In the second part of my Tuscany travel posts, I wanted to give you a real taste of Tuscany in a cultural and literal sense. As part of our trip with Bookings for You we were very lucky to be gifted two guided experiences and a pasta masterclass courtesy of Family Travel Italy, Liv Italy Tours and Chef – Massimo Rossi at Ristorante Belvedere.
[Disclaimer: The experiences and stay within this post were gifted]
As mentioned in my previous Tuscany Travel post – this was my first time in Italy. A huge draw for me was the food and culture of this amazing country. I mean let’s face it, you can sit on a beach or round a pool in most European countries. But it’s only fair and right that when visiting Italy, you immerse yourself in the culture and cuisine of such an incredible place.
Family Travel Italy – Arte al Sole – Art and Culture
Our guide, Lisa, is one of the most refreshing people I have met for a long time. Her attitude towards the art, architecture and culture of Italy was just so heartwarming. She was able to to talk us through the hidden treasures of Certaldo, a stunning medieval town nestled in the hills of Tuscany. There is road access but we decided to take the uphill tram or ‘funicular’ [Funicolare di Certaldo]- which was a very cute highlight of our trip!
Upon arrival, it’s clear to see why Lisa brought us to Certaldo. The pretty streets are lined with the most beautiful buildings adorned with intricate stonework, insta-worthy doorways and at the top of the main walk way, the stunning Palazzo Pretorio, a town hall type building covered in ancient coats of arms.
On arrival at the Palazzo we were greeted by the team who work there and shown round the wonderful building. Even if you’re not a history nut, which I am not, the building itself is so very beautiful as is the town and well worth a visit whilst in Tuscany.
It feels a bit unjust to do such a whistle-stop review of our experiences in Tuscany, but I think my biggest takeaway from my time with Lisa is the way in which they engage with families and the experiences they create for every member of the families they work with.
It’s not just a sightseeing tour it’s Family Travel Italy’s mission to immerse children in the culture and art of Italy. They do this through a wide variety of activities from treasure hunts to art activities, and adventures beyond the walls of museums.
After our visit to Certaldo we ventured a few miles out to a wonderful bar and eatery called Chiosca ai Renai where we undertook an art class and enjoyed the beautiful surrounding views.
A Taste of Tuscany – Liv Italy Yours
Our second guided tour took us to the indescribably beautiful Florence. It’s small winding streets, packed with eateries and shops, the market, the palazzo. It’s really everything you could hope for in an Italian city. Our guide Rafael was perfect; warm and friendly, her knowledge of not only the food of Florence but it’s history and provenance was outstanding.
It would probably be quite laborious to talk you through every aspect, but safe to say we ate and drank our way round the city from charcuterie and wine, to tripe (yes tripe) to a fabulous taster session at Acqua al 2 – a charming restaurant serving the most flavoursome of Italian cuisine.
If you want to get a real sense of the cuisine of Tuscany I cannot recommend one of Liv Italy’s tours enough. There’s no substitute for the knowledge of an experienced tour guide like Rafael.
Here’s to Massimo – Pasta Master-Class!
The perfect ending to the perfect trip. We rounded up our time in Italy with a trip to Ristorante Belverdere, owned by Italian chef Massimo Rossi. The wonderful Barbara was our guide for the evening and translator as we tackled the fine art of pasta making!
By this point, most of the group had a streaming cold and I think delirium had set in, but my goodness did we have a laugh. It was so much fun to get our hands dirty and get stuck into something. What was truly warming though was that most of us were completely rubbish at it too haha!!
Massimo and the team were very gracious hosts to our rabble and mess and it was an honour to be taught by such a talented man.
Experiencing Tuscany through Food and Culture
As I said in my first post, I was almost of the mindset that this working class lass from Grimsby wasn’t good enough for Italy. That somehow they’d see me for a cultural fraud and laugh me out of their beautiful restaurants and stylish establishments. But you know what? They didn’t. In fact, everyone we encountered was kind and funny and welcoming. Everything was reasonably priced and the whole trip was relaxed and fun.
Just want to give a final shout out the Violet for organising the whole thing and Bookings for You for being such gracious hosts.