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giovanni

Tuscan Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations

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I rented this place outside of Cortona a few years ago. Great place and the people who manage this group of properties are very nice.


Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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I humbly submit our agriturismo, Poggio Etrusco. We are ten minutes from Montepulciano, halfway between Rome and Florence (good day trips), and central to a lot of wonderful food/wine/art/history. Please see my website: www.FoodArtisans.com

Best,

PamelaItalian Food Artisans


Pamela Sheldon Johns

Italian Food Artisans

www.FoodArtisans.com

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Along with importing olive oil, our other go-to-Italy-more-often business is helping our friend Omar with his rental business in the small Tuscan hamlet of Chianni (near San Gimignano).

Untouched Tuscany

Jim


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I am planning a trip to Tuscany for four couples in early October 2005. We would like to make arrangements for an upscale villa for one week. We will have a relaxed agenda including day trips to vinyards, markets, evening restaurant outtings and other points of interest. We are all seasoned travellers who have been to Italy on several previous occassions.

My initial reaction is to look at something in the countryside outside of Florence or Siena but I am open to suggestions pretty much anywhere in Tuscany.

If there are previous threads on this subject I would appreciate a link.

If you drop me a line at deirdre_straughan@hotmail.com, I can direct you to a website I'm working on for a friend about his place in Cetona, the site is just not at its final public address yet.

Best, Deirdre'


best regards,

Deirdré Straughan

http://www.straughan.com

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The Fontodi winery has a fabulous villa overlooking the vineyards in Panzano.. ( it is not private, there are other units)

I can give you more info on the area if you like..

There are also some other fabulous estates in the area with private villa's..

it is halfway between Florence and Siena.. in the heart of Chianti Classico

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My family rented Poggio di Sopra a few years ago. Here is a review: Poggio di Sopra 2

The home is owned by Sandro Chia - an artist and vintner. The home is 9 km south of Montalcino, situated on the top of a hill overlooking the 13th century Sant Antimo. There are two units which will sleep a total of 10 very comfortably.

My husband and I both love to cook and to eat. We found the kitchen here well equipped. I did not see the kitchen in the lower unit, but I can imagine it is of equal quality. There is also a good outdoor grill, a pergola with dining tale, an extra, full size fridge with ice maker and dining set near the pool. Wild herbs grow everywhere, and there is a vegetable garden tender by the caretaker. As I recall, there is also a larger kitchen and dining room on the ground floor that one can rent for special gatherings.

There is decent shopping in Montalcino for the basics and of course WINE!

We loved this place - my son is still talking about it 3 years later.

BTW - the home is featured on the "to do" list in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die Email me if you want more photos of the house and the area.

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Try this link:

Via Travel Design

It's a small company that specializes in France and Italy rentals as well as gastronomic tours of cheese farms, wineries, smaller restaurants, etc. The owners of the company are serious foodies/restaurant people, so they arrange trips for folks like them.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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My wife and I travel to Italy about once a year, usually renting a car and staying in 2-4 different hotels, or staying in a larger city without a car.

For my wife's 50th birthday we rented Il Cucolo, one of the Villa's listed on Jim Dixon's RealGoodFood site and brought along three other couples. It was actually in Palaia, not Chianni. It was a wonderful week and a wonderful place, although it was August (we never travel to Italy in summer, but that's when my wife's birthday is), and the bedrooms were rather warm (no air conditioning). But having a nice pool to jump into made up for that...

The location was great, nice views of the small town and fields (and one hotel/resort in the distance). Total privacy, beautiful swimming pool, nice landscaping. Upstairs four very comfortable bedrooms each with private bath, downstairs a compact but very functional kitchen, large living room and large sitting room, dining alcove, etc. I think there was a fireplace, but it was summer. We ate out on the back patio, viewing the pool and fields and town. For the birthday night Omar arranged for a local woman and her husband to come by and prepare dinner, it was a definite success (not gourmet, just good solid stuff). The house cost a little under $2000 for the week, all four couples were very comfortable and happy, seemed to me like a good value.

