Tuscan Holiday Hamper

There is no better way to capture the mood of Tuscany than to replicate an Italian meal in the comfort of your own home. With our help, you’ll be able to do just that. Give someone you care about an authentic Italian Christmas with our guide to the perfect Tuscan holiday hamper.

Tuscan Sun Cookbook & Ingredients


A cookbook can mean taking a voyage to another world as new recipes are tried and out new favourites discovered along the way! We recommend The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances and Edward Mayes. It’s brimming with over 130 recipes made by the couple over their two decade stay in Italy, including everything you need for an intimate meal or a long-lasting dinner party.


A cookbook will encourage your loved ones to get stuck in and make time-tested Italian meals, so what better way to help them along by providing some ingredients? To get little tastes of Tuscany include Tuscan Shopping’s basket featuring mushrooms, tomatoes, sauces and pate. It’s sure to help those just dipping their toes in the culinary experiences Tuscany has to offer.


Wine Decanter

To add a touch of class to the hamper, include this one litre wine decanter from Wine Ware so your recipient can serve their guests in style. Even without pouring wine it makes a beautiful feature on an Italian table. With so much great choice, we recommend hearing what our wine expert, Rich Cook, had to say about local Tuscan wines. Be sure to include a bottle or two so it can be used when cooking, hosting a party, or just for enjoying a relaxing evening during the winter holidays.

 Personalised Vinyl

If you’re assembling the hamper for a true wine connoisseur you can personalise their own winery vinyl. A personal gift always seems that little bit more special in an assorted hamper.

Sweet Bread

 Panettone and Pandoro

To get a taste of what Christmas is like in Italy, expat bloggers Krista of Alla Fiorentina and Melinda of Living in Florence offered their insight. Both agreed that the essential addition to your Christmas hamper is some Italian sweet bread.

“Christmas in Italy is a big deal! It’s always excited to see which new Christmas lights the city will choose to decorate the streets of Florence, and of course the gorgeous tree in front of the duomo is always a sight to see. The religious won’t miss the Pope’s Christmas Eve mass, and on Christmas Italian families gather together for a Christmas meal. An Italian-themed Christmas hamper wouldn’t be complete without panettone, a traditional holiday dessert (which sometimes doubles as breakfast) and a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate!” – Krista

“In Florence people buy ‘pensierini’, which are little gifts for friends and acquaintances. We often say, “it’s the thought that counts” and in Italy, it is what is most important. Christmas is all about sharing with others and bringing them joy and a ‘pensierini’ does just that. In the hamper, I would definitely say ‘panettone’ or ‘pandoro’, the two typical Italian sweet breads that are standards for every Italian family.” – Melinda


Biscottifico Biscuits

A final touch to your hamper, are some authentic Tuscan biscuits from Biscottificio Belli, featuring cantuccini al cioccolato, ricciardilli alla mandorila and canticcini alla mandorila (made with almond paste, chocolate and almonds repectively). These biscuits have been made with the same recipe for over 50 years so they’re the perfect companion to an afternoon glass of wine or coffee.

Say a very big Buon Natale this year with some traditional Italian flavours from the heart of Tuscany!

#TuscanyNowCookOff Culinary Delights

The Entries #TuscanyNowCookOff


We asked food bloggers from the UK and US to take on the Tuscany Now Cook Off challenge by creating their very own Italian dish. We received some fantastic entries, from flavour-infused focaccia to traditional Zuppa Toscana. We even had some delicious Italian desserts to share.

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Tuscany Now Cook-Off Competition Returns!

Cook-off-competitionThe Tuscany Now cook-off competition is back by popular demand!

Tuscany Now is once again giving you the chance to win a weekend getaway in the beautiful city of Florence.

The winner will stay in our charming 15th century farmhouse, Il Monte and also get the chance to learn about the culture and essence of Italy’s finest traditional foods. This wonderful cooking experience will be headed up by the Bini family who are acclaimed Italian chefs and restaurateurs.

Our panellists will pick the overall winner and their top 20 dishes who will each win a bottle of fine Italian wine!

The top 20 dishes will be judged on:

  1. Presentation
  2. Italian authenticity
  3. Creativity
  4. Cooking expertise

Here’s how your recipe can be in with a chance to win this fantastic get away:

  1. Cook your Italian inspired recipe
  2. Take a picture of your dish/video yourself cooking
  3. Upload your recipe as a blog post on your site alongside your pictures/video
  4. Make sure to use #TuscanyNowCookOff in your blog post
  5. Include a link to this Tuscany Now competition post
  6. Email your name, blog link and address to: competitions@tuscanynow.com

Il Monte

Enter now for the chance to win a weekend getaway to a beautiful villa overlooking Florence!

Competition closes on Sunday the 30th of November

Please read the rules below to make sure your entry is accepted!


