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This coming Thursday, June 13th, and again on June 21 (summer solstice), Florence’s cathedral will reveal one of its hidden features, probably the most singular and surprising one. At exactly 12.30PM the sun’s beams will filter into Brunelleschi’s dome passing through the hole in a small bronze disk inserted high up in the wall, and form a luminous circle which perfectly fits into the white marble disk inlaid on the cathedral’s floor.

Florence's cathedral, the solstice

Florence’s cathedral, the solstice

This fascinating spectacle is created by the cathedral’s gnomon, (from the Greek γνώμων, it is the structure – column, dial or hole – used for the observation of the sun’s meridian altitude) and takes place every year at midday on June 21st since 1475. Installed by a famous astronomer of the time, Paolo Dal Pozzo Toscanelli, friend of Brunelleschi and correspondent of Christopher Columbus, the gnomon was used to determine the duration of the year and calculate the summer solstice. It also served as an indicator of sowing and harvest times, and to study the constancy of sun’s route through the sky and, thanks to its accuracy, was used for years even after the invention of the telescope.

 

Florence’s summer solstice: a unique phenomenon, a spellbinding vision not be missed!

E’ primavera, finalmente! i.e. it is springtime, finally!

And springtime in Tuscany is always unique… as the days become longer and warmer, chicks and baby rabbits fill the farmhouses’ gardens and aromatic herbs flourish, filling the air with delicious balmy scents. Seize the day, because spring is the season to visit Tuscany! Head off to discover tiny Medieval villages, explore the countryside and indulge in tasty picnics by luxuriant vineyards. And then again, savor tart baccelli and newly made pecorino cheese, and visit the latest cutting edge art exhibits: the “Springtime of the Renaissance”, at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi, and Delvoye’s visionary installations in Lucca.

flowers
Florence, by the way, will bloom in full on April 25th, as the famed yearly Plant and Flower Festival flings its gates open welcoming locals and visitors. Countless exhibitors from Italy’s best nurseries will be showing their most splendid examples of plants, flowers and aromatic herbs; rare, common or unknown varieties will be on display and available to be purchased. The event, an unparalleled explosion of colors and scents, will be  hosted within the awe-inspiring premises of the ancient Horticulture Garden. Founded in 1852, this amazing botanical park houses high-trunk trees, innumerable and varied flower beds and a unique feature: a grand glass tepidarium used to shelter subtropical and temperate climate plants and flowers. Built in 1880 on a design by architect Giacomo Roster, it is a gleaming example of nature-focused period architecture.

E’ primavera! The Plant and Flower Festival is a spellbinding color and fragrance-filled spring-celebrating event which delights all, from botanical connoisseurs to families longing for a leisurely afternoon outdoors, and of course romantic couples, just strolling around gazing at the plants (and each other!)

The exhibit is open every day 9AM to 7.30PM from April 25 to May 1. Contact us at Italy’s Finest for unique custom-built Tuscan vacations or springtime weekend breaks! We look forward to hearing from you and will be delighted to create your ideal Tuscan experience! For an enquiry or request don’t hesitate to call +39-055-0948273 or write info@italysfinest.com

Wim Delvoye "Untitled" 2010

Wim Delvoye “Untitled” 2010

Tuscany’s eventful 2013 art scene is enhanced by yet another world-class exhibition: Wim Delvoye’s latest masterpieces at the San Cristoforo Church, in Lucca. An extraordinary opportunity to admire the great artist’s visionary brand-new pieces in an extremely evocative venue, and to visit Lucca, one of Tuscany’s hidden gems!

San Cristoforo Church boasts a richly sculpted limestone façade, century-long eventful history, and penetrating atmosphere. Dating back to the year 1000, redecorated in the 1300s and during the Baroque era, it was completely dismantled of its interior furnishings and inside decor in 1940, when it became a sanctuary for local war victims.

