Eataly NYC’s Olive Oil Expert Shares His Insider Guide To Tuscany
Tuscany never ceases to amaze me. I've been traveling throughout the region over the past decade and continue to be inspired by the simple lifestyle, the architecture and the bountiful local cuisine. Here are a few highlights of the best places to stay, eat and shop. Nicholas ColemanMulinmaria [http://www.mulinmaria.com/] This charming 200-year-old villa is surrounded by 600 perfectly manicured olive trees. It is located just outside the city center of Arezzo, which makes day trips to Florence
Tuscany never ceases to amaze me. I've been traveling throughout the region over the past decade and continue to be inspired by the simple lifestyle, the architecture and the bountiful local cuisine. Here are a few highlights of the best places to stay, eat and shop.
This charming 200-year-old villa is surrounded by 600 perfectly manicured olive trees. It is located just outside the city center of Arezzo, which makes day trips to Florence, Siena or Rome a breeze. The proprietor, Nadia Gasperini Rossi, produces her own wine and grows most of her own food. Ask Nadia to give you an afternoon cooking class where she uses her own freshly-pressed, world-class olive oil… You’ll be glad you did.
Advanced reservations are required, so book here or have your Journy concierge do all the hard work trip-planning for you.
If you’re in Tuscany in the middle of August head over to Siena’s Piazza del Campo to watch the annual 1,000-year-old horse race. The city becomes the epicenter of Italian drama as ten teams race for their region’s pride and glory. Tens of thousands of spectators drink, cheer and eat their way through the avenues and alleyways of this ancient Etruscan city throughout this amazing day.
On the first Sunday of every month the city of Arezzo is taken over by one of Europe’s largest antique fairs. Everything from ancient brass culinary tools to magnificent paintings and armoires line the cobbled streets. Vintage fanatics from across the continent come to Arezzo just for this market. It is expansive and there is a lot of ground to cover so be sure to set aside an entire day for this spectacular shopping spree.
This Florentine hot spot has wonderful live music and quality food. Everybody sits at communal tables and Italian fare is presented buffet-style. The live band, which plays on a stage set underneath a vaulted ceiling and flanked by ionic columns will whisk away your senses. If you’re staying in Florence for an extended period of time consider purchasing a seasonal pass to the Teatro del Sale.
Adjacent to this venue is Cibreo. This restaurant is well-known for those looking for a more formal dining experience.
You have to step off the beaten path in southern Tuscany to find Grosseto. This region is totally picturesque thanks to the towering cypress trees, vineyards and olive groves. Olive oil producer Giorgio Franci (a gold medal winner at the New York International Olive Oil Competition) lives in this area. Contact him ahead of time to arrange a visit to the tasting room. Here you can try their line of monocultivar olive oils, stroll through his olive grove and visit his collection of 1,000-year-old olive trees that still bear fruit.
Wine lovers should arrange a Jeep tour of the Felsina vineyards in Castelnuovo Berardenga. Make sure you request to stroll through their immense underground wine barrel vault. This vineyard also produces world class olive oils, which can be sampled alongside the wines. The ancient Italian adage “what grows together, goes together” is definitely proven true here.
Caseificio Cugusi is the perfect day trip for anyone fond of young, soft sheep milk cheese. Tuscany is renowned for Pecorino cheese. The province of Pienza is the epicenter of the production of this specific variety. Here they coat their wheels of cheese in tomato paste, olive pomace oil, walnut leaves, grape skins, ash or bran. The wheels are then aged for varying amounts of time in terra cotta amphorae. Don’t forget to savor the terroir while you’re there by stopping en route to enjoy some wine tasting overlooking the epic vistas and valleys of Montepulciano.
Nicholas Coleman, chief oleologist at Eataly NYC, is a renowned olive oil expert and co-founder of Grove and Vine. Grove and Vine teams up with the finest olive oil producers in the world to create proprietary custom olive oil blends at every harvest. These unique olive oils are then air-shipped to subscribers throughout the United States. His oil has been featured at Del Posto, NYC’s only Italian restaurant rated four-stars by The New York Times, and Food and Wine Magazine selected it as one of the best of the new harvest. These bespoke bottles can be ordered online at Grove and Vine.
Follow Nicholas Coleman @oleologist.
Cover photo: Thomas Fabian
Photos: Nicholas Coleman