this time I mean it. They really did invent the world’s most […]

Read More...

Tuscany, the Perfect Movie Set

With gently rolling hills baked by an orange-yellow sun and just about every shade of green gifted to humankind, Tuscany is indeed the ultimate set for the making of a beautiful film. Through the years, many English-language movies have been set in Tuscany. They span the spectrum from action/adventure to cheesy romance to touching, heart […]

Read More...

Primavera

Right now in Tuscany, the rains are subsiding and the sun is shining. The colors are more vivid than at any other time of year. Springtime, or primavera, is here. Primavera is a beautiful word, especially as pronounced by a native Italian speaker. It rolls right off the tongue and out into the world like […]

Read More...

Our New Portfolio of Luxury Apartments in Florence

Yes, we are still in the business of finding you the ideal, secluded, off-the-beaten-path Tuscan villa for your holiday, but we are adding the opportunity to offer you a few days in the city. Laura recently returned from Italy where she had the chance to visit with a few of our property owners who have both […]

Read More...

Tuscan Wining and Dining

A part of our job that we take very seriously here at Tuscan Travel Group is sampling things before we recommend them. This philosophy applies to the properties that we represent (in this context, by “sampling” I mean visiting, touring, staying there if possible and keeping closely in touch with the owner). This also definitely […]

Read More...

The Renaissance Woman

I have just returned from a week-long trip to Florence, during which I met The Renaissance Woman, Suor Plautilla Nelli. This is not an official title, but one that perfectly suits this fascinating artist who, despite the odds against women of her time, was busy creating enduring (and some enormous) works of art during the […]

Read More...

Tuscan Travel Group on the Big Screen

Well, actually, not the big screen in the true sense, but some homes do have pretty large TV’s nowadays. We recently launched a commercial that has been running for the past week and will run only one more week. If you haven’t had the viewing pleasure of seeing it live, were posting it here for you to […]

Read More...

Best Cathedrals in Italy

Last month, Architectural Digest published an article about their favorite cathedrals throughout Italy and given that we are around the Holidays, we thought this would be a timely article to pass along to our readers. The beauty of the cathedrals throughout Tuscany come from simply admiring the elements that make up these lovely structures. It need not […]

Read More...

Tuscany in Winter

They tell me it rarely snows in Florence. A check of average temperatures confirms this assertion. Average cold temperatures do not dip below freezing. However, a quick search of “snowy Florence” photos online will bring up thousands of unbelievable shots. Apparently when it does snow, everyone is a photographer. And it’s no wonder— This city […]

Read More...

Casa di Lusso – Up Close and Personal

We recently had the chance to get inside the mind of one of our villa owners, Irene Sanesi of Casa di Lusso, located just 16 miles from Florence and 19 miles from Siena. She runs this family owner agriturismo estate alongside her Mother and Father. She shares with us the best and toughest part of running […]

Read More...

Modern Luxury, Tuscan Style

[portrait by Robert Benson]   We are very excited and honored to be featured in the November/December 2016 issue of Modern Luxury Silicon Valley Magazine. The issue will be on shelves soon, but for now you can check out the digital version of our article here.  Learn how we got started in this business, what inspires us, […]

Read More...

The Beauty of Italian

What is it about the Italian language that is so beautiful to the ear? Many of you probably know what I mean— You’re walking down the street in Italy or in a US city’s Little Italy, and you catch a fragment of a conversation. You may have no idea what they are saying, but the […]

Read More...

Ragu al Cinghiale – Traditional Tuscan Wild Boar Pasta Dish

The more Laura and I have the pleasure of traveling though Tuscany, meeting with our villa owners and seeking out new experiences, activities and accommodations for our clients, the more we get to dig in deep to the local culture. We made a very conscious decision to choose villas off the beaten path from the large, […]

Read More...

Why Are Brunello Wines So Distinctive?

Well, if you are a Sangiovese fanatic, you would know that the Brunello grape is synonymous with the Sangiovese Grosso (aka Brunello) grape…in fact 100% the same. Brunelllo has been a wine varietal since being discovered in the early 14th century about 80 km south of Florence in the area surrounding the town of Montalcino. […]

Read More...

Fall for Truffles

Fall is my favorite time in Tuscany for many reasons. Some have to do with what happens in Tuscany this time of year, as the weather cools down and the colors start to change. Much of it has to do with memories of times spent in Tuscany in the fall. Many of my trips there […]

Read More...

The Art of Fresco Painting

Michelangelo Sistine Chapel

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico; The Procession of the Magi by Gozzoli; Expulsion from the Garden of Eden by Massaccio; Michelangelo’s masterpiece The Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; His accompanying work The Last Judgment on the chapel’s altar wall. What do these famous works of art have in common, other […]

Read More...

Travel by train is easy and fun, especially with children

Rome, Termini, Train, Station, Italy

The rail system throughout Italy is such a simple and enjoyable way to get around. We were recently on a trip to Rome and decided to take a quick trip to Florence by train. We researched the train schedule, tracked down the right station, chose the right train for us (high speed), decided on what […]

Read More...