The famed Belgian artist’s magnetic imagination was captured by the premises, so much that he designed the exhibition especially to suit the building, successfully creating an inspiring, harmonious, dialogue between the church’s ancient architecture and the fantastic chimerical dimension of his art.

“I liked the fact that San Cristoforo was a church” Delvoye remarks “such a beautiful structure, built with excellent materials, of lovely proportions, rich in history and abundant in symbolic meaning. I love the fact of entering into a direct relationship with the surrounding territory by using its materials in my work.” Thus, Delvoye created his new visionary piece, Double Coccyx, expressly for the exhibit: entirely made of marble from the nearby Apuan Alps, it is dedicated to the premises and town of Lucca.

Among the other thought-provoking clairvoyant pieces unveiled last March 1st are the seven bronzes called Holy Family Series, and the world-celebrated Untitled, a stunning 11 meter-high twisted tower which was housed in the Louvre’s pyramid up to last January, today superbly set right in the center of the church’s nave.

Sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, Region of Tuscany, Province and City of Lucca and Rome’s Academia Belgica, the exhibition is open Mondays through Sundays from 10AM to 8PM, until September 1 2013. And, it is great chance to discover Lucca, an exquisite town still off the beaten tourist track, which offers countless artistic treasures, a genuine, unspoiled, Tuscan atmosphere and mouth-watering gastronomic treats!

For special art-focused Tuscan itineraries contact us at Italy’s Finest, we will be delighted to create your ideal Tuscan vacation! For an enquiry or request don’t hesitate to call +39-055-0948273 or write to info@italysfinest.com.

Delvoye in Lucca: an enlightening contemporary Tuscan experience involving past, present and future, surrealism and contrast, balance and harmony… all dynamically interacting in a sublime artistic dialogue.

Easter Parade in Florence: lo scoppio del carro

Easter Parade in Florence: lo scoppio del carro

Springtime in Tuscany is divine… days are longer, the weather gets milder and sunnier, trees branches bear new pale green leaves, flowers start budding. Easter is a magical time to visit Tuscany, and it’s the ideal time of the year to experience some of its most ancient traditions and take part in them!
Florence, especially, boasts a unique Easter tradition known as “lo scoppio del carro”, i.e. the explosion of the cart. So, if you’re in Florence on Easter day, don’t assume the Easter bunny will appear… but you should expect the whole city center, mainly the cathedral square and adjacent streets, to start filling up with people from very early in the morning. In fact, a great excited crowd will have gathered by 8.30, to admire the splendid historical parade: historical figures on foot or horseback, escorted by musicians and skilled flag-wavers, all in Medieval costume parade along the city streets. Preceded by Florence’s symbolic flag, il Gonfalone, and by a massive tower-shaped cart pulled by two white oxen, the parade reaches Piazza Duomo, and, among much clamor and thrill, the firework-covered ancient cart is brought right in front of the Cathedral. The cart is connected to the cathedral’s main altar by a long wire and a rocket (dove-shaped and bearing an olive branch in its beak) is attached to the wire. Once lit by the Florence Bishop, amidst children’s enthusiastic squeals, the little dove ( la colombina) slides along the wire, reaches the cart and sets all the fireworks off! Crackles, pops and bursts of light go on for about 10, spectacular, minutes. While the cheering crowd and whole Piazza are enveloped in a dense firework-created fog, the colombina travels back across the cathedral’s central nave, to the altar. And that is the event’s climax: if it does get back to the starting point without any holdups the upcoming year will be lucky, prosperous and bountiful for Florence and all Florentines!
By the way, starting on giovedì santo, the Thursday of Easter week, bakers start filling their counters with fragrant rosemary and raisin-filled pan di ramerino, a simple, yet delicious, sweet bun traditionally baked to celebrate Easter.
So here we are, waiting for a pan di ramerino, and crossing our fingers for the little dove’s flight!
Don’t hesitate to contact us at Italy’s Finest for unique authentic Tuscan experiences, special focus itineraries, vacations or celebrations, we will be delighted to create your ideal Tuscan vacation! Please call +39-055-0948273 or write to info@italysfinest.com for any enquiry or request.

