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Episode #062: Special products from Tuscany

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This week, we head back to Tuscany and the Chianti region to chat with Arianna Cini about the artisan souvenirs and gifts available in her region. These special crafts and food products have been created and made by locals who have developed their skills over many generations.

Show notes

Arianna, runs a slow travel tour company in Chianti with her husband Alessio and they are both passionate about the local products of the Chianti region. In this episode Arianna describes the crafts and food products that you can buy when you visit Tuscany that make the perfect gifts or souvenirs. These items are objects or foodstuffs that will bring memories of your time in the Chianti hills flooding back when you’re at home.

Alongside their tours, they also offer wonderful Tuscan Gift Boxes full of amazing locally produced products. They’ve just produced two Spring editions of their boxes, the Easter box and Tuscan Wellness box to enjoy everything the new season brings including:

  • pottery (both in Tuscan Wellness and in Easter box)
  • linens (Tuscan wellness box)
  • honey (Easter box)
  • olive oil (Tuscan Wellness and Easter box)
  • Colomba (Easter box)
  • Confetti flowers (Easter box)
  • Pecorino cheese (Easter box)
  • Asparagus and Artichoke products (Easter box)
  • Natural Iris and Olive oil cosmetics (Tuscan Wellness box)
  • Cashmere milk soap (Tuscan Wellness box)

Watch as Arianna and Alessio show us how Chianti is bursting into bloom, not least with poppies and irises, as they welcome Spring in the region and see them unveiling their gift boxes and the artisan creators of the local products included in them.

What you’ll learn this episode

  1. Special items that come out of Tuscany include painted pottery, natural perfumes and soaps, linens, and of course, delicious food
  2. In Tuscany, they pair different honey with different cheeses – honey is particularly wonderful in Spring with the abundance of flowers
  3. Spring flowers also add to the taste of the wonderful fresh Pecorino and Capirino cheeses available at this time of year
  4. The olive oil made in Tuscany is created using a mixture of green and black(ripe) olives, which along with the unique types of olive tree grown there, creates a distinct flavor you will only get with Tuscan olive oil
  5. Wild asparagus grows at the base of Olive trees and where they grow, you will always find the mother of the asparagus ‘Asparagina’
  6. The asparagus and artichokes are abundant at the same time so they make them into lots of other products and jar them so they keep for the rest of the year
  7. The original confetti is the sugared almonds, from Abruzzo region, where, in the spring they make them into edible flower bouquets. Each petal is a confetto
  8. From the middle ages until the 1980s/90s many of the main perfume houses, including Chanel, used the powder from the iris bulbs of Tuscany, until they started to use synthetic replacements and the industry fell on hard times.  Recently though, with the desire for natural products (and many being allergic to the synthetic alternatives) local companies have once again started to produce fragrances made from the real thing.
  9. Irises in the Tuscan Dialect is ‘Giaggiolo’
  10. Cashmere goat milk is used to make a special, totally natural, creamy soap

About our guest – Arianna Cini

Meet Arianna & Alessio, the faces and souls behind KM Zero Tours:

Arianna was born and raised in the Chianti region of Tuscany, and is deeply connected and passionate about her beautiful countryside, its people, and its traditions. She studied abroad in Russia and Australia, and graduated from the University of Bologna with a degree in Foreign Languages and Literature. In addition to Italian, Arianna speaks fluent English and Russian.

Arianna is a qualified tour guide and began her career working in international business, including wine exporting. In 2014 she and her partner Alessio Di Genova (from the Abruzzo region) started KM Zero Tours – Slow Travel Tuscany, an innovative boutique travel business focused on creating slow and cultural travel experiences aimed at discovering Tuscany from a deeper, authentic and personal perspective.

Alessio, Arianna’s husband and partner of KM Zero Tours, is a qualified sommelier and he graduated from the University of Bologna with a degree in Agricultural, Food and Agri-environmental Sciences. After having spent 6 years working as a pastry chef in Bologna he also graduated as an official Sommelier at AIS (Association Italian Sommelier). He was born in Abruzzo but he now lives together with Arianna in San Casciano, a hilltop Chianti town.

They both can’t wait to welcome you in their home in Chianti, and to introduce you to their best friends and favourite places there. Andiamo!

Find out more about Arianna and Allessio’s gift boxes to keep the dream of Chianti, Tuscany and Italy alive (and tasting good) while you can’t visit.

You can find Arianna on these channels:

Places to visit mentioned in the show

  • Certaldo – this hilltop town, with winding medieval streets, has spectacular views all around of Tuscany
  • Impruneta – famous for their terractoa production
  • Sulmona – a beautiful town in Abruzzo famous for it’s confetti (sugared almonds), with the famous Pelino confetti factory (which has it’s own museum)
  • Anversa degli Abruzzi – the village near that Alessio is originally from
  • Pharmacy Santa Maria Novella – a famous pharmacy in Florence, creating sents for over 400 years

Tuscan food

  • Pecorino – sheep milk cheese
  • Caprino – goats milk cheese
  • Cacio Marzolino – fresh pecorino cheese – named after March madness
  • Fava beans – eaten raw straight out of the pods in Tuscany
  • Colomba – a Spring/Easter cake with a similar dough to panetone

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Transcript

Prefer to read along as you listen? You can download a PDF version of the full transcript of this episode.

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