Summer Family Holiday Exploring the History of Rome

Sistine Chapel, Rome, Michelangelo

Roma We just returned from a wonderful, albeit brief, family trip to Rome to give our children the gift of seeing the city that carries so much of the world’s history inside its walls and people. Outside of Florence and the Tuscany region, Rome is the second most requested city our clients make time to explore […]

Read More...

What to Eat in Tuscany

Many people who visit Florence or Tuscany ask where they should eat, and there’s plenty of information out there about restaurants, cafes and bars. But I think the better question is what to eat. After many years of painstaking research (well, just eating while in Italy), I have definitely found my favorite things to order. Some […]

Read More...

Escaping the Heat in Florence

Anyone who’s traveled to Italy during the summer can attest to the fact that it can get a little warm. Temperatures in Tuscany can approach 100 degrees. Throw in a dash of humidity and some thirsty mosquitos, and unless you plan carefully, your dream vacation could become less than a dream. So, what’s an eager […]

Read More...

Gucci, Pucci and Fiorucci – Via de’ Tornabuoni in Florence

Before diving into the highlights of shopping in Florence on Via de Tornabuoni, I must confess, I do not like to shop. It’s true…no interest! However, you need not have any interest in shopping to take in the beauty and serenity of Via de’ Tornabuoni, one of the most elegant and beautiful shopping districts I […]

Read More...

Eight Best Things To Do in Siena

8. Shop til you drop— Via Banchi di Sopra is the street to visit in Siena if you are looking for boutiques that sell clothes and shoes. On Friday mornings, Piazza Gramsci is occupied by a small outdoor market, where local farmers sell their fresh wares such as olive oil, bread, fruits, vegetables and cheeses. There […]

Read More...

Tuscan Beaches

Before you assume that your Italian beach vacation must take place amongst the crowds of the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre, remember that Tuscany has a huge coastline. To drive end to end via the most direct route, it would take about 3 hours and 185 miles. By the way, I’d like to do that […]

Read More...

TTG From the Beginning

It’s time again to embark on our favorite part of this little travel business— planning our next trip to Tuscany to scout new villas, new activities, new restaurants and new adventures, and of course to visit some old favorites. As our friends, families and clients know, we take the personal touch aspect of our business […]

Read More...

Summer Festivals, Food, Fun and Music in Tuscany

You actually never need a reason to head to Tuscany, but we thought we’d give you some…if you need convincing. Read on for some of the happenings throughout Tuscany this summer…. La Giostra dell’Archidado (Cortona) – June 2, 3, 4 and 5 as well as June 10, 11 and 12   The Archidado Joust traces its […]

Read More...

Pappettis…The Meatless Meatball

This one will be short, but sweet…ok, maybe a little savory too. I want to share a family recipe with you. I am not sure if, legally (meaning my grandparents would allow it), I am free to share this scrumptious recipe, but I thought I should share the wealth and pay it forward. This is […]

Read More...

A Perfect Week in Tuscany (Part Two)

In last week’s post, we made it through the first 3 days of the perfect week, with arrival at Casa Agnese, a busy day in Florence and a day trip to Siena and San Gimignano. Day Four (Lucca, cooking class): One of my favorite Tuscan towns, and one that I’m loath to miss each time […]

Read More...

A Perfect Week in Tuscany (Part One)

By now we have been doing this long enough to have formed definite opinions as to what comprises the perfect Tuscan vacation. Let’s say you and your family or group of friends have 7 days and nights to spend in Tuscany. If you’re like me and you crave a little adventure, a little culture, and […]

Read More...

How did I get here?

Brandy Stroh: My sweet love affair with Italy dates back to 1984, when my family packed up and moved to Florence, Italy for six months. We were living in the North suburbs of Chicago and my parents felt we needed to explore outside our Midwestern walls, learn more about our heritage and introduce us to […]

Read More...

Oltrarno

By now, most of our readers have likely figured out which is my favorite city in the world. I talk about it a lot and spend much of my time there, or plotting ways to get back there to visit again or to live for a while. Of course I’m talking about Florence. This week […]

Read More...

Pasqua

Pasqua is the beautiful Italian word for Easter. I know what you’re thinking: Today is St. Patricks Day, not Easter. However, as much as we Americans love to celebrate with our Irish brethren (I just spent last weekend marveling over the Chicago River dyed green for the occasion), Italians generally don’t make a big deal […]

Read More...

In Celebration of Womanly Courage

March 8th is a day on which women are celebrated in Italy and in other places around the world. It is International Women’s Day, or as it’s known in Italy, Festa della Donna. We wrote about this holiday 2 years ago, around the time of the first anniversary of our very first villa scouting trip […]

Read More...

Carnival in Italy?

But, I thought Carnival took place in Brazil? Yes, it does, but this is the one in Italy, on the Western coast of Tuscany in a beautiful beach town called Viareggio. The “Carnevale di Viareggio” actually takes place over an entire month with five days of processions each year. The processions are held on four Sundays […]

Read More...

Love in a Mug

In honor of Valentine’s Day that just passed, I felt like writing about one of the great loves of my life:  Coffee. I’ve loved coffee ever since I first discovered it my freshman year at Berkeley. I have fond memories of studying late at night in noisy cafes, sipping latte after latte, then finding my […]

Read More...