Verona, the Arena

It almost sounds like a cliché… Italy, country of “Il Bel Canto”, Italy and opera…Yet, Italy truthfully is opera’s birthplace, and lyrical music, with its breathtaking melodies and unforgettable characters, is a part of every Italian’s soul and heritage. No wonder that every summer  Italy feels the need to honor this extraordinary legacy with two superb events, the Arena di Verona  festival and the Puccini festival. But this coming summer holds exceptional surprises, once-in-a-lifetime occasions to celebrate and revel in unique musical excellence. First (by date!): exactly 100 years have gone by since the very first staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida at Verona’s dazzling Arena in the summer of 1913. So, starting on June 15th, this wondrous venue (the world’s largest open-air lyrical amphitheatre!) will roll out the red carpet for a double milestone of its legendary history: the bicentennial of the great Verdi’s birth and the centennial of the Arena’s festival. Thousands of music lovers, opera fans and connoisseurs are planning to travel from all over the world to be a part of this unprecedented event: 50 evenings of sublime music performed by eminent world-class artists, which will include 6 different operas and 3 outstanding gala evenings starring exceptional soloist singers among which the great Placido Domingo.

And then, on July 12th, heart-stirring melodies will spread out over Italy, and start filling the Tuscan skies, too, as the 59th Puccini Festival commences. The event, hosted at the awesome open air lakeside Torre del Lago amphitheatre, will feature world-famous operas:  Puccini’s Rigoletto, Tosca, Turandot and Il Tabarro, as well as Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, all performed by world-class singers and superb orchestras. Finally, July 13th, Saturday… Andrea Bocelli!  The great Maestro, living musical legend, has just recently confirmed: he will be back and hold yet another summer concert as a special gift to Tuscany and his nearby home town, Lajatico. The concert’s program has not been published yet, but considering that  past editions have seen countless friends of Bocelli’s on the stage beside him (famed artists such as Domingo as well as contemporaries, like Zucchero) we can’t doubt there will be guests and surprises!  As per the previous editions, the concert will be held in the spectacular setting of the Teatro del Silenzio, a unique natural amphitheatre, ideal location for a memorable night of heart-rendering, passionately breathtaking, music and magic.  For all of the above occasions, Italy’s Finest has created special custom-built programs, carefully crafted authentic Italian experiences which include memorable evenings of extraordinary music, as well as the very best Italy has to offer: fabulous landscapes, delectable wines, scrumptious cuisine. For information about the programs,  contact Italy’s Finest at +39-055-0948273 or info@italysfinest.com

Italy, June through August 2013… What a summer!

It’s Carnevale! Bake your own traditional Italian Carnival dessert

Carnevale, Carnival or Mardi gras in English, is a century-old religious festivity, still widely celebrated in Italy and other Christian countries. Preceding Lent, the 40 days of self-restriction and sacrifices before Easter, in Italy Carnevale is a grand winter festival. The sumptuous Venice Carnival is renowned world-wide, but the tradition actually lives and thrives throughout the whole country. Adults indulge in rich, tantalizing foods and good wine during fancy costume balls and decadent late night parties,  and cheering crowds of tiny soldiers, and confetti-throwing fairies and fancy princesses  fill the streets. Needless to say, each Italian region has its own, special, Carnevale treats and sweets, of course!  Florence’s typical, lip-smacking, Carnevale speciality is Schiacciata alla Fiorentina, a deliciously soft sponge- like cake, covered with confectioner’s sugar and often filled with whipped cream or pastry cream. Does that sound inviting? Try it!

In order to make it easy for readers in the US and UK, the recipe has indications for measurements by both weight and volume.

