Posts By Jan

As many of us celebrate this Memorial Day by chilling out with friends or family, I think it is a good idea for us all to take a moment to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom.  Not far from Podere Erica is the Florence American Cemetery.  It is a beautiful, peaceful, well-maintained spot which you can see from this photo.  During the Winter when there are fewer trees in leaf,  I can see it on my right as I travel down the FI-SI to go to Podere Erica.  I always admire the beauty and say a little thank you.

On this Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 there will be a ceremony.  It is free and open to the public.  A special time to visit the cemetery, but, of course you can visit any time during their opening hours.

You can visit the cemetery daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except December 25 and January 1. It is open on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty in the visitor building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.  More than 4,000 military fallen are buried on this 70 acre site of American soil in Italy.  Most of them died in the battles after the June 1944 capture of Rome.  Families had the choice of having their loved one buried at the Florence American Cemetery or sent home for internment in the U.S.

Each grave is marked by a headstone of white marble and is engraved with the decendent’s full name, rank, date of death, unit and state of entry into military service.  Those of Jewish faith have tapered marble shafts surmounted by a Star of David.  For those who could not be identified their headstone reflects the words:  “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.”

Past the graves on a broad terrace stands the memorial marked by a tall pylon surmounted by a large sculptured figure.  Here you will find the Tablets of the Missing upon which are inscribed 1,409 names of those missing in action.  There is also a chapel of marble and mosaic.  Besides escorting family to gravesite locations, and guided tour of the site, the ABMC office there offers other services like providing a photograph or lithograph of a headstone.  All of their services are listed on their website.  At this website you will also find many lovely photos of the cemetery as well as an option to search their database for burial and memorialization information on 200,000+ Americans honored at their 14 permanent American military cemeteries on foreign soil.

Florence American Cemetery is located on the west side of Via Cassia, south of Florence, just off the FI-SI.





In this case, “The Man” is Marco Giordano, our winemaker.  And his passion is making wonderful biodynamic wines from our biodynamic vineyard and using biodynamic practices in the cantina.

Photo courtesty of

The grapes we produce at Podere Erica are grown not only organically but also according to many biodynamic standards.  We are often asked just what do you mean by biodynamic?  And why is it important?

Long ago, all farming was organic.  Good farmers knew that the health of the crops depended on the health of their soil.  As industrial farming grew, nutrients were stripped from the earth.  Chemicals had to be added to “restore” the soil and now such farming is the biggest contributor to green-house gas emissions.  But this does not have to be so.  If managed correctly – organically – the soil would be a filter that could remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.   Marco is not only an “enologo,” but also a custodian of the soil.  He grows the grapes in a natural manner that does not require chemicals, either as fertilizer or pest control.

After the grape harvest, he sows seeds of 20 different kinds of plants that not only give color to our vineyard in the spring, but also prevent unwanted weeds to grow and when they are mulched give healthy nutrients (such as nitrogen) to the soil.  This set of plants promote the biodiversity of the ecosystem of the vineyard and contribute, along with other organic practices to promote the fertility of the land.




In late spring these flowering plants are mulched into the soil and organic fertilization occurs.  For the next step to “fertilize” the soil, Marco obtains from a special source a unique biodynamic compost which is made in a heap into which the six compost preparations are inserted. It is then covered with straw, old hay, or earth and “aged.”  Marco mixes this with water to make a solution that he sprays in the vineyard in late Spring.  This preparation is also a powerful aid against stress and increases plant resistance to diseases.

Yet another biodynamic process is to bring “good” insects into the vineyard to combat the “bad” insects.  Who doesn’t love the ladybug?  All of these efforts create grapes of the best quality, true to the Tuscan soil from which they grow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASangiovese Grapes at Podere Erica

These biodynamic practices eliminate the need to add pesticides and chemicals to the soil or the plants, making it healthier for us all and our environment.  In the cantina he uses the minimum amount of sulfites (a preservative) and no other chemicals.  The photo below shows all of the chemicals others add in their wine making.  The sulfite level in our red wines is 60 mg/liter and the legal limit in Italy is 190 mg/liter, higher in USA (350 mg/l).  We think that when you know what we are doing in the vineyard and in the cantina, you will have a better understanding of why environmental stewardship matters to us all, not to mention a healthier wine for you to drink.  We’d love to share the “fruits” of Marco’s passion, so if you are in Italy, make an appointment for a vineyard tour and wine tasting by the man himself.  If you can’t come to Italy, we can ship wine to you.  Just send me an email at and I will send you the details.

