Returning to Florence, Visiting Chianti and Bologna too

June 11, 2019

You may have noticed that I tend to visit Florence several times per year. Yes, I love Florence. I can’t get enough of the majesty that is Firenze, Florence. This time, I would be meeting clients who became friends, Bill and Carrie.

We would spend 3 days together exploring.

Bill and Carrie had decided on a tour for 9 nights. The tour did not include Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. I assisted them in finding a hotel that I love in Sorrento for their stay prior to their tour. And we arranged to meet after the tour in Florence so that they could explore custom adventures with my friends in Chianti as well as in Bologna.

They chose Torre Guelfa as our hotel.

Our hotel’s grandiose entry paid tribute to its medieval fortress origins. The rooftop bar is positioned high over the city and boasts excellent views of the red clay rooftops and the Duomo.

(The photo above from the Torre Guelfa bar is borrowed from their website.)

It is only a 3-minute walk to the Ponte Vecchio, and we would highly recommend this hotel.

My first evening after check-in, I walked along the Arno under these glorious arches.

The next morning we met in the hotel’s breakfast room before our adventure in Chianti where we would visit an organic goat cheese farm.

Who knew how cute baby goats could be?

This small family farm had 75 goats to milk every single day, and little babies to care for in this bucolic setting.

Their herding dog had injured his leg, but he assisted his master with the goats when they escaped from their pen. Yes, they really did escape.

So did their cat.

We discovered the intense work ethic needed to make delicious goat cheese.

A good deal of thought also goes into the process as the cheese is fresh,

Or aged.

Using both French

and Italian methods.

We could hardly wait to taste it.

Our primo piatto, first course, was a lovely dish of pasta topped with fresh goat cheese, sautéed zucchini and a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano.

It was delicious. So was our dolce. Bill, Carrie and I really enjoyed this experience. We said ciao ciao to our hosts and headed back to Florence.

My friend and our host, Alessio, stopped at Piazzale Michelangelo to view the city and the river from above. It is a stunning site of the Duomo,

The Arno River and her bridges.

What a wonderful day.

The next morning, we had a 745AM Italo train to catch heading for Bologna. My friend Helena is someone who knows more about Emilia Romagna than anyone I know. I arranged a day trip of food tasting and exploration in the heart of the city and we needed to meet her by 915am. Unfortunately, Helena broke her foot and could not take us on our quest for the best food tasting in Bologna. Luckily, her friend and another expert, Riccardo, met us at the famous Terzi Café.

We enjoyed our excellent coffee and cookies while Riccardo gave us an overview of the history and food culture of his city.

We walked by one of the oldest covered walkways in Bologna. It was under restoration but memorable even in this state.

Bologna is a city of portici, covered walkways.

And medieval construction.

I truly enjoy every moment of exploring construction and art, even modern art like this.

Within a medieval courtyard, we found this display of stone furnishings and a colorful whale sculpture emphasizing the ocean filled with plastic refuse that is killing these incredible mega-mammals. It was impressive. But we were here for the FOOD.

We visited the covered market first.

Everywhere we looked was gorgeous food. Well, maybe not the horsemeat. It was pretty but I could never eat it no matter how acceptable it is here in Italy.

We tasted Parmigiano Reggiano, the gold standard of cheese from this region. We made piadina sandwiches with prosciutto and other tasty bits. We then left the market to try our hands at making tortellini.

Not my best moment.

Both Bill and Carrie excelled at it!

We then walked through one of the most beautiful streets in the city, where all the exteriors of the buildings remain as they have been for years!

In search of more tender morsels of delicious food.

Parma Ham aging above our heads as we gaze at more meats and cheeses.

One nickname for Bologna is “La Grassa”, the FAT. Every calorie is luscious. This is food porn in my humble opinion.

Don’t forget the dolce!

We also enjoyed a tasting of aged balsamico, balsamic vinegar, another specialty of Emilia Romagna.

We tasted 8-year-old, 12-year-old and 25-year-old balsamic vinegar.  It was a flavorful way to end our hike through the city.

We did stop for a bit more lunch at the oldest watering hole in all of Bologna, the Osteria del Sole. It is a bar where only alcohol is served, and you bring your own food.

Riccardo provided 3 types of meat, cheese and focaccia for our feasting pleasure. We enjoyed wine and chatted, building our strength for the walk back to the train.

We shared our farewells, thanking Riccardo for his excellent guidance and headed home for one more night in Florence together.

After a pausa, a time for a bit of rest, we ventured out for dinner at Mangiafoco where both the food and staff were excellent. We celebrated our time together over pasta and dolce and laughter.

It was wonderful sharing time with Bill and Carrie. I do not do this often. Generally, I arrange adventures and do not join them. This was special.

When you begin to plan your future adventure in Italy, contact me and let me help you find those offerings not found on a regular tour and difficult to find online. Let Take Me Home Italy assist you in discovering your Italian Soul. Contact me at

A dopo!

Ciao for now!

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