From Tuscany with Love

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Traveling through Italy is perhaps the most humbling experience for a chef and food lover. Their earth produces the most incredible grapes for Brunello, the most delicate squash flowers to toss with saffron and cream over fresh pasta and porcini mushrooms that are as light and buttery as the risotto they dance in. As we wave good bye to the Treviso Provence and our memories of strolling San Marco Square in Venice, holding our sandals in our hands as we splash thru the morning floods- our second lunch of stuffed pizza overlooking the famed Opera House and our gondola ride with “would be” twin of JR from JR’s Packinghouse, I am overwhelmed with the anticipation of Tuscany’s abundant fields of fresh vegetables, olive trees and vineyards.

A mere 3 hour train ride through the outskirts of Bologna and …………. Il Borro- the medieval town and winery of the famed Ferragamo family sits just outside of Montevarci in the Tuscan hills. As we drive thru the gates, champion stallions on either side, we gasp at its pristine hillsides, streams and picture perfect villa that welcomes tourists and wine lovers to this must stay “resort”. It is difficult to describe a medieval town that dates back to 1090 with the amenities of a brand-new 5 star hotel. The village here clearly emanates the by gone era of charm, rustic style and history. As we climb the narrow stone path that leads to our condo, we gasp at the breathtaking views, admire the tiny shops that adorn the walk way and listen to the calling peacocks just below the hills. This is not a travel log- this is our home for the next three days. You settle in immediately at Il Borro, open a bottle of their lovely wine and the shutters that let in the afternoon breeze. Feeling the sense of belonging- we opted to settle in by booking in- room massages followed by a venture into the next town where we purchased fresh porcinis, farm eggs so fresh they bore the color of sunflowers and fresh fennel and sweet oranges with butter lettuce. An experience not to be missed is to cook for oneself in Tuscany and Il Borro gives you the option with beautiful kitchens as well as their Osteria del Borro dining option- internationally acclaimed for local ingredients, an exceptional wine list (but of course) and subtle culinary expressions that respects the farm land’s great bounty. Experiencing this with Salvatore Ferragamo and his loyal companion Nikita adds an even greater dimension to the experience. As we dined over pasta with fresh mint, zucchini and roasted garlic, and American sized hamburgers, (Salvatore’s favorite) I found myself back to pinching myself for another reality check.

From Tuscany with love-

Culinary Director

As the Culinary Director for ABC 7, I whip up cooking segments on ABC 7 News at Noon, along with recipes, cooking tips, reviews and great food finds on MySuncoast Dining at