List of additives to wine-making from Conventional Wines to Natural Wines

Until my next blog – cin cin (cheers)

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck at time when many visitors were arriving in Amatrice for an annual festival honoring the famous pasta dish created in this town. It is called Pasta Amatriciana — a dish made with pork jowl, tomatoes, white wine, chili pepper and pecorino cheese. It is so popular it has been enshrined on an Italian stamp. The festival that honors Amatriciana has traditionally been held in the final Sunday of each August. This would have been their 50th annual celebration this coming weekend.

Amatrice is a small village inhabited mostly by older people – the youth having left the isolated village to find work in the cities.   But during the summer and especially at the time of this festival, many relatives come to spend time with their nonni. Often parents leave their children there with their grandparents for the summer. So, it is especially harsh that this disaster has happened now.

Amatrice before the earthquake: Photo by TripAdvisor
Amatrice before the earthquake: Photo by TripAdviso

Due to the influx of visitors arriving in Amatrice for Sunday’s food festival, authorities are not yet sure how many people were in Amatrice when the quake struck. About 70 were believed to be staying in the Hotel Roma, a town landmark that serves the famous pasta dish. Rescue crews pulled five bodies from the rubble of the hotel but had to halt rescue operations at night when conditions became too dangerous in the dark.

 Also the nearby hilltop towns of Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto were left in ruins by the earthquake, which could be felt 140km away in Rome. In some places, there are only large stones where buildings once stood. In others, there is only sky. You can see in the photo that the clock tower is still standing, but frozen at 3:36 when the quake hit.

Before and After Amatrice:
Before and After Amatrice:

Italian Red Cross rescue teams have been supporting the search and rescue effort.  So far, 247 people are known to have been killed and 368 injured as homes and buildings collapsed.  Several people, including children, have been pulled alive from the rubble.  They also sent search and rescue teams, search and rescue dogs and 20 ambulances out to look for people.  Volunteers have been providing first aid and emotional support to survivors in the region, which has been struck by more than 80 aftershocks.  With heavy lifting equipment just starting to reach the isolated villages, people used tractors, farm equipment and simple hand tools to break through what was left of old stone villas.  More than 1,000 people have been displaced by the quake. 

Meanwhile, chefs in Italy and around the world have rallied together, using their talents and Amatrice’s signature pasta dish, to help raise money for victims.  Food blogger Paolo Campana has launched the campaign #AMAtriciana in coordination with restaurants around Italy who will match 1 euro donations by clients ordering this dish; funds will be sent to the Red Cross.amatriciana

The Ministry of Arts in Italy has announced that entrance fees to state museums on Sunday August 28, 2016, will be donated to the affected areas. Also, the Antinori family will be donating all entrance fees from visitors to its winery in Chianti on Sunday August 28, 2016, the day when there would have been the pasta festival.

If you would like to donate, you can easily do so at this web address for the International Red Cross. The amount will be in British pounds, but will be converted to USD when it is taken from your PayPal account.

If you would like to prepare Pasta Amatriciana in memory of the lost lives, the injured and those who have lost their homes, click here for a recipe of this famous dish.



During one of our stays at the Podere we were lucky to happen upon an interesting and beautiful religious display in the center of the little town near us, San Donato in Poggio.  It is called an infiorata (fiori meaning flowers in Italian).  Many towns in Italy make an infiorata during the months of May or June to celebrate Corpus Domini (Corpus Christi), which is nine weeks after Easter.  Flower petals are used to create amazing works of art on the streets of their city – it is a striking sight, even in little San Donato.

centro_storico_27SanDonato SanDonato2











Each street “tapestry” is created first by sketching the design in chalk on the pavement.  Soil is usually used to outline the design and then it is filled in with flower petals and seeds – much like a mosaic.  The entire process takes days to complete and many people help with the construction.  After they are completed and the townspeople have had a chance to view the masterpieces on their city streets, there is a religious procession on the flower carpets to the church.