Schiacciata alla Fiorentina

Ingredients for about 10 servings  - 9 ½ inch round removable-rim pan

  • Flour (superfine): 200 grams; 1 +1/3 cups
  • Granulated sugar:  175 grams; 3/4 cups
  • Milk:  100 grams; 1/2 cup
  • Olive oil:  5 tablespoons
  • Eggs: 2
  • Orange juice:  of 1 orange
  • Grated orange peel: of 2 oranges
  • Salt: 1 dash
  • Baking powder:  1 tablespoon
  • Confectioner’s sugar:  100 grams; ½ cup
  • Butter: 1 tablespoon
  • Whipping cream:  250 ml; 10 tablespoons

Preheat your oven at 350 fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, granulated sugar and flour and mix carefully by hand; add the milk, orange juice and grated orange peel, mix well, add the salt, sift the baking powder and add to the mixture. Butter and flour your cake pan, then pour the batter into it. Place pan in oven. Consider a baking time of approximately 20 minutes. After about 20 minutes check the cake by inserting a toothpick in the center: if it comes out clean your schiacciata is baked! Let the cake cool. Whip the cream. When cool, slice horizontally and fill with the whipped cream. Finally, dust the top with confectioner’s sugar, and… enjoy!!!

Did you know that French cuisine was invented in Tuscany?

Most have heard about the Medicis, lords of Florence, amazing bankers, and great art supporters who turned made Florence into the cradle of the Renaissance. However, not many are familiar with Lorenzo the Magnificent’s grand-daughter, Caterina, born in 1519 in the green Mugello hillside just above Florence.

The time’s custom was marrying quite earlier, so, once she was 14, she left by boat from Livorno for France, to become 15-year-old Henri d’Orlean’s wife. Since this first visit, her diaries tell us she was not at all happy with the household staff…

Caterina de' Medici at 14

So, when she actually moved, she took all of her Tuscan staff with her: cooks, kitchen helpers, waiters, herb specialists, specialized pastry chefs, and Ruggeri, rugged Tuscan farmer, who rapidly, though unexpectedly, became famous because of his culinary talent.

The pompous French court didn’t love Caterina at all. Since the very start, they all openly, and meanly, criticized “la fiorentina”; they said she was a witch, who personally cooked just to be able to poison her guests, and that she was superficial because way too attentive to the dining table’s dècor and elegance.

But meantime, they had started experiencing what Tuscans (not lords and ladies only, common people and farmers too) had eaten for ages, and, guess what, they really liked it! So, the typical “Grandma’s kerchiefs” of the Tuscan hills rapidly became “crepes”, Florentine “glue-sauce”, diffused by Count Louis de Bechamel, became ”la béchamel”, tasty goose baked in orange sauce became le “canard a l’orange” and so on and so forth.

And thus French cuisine, world-celebrated for it’s elaborate preparations, attention to aesthetics and the beauty of the table settings and plates’ presentation was invented….

There was one recipe, however, a world-important one, that the French actually had to steal. One of Caterina’s specialties were desserts, especially the “sweet cold egg” the ancestor of GELATO!

The original recipe was carefully hidden by Ruggeri, the former farmer… well, one night he was badly beaten and robbed by jealous French chefs. He left his gelato recipe, and resignation letter, in a sealed envelope and fled back home to his chickens, but… the recipe spread throughout Europe and the world!!

Bocelli and friends in Lajatico

Bocelli back in his home town in July 2014
July 17 through 21  2014

In July, as the gentle hills are swept by summer breezes and fields of sunflowers bow reverently to the bright blue sky and warm sun, Andrea Bocelli will be coming home to Tuscany once again to hold another sublime concert within Teatro del Silenzio’s spellbinding setting.

Italy’s Finest is thrilled to propose an unrivalled opportunity to experience the very best Tuscany has to offer. Surrounded by dazzling landscapes, discover picturesque villages, indulge in delectable cuisine and award-winning wines and delight in the great Bocelli’s heart-rendering, passionate music.

A fairytale-like program available for only a few selected guests.