Depending on your point of view, the town was perfectly centrally located or a little deep in the hills. We did day trips almost every day. For Florence we drove to a nearby town and took a train, for the others we drove, I seem to recall it was under an hour in any direction to Sienna, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, etc. This was mostly on smaller back country roads, the distances were not great. But it did mean that most nights we didn't have evening dinners in major towns, because we didn't want to drive the dark windy hilly roads back home late at night, although we did several times with no trouble. There were good supermarkets within 20 minutes and several good smaller markets in the town (10 minute walk, 2 minute drive) with everything we needed to make dinner. The town also had a good pizzeria/restaurant (simple linguine with summer truffles for $10 was more than fine) and a more up-scale cozy restaurant as well where we ate twice.

I would totally trust Jim Dixon and Omar on their rentals (and their olive oils), I have no connection other than as a happy customer. I think you have to decide if you want a bed and breakfast or agriturismo sort of place, which can be wonderful, but where you are someone else's guest (who has to talk to you and feed you and entertain you), or if you just want a house so you can sort of feel what it would be like to live there, dealing with most of the details on your own.

P.S. But those european all-in-one clothes washer/dryers - watch out. Once it's on the dry cycle, your clothes are locked in until the machine decides its over and cool enough, and I have a few shirts that are still permanently wrinkled because I couldn't take them out and hang them up when I wanted to.

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David,

Thanks for the great description of Il Cuculo (your check is in the mail). I should add that prices have gone up a bit in the past couple of years, and the exchange rate has made Italy more expensive. Il Cuculo now rents for between 1900 and 3200 euros/week, depending on the season.

Jim


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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My wife and I are traveling to Italy in April for two weeks... Going to be in Rome for 3 days, Tuscany for 4, Bologna,etc. for 3 and Florence for 2 days. We are looking for the best places to eat at in those cities and surrounding areas. I'm a chef and I want to see about all I can in this short period of time about the wonderful food and restaurants here in Italy. Any help would be great! Thanks.

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Is there a budget?

There is a budget, but will definetly splurge on a few two or three star meals while in some of the cities...looking for the "hidden" places with traditional cusine and known in the areas we are traveling for specializing in local, fresh ingredients. Any help would be great in Tuscany region, Rome, and Florence. Thanks!!!!

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Are you going anywhere near the coast in Tuscany, such as Viareggio, Pisa, Pietrasanta, Porto Venire, Cinque Terre etc??

I know of some nice 'hidden' places along the way...


"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Is there a budget?

There is a budget, but will definetly splurge on a few two or three star meals while in some of the cities...looking for the "hidden" places with traditional cusine and known in the areas we are traveling for specializing in local, fresh ingredients. Any help would be great in Tuscany region, Rome, and Florence. Thanks!!!!

Yes...we are heading up to the Cinque Terre area hopefully to do some hikes...Would love to get any reccomendations you might have for places to stop there or along the way...Thanks!

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One town sticks out in my mind.

Pietrasanta & Forte dei Marmi. Won't post the restaurants just yet till I get the addresses and stuff correct. I know where they are, but it would be easier if you had the addresses.

We're talking seafood baby! We're talking bistecca fiorentina!! We're talking, clean air!!


"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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One town sticks out in my mind.

Pietrasanta & Forte dei Marmi. Won't post the restaurants just yet till I get the addresses and stuff correct. I know where they are, but it would be easier if you had the addresses.

We're talking seafood baby! We're talking bistecca fiorentina!! We're talking, clean air!!

Sounds great! We are torn between staying in this region or Bologna...any suggestions...If the seafood is as good as you say I think we can make up are minds pretty easy! Thanks for the help!

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Forte dei Marmi - small boutique seaside town, 20mins north of Pisa on the freeway (autostrada) on the road to Genova. In the summer, you can spot Giorgio Armani, Mr Moretti (owner of Inter-Milan), the Ferrari Boss etc. on the beaches/town center etc...

3 places for this town:

Madeo

Add: V. Giovan Battista Vico, 75

Phone: 0584-84068

It's on the road from the autostrada turn-off for La Versilia. As you head into Forte dei Marmi, it's on your right, almost opposite a service station. It's also closed on Wednesdays.