One of the most famous infiorata festivals is in Noto, Sicily.  Noto is a beautiful Baroque town in southeast Sicily.

Another beautiful display is in Brugnato, a small town in the La Spezia province of Liguria, inland from the Cinque Terre.  Orvieto, in the central Italy region of Umbria, has a costumed procession with over 400 people and the streets are decorated with flower art.

Spello, also in Umbria, is another town to view a fantastic infiorata, like those below.









Corpus Domini and Infiorata dates: The Sunday of Corpus Domini in 2016 was the last weekend in May, while in 2017 it will fall on June 18-19.  If you are in Italy around that time, look for infiorata or flower petal displays in front of many Italian churches or along city streets.

If these colorful flowers make you think of Summer, you’ll enjoy these summertime recipes – Happy Hour at the Grill – Italian Style.

Taking place this weekend is the famous Italian vintage auto race called the Mille Miglia.  It was an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957.  TIMG_7522ahe race was banned after two fatal crashes.  The crash in 1957 took the lives of the drivers and nine spectators.

In 1977, the race was revived under the name Mille Miglia Storica, a rally-type race for pre-1957 cars like Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Porsche and Bugatti .  Only the cars selected from the models which took part in the original races can participate in the Mille Miglia.

Teams and caIMG_7517rs come from all over the world, but it is difficult to get entrance. The number of participants is limited and the organizers are very selective about the cars that are accepted. My husband, Neal, and friend, Jim Pugh, were lucky to be selected to drive a 1952 Fiat Giuliana in the 2013 race. You can find some videos I made of them leaving the main piazza to the start as well as another video of other cars on their way. So exciting!

IMG_7516The race this year starts Thursday, May 19 and will end Sunday, May 22. It always starts in Brescia, turns around in Rome and returns to Brescia. There are 3 legs to the race with overnight stops in Rimini, Rome and Parma. Before the start, spectators can view all the perfectly restored cars in the main piazza and along the streets of Brescia. The late afternoon start is exciting, even as a spectator, with the roar of those engines.

Believe me, the race is still an endurance race – for the drivers and for the cars, many of which do not make it to the finish.  I made videos of the cars driving through the streets to the start of the race.  You can see Neal and Jim taking off by clicking here.  For another video showing more cars, click here.

MilleMiglia5 (2)MilleMiglia3MilleMiglia7 MilleMiglia2















Brescia is in northern Italy near Lake Como, so it would be a great destination this weekend of the year to observe such a unique race and then spend a few days at one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.


Have the winter blues? Dreaming of a summer vacation in Italy? Maybe not the whirlwind tour of the major cities, but a relaxing vacation with friends enjoying an authentic Italian experience – shop local markets, prepare meals in your Tuscan kitchen with herbs freshly picked from the garden, visit small wine producers and taste wines you cannot get at home, have your own bocce ball tournament or just lounge by the pool with beautiful views of the Tuscan countryside. Podere-Erica-Pool

Bocce CourtOur property, called Podere Erica, is situated on over 30 acres of grape vines, olive trees, pastures and woodland, yet it is walking distance to a charming village with many shops and only minutes from the Superstrada that will take you to the picturesque hilltop villages of Tuscany as well as famous medieval cities of Siena, Volterra and Florence.

This beautiful 500 year-old stone farmhouse has been lovingly remodeled to modern standards, like air conditioning and wi-fi, while still retaining its characteristic charm. There are 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms with upstairs and downstairs living areas – plenty of room for a family reunion, or a group of friends celebrating that special birthday, retirement or their love of good food and wine! You can find more information, descriptions, photos and testimonials from our guests on our website –

We have an incredible offer for all you dreamers and procrastinators! A special last-minute discount off our rental rates for any remaining week in 2016.

 20% off plus our gift to you of one of the following unique experiences…..

  • Wine Tasting Party in our new tasting room with lessons from a wine expert and tasty snacks from local purveyors
  • Personalized self-guided tour from the Podere to your choice of nearby hilltop towns, complete with driving directions, touring notes and restaurant recommendations. You can’t go wrong!
  • A hike in the woods with a local guide to the abandoned town of Olena followed by dinner featuring the famous Bistecca Fiorentina cooked in our wood-burning oven
  • Three-course dinner, complete with wine, for up to 10 people prepared for you on our property. Enjoy the typical cuisine, dining under the stars.
  • Pizza cooking class for up to 10 people – Learn from an expert how to make pizzas from scratch and cook them in our wood-burning oven.