1. Entries (recipe & picture/video) must be submitted via blog post featuring the competition hashtag #TuscanyNowCookOff and a link to Tuscany Now’s competition post.
2. Tuscany Now Cook-Off will only allow one recipe entry per person.
3. Entrants warrant that the work they submit is original and that they are the sole owner of the copyright in it.
4. Multiple entries will be disqualified.
5. Copyright in all images submitted for this competition remains with the respective entrants. However, in consideration of their providing the competition, each entrant grants a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence to Tuscany Now to feature any or all of the submitted images in any of their publications, their website and/or in any promotional material.
6. The competition will run from 4/11/2014 until 30/11/14.
7. Recipes will be judged on: Presentation, Italian authenticity, Creativity and Cooking expertise.
8. The winning and runner-up recipes will be uploaded to the Tuscany Now website.
9. By entering our competition, you give us the permission to use your images and recipe on our social media pages.
10. This competition is open to any bloggers over the age of 18. Certain restrictions on the shipping of alcohol products are applicable for certain countries; in the event that wine cannot be shipped an alternative bottle of Organic Tuscan Olive Oil will be provided instead.
11. Runner-ups will be chosen by a panel of judges.
12. The winner will be chosen by a panel of judges.
13. Winners will be contacted via the email address provided.
14. The winners will be notified by 1/12/14 by a contact method provided in the entry. The final winner will be notified by the 14/12/14. Acknowledgement of the prizes by the winners must be received by Tuscany Now by 22/12/14. Should Tuscany Now not receive confirmation from the winner by this time, Tuscany Now reserves the right to select the most successful runner-up.
15. The winner of the Florence trip must pay for their own flights.
16. You cannot pass your prize onto someone else. If you do not wish to accept the prize, the next runner-up will be chosen. You can also not request a cash prize.
17. Tuscany Now reserves the right to check validity and reject entries with reasonable cause.
18. Tuscany Now is compliant with the data protection act. Our policy is such that we will not pass on your details to any third party without your prior consent.

Rich Cook’s Tuscan Tips

We wanted to give you an expert’s look at the best sites Tuscany had to offer, so we spoke to Rich Cook of Wine Review Online, a self confessed lover of the area and wine aficionado to share some of his top tips straight from Tuscany!

“Tuscany is home to some of the great wines of the world. Its signature grape, Sangiovese, and its landscape are perfectly suited for each other. Each region within the province has something different to offer, and each region focuses a large portion of its production on what works well at the local table. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the area, along with some tips for your visit.

Florence is near the center of it all, and makes a great place for a home base to day trip from. In the city don’t miss the Duomo, Michelangelo’s David, the Uffizi gallery, and make sure you get up above the city and drink in the view.

Above Firenze
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Featured Recipe – Roast chicken with vin santo

Roast chicken with vin santo recipe by Giulia from Jul’s Kitchen

Vin santo roast chicken  Jul's Kitchen

Vin santo roast chicken
Jul’s Kitchen

This recipe may not feature a lot of ingredients but our featured food blogger Guilia from Jul’s Kitchen says each ingredient is essential. “This is how I would imagine a woman living in the Tuscan countryside would have loved her farm-yard chicken to be roasted on a foggy Sunday morning. No butter smeared on the chicken, no fussy stuffing, just a good chicken, some salt and pepper, olive oil and vin santo. She could find everything in her pantry or in her yard.” Vin Santo literally meaning holy wine, is a Tuscan family favourite and is often home made.

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Celebrate International Coffee Day At Home

Find your perfect way of enjoying International Coffee Day at home with our handy equipment guide

If Italians hold one thing close to their heart, it is their love of coffee. Since introducing the beverage to the rest of Europe from Egypt, and with Venice opening its first café in around 1683, people all over the world confess that the only to start the day is with a fine cup of coffee.

We all have our own favourites, whether it is espresso, cappuccino, latte or any other variation. Some like more milk – others dabble with chocolate or caramel. There are so many ways to make and enjoy your coffee.

And that’s where we come in. To celebrate International Coffee Day, we decided to look at some of the best ways to make your coffee at home. What should you use? What’s best? Well, here are our favourites:


Method 1 – Moka Pot

 Moka Pot

  • For the Moka Pot you’re going to need your coffee to be ground fine, almost like table salt. The size of your pot will naturally determine how many cups you can get out of it and you’ll need roughly 4 grams of grounds per cup.
  • Boil some water and fill the bottom of the brewer. Then insert the filter basket into the bottom, fill with your coffee and level it off with your finger.
  • Screw the top onto the base (be sure to take precautions when handling the bottom with all of that boiling water!) and place the pot onto a stove at medium heat – any hotter and the coffee is likely to burn.
  • Slowly, as the water boils, steam from the bottom of the brewer will be forced up through the finely-ground coffee and into the reservoir above, where it is collected.
  • Once the bottom section is almost empty you’ll start hearing gurgling noises and seeing that the liquid leaving the central spout has turned roughly the colour of honey. When this happens, remove the Moka Pot from the stove and keep the lid closed. After you’ve used your Moka Pot regularly, you’ll have your timing down so it almost seems automatic!

Now you’re ready to serve up your coffee, adding milk or hot water – whichever you prefer.

Rosemary Molloy of An Italian In My Kitchen prefers a Moka Pot for her morning coffee along with some Italian based treats:

“I use a Bialetti Moka Express coffee maker (in my opinion the best brand of Italian coffee makers you can find) which makes about three cups of coffee. The brand that I always use and I suggest is Lavazza Crema e Gusto (Gusto Dolce) because it has a non-bitter taste to it and it’s lighter than other Italian espresso brands.

For breakfast I usually make espresso and heat some milk in a pot. I then mix them together in a large mug and I make my husband and me two homemade lattes. We like to accompany our coffees with some Italian cookies called Pan di Stelle or some homemade biscotti and crostata (it’s a tart filled with Nutella or jam.) During the summer I get out my blender and make some iced coffee using the espresso coffee. It’s nice to sip some cold coffee while reading a book in the garden.”
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An American guide to Sicilian wine

Sicily and the wines that are breaking into the US market

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, nestles only three kilometres from Italy’s boot, at its closest point.  We may easily be transported to an Italian idyll, forgetting that this island has been marred by emigration, Casa Nostra violence and soaring unemployment over the years.

But in the past decade or so Sicily has found its feet again. With unemployment falling from 23% to 11% from the 90s into the new millennium, Sicily’s industry is ready to grow and achieve.  That is echoed within its wine industry!

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