Tuscan Travel Group Cooks with Friends for a Good Cause

Laura and I decided to sponsor and host a cooking class event to honor our love and obsession with Italy and its cuisine. The donation of our event will benefit our children’s school and truthfully, we are the ones that actually reaped the benefits most sharing a fun night learning to make homemade pastas and traditional sauces amongst […]

Read More...

Where to Eat in Florence

There is no shortage of places to grab a bite in Florence.  As a visitor, young or old, you will find something you like and never go hungry.  There are some experiences more suited to the adventurous palate, such as grabbing a tripe sandwich from a street vendor (a local favorite, but you don’t want […]

Read More...

Late Fall in Tuscany

Late Fall in Tuscany

We are in the last week of our time in Italy. It’s difficult to believe that it is almost over. When I think back to what things were like in the first few weeks after we arrived, this seems like a completely different Tuscany. I think there are 2 main reasons for this change. One […]

Read More...

A Love Letter

As I enter into the final stretch of my fleeting stay in Italy, I’m starting to look at things around me in a different way… again. When I first arrived over 2 months ago, I walked and drove around in a state of  hyper-awareness. I eavesdropped on every conversation, usually not understanding. I drove with […]

Read More...

A City and its Art

Take one leisurely lap around Florence noticing its details, the architecture, the stone coats of arms on buildings that were once family palazzos (palaces), even the street and piazza names, and there’s no denying that this is a city with a rich and fascinating history. Italy did not unify until the mid 19th century, and […]

Read More...

The Florence Shopper

I recently crossed the bittersweet halfway point of this 3-month adventure in Tuscany. Having spent several weeks in Florence and the surrounding areas, simultaneously trying to be a tourist, a local and a blog researcher, I have learned a lot about shopping. First we should get one thing straight. I love to shop. I particularly […]

Read More...

Lucca by Candlelight

I’ll look for any excuse to spend a weekend in Lucca. I can’t fully explain my fascination with this lively town in western Tuscany. It’s way out west, about an hour drive from Florence directly toward the Mediterranean. There’s not much nearby other than beach towns of course, and Pisa with little to offer but […]

Read More...

The Best of the Best in Chianti

  Last week I wrote about the Chianti region of Tuscany and mentioned a fantastic restaurant near the town of Gaiole in Chianti (Badia al Coltibuono). It was chosen from the below list of stand-out restaurants in the region of Chianti Classico, as evaluated by Tuscan Travel Group’s friend and blog contributor Giovanni Nivino. Mr. […]

Read More...

The Classic Chianti

As I sit on my front patio gazing at the hills of Chianti, soaking in the sunshine with the desperation of someone who knows that the Tuscan sun will turn to rain in the coming weeks, I’m glad to write about the famous region of Tuscany that I temporarily call home. Historically speaking, the Chianti […]

Read More...

Under the Tuscan Spell

I am lucky enough to have been to quite a number of charming old Tuscan towns.  I’m beginning to see that one could spend many months here traveling around and never visit the same town twice. Just when you think you have picked your favorite, another impossibly beautiful town atop an impossibly steep hill appears around […]

Read More...

Ferragosto

  We have arrived at last. Upon landing in Italy last weekend, we were greeted by deserted Milan streets and unseasonal rainy weather. If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. All is well. August in Italy is a quiet time for locals even as the tourist season is bustling. Many city dwellers head to the […]

Read More...

My Tuscan Adventure

In a shockingly small number of days, my family and I leave our home in California for a 3-month stay in one of my favorite cities in the world- Florence. The excitement is building among us all, as is the anxiety around getting ready, packing, and leaving the comfort of friends and family, familiar schools, […]

Read More...

Summer Travel

It’s hard to believe summer is already upon us, and the travel season is in full swing. Here at Tuscan Travel Group, we are enjoying preparing our guests for the wonders and joys of Italy, and hearing about their adventures upon their return. If you haven’t yet embarked on your summer journeys, we hope this […]

Read More...

Driving in Italy

To enlighten us on this topic, we sought the help of our friend and blog contributor Giovanni Nivino, a native Californian with decades of experience visiting Italy.  In Signore Nivino’s words… Driving in a foreign country can be either one of life’s most frightening and intimidating experiences or one of its most rewarding and pleasant […]

Read More...

Harvest Time

October is a beautiful time in Tuscany, and the perfect time for local vintners to harvest their crop. Our recent adventure in Italy was timed perfectly for the harvest of grapes for the world famous wines of Southern Tuscany, including our favorite- the Brunello di Montalcino.   The Brunello wines are made by many wineries […]

Read More...

The Inimitable Villa Experience

There are so many reasons and excuses to travel to Italy….to see the sights, to discover history that until now you had only read about, to imbibe the wine and savor the food of Italy…but there is so much more. Seeing Italy from the inside is something unique and special. Yes, many Americans see Italy […]

Read More...

Welcome

In the words of Brandy and Laura – Just who do we think we are, and why are we doing this? Who We Are: Brandy I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, very aware of and enamored with my Italian roots. When I was a teen-ager, my family decided to set out on an […]

Read More...