Francesco, manning the fire - roasted pork, potatoes, and schiacciata!Vendemmia 2013 018








Email me if you have any questions or to find out what weeks are still available. Please feel free to forward this offer to your friends.  We look forward to saying Benevuti in Italia!





Photo by Garry Plartt

Carnevale, which means “farewell to meat”, lasts for 10 days, beginning this year on January 30th and ending as always the night before Ash Wednesday, which this year is February 10th, and the beginning of Lent. In Venice, this magical celebration includes street performances, elegant masked balls, extravagant parties, spectacular gondola parades on the canals, along with music and mysterious masked revelers everywhere. 


Carnevale reached its peak in the 18th century, when Venice was the renowned pleasure capital of Europe. When Napoleon invaded Venice in 1797, the glory days of Carnevale ended.  It was dead for almost 200 years. Then in 1979, in order to boost tourism, the city of Venice brought back to life Carnevale – the world’s most opulent party.

The official opening of Carnevale is in the famous St. Mark’s Square, which is the center for most events.  “The Flight of the Angel,” begins at noon and kicks off the festivities.  An “angel” (the winner of a beauty contest) flies on a zip line above the costumed crowd while acrobats perform on a stage at ground level.  The piazza is maskedcouplevenicecarnevalepacked with disguised dignitaries and masked visitors – a colorful and extravagant display of creativity.

There are plenty of private parties in elegant villas along the canals. One of the most extravagant is the Grand Masquerade Ball, held at the Palazzo Flangini.  You can attend if you have the right costume and can pay $750 a ticket.  But you will find masks and merriment on every canal and every alley in the city.

Then there is the candlelight water parade on the canal. Rowboats, gondolas and other watercraft, all illuminated by candlelight, provide a romantic spectacle. The grand finale is the Notte della Taranta (Night of the Tarantula) party followed by an over the top fireworks display which concludes the festivities.

But before the party and fireworks end and Lent begins, don’t forget to enjoy the traditional sweets of Carnevale – fried pastries! When Carnevale started hundreds of years ago, most kitchens did not have ovens, so frying was the only way to prepare such sweets.  They may go by different names, depending on the region in Italy, but the Venetians call them Castagnole, Frittele and Frappe.  In Florence, the traditional sweets for Carnevale are Cenci, Fritelle di Riso and Schiacciata alla Fiorentina.  (more…)

Italy has a variety of climate systems. We may think of Italy as having a warm, sunny Mediterranean climate, but in the winter it is a different story.  Between the north and south there can be a considerable difference in temperature, especially during the winter.  The coldest month is January, with temperatures as low as 15°F in the outskirts of Milan and 35.6 °F to the south in Palermo. Yes, it does get cold in Italy!

Back Camera
Snow in front of the Duomo in Florence, Italy


At Podere Erica, the work never stops, no matter how cold it may be. We have even gotten snow in some years.  Below is a photo of the podere in January of 2012.

Even when it is cold, Marco is busy.  There is always maintenance to be done so that the podere is beautiful and perfect when our first guests arrive in May.  In this cold month of January, he has to prune the grape visnowy poderenes and is continually controling the winemaking.  Besides being concerned about the wine, he also prunes the fruit trees which have now begun making lots of fruit under his care.  Our guests are welcome to pick the fresh fruit right off the tree!  He also clears the forest so that we can easily hike there and enjoy its beauty.  Wood cutting is also on the calendar so that we have plenty of wood for those cozy fires in the living room or great pizzas from the wood-burning oven.

Here in San Francisco (where we are finally getting the rain we desperately need) it has been in the 50’s, but I am still yearning for a bowl of steaming hot, comforting soup. This month I have been experimenting with some recipes for hearty Italian soups and would like to share the recipes with you.

While the family was vacationing in the mountains after Christmas, I made Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Soup and Tuscan Minestrone. Both were filled with yummy and healthy vegetables.  Everyone loved them, even the grandkids!  Give them a try.

