Monday for Foodies: Art Craft and Food
- Florentine Mosaic Workshop
- Duomo Square
- San Lorenzo Market
A good Italian combination: craft and food. If your desire of exploring Florence includes those experiences that let you “taste” the city, and, at the same time you like to see some artisans at work, this is the tour you should choose on a day when the majority of the museums are closed!
The Florentine tradition of producing handcrafted goods is centuries old and remains one of the cornerstones of Florence's artistic and social history today, as much as it was in the times of the trade guilds. Since medieval times this has been a city of "bottegas", small artisan workshops, and the tradition continues today.
In one of these workshops, skilled craftsmen continue the tradition of Florentine Mosaic, a kind of marble inlay, an art that reached its peak under the Medici grand dukes.
It all started at the end of the 16th century when Ferdinand I de’ Medici, founded a workshop for the crafting of semi-precious stones. This art reached levels of excellence and attracted admiration from all over Europe. This unique type of art is still carried on today and it’s the fruit of hard working and precise technicians, who amaze and seduce the observer with their “painting of stones”: the artist creates subjects inspired from reality, choosing the right hues that nature offers through the different stones.
The dukes would send these artistic creations as gifts to the crowned heads of Europe that they wanted to impress. In the workshop we get to see all kinds of exquisite marbles in their raw, unpolished form.
Our walk will continue visiting the Cathedral Square, unique complex of buildings (Duomo, Baptistery and Bell tower) completely coated with multicoloured marbles. We will focus on the church's most importantarchitectural features, especially the dome which has come to represent Florence itself. Made out of bricks, the dome was built by an engineer called Filippo Brunelleschi.
The guided tour goes on with the Baptistery, one of the city's most ancient religious buildings; the beauty of its doors moved Michelangelo to call them “the Gates of Paradise”! Ghiberti, the artist who created the doors, spent much of his life casting the doors in bronze and then gilding them.
Our walk will take us now to the busy Food Market of San Lorenzo (open until 2.00 pm only) . It is an integral part of local life, a great place to find bargains or just browse around the wide variety of stalls: it’s where the real Florentines do their food shopping!
We will visit local shops known for their historic reputation among local people and connoisseurs, we will get to taste cheeses, salamis, sauces and sweets; you will learn how to recognize a good aged balsamic vinegar or extra virgin olive oil.
We will explain how we cook the world-known Florentine T-bone steak , so appreciated for its juicy taste and tenderness and …….thickness!
During our walk through the market you will taste different kinds of cold cuts such as “prosciutto” and “salame toscano”, a mix of Italian “pecorino” cheese and the most famous Parmigiano Reggiano.
Walking through the colourful stalls of fruits and vegetables we will discuss local and seasonal products, how they are used in our recipes and how they differ in other regions of Italy.
Two of the best Italian products , Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar will be enjoyed during our exploration in the market.
Olive trees cover the hills of Tuscany ,and the olive oil produced in our region is one of the best Italian oils, due to the low level of acidity. We will let you taste two different kinds of Extra Virgin olive oil, one from Tuscany and one from the area of lake Garda. The best way to exalt their characteristics is to taste them with Tuscan bread.
Balsamic vinegar, is a product from the north of Italy, but because of its increasing fame, we cannot leave it out of our tastings of typical Italian products.
Traditional Balsamic vinegar is the result of a long process of aging ( from 12 to 24 years!) and care by the vinegar maker. Once the grapes are harvested and crushed, the must is filtered and placed in barrels of different quality of wood, each wood will add a particular note to the vinegar. The set of barrels, called acetaia, is formed by 12 or even 24 barrels, in a decreasing progression. At the end of this long period, the precious Balsamic is ready for our tables! We will make you taste the splendid combination of Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar.
At the end of our visit in the market we will show you the traditional Italian dish: the home-made pasta.
Just a few steps away, we visit a bakery specialized in the production of Biscotti di Prato where , if we are lucky to be there at the right time, we will see the moment when the biscuits are made or cut by hand. We will taste a couple of types of this exquisite Florentine production.
Tastings are included in the tour price!