The Personality of Italian Business

One of the best features of Tuscany, and indeed all of Italy, is the number of independent local businesses that are on offer from bustling cities to small towns in the countryside. No matter where you turn, you can see people selling local produce: handmade, home-grown and undoubtedly wearing the proud label of ‘made in Italy’.

Italy is flushed with small to medium sized businesses, many having operated for years and steeped in family tradition. In fact, 98% of the over four million companies in Italy have an average of just four employees!

Business etiquette

It’s no surprise that Italian business etiquette is much more personal than other European countries, as merchants value quality relationships with their customers that keep them coming back for more. Rather than visiting the supermarket every week, you’ll be strolling from market stalls to butchers and winemakers before stopping by a local tailor, and at each of them you’ll find a happy face welcoming you in and recommending the best of their local goods.

Mario Bemer

Meeting Mario Bemer

To learn first-hand about the personality of Italian business, we got in touch with Mario Bemer, a shoemaker in the Oltrarno region of Florence, south of the Arno River and a neighbourhood renowned for craftsmen and artisans. Mario has been running his current store since 2014, but his background is a rich history of quality craftsmanship always with an eye towards taking care of customers:

“The relationship with my customers begins before the shoe is even made; I need to understand the lifestlyle, habits, and uses my client will need their shoes for. I like to understand their taste, and be able to make suggestions that can enhance the style and look they are going for. These are the details that I find create a relationship of reciprocal trust with the client. From there it becomes an ongoing relationship, where I listen to their requests, and make recommendations to suit different styles.”

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#TuscanyNominate Competiton Winners!

Thank you to all of our wonderful entrants!

Tuscany Now would like to send out a big thank you to everyone who nominated their loved ones in our #TuscanyNominate competition.

We received stories of overwhelming companionship, dedication and support. Picking our winner was no small task, but we’re pleased to announce the winner of the weekend stay in the wonderful Limonaia villa is Lisa of The Dame International!

Dame Intl 2


Lisa nominated her mum for all of the hard work and sacrifice she’s dedicated to not only her daughter, but also through working as a live-in care worker. We’ll be whisking them away in October, so they can both enjoy the sights, sounds and smells and of Tuscany’s picturesque countryside, busy streets and fantastic cuisine! You can read Lisa’s full heart-warming nomination on her blog here.

But Lisa and her mother aren’t the only winners! We randomly selected 12 further entrants to the competition to win luxurious bottles of Italian wine. Our lucky dozen bloggers are:

Be sure to stay up to date with the Tuscany Now blog to hear of our future competitions, as well as our guides on what wonderful Tuscany has to offer.

Nominate to Appreciate Competition


Tell us who you #TuscanyNominate for a chance to win a weekend in Italy

Tuscany Now wants to help you pass on an act of kindness to a special person in your life. All you need to do is nominate them!

This October we are giving away a free weekend stay in our luxurious Limonaia villa, a beautiful 18th century cottage on the outskirts of Florence with fantastic views of the River Arno and olive groves surrounding the iconic city. Tell us who you think deserves a refreshing holiday and we could be flying you and your nominee away to an Italian experience of a lifetime.

Villa Thumbnails

Perhaps it’s your mum who’s always there to give advice? Your best friend who has been there for you? Or someone at work who deserves a break? Whoever you #TuscanyNominate, we want to hear why you’ve picked them and what you’d like to get up to in Tuscany if you win. Tuscany is home to some of the world’s finest fashion, richest cuisine and outstanding culture, so the hardest part might be choosing what to do!

Our judging panel will pick the winner of the competition based on the most deserving post. This could either be an amusing, emotional or touching story which really captures the reason why your nominee deserves this weekend away.  As well as the winner of the holiday, twelve runners-up will be chosen at random, and will win a bottle of fine Italian wine!

Here’s how you and your nominee can be in with a chance to win a fantastic getaway:

    1. Choose who you would like to nominate
    2. Create and publish a post about why you feel your nominee deserves a weekend away in Tuscany and what you’d like to do there
    3. Add the Twitter hashtag #TuscanyNominate in your blog post
    4. Include a link to this Tuscany Now competition post


Nominate who you want to appreciate now for the chance to win a weekend getaway for you and your nominee to beautiful Italy!

