Carafe in Caccia by Love Vdo

Wine is a staple of Italian culture and is accompanied with every evening meal, red wine almost exclusively. Some of what is considered the best wine in the world is made right here in Italy. There are people who wish to get a taste of the Super Tuscan wines. This means that the wines are often made of grapes that are not native to the region to create a Bordeaux-blend , like a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They can range and land in high prices because of their careful and detailed production.


Wine wasn't new to me when I came to Italy but I definitely didn't know all the complexities behind the wine I drank. Wine was something my sister, her husband, and I bonded over, because while everyone else we know in the family enjoyed beers and hard liquors we took enjoyment in a nice glass of wine. I know all that I have liked from what I have tried were almost exclusively red and tended to be a little on the sweeter side but rich in taste almost like a good black coffee. The last bottle I finished and liked was a Grahams 6 grapes wine that was gifted to me at a Thanksgiving dinner I hosted. It was definitely a sweet wine and if you are someone who isn't used to a bitter taste and would rather something not too dry and more refreshing, I would say it is a good entry into wine. It is great with desert as well as on its own.


While in Florence,  in general, I have been drinking Chianti, meaning the wine was made in central Tuscany, so closer to Firenze, compared to Strada Provinciale Bolgherese which is much closer to the coast and southwest of Florence, in the Province of Livorno. I realized that this is the reason that in my experience so far,  it is common to see a Chianti on the menu Florence.

This past weekend I visited a vineyard in Bolgheri, where I mentioned earlier, called Caccia Al Piano. In the 1960s, Bolgheri became one of the avant-garde areas for top wine production. In 1968, these local producers started an innovative style of wine called the Super Tuscan, such as Ornellaia and Sassicaia (a Bordeaux-style red wine). In 1994, Bolgheri and Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC(Denominazione di Origine Controllata)  were born. When you see or hear DOC, to put it simply, it is a verification that the vine is from the region it claims to be produced in. The main focus of the Bolgheri DOC is the importance of terroir, and for this reason, the Bolgheri Rosso and Bolgheri Superiore wines are labeled without the mention of grapes, as where the grapes where grown and harvested is more important. The Bolgheri DOC title also can cover white and rosé wines as well. I was able to visit the property and learn a wine making and  enjoy a tasting. I had been looking forward to visiting a vineyard for a while.

Caccia is a slightly smaller and younger vineyard that a lot of other ones but still highly regarded. Most of the production is all done by hand with no more than 50 people harvesting and sorting grapes for fermentation. I was able to get a tour of the vineyard as well. Outside is the harvest and inside the sort and have large machines that press ad juice the grapes in a steady process. There are far more steps to the process that I know I am missing but what I did gather from the tour is that this is a very long, laborious, and expensive process that requires the makers to be passionate if they want to create a good product.  



At the wine tasting I tasted 4 different wines and it was accompanied with cheeses, meats, and bread. The wines presented from their line were the Levia Gravia 2014, Bolgheri Superiore D.O.C, 2 different variations of the Ruit Hora 2014, Bolgheri Rosso D.O.C, the Gottaia 2014, IGT Toscana. I liked all of the wines. They were a bit more bitter than I was used to but easy to drink and had overall, a more complex taste because of the blends. I went home with two bottles of the Ruit Hora Bolgheri Rosso D.O.C. It is rich in taste and of all the wines I have tasted so far in Italy, it has been my favorite. I am excited for when I go back to the states to bring a bottle for my sister and brother in law to try and get their opinion!


I would suggest if you are visiting Tuscany you can not leave without visiting a vineyard and experiencing something like a wine tasting for yourself.



Pop of Color by Love Vdo

One of the main reasons I decided to come to Italy was because I wanted to be in one of the main fashion capitals of the of the world and get inspired by the locals and trends here so I could better cultivate my designs. In trade I am an industrial designer and mainly do product design it but I came to a point where decided that I really wanted to focus on soft goods: leather working and bag making specifically. While I am here trying to do exactly that. So, I was excited when I heard about a fashion event that was going to be happening.