When I returned home to San Francisco, my mom and I made Italian Wedding Soup for the first time. The name of this soup is actually a misnomer.  It originated here in the States within the Italian-American community.  The old folks called it “minestra maritata” in Italian, which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meats go well together, as in a marriage.  Hence, the source for the “mistranslation” of “soup married” to Italian Wedding Soup.  So, it has nothing to do with what might be served at a wedding, however, it is still a delicious, and light yet hearty soup.  We think ours turned out pretty great.  Click here if you want to try it.

Back Camera

                           A snow-covered street in downtown Florence – a rare occurrence.

Until I visited Italy at Christmastime, I never realized the differences between how they celebrate Christmas and how Americans do. On the Italian holiday calendar, December 25 isn’t the only special day. Throughout December and January there are a number of religious holidays to mark the season.  They begin their festivities on December 8, celebrating the Immaculate Conception and end on January 6, the Epiphany.  Here is a calendar of the religious dates they honor.

Christmas tree at the Piazza del Duomo, Florence


DECEMBER 8: L’Immacolata Concezione – celebration of the Immaculate Conception

DECEMBER 13: La Festa di Santa Lucia – St. Lucy’s Day

DECEMBER 24: La Vigilia di Natale – Christmas Eve

DECEMBER 25: Natale – Christmas

DECEMBER 26: La Festa di Santo Stefano – St. Stephen’s Day marks the announcement of the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the Three Wise Men

DECEMBER 31: La Festa di San Silvestro – New Year’s Eve

JANUARY 1: Il Capodanno – New Year’s Day

JANUARY 6: La Festa dell’Epifania – The Epiphany

Kicking off the season on December 8th, there will be lights strung across city streets, lighted trees in the piazzas, roasting chestnuts on the corner, a traditional Christmas market in the main piazza, as well as nativity scenes (presepi) in most churches and piazzas. These sights are what excite Italians at this time of year. Though gifts are exchanged, the emphasis in Italy is not on gift-giving, but more about being with friends and family and observing their Catholic traditions (even though many are disillusioned with the Church).  Here are some photos taken this year of the lights and sights in Florence.

Christmas in Florence


From the north to the south of Italy, depending on the local traditions, different parts of Italy celebrate in different ways. In the Alps at midnight on Christmas Eve hundreds of people ski down an Alpine peak carrying lit torches. In Umbria, you can see many representatives of Babo Natale (Santa Claus) in their illuminated canoes on the Tiber River.  Bagpipe and flute players (zampognari and pifferai) are a part of Christmas celebrations in Rome, Naples, and southern Italy.

When I was in Florence, we went to the Mercatino di Natale in the Santa Croce Piazza, shopped and sipped hot mulled wine and munched on steaming hot chestnuts.

Piazza del Duomo in Florence


But for most, it is the delight of gathering around a bountiful, beautifully laid table, sharing traditional regional dishes and the holiday atmosphere that Italians look forward to every year. There are three important Christmas meals.

Before attending Midnight Mass, the traditional Christmas Eve Dinner would include seven types of fish. Since we have an Italian now in our family, I wanted to honor his traditions, but seven courses of fish on Christmas Eve was just too much for me to accomplish. So, we put all seven fishes in a fish stew called Cioppino, which was created by fishermen in San Francisco.  It has now become our family tradition.  Click here for my recipe.

On Christmas Day, Italians invite their immediate family for a large lunch that can go on all day. In recognition of the importance of this day, only a family’s best table linens, finest china and silver flatware are used to set a table of which everyone can be proud, even Nonna!

Nativity in Florence


The first course is often preceded by a classic antipasto of local cured meats and cheese.  Next is the pasta course, followed by roasted meat – veal, beef, or pork, including lots of everyone’s favorite seasonal side dishes.  Not to be forgotten are the traditional sweets, such as panettone, almond cookies, and torrone (honey nougat with nuts).

Santo Stefano’s lunch, served on the 26th, is a less formal meal (leftovers!) and often friends and more distant relatives are invited.

The last of the celebrations falls on January 6th, the Epiphany.  During the night of the 5th, La Befana (a witch on a broomstick) arrives with gifts for the good children and coal for the not so good!  The legend says that la Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men who asked her to lead them to the baby Jesus, but she declined to help them.