Competition closes on Sunday the 12th of July

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


1. Entries must be submitted via a blog post featuring the competition hashtag #TuscanyNominate and a link to Tuscany Now’s competition post.
2. Tuscany Now’s Nomination Giveaway will only allow one entry per person.
3. Entrants warrant that the post submitted 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 license 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 15/6/2015 until 12/7/2015.
7. The winning and runner-up entries will be uploaded to the Tuscany Now website.
8. By entering our competition, you give us the permission to use your images and information on our social media pages.
9. 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.
10. The competition winner will be chosen by a panel of judges.
11. Winners will be contacted via the email address provided.
12. The competition winner and runners-up will be notified by 3/8/15 by a contact method provided in the entry. Acknowledgement of the prizes must be received by Tuscany Now by 24/8/2015. Should Tuscany Now not receive confirmation from the winner by this time, Tuscany Now reserves the right to select the most successful runner-up.
13. Competition prize villa is only available the weekend of Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th October 2015.
14. Flight costs for the competition winner will be covered from UK destinations only.
15. 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.
16. Tuscany Now reserves the right to check validity and reject entries with reasonable cause.
17. 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.

Why We Love Tuscany

There is no better way to explore a region than taking recommendations from friends, family, and those that have experienced it first-hand. Why do all of the hard work wasting precious holiday time, when you can discover the nooks and crannies from someone in the know!

We spoke to experienced Tuscan traveller and writer of, Danika Garlotta, about her experiences and what she could recommend. Does this sound like your perfect Tuscan retreat?


Could you start off by providing a little bit of background on your experiences in Tuscany!

We stayed in Florence for about a month and during our time there we took many day trips to various regions of Tuscany. We went to Lucca, areas of Siena, including San Gimignano. We would hop on the train and then just get off as close to the city centre as we could.


All the areas we visited were great for walking around and we would just get lost in the city. We would walk in and out of churches, grab pizza and a bottle of wine and just take it all in.


What is it about Tuscany that you love?

I loved the historic buildings, the cobblestone streets and looking as far as you can see – and only seeing rolling hills. Although each town we visited was unique, Tuscany as a whole is just so romantic and beautiful to see.

Where is your favourite place to go in Tuscany? and why is it that you love this place?

San Gimignano was my favourite area of Tuscany. I loved how this small medieval village was perched on top of a hill with its skyline of towers rising from the Tuscan countryside. The town was pretty small so it was really easy to visit in a day (or a half day). After walking around for an hour or so, we got a pizza and a bottle of wine and sat in the town square and just watched people walk by.


What advice would you give to people going on holiday in Tuscany or traveling through the region?

Ensure that you visit a winery tour, and don’t be afraid to get lost in the individual towns and scenic landscape. Also try to visit as many areas as you can. My only regret is that we didn’t take more day trips from Florence. Next time we’ll plan to stay in the towns longer and see more areas


If you have shared any similar experiences of Tuscany to Danika – or would like to tell us about your own regional loves – we’d love to hear from you on our Twitter: @TuscanyNow

Hidden Gems of Tuscany

The size and diversity of Tuscany makes it a rich region to explore. Being home to the Tower of Pisa and the Uffizi gallery in Florence, culture-seekers are understandably attracted to the Tuscan landscape. But sometimes it’s nice to get off the beaten track, in search of the nuances and hidden gems that are lesser-known.

To help you to discover these Tuscan secrets, we have asked those who live in the region for the locations that the guides miss.


Photo by: Fabio Muzzi

Photo by: Fabio Muzzi


The town of Pienza is a historic town dating back over 600 years. Rebuilt by Pope Pius II around 1460 as the ideal Renaissance town, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The town boasts picturesque streets steeped in history. Pienza is located in the Tuscan province of Siena towards the south east of the region.

John B Thomas Jr is a traveller and writer for Choosing his recommendation he recalls his time in Pienza:

“From Pienza there is beautiful panoramic scenery from the high wall behind the church. We have have eaten at the little restaurant in the square Ristorante Pizzeria La Mensa Del Conte Di Rosignoli Lucia Rita.