  • Spend 4 nights in San Gimignano, iconic Tuscan town: with its stunning skyline of ancient towers, it resembles a Medieval New York City! Delight in the magical landscapes staying at the lovely Villa San Paolo, a charming, authentic, Tuscan countryside hotel. Enjoy its grounds, swimming pool and Spa, relax savoring Tuscany’s leisurely rhythms.
  • Experience the magic of Bocelli’s concert as a VIP: deluxe transportation and executive seating at the Teatro del Silenzio.
  • Discover the world of award-winning wines during a memorable visit to the splendid brand new Antinori cellars, located in the midst of softly rolling hills. The cellars will be open exclusively for your private visit. Led by the estate’s professional staff, enjoy a charming journey into the realm of wine production, learning all about these precious blends and the techniques and secrets that make them so special.
  • Enjoy a memorable gastronomic experience dining in the area’s choicest restaurants! Relish Tuscany’s most genuine flavors and aromas, savoring tantalizing premium wines, scrumptious specialties and authentic local character.
  • Visit evocative Monteriggioni, one of Tuscany’s most picturesque walled villages, discover spellbinding Volterra and Siena, rich in history, famed architecture and art masterpieces.

Detailed Program

Day 1 – Thursday July 17

Independent arrival in San Gimignano, an exquisite town which rises almost magically in a dreamlike landscape of gentle hills. With its striking skyline of perfectly preserved ancient towers, San Gimignano actually resembles a Medieval New York City! The town center, made of quaint cobblestone streets, grand buildings and silent churches, is ideal for leisurely walks and shopping for typical products. Check in at Villa San Paolo, a charming property set among the gently rolling hills outside of the village’s ancient stone walls. Boasting amazing views, a luxuriant garden, lovely swimming pool and comfortable guestrooms, Villa San Paolo offers a genuine Tuscan character and exclusive toiletries made with the olive oil from their own trees. During the afternoon, enjoy the property’s welcoming ambiance: relax, explore the gardens or bask in the warm sunshine beside the shimmering swimming pool. In the evening, experience San Gimignano’s unique ambiance strolling along the quaint stonepaved streets.

San Gimignano Testata medium

Celebrate your first night in Tuscany enjoying the awe-inspiring view and savoring mouth-watering local specialties and delectable wines at il Bel Soggiorno, the town’s best restaurant.

Overnight at Villa San Paolo

Day 2 – Friday July 18

After breakfast at the hotel, depart aboard your private chauffeur-driven deluxe minivan, to reach one of Tuscany’s most exciting and innovative wine havens: the brand new Antinori cellars located in the countryside near the small town of Bargino. These amazing cellars are hosted within a superb futuristic building which perfectly blends into the surrounding landscape. Met and welcomed by the estate’s specialized staff, enjoy an exclusive and thrilling opportunity: a real insider’s look! Visit the didactic vineyard planted with all varieties of Chianti vines located on the cellars’ rooftop. Explore the shady and extensive cellars: these comprise three 75-meter long naves filled with barriques and barrels, which boast a constant 17-degree Celsius temperature, ideal for aging. Take the chance to learn all about the production of the award-winning Antinori wines and delight your taste buds savoring the marvelous nectars right here, were they are produced and aged!

After the wine tasting, proceed to the cellars’ exquisite restaurant, Rinuccio 1180. Relish the choice estate products, amongst which the Antinori’s delectable olive oil, knowingly combined in delicious traditional recipes. Return to San Gimignano after lunch and enjoy some time at leisure to relax.

In the evening private transfer to delightful Monteriggioni, Tuscany’s most stunning Medieval walled village. Explore the square and quaint alleys around it, savoring the town’s rare, ancient, air. Finally, comfortably accommodated at the welcoming tables of Il Pozzo, the town’s best restaurant, dine on succulent typical dishes lovingly prepared with the freshest local products.

Overnight at Villa San Paolo.

