Saturday, March 10, 2012

Touring in Loro Ciuffena.

Many visitors don't take full advantage of Touring in Loro Ciuffenna. They assume they have to travel to the big guns elswhere, overlooking the treasures on the doorstep. This isn't really their a fault as little information is available in guide books, and even the local tourist board does little to promote the area, but that's where I come in. Take a look at my Cheese Making and Tuscan Olive Oil Tour and you'll see just how much the region has to offer. If you decide to forgoe the advantages of touring with me, I'll give you a few tips all the same.

Drive along the Setteponti  (seven bridges) road from Reggello to Loro Ciuffenna and you'll be treated to a  beautiful drive through neatly manicured, terraced olive orchards with outstanding views overlooking the Arno valley. If you drive slowly with stops for photos, it'll take just over an hour.

The Setteponti Road
Olive oil is the region's most important product, not only economically, but culturally. Certainly. Here it's more important than wine. You'll see a couple of mills during your drive, and If you want to taste genuine olive oil and not the stuff you find in supermarkets, then you couldn't be in a better place. You could try Santa Tea mill in Reggello, who do tastings and guided tours. Alternatively, buy a small bottle at a local grocery store, they always stock the genuine article. Remember they have to sell to the locals who are all savvy when it come to olive oil. Ask for oil from Gropina, you can't get more local than this, and I assure you it's the real McCoy. Expect a price tag of 8-12 euro per litre.

Another gastronomical delight is sheep's cheese made by the small artisanal dairies of the region. No industries here. Again try a local grocer (not supermarket) and ask for "Pecorino Locale." Pair it with a glass or two of Chianti, a piece of Tuscan bread - broken not sliced, and it's a feast for a king.

Walk around the village of Loro Ciuffenna where you'll have some great photo opportunities,  and be sure to cross the Ponte Romanico (Romanesque Bridge) for a view over the gorge. Ask any local to point it out. You might like to have lunch in Loro too. You can choose from a frugal but tasty snack at the Bar Centrale in the piazza (closed Tuesdays), or one of the three restaurants all within a minute's walk.

Then from Loro Ciuffenna, (locally just called Loro) head up into the mountains towards the tiny little mountain village of Trappola. It takes about fifteen minutes. The drive is spectacular with views of terraced olive orchards and the Valdarno (Arno Valley) in the distance. Walk around the ancient village of Trappola, and again enjoy the splendid views and absolute peace away from cars and crowds. You'll probably be the only tourists too, and the locals are always friendly towards the few visitors they receive. There's a rustic bar/restaurant called Vin' de Nuvoli were you can get an economical bite to eat. Maybe the cheese and wine I suggested earlier. Actually they have a well stocked wine cellar, you could try something special too. It's open 7/7 from May to September.

Around six in the evening head down to San Giovanni Valdarno (twenty minutes from Loro) and  join the locals for their evening stroll in Corso Italia (Main Street). The object is to walk slowly form one end of the street to the other more than once, while conversing, people watching, having  a gelato and browsing the shop windows. The town is also architecturally interesting, so don't forget to look around and up. Last but definitely not least…take it easy just like the locals.

copyright Sergio Ceccherini © Scenic Wine Tours in Tuscany 2012. All rights reserved.