The event was that FLY, a vintage shop that also features clothing from student designers. The theme was Pop of Color. Students studying fashion merchandising hospitality and fashion photography were the primary organizers of this event. I went with two of my roommates and a couple of friends of mine from school and we were really excited to go to this event. To be in the theme of the event I dressed up in a teal midi dress, red head wrap, and a fluffy scarf as a throw. Everyone was well dressed and there were activities. If you had my last blog I would have seen that I mention aperitivo and how popular is here in Italy.


What you should expect when going to an aperitivo is that usually it's later at night there's always drink and with that drink, you get basically an unlimited amount of buffet style food. ng It is probably the best way to introduce yourself to the Italian culture. Food and drink, I have noticed since living here, is a norm and they use that to bring people together.At the Fly event, they had activities live pin making and a photo booth and 20 percent off of the entire store. When I arrived my friends and I got two tickets which gave you two free drinks, all wine, and they served many orders that ranging from vegetarian option like a creamed spinach on a bread or fish option like an octopus salad. My favorite by far was the cap to the night: dessert, which was a lemon custard it had small flakes on it that added a layer of crunch and if anyone knows me they know that I love tart pastries more than anything.


All in all, this was a great event and allowed me to mingle with people of similar interests. I would definitely suggest if you are ever visiting Italy to take advantage of an aperitivo. Check if something you are interested in like if you are interested in art galleries is doing anything like that as well. Then you can mingle with people you enjoy similar things as you and network.

FLY stands for Fashion Loves You and  is located at Borgo Pinti, 20/red, 50122 Firenze FI. 

"Embracing the Season's Vegetables" by Love Vdo

To preface this I am by no means a culinary expert, just someone who really loves to eat!
— Love



I am a vegetarian and that consequently often means that I am out of luck, especially when traveling, and it comes great tasting food. I was a little worried that moving to Italy would probably mean the same thing because I also don't eat dairy. With the exception of ice cream of course.  However, I have learned that  Florence is different. Tuscany has a unique history with vegetarianism. Many places created dishes that were friendly to those taking holy pilgrimage and who often had dietary tendencies that refrained them from eating meat and animal byproduct. For this reason if you are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free do not worry there are plenty of places to eat in the city of Florence and most restaurants I have gone to so far have at least one if not more vegetarian friendly options.


I heard that every Thursday night there is a themed dinner at Ganzo, a restaurant that is part of the APICIUS school of Hospitality. This week was "Embracing the Season's Vegetables" and I had to jump on the opportunity. I already had the pleasure of enjoying one of their aperitivo. For 5€  you can get a drink and all you can eat buffet! This is common in Italy so if you ever decide to visit I suggest you go to one of these.

A friend of mine got a reservation and we went together. Now if you decide to go to of these themed dinners be prepared to enjoy a 6 course dinner with wine included paired with every course. All of the food was was great but I want to highlight 3  out of the 6 courses that I enjoyed the most would have to be the welcome, Bienvenuto: welcome,  Primo piatto: first course, and the Prima del Dolce: pre dessert.


The  Bienvenuto was fruit and vegetable salad with an avocado base and had a nice use of texture by adding more mixing pomegranate that added sweet and crunch and onion which add a little bit of kick. It was a great way to start off the dinner and build up to the main course. I would have never thought to pair those ingredients together but it was an interesting and pleasant surprise and that was a nice use of color in the presentation that made me want to eat it more. Before I continue now, I'd like to mention that presentation goes a long way and I believe is what carried the dinner.

For the Primo piatto or first course there was a handmaid tagliatelle with vegetarian ragu and it was delicious. I love’d it! It was exactly what one would characterise Italian cuisine as: pasta! I thoroughly enjoyed this dish and I think it was my favorite hands down. It was simple and but well done.

 Lastly,  the Prima del Dolce. When this came out it was so well presented I did not want to eat it ,as to ruin the look of it. This was a spoon full of sorbet topped with a purple carrot chip. It was sweet, creamy, crunchy, salty, with a light aftertaste of liquorice. Tis was taken all in one bite and I think soared in terms of presentation and taste.

All in all this was a great experience and I would do it again. The service was great and run by students as well and the menu was curated by them too!    

If you plan on going to one if these themed nights remember that attendance is by reservation only. Also the entire dinner was only 28€!