Day 3 – Saturday July 19

Siena SmallMorning transfer by deluxe minivan to Siena. Enjoy the chance to explore this picture-perfect town and discover its countless artistic masterpieces led by your private specialized art-historian. Take time to stroll in and about the impressive, sloped Piazza del Campo, seat of the annual exciting Palio horse race. Indulge in seasonal products and enjoy the warm ambiance of the picturesque restaurant Le Logge.

Return to San Gimignano after lunch and enjoy some time at leisure to relax. In the evening private transfer to Badia a Passignano, one of the Antinori family’s most extensive and productive wine estates. The estate comprises a superb Michelin-starred restaurant, the exquisite Osteria di Passignano, specialized in typical Tuscan cuisine, prepared with inventive flair. Delight your senses with top-notch dining and premium wines in the Osteria’s exclusive premises.

Overnight at Villa San Paolo.

Day 4 – Sunday July 20

Morning transfer by deluxe minivan to Volterra. Discover this striking town’s eventful history and splendid art led by your specialized guide. Admire the massive Etruscan walls and marvelous Cathedral, with a superb high altar adorned with sculptures by Mino da Fiesole, and be sure not to miss viewing the luminous alabaster objects which fill the shop windows! After the visit, relish the tastiest local recipes and welcoming premises dining at Enoteca Del Duca, renowned for its extensive wine list and delectable cuisine.

After lunch travel back to San Gimignano and enjoy some time at leisure to prepare for the grand evening which awaits you! Have a light afternoon dinner at the Hotel prior to departing towards Volterra’s heavenly countryside and the Teatro del Silenzio. Admire the concert venue’s unique charm: gentle hills and slopes create a natural amphitheater, an authentic location perfect for a magical musical experience. Enjoy the privilege of executive seats and spend a memorable evening reveling in the pure enchantment and passion of Andrea Bocelli’s voice and talent.

Overnight at Villa San Paolo

Day 5 – Monday July 21

Breakfast and Arrivederci!

Click here for cost and availability

Cost listed includes: 

  • 4 night accommodation on a double occupancy basis in San Gimignano at Villa San Paolo and English speaking assistance throughout the program
  • July 17: transfer and à-la-carte dinner at Bel Soggiorno restaurant in San Gimignano (all meals include house wine and mineral water; premium wines or spirits will be charged as extras)
  • July 18: morning transfer to Antinori cellars. Private visit and wine tasting of 3 estate wines; à-la-carte lunch at Rinuccio 1180; early evening transfer to Monteriggioni and à-la-carte dinner at Il Pozzo (all meals include house wine and mineral water; premium wines or spirits will be charged as extras)
  • July 19: morning transfer to Volterra and guided visit; à-la-carte lunch in Volterra at Enoteca Del Duca (the meal includes house wine and mineral water; premium wines or spirits will be charged as extras); early evening transfer to Badia a Passignano and à-la-carte dinner at Osteria di Passignano (the meal includes mineral water; Antinori wines or spirits will be charged as extras)
  • July 20: morning transfer to Siena and guided visit; à-la-carte lunch in Siena at Osteria Le Logge; light dinner at Hotel; transfer to Bocelli concert and concert ticket (all meals include house wines and mineral water; premium wines or spirits will be charged as extras)

Single occupancy cost available upon request.

In addition to the above, we will be pleased to arrange any optional activity you may have in mind …simply ask us to organize your dream day! Whether it be sailing, golf or shopping, flying over the woodland in a private helicopter or hot-air balloon or driving a Supercar, we will be thrilled to arrange any type of adventurous or relaxing activity you may have in mind.

 

 

Produced by the Antinori family exclusively from the vineyards bearing the same name, approximately 120 acres of excellent limestone rich soil which enjoy a southwestern exposure at about 1150 above sea level, Tignanello is among the premium, most celebrated, Tuscan wines.

The famed Antinori family has been producing wine, and directly managing the company, estates, vineyards, cellars and marketing, for over 600 years, ever since Giovanni di Piero Antinori joined the Florentine “Arte dei Vinattieri”, the ancient Winemakers Guild, in 1385. Among their many extensive properties the Tignanello estate stands out as a true gem of natural beauty and excellent crops : comprising both Tignanello and Solaia vineyards, it rises at about 30 kilometres from Florence, nestled between the Greve and Pesa valleys, in one of the most gorgeous areas of the Chianti Classico hills.