There are some shops where you can buy local fare. The town saw some action during WWII and the church in the town square has the bullet holes to prove it.

It’s close to one of the main sites featured in the movie The English Patient where we roamed around the good part of an afternoon. Not even touristy for its great location! Watch the movie before you go so you can see where you’ve been!” Read more

10 Ways You Know You’re Embracing Italian Culture

Everyone loves a brief taste of Italian culture, but for those of you looking to stay longer, and possibly even set down new roots, you may find your life starting to change in unexpected ways.

We spoke to four expatriates who have moved over and fully embraced new lifestyles to see what they thought were the quintessential ways to know you’re living your life the Italian way.

Our four guest expat bloggers are:

Nicola Ferlei Brown

Nicola Ferlei Brown is a Rome based British writer and has written for the likes of Marie Claire Italia, Italy Magazine, Macs Magazine and Wanted in Rome Magazine.

Elizabeth Knight

Elizabeth Knight from Rome… If You Want To

Francesca Maggi

Francesca Maggi from Burnt by the Tuscan Sun

Gina Tringali

Gina Tringali from GT Food and Travel

Read more

24 Hours in Florence

With Tuscany proving to be one of the most beautiful and culturally rich regions in all of Italy, it’s no wonder it attracts millions of visitors every year. But what if you’re only passing through? To make the most of a short visit, we’re taking you on a one day tour of the Tuscan capital, Florence. Without further ado, let’s begin with breakfast!

8am – 9am: Breakfast at Giubbe Rosse

There are many great breakfast venues, but not many cafes can boast an intellectual twist with private exhibitions and literary discussion. That’s why we recommend starting your day at Giubbe Rosse. With a rich menu and friendly staff who will heartily recommend the best of their local produce, sitting out in the sun is the perfect breakfast. It’s located right in Piazza della Repubblica in the heart of Florence!


24 Hours 1

9am – 11am: Florence Cathedral

Just five minutes away from your breakfast, it’s only fitting to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Built towards the end of the 13th Century, on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata (the remains of which can be visited in the crypt), the cathedral is home to many pieces of beautiful artwork, the largest of which being Giorgio Vasari’s Last Judgment. While you’ll be looking to get the most of out your 24 hours, we won’t blame you if you get lost strolling through Florence’s history and enjoying the sights of the Cathedral.

24 Hours 2

11am – 1:30pm: Ponte Vecchio and Boboli Garden

Sweeping down from the Cathedral, head south across one of Florence’s most appealing attraction, the Vecchio bridge. The oldest bridge in the city, it was formally the only means of crossing the Arno River in the city. Its current iteration, since 1345, has survived everything from World War II to when the Arno flooded in 1966. It also houses a bust of Benvenuto Cellini, a 16th century goldsmith, as trade on the bridge at that time was restricted only to goldsmiths and jewellers to improve the lives of all who crossed it.

24 Hours 3

Once you reach the other side, you can head down to Giardino di Boboli to take in the beautiful sculptures and horticulture. Decorated with ancient and Renaissance statues and filled with gorgeous fountains, strolling through the garden is serene. It’s also the perfect setting for you to indulge in some lunch.

1:30pm – 4pm: Shopping at Via de’ Tornabuoni

We couldn’t set out a day in Florence without giving you some time to enjoy the vast wealth of fashion on offer, and there’s no better place than Via de’ Tornabuoni. Looping round the east from the gardens, head north over the Santa Trinita bridge to find yourself in the heart of Florence’s fashion scene. From boutiques to flagship stores for international brands such as Gucci and Roberto Cavalli, you could easily wile away the day seeing Italian fashion at its best.

4pm – 6pm: Accademia Gallery

Be careful not to spend too much in Florence’s stores, mind you, as a day in the city wouldn’t be complete with seeing one of art’s absolute masterpieces, Michelangelo’s David housed in the Tribune section of the Accademia Gallery. A wealth of other work from the classic artist is also on show, with a private collection of historical musical instruments along with the history of the invention of the piano.

