In 2003, I saw the movie Under the Tuscan Sun and fell in love with Tuscany! Ever since then it has been on my dreams list of places to visit. Along with living for an extended period of time in Provence, Tuscany is on the list. When I start planning trips to a new area, I reach out to the places and guides we have used in the past. Phillip Reddaway from Rhone Wine Holiday recommended Carol Scabaldi from Carol’s Moveable Feast. So happy we use referrals for our trips! While we were on the tour we realized that that we used her friend, Emily, with Your Private Provence for a tour as well.

Carol was great to plan our Tuscan adventure. It began with tour options and based on our discussions we chose to do a local tour. We wanted to spend time visiting local places. We decided to spend time in the local town of Loro Ciuffenna.

Our trip to Loro Ciuffenna began with a train from Florence. Even though we bought the tickets from agent from the train station, I should have validated them. We had to pay an additional 5 euros on the train, which in the large scheme of things not a big deal. Please take this advice: always validate your tickets and don’t assume you don’t have to validate. We had a good laugh on the train from the conductor. When he saw our tickets were to Montevarchi he asked if we were headed to the Prada outlet! My friend Marie would have been excited.

Carol picked us up at the train station and we began an amazing tour! Our first visit was with Mezzasoma Chocolate. We met the chocoliater and enjoyed tasting and learning about chocolate making. Since we were visiting close to the holiday season we were there when they were making the Panettone cakes, which are an Italian Christmas cake. They are known for these specialty cakes.

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We were so excited that we were visiting Tuscany during the olive harvest season. It is a special time to see the olives being harvested. Carol arranged for us to visit I Bonsi. It is a local place where farmers bring their olive harvest to be pressed. We learned that at I Bonsi each farmers harvest was pressed to their oil, there was no mixing of farmers. This was our first time seeing olive oil pressed and loved the experience. The smell of olive oil was amazing! We were treated to some amazing olive oil and goodies from the area. We fell in love with the oils and simple whole foods that are in Tuscany.

After a day of tasting amazing chocolate and olive oil tasting, we went to our hotel in Loro Ciuffenna. We stayed at Residence La Ferriera, which is in a beautiful setting and an easy walk into town. During this trip we realized that Italian beds were different than American and a little more firm than we were used too. We loved the peaceful setting and olive trees that were surrounding our hotel.

We love unique experiences while we travel and not doing things that all the tourists do. After a great day, Carol took us to have dinner with a local photographer at her tuscan home. Lucia welcomed us as family and it was a night to remember. It was a perfect evening spent breaking bread in a relaxed setting. The food, conversation and company was perfect!

Our second day with Carol began at a local pecorino cheese farm. We loved our tour and tasting at Podere Casa al Bosco. Sandra and Ada are two sisters who run the organic goat and sheep farm in Figline Valdarno. In the US, I am dairy free and loved the cheeses from the happy animals at this great farm. We really saw the love and care of the animals, which really does make a difference in their cheese. I would love some of the cheese right now! We brought some of their delicious cheese with us to Capri for us to enjoy on our balcony.

Our next stop after cheese tasting was a visit to a local winery. We had a great visit and lunch at Mannucci Droandi. We had a delicious lunch with Tuscan goodies. We loved visiting during olive harvesting season and tasted their first pressing. Not only were they wine producers, but had an organic farm for their food. We were blessed to meet the owners, it was special place and day. Nothing beats the homemade eggplant parmigiana by Maria.

Carol delivered exactly what we wanted and we had an amazing first two days with her. She created a tour and memories that couldn’t have been done without her. Thank you!

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