Tignanello wine, officially ranked among the Supertuscans, boasts a charming, complex history and, thanks to the careful selection and excellent quality of the grapes, and to the special, innovative, somewhat revolutionary, vinification and aging techniques, it has given Tuscany, and the whole world truly exceptional bottles in all its vintages.

In the early 60s Piero Antinori, with the help of a group of inspired advisors, among which the famed wine consultant Giacomo Tachis and Robert Mondavi, decided to experiment and invent new, original ways and techniques to produce different blends  and innovative wines. This need to explore and create alternatives was certainly connected with the important changes occurring in the Italian political and social scene between the 50s and the 60s, mainly with the end of the “mezzadria”, the century-old tenant farming system where farmers worked the owners’ lands and shared the crops. At the time, the Chianti hillsides were planted in coltura promiscua, a quite approximate and generalized way of farming, where rows of vines grew side-by-side with other crops; once the farmers had left the lands, the landowners, who in many cases knew nothing about farming, challenged with having to personally be in charge of their crops, started planning on rationalizing farming and production, and in most cases decided to implant specialized vineyards. As the “new winemakers “ made mistakes, such as planting the wrong grapes and being greatly approximate in the cellars, Chianti’s reputation, and the demand for it, rapidly fell. By the late 60s it was clear that something different must be invented, and a few pioneers, among which Piero Antinori and his valid advisors, started thinking about possible alternatives to Chianti Classico, and hit on the idea to try a blend which would feature non-traditional grapes, in place of those always used in Chianti Classico, as well as exploring new techniques as well.

Thus, the very first Tignanello was produced in 1970. At the time it was called “Chianti Classico riserva vigneto Tignanello” and featured a blend containing 20% of Canaiolo and 5% of Trebbiano and Malvasia, both white grapes; for the first time, Antinori made use of an innovative technique, absolutely new to the traditional Chianti cellars : the wine, as it has ever since, aged in barriques, the small oak barrels said by the French to impart a richer taste. The name “Tignanello” was used starting in 1971, when this superb blend (80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc) actually became the very  first modern wine to contain a nontraditional grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. Then, in 1975, a further revolutionary decision : the blend was produced without using any white grapes at all, an extraordinary novelty in the panorama of Tuscan Chianti wines!

The initial reactions of the Italian wine establishment were, obviously, mixed, yet, from the very start Tignanello was immensely successful in the international markets, and soon it was hailed as one of the prized Supertuscans.

Ever since 1982, the blend has been the one currently used : 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Tignanello is bottled only in favorable vintages, and thus was not produced in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1984, 1992, and 2002.

A view from the Castle overlooking Sassicaia-land

Maremma is a vast area of Italy, which comprises part of south-western Tuscany and part of northern Lazio; bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea’s golden beaches, it boasts a spectacular coastline, rich in fishing villages, ports and marinas, and a gorgeous countryside of verdant valleys and rolling hills dotted with quaint medieval villages. Despite its breathtakingly lovely unspoiled natural environment and many attractions, Tuscan Maremma is still off the beaten track for both foreign and Italian tourists; here ancient traditions continue to flourish and genuine Tuscan lifestyle and culture live on.

A vacation in Tuscan Maremma is made of memorable moments: gazing at endless spell-binding views, learning about the rich historic and traditional heritage, indulging in the delicious home-cooked traditional food, savoring delectable olive oil, wild game and premium wines. “la Maremma Toscana” is all this. And much more.

Thanks to our connections and highly creative approach, we are proud to share our Case Study, proving that we produced the ultimate luxury Tuscan Maremma experience, offering our guests the opportunity of exploring its true soul and century-long traditions, its most dazzling treasures, pampered by flawless service within prestigious, fairytale-like premises.