The mandatory service of flat crisp foccacina is to die for.

The raw fish platter, a specialty of the Tuscan seaside, is to go to heaven for.

They will show you fresh fish and crusty's on a platter. Or the meat is also very good, tagliata con rucola is a trademark.

Keep an eye on the menu for price checks, but order from the waiter, either Gabriele, or Lulio.

Next is...

Lorenzo

V. Carducci n. 61

0584-84030

They have 1 star, and have had it for years. Degustation always worthwhile, and do book.

High-end Tuscan, classical influences. Expensive, but great for people watching and, the food, yeah, the food.

And on the seaside itself...

BISTROT

Viale Franceschi, 14

Tel 0584 89879

Brilliant place to eat and romance and whatever else. Degustation starters always good. Assagini they call it. Tasters. Go for grilled scampi for mains, maybe with a nice wild sea bass on the grill. Desserts, bloody good. Call ahead. Ask for David, he speaks English. Just. No, he's very good, as he's the owner's son. I like this place very much. Lots of fond memories.

And Pietrasanta... a town in the hills behind Forte dei Marmi... old Roman wall still exists. This place, is where all the stone carvers used to live. Apparently most of the statues and ornamental buildings in the old Roman Forum were made here, with stone from Carrara, still further North up the coast.

In Pietrasanta, you want to visit Gato Nero, in the town center. Just ask. No reservations necessary. It's a trattoria, serving up hearty country food. Not so much seafood, but meat is good in all forms, offal also for the brave and righteous. Feel at home at Gato Nero.

Then the Enoteca Marchucci is also very good. They are wine sellers during the day, a grill room (in American parlance) at night. Bistecca Fiorentina is the way to go, to share of course!! Starters are small dishes from the home style kitchen, anchovy-stuffed peppers a specialty, and duck liver pate too. Tuscan bean soup, always a soother. The ambience and all-stone environment... sublime. go on a week night. Weekends are good for people watching, really beautiful people, but the kitchen would be slow.


"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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In about 3 weeks I'm leaving for a bike trip to the Tuscan Coast. It's with Vermont Bike Tours, so most of the dinners are included in the trip, but we'll have a few nights on our own.

Does anyone have suggestions for good places to eat in in Marina di Castagneto?We'll be staying at Tombolo Talasso Resort.

In Florence we'll be in Oltrarno the first night, so I'm thinking about Quatro Leoni and Cinghale Bianco. Our last night will be near Santa Maria Novella, so any suggestions in that area (Il Latini is already on the short list) would be most welcome.

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Sostanza is the oldest trattoria in Florence. It also has the best bisteca in all of Italy. Small, cramped and enormously popular-you must reserve at least a week or more in advance. If you go almost everyone has the bisteca; consider ordering it for two, a cut about two and one half inches thick. They also have a "meringue cake" which is off the menu and almost on par with their steak.

Il Pizziaola is the best pizzaria, almost as good as Brandi in Naples. It is diagonally across from Cibreo, considered by many to be one of the two best restaurants in Forence along with the extremely expensive Enoteca.

I am not a fan of Il Latini.

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Thanks for your reply, Joe. Sostanza is already on my short list because I love steak, but there will be four of us and I'm not sure where the other 3 stand on the steak issue and whether there'll be other choices.................

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for florence, add Da giovanni to your short list.. it is owned by one of the I Latini Brothers, Giovani.. and is around the corner.. but Far from the craziness at I latini.. on via del moro!

near where you will be staying is Grand HOtel Tombolo ione of the Antinori's properties ,will be interested to hear about the food there,

Italians don't like to eat in restaurantsof hotels.. so has not been talked about much!

It is a converted summer resort run by the government.can't wait to see it!

In the Oltr'arno I LOVE Pandemonio on Via del Leone, almost at Piazza Tasso and Cavolo Nero ( tiny) on Via del Ardiglione

PS are you going on a cinghiale tour?


Edited by divina (log)

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