October 27, 2020
Meet my friends Arianna Cini and Alessio Di Genova. They are the creators of Km Zero Tours – Slow Travel Tuscany. They are also dear friends. Arianna and I began collaborating in 2016. I have had the opportunity to experience so many adventures they offer, all fitting with my own philosophy.
We three all believe in authentic, very personal experiences for our clients and guests. We believe in supporting the small, artisanal winemakers, olive oil makers, local restaurants, and businesses. We attempt to always offer adventures with food, wine, animals and environments featuring organic items, hopefully biodynamic too. My clients have always spoken highly of their adventures with Km Zero Tours. I have even recommended my competitors to use Arianna and Alessio’s services as I want everyone who visits Italy to experience the Real Tuscany, the Real Italy.
This visit with Km Zero Tours began at Castelinuzza e Piuca in the Greve area of Chianti. This area of Chianti, Piuco, is between 400 and 600 meters (between 1600 and 2000 ft.) above sea level. Because of the location, vineyards are terraced
and the grape vines themselves grow vertically—in Italian this is called Alberello, like a skinny tree.
This is a working farm with pigs and cows, Chianina cows used for the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina, the exquisite Florentine Steaks seasoned and served bloody rare.
There are three mother cows here, resting in the shade. Castellinuzza e Piuca also makes its own light olive oil.
They look almost ready for picking.
We met Ms. Coccia, one member of the family who owns this glorious place. She brought out the wine for tasting.
Plus plenty of aperitivo.
We first tasted Il Vegliardo, a copy of the old Chianti wines, made with 80% Sangiovese and 20% Malvasta Bianca. It was so smooth.
Alessio accidentally poured me a second taste. I fully enjoyed his mistake.
Next we tasted at least one taste of each of the other three along with our food, including pasta.
And everything was prepared with their farm ingredients and made gluten free for Arianna and me.
This is the type of adventure you will always experience with Km Zero Tours. But this was just the beginning. I bought some wine and off we drove through the hills and dales of Chianti to Panzano.
As we drove though the area, we shared intimate, friend information about our lives, the changes happening and our friendship. I truly do love these two young people. As we approached Panzano, we made plans for dinner. But first, I checked into my B&B, Rosso Del Chianti owned by Malina. Malin is the sister of Dario Cecchini, owner of Antica Macelleria in Panzano, famous for his butcher shop and his restaurant. I had dinner reservations at his restaurant for my last evening.
For now, I checked into my lovely room, with glorious views.
The view below is from my bathroom. I wonder if they could see inside as I looked outside.
Later that night, we met for dinner at Il Vescovino Ristorante.
We sat inside, chatted and devoured our excellent steak and vegetables. It was too cool to sit outdoors. It overlooks the town and would be a wonderful place to eat, if warmer.
After dessert, which I did manage to photograph,
We said buonanotte. The next day would be a very different experience.
After a wonderful breakfast at the B&B,
We began a lovely drive to The Abbey di Passignano, a Benedictine establishment founded in 890 A.D. It has been restructured a few times and now appears like a fifteen century castle on the hillside. The grounds were stunning.
We wandered outdoors until one of the Friars agreed to show us through the abbey.
We entered through the Chapel dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. This was originally a Romanesque styled church but is now a Renaissance masterpiece.
I thought this was all he would show us. Then he took us through another locked door.
Not this one, silly. The one next to it.
Even though he only spoke Italian, it was clear, free of dialect, and I understood 90% of it. I loved all the art, and the history.
Like this piece.
Soon we walked through the living quarters.
Through the quiet courtyard, the cloister
And on to the ancient kitchen.
It is huge, especially since there are only about a half dozen people living here.
But, for me, the absolute best part of this visit was a work of art I had no idea I would have the opportunity to see outside of an artbook.
Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper.
The details are exquisite.
I feel privileged to have seen it up close.
Jesus, with John resting on his arm and Judas with his back to the audience.
When we returned to the outdoors, we headed to a friend’s bar on site, Bar DiVino. We needed to rest and have a bit of food. Who’s hungry?
How about a bit of Caprese?
Andrea Silvia, owner and host, has a lively personality, great food and adult beverages.
And here’s part of their view.
These are the places Km Zero Tours can take you, where you can meet locals, eat right and laugh even on a cloudy day.
It was difficult to leave but there was so much more to see and do.
On the way to our last stop, we took a detour to another I borghi piu’ Belli d’italia, One of the most beautiful towns in Italy, Montefioralle. Besides its beauty, it is the home of Amerigo Vespucci, the adventurer.
To get there, you wander along windy streets filled with medieval beauty.
Note to self: wear good shoes to walk on ancient cobblestone streets.
I wanted to check out this restaurant but I was too full—next time.
Called Il Guerrino.
But after a walk it was time to say Ciao Ciao!
We were on our way to Collevilca, master glass makers. Km Zero Tours supports the glass artisans of Collevilca. This business provides 80% of the crystal production in Italy and 15% of that in the entire world. Yet, it is a smaller shop than I had expected to see.
We were up close and personal with all who created these individual pieces. There were forms they used as a basis for each piece, something like the example below.
Watch the steps taken to create one piece of crystal stemware.
Shaping the glass
Adding the hot crystal above and below.
Beginning the crystal stem.
Shaping the hot crystal into a stem, back and forth.
After adding more hot crystal, it is now done except cutting it off from the other glass piece.
Here is another’s artistic creation.
The oven they use is like Dante’s lowest, hot hell. I got close to it and do not know how they work with it all day.
I actually enjoyed this visit more than anytime I have gone to Murano to see the Venetian glass blowers. And these guys do blow glass too.
Here’s how they shape the top of the glassware.
And if you want to buy some crystal to take with you, they do have a showroom. They just completed the piece below.
Here is more.
I particularly like these wine glasses.
Frankly, when Km Zero Tours selected a crystal tour, I wasn’t certain I would like it. I LOVED it. I am so glad I was able to enjoy such a performance of talent and creation of folly and beauty. You may want to visit them too when you visit Italy once again.
After reading all 1300 + words, I know you want to see what else Km Zero Tours has to offer. Either contact me at Marilyn@TakeMeHomeItaly.com or click on any RED Km Zero Tours name throughout this article. It will take you right to them.
For those yearning to visit Italy during the time of Covid, I hope traveling along with me helps you plan for the future. Contact me for help in that endeavour. Until then. Stay safe. Share love.
Ciao for now!
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