A Pool with a View!

After flying to Italy aboard their private jet and landing in Pisa, our Guests enjoyed the 45 minute drive to Castello di Segalari, comfortably accommodated in private deluxe chauffeur-driven vehicles. “We feel like royalty! ” they exclaimed crossing the threshold, stunned by the grand entrance surmounted by the Gherardesca family’s coat-of-arms; welcomed by their personal butler, our Guests settled in, assisted by highly professional in-house staff. From the very first moment they experienced authentic noble Tuscan lifestyle, relaxing beneath the drawing room’s striking ceiling of massive timber-beams, discovering the library’s precious collection of fine literature and art books. As they watched the fiery sunset light up the hillside, they savored the perfect privacy and ultimate comfort of the castle terraces and a cool glass of Vermentino di Bolgheri, before enjoying a delectable meal, prepared by their personal Michelin-star chef, and a selection of the best Supertuscans.

Wine, wine and ... more wine

On their first morning in Maremma, delighted by the clear skies and crisp breezes, they explored the Castle’s extensive grounds: 22 hectares of sprawling vineyards, gardens and century-old cypresses and pine trees, offering 360 degree views of the surrounding hillside and coastline. Invited for luncheon by a one-of-a-kind host, the renowned Count Gaddo della Gherardesca, descendant of one of the most ancient noble families in Italy, they enjoyed the waves and golden sands, dining in true Tuscan splendor on the Count’s private beach, and tasting the refined notes of the famed locally produced Masseto.

Throughout their vacation, our Guests explored Tuscan Maremma’s hidden secrets and off of the beaten track treasures, travelling by private luxury vehicles. Led by a specialized art-historian they explored Populonia – the first seaside Etruscan settlement – and the charming town of Bolgheri, where they stopped for a typical lunch and tasting some of the area’s most celebrated Supertuscans in the rustic atmosphere of the best local Enoteca.

Over the days, our Guests had the opportunity to bask in the warm sunshine beside the Castle’s striking 65-foot marble-lined “pool with a view”, and to discover the secluded beauty of Elba island’s unknown corners, flying over the sea aboard the private yacht at their disposal throughout the vacation. They also tried challenging adventurous activities, rock climbing and mountain biking for the children, and an entertaining fishing party aboard a typical “peschereccio”.

Exceptionally welcomed to area’s most celebrated award-winning private wine production estates – Ornellaia, Guado al Tasso, Biserno, Tenuta San Guido – by the owners themselves, our Guests were thrilled to get a real insider’s view, exploring the realm of wine-making and discovering the world-famed Supertuscans right on the very land where the seeds of these precious blends were first planted. At each estate, they tasted the best bottles, and, as guests of the owners for lunch at Tenuta San Guido, our Guests experienced a memorable vertical tasting of Sassicaia wine. As guests of Count della Gherardesca, they also visited Castagneto Carducci, for a luscious dinner and unforgettable evening, at the Count’s own castle, the awe-inspiring Castello di Castagneto.

The Castagneto Castle belonging to the Della Gherardesca Family

During their vacation our Guests tasted the choicest culinary treats and premium labels dining in the area’s best Michelin-rated restaurants and in the luxury of their own private dining rooms and terraces, lavishly served and daily entertained by exciting gourmand novelties and exquisite artists and singers. They learned techniques, tips and secrets of Tuscan cuisine from a world-famous chef during a private cooking class held in the Castle’s charming kitchens, while, as a perfect “themed” background, a renowned soprano and tenor duo performed the most evocative Italian opera airs especially for them. They also visited an ancient, still productive, olive oil mill, and savored the different kinds of olive oil, led by a gourmet specialist.

Soon, it was time for our Guests to leave Tuscan Maremma’s rolling hills behind… but we must have done something right if they have already started planning their next Tuscan vacation, probably a luxury white truffle hunt to take place in San Miniato, with Count Gaddo and with us at Italy’s Finest, of course!

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