24 Hours 4

As well as the staple exhibits for everyone to enjoy, be sure to see the Accademia Gallery site to find out about any special exhibitions that are scheduled over the year. Time your 24 hours in Tuscany so that you see something extra special!


6pm – The End of the Night: Evening Meal at Fuoco Matto and Drinks at Casa del Vino

24 Hours 5

By now you’ve already explored Florence’s best fashion stores, cultural attractions and breath-taking landmarks. The only thing left is to dedicate your evening to the culinary expertise and delectable wine selections. Coming out of the Accademia Gallery, head west to find Fuoco Matto and indulge in an authentic Italian pizza. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations on wine to pair with your meal.

From there it’s just a few minutes’ walk south to the wine bar Casa del Vino for a more intimate experience, where you can enjoy the best Panino in the whole city! Wind down the end of your day by chatting with the locals and enjoying some wonderful wine tasting. You might just get some recommendations for the next time you visit.

You can squeeze so much out of just one day in Florence, soaking in the culture, scenery and culinary delights. And that’s just one city in the beautiful region of Tuscany, meaning before you know it you’ll be back again for even more!

Tuscany Now attend the #SLBloggerBash

On Friday we attended the #SLBloggerBash hosted by Search Laboratory and co-hosted by popular fashion and lifestyle blogger, Scarlett London. The event was held at the very stylish 1 Alfred Place in Soho, and included a mix of different brands such as Urban Outfitters, Quiz Clothing, Modern Rugs and Wynsors shoes.

Bash Setup


The #SLBloggerBash was aimed around fashion, lifestyle, beauty and travel bloggers coming together to have a glass of wine, play a few games and try their luck at one of the competitions which many of the brands had running on the day.

Bash Stand

We wanted to do something a little different, so we decided to host our very own wine tasting competition.  Our lovely winners, Debbie from Hello Deborah, Charli from Adventures of a Nice Girl, and Ulrike from Found some paper, have all won a food and wine hamper.

Event Composite

As well as plenty of wine, we also brought a selection of tasty cheese and meat for everyone to try, which seemed to go down a treat.

Event 3

We all had a great day and enjoyed sharing a glass or two with lots of lovely people, if you are interested in trying some of the wines we used in the taste testing, these can be found below:

White from Campania
Greco di Tufo D.O.C.G.”

White from Veneto
“Servo Suo Brut Prosecco di Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G. “

White from Lazio
“Calanchi di Vaiano 2013 Chardonnay I.G.P.”

 Red from Umbria
“Colli Amerini – Rosso Superior D.O.C.”

 Red from Tuscany
Chianti Classico 2010 D.O.C.G.”

Hopefully see you all again soon!

An Introduction to Italian Neorealism

Leeds plays host to a night of vintage Italian cinema

Ever mindful to introduce people to aspects of Italian culture people may not immediately leap to, we invited Leeds’ local bloggers and film fanatics to a fantastic night of Italian neorealism.

Bike Thieves Screen

Neorealism was one of the most influential genres of European cinema. Born out of the destruction brought by World War II, neorealism strove to blend art-house and popular cinema by presenting life as realistically as possible. Stripped of the happy-go-lucky feel of Hollywood entertainment, neorealism films used few professional actors, filmed much of their action on actual locations rather than constructed sets and took an uncompromising look at the struggle and poverty that was rife in Italy as it recovered from wartime.

Bryn Talk

For a great, intimate atmosphere we took to the Library Pub in Leeds, and leading the night was film lecturer, author and editor of Deep Focus Film Studies, Bryn Young-Roberts. A massive fan of the genre, he delivered an excellent talk introducing neorealism, explaining its place in history, its key characteristics and looking into some of its most prominent films.

Cinema Crowd

“It was great to see so many people eager to learn about a fascinating piece of European cinema history. Bicycle Thieves is an all-time great, and I encourage everyone to hunt out and watch more of these classics.” – Bryn Young-Roberts

‘Tuscany Now gave us a delightful evening, showcasing the best of Italian Neorealist cinema and educating the people of Leeds about the relevance of the movement in relation to the history of European cinema as a whole’ – Hope Vanda Churm from The State of the Arts

For those who couldn’t make the event, you’ll find a full recording of Bryn’s introductory talk below!