Touring Tuscany at Harvest Time


By Caroline J. Beck
July 01, 2010

If your best friend called and suggested a trip to Italy during the olive harvest, and you knew she was intimately familiar with Italy, with deep family connections and a passion for olives and olive oil, you’d probably jump at the chance to tag along. If this sounds like fun, Carol Firenze may just be your new best friend. Firenze, author of The Passionate Olive, has put together a travel itinerary designed to introduce olive oil devotees to some of the most interesting, local and off-the-beaten path spots that most tourists don’t have access to. She plans to escort an intimate group of travelers through the Umbrian/Tuscan countryside, blending harvest activities with cooking classes, museum visits, small town shopping, and wine tasting.

“My annual trips to Italy have always been filled with adventure, family and olive oil. Being 100% Italian-American, I have deep roots in Italy. My grandparents came from the Ligurian region of Italy and I remain close to cousins in Sestri Levante and Savonna. But, this is the first trip I am “formally” leading to Italy. After years of planning trips for family and friends, I decided to offer an itinerary that would provide travelers a special experience by being deeply rooted in local-flavor,” said Firenze.

“Anna Tapay, owner of Villa Gioianna where we will be staying, and I designed the itinerary from a local perspective. We hand-picked all of the activities, events and every restaurant. With Rosanna as our chef, we will learn culinary secrets, and with Guido as our driver and guide, we are destined to learn even more local secrets. Our restaurant choices range from a quaint osteria to a Michelin-starred restaurant,” added Firenze.

The nine-day tour is scheduled from October 29 – November 7, 2010. The itinerary includes harvesting olives, attending a local sagra (olive oil festival), tasting olio nuovo, learning culinary secrets, visiting an olive oil museum, relaxing at a thermal spa, and dining on wonderful cuisine prepared with olive oil. Housing, ground transportation and most meals are included. Deadline for reservations is August 15th. For more information or to download a brochure, visit The Passionate Olive.