Ti_vogliamo_bene_befana_1She then realized that she had made a big mistake and gathered up a bag full of gifts and set off to search for the baby Jesus. Though she followed the same star as the Magi, she was unable to find the stable. Now, la Befana continues to travel the world, searching every house for the Christ child.   The arrival of la Befana marks the end of the long and festive holiday season in Italy.

No matter how you celebrate the season, make traditions for your family and spread good cheer to all.

Autumn at Podere Erica in Chianti

This November, if you take a drive in the Tuscan countryside, you’ll see people spreading netting under the olive trees and climbing up into them to strip away the ripe olives with gloved hands and hand rakes.  And they will be delighted to be doing so, because last year there was no harvest!  No new oil!  A disaster!

As mentioned in a recent New York Times article, “Last year’s harvest was severely damaged by extreme heat, torrential rains and hailstorms, as well as a devastating fruit fly infestation. But even worse, a few regions to the south, in Puglia, olive trees have suffered a catastrophic bacterial infection that has wiped out at least one million trees. It’s been a disastrous year. Some experts predict many olive farms will go out of business; others foresee skyrocketing prices. One thing is clear: We can’t take olive oil for granted.” And in Italy, olive oil is a way of life! It is served at every meal and when it is Olio Nuovo (new oil), it is cherished.

Harvesting the olives at Podere Erica
Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Chianti Harvesting the olives at Podere Erica









We have just harvested our olives at Podere Erica and although it was not an abundant crop, it looks fantastic. Here it is coming directly from the press. Green goodness!

The real extra virgin olive oil at Podere Erica in Chianti.

Black & Green olives close up

This mixture of ripe (black) and unripe (green) olives were immediately taken to our local frantoio, or olive press. This is done at room temperature. The olives are never heated. There are no chemical treatments of any kind. Otherwise the oil won’t be extra virgin.

Here are our olives loaded up for the trip to the frantoio for pressing.

Olives on their way to be pressed at Podere Erica

Tuscan olive oil is considered the prince of olive oil (especially by the Tuscans!). It has a grassy, sometimes peppery taste that is quite addictive. Harvesting the olives while most are still green contributes to this spicy taste. Don’t worry if the oil is opaque, because olio nuovo usually is, and expect there to be some sediment.

What to do with olive oil, other than dress a salad?

The simplest thing is “fettunta”. You will need a loaf of Italian bread, slice it, toast it, and rub it with a peeled slice of garlic. Then drizzle it with your “new olive oil”, season with salt, and serve. Paired with a glass of Chianti, you’ve got a great appetizer. Even better, top with white cannelli beans that have been simmered with sage and rosemary. Click here for our recipe for Crostini con Fagioli.

In addition, Italians drizzle it over hearty soups, especially minestrone, pasta e fagioli or ribolitta or wherever the flavor of the oil complements the dish. During the summer, they drizzle it over pappa al pomodoro or to season pinzimonio (a platter of mixed raw vegetables).

How to preserve your golden goodness:

Even the best olive oil will go bad quickly if it’s not properly stored. So,
• Don’t expose it to light or heat
• Don’t keep it in a clear glass bottle
• Don’t keep it in a half-empty bottle
• Do keep it cool
• Do keep it in the dark
• Do keep it in a dark bottle
• Do decant a large bottle into smaller ones and use them one at a time.

In the News today

I was shocked to read today about a scandal in the Italian olive oil industry.  Written in the British newspaper, the Telegraph, they announced this week that of 20 brands tested in the laboratory by specialists from the Italian customs agency, nine were found to be lower quality oil, even going so far as to add green food coloring to achieve the appropriate green color of extra virgin olive oil. The producers caught up in the investigation include big names such as Bertolli.

So, buyer beware.  It is best to buy from small producers who are proud of their olive oil.  It may be more expensive, but you know that it is the real thing!

Would you like to Take an Olive Harvest Tour in Italy?
Every November a friend of ours organizes a great tour in Tuscany. Based at our Podere Erica, he offers a hands-on harvesting experience with a trip to the frantoio as well as great cooking classes and tours of the area. In the past, his tour has included a cooking class, wine tasting and dinner at Antinori’s famous Osteria di Passignano, pizza making class, wine tastings, tours of Volterra, San Gimignano, Siena, Florence and Montalcino. Contact David at a Cooks Tour for more information.