Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Abbey of Sant'Antimo, which dates to around 1050 AD, sits just
outside of Montalcino and regularly holds Gregorian chants.
(Photo: Amelia Osborne)
By Amelia OsborneLooking the part is more than half
the battle when it comes to blending in with Italians.
After much research (including conversations over wine), we have come up with
a few key tips.
1.
 Know when to dine—and what to order
When Italians invite you to
lunch or dinner, the question of time never arises.
It is understood that lunch occurs at 1:00 p.
m.
and dinner at 8:00 p.
m.
Visitors wishing to eat earlier can expect empty restaurants.
One benefit of having set mealtimes is that restaurants do not flip tables,
so once you are seated, your table is yours for the evening, and no hovering
waiters will ask for your coffee orders to get you out the door.
Dinner at La Bandita Townhouse during truffle season is a treat.
 (Photo: Amelia Osborne)
Deciding what to order can be the most
difficult task of the day, since Tuscany produces some of the finest
vegetables, fruit, cheese, meat, and cuisine in the country (and, many would
argue, the world).
The best option is to dine family style, ordering a few antipasti (like
bruschetta, salads, and cheese and charcuterie plates) followed by one pasta
dish for each diner.
Some of our favorites are handmade pici, long, thick spaghetti-like pasta,
tossed either with a meat ragout or cacio e pepe, a sauce of pecorino cheese
and pepper.
Meat eaters will love the region’s famous bistecca, grilled T-bone
steaks cut from white Chianina cattle.
2.
Include the whole family
Rarely will you see an important occasion marked in
Italy without a mass gathering of what is clearly the extended family.
Children are brought to the markets, vineyards, fine restaurants, five-star
hotels, and casual eateries.
Kids are welcome everywhere, and they delight in visiting a country that
emphasizes family time, being outside and exploring villages chockablock with
castles, fortresses, art-filled churches, and gelato stands.
A classic option for coffee in Montalcino.
(Photo: Amelia Osborne)
3.
Take your time
Italians’ rapid speech and the even quicker hand
gestures that punctuate it, together with sports cars like Ferraris and
Lamborghinis might be the only aspects of the country’s culture that
move quickly.
For the most part, life in Tuscany proceeds at a determinedly slow pace.
Few scenarios present any sense of urgency, and visitors must adjust to
having even small interactions, like ordering an espresso or shopping for
handbag, involve conversation, contemplation, a phone call or two and possibly
a cigarette break.
More from Indagare: Small is Beautiful: Tuscan Boutique Hotels The
barrel room at Avignonesi.
(Photo: Amelia Osborne)
4.
Know—and appreciate—the wine
The Sangiovese grape reigns
supreme in Tuscany.
It is the prime ingredient of Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino,
Montepulciano Vino Nobile, Chianti Classico and a participant in the trendy
Super Tuscans.
Unsurprisingly, every Tuscan has an opinion on which is the best wine.
The differences between the varieties, vintages, and aging processes could be
grist for a college-level course.
A fun way to study them is to set up tastings in the three key winemaking
regions: Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Chianti.
(For extra credit, try the white wines of the Maremma region or the newly hot
Bolgheri wines, which have a higher alcohol content and are typically made
from the same French varietal that is mixed with Sangiovese grapes to create
Super Tuscans.
)5.
Visit in shoulder seasons
Most of the popular regions of Tuscany are
overflowing with international tourists in July and August, but in the spring
and fall, they are comparatively empty.
Italians from Florence, Rome, and beyond might be your only co-visitors
during the gorgeous months of May, September and October, when temperatures
are a bit cooler but there are wildflowers galore (in spring) and mushroom,
truffle, and chestnut foraging (in fall).
You might have smaller hotels nearly to yourself, which is particularly
magical in a castello (castle) or borgo (town) property.
More from Indagare: Spotlight on Siena
A classic Tuscan view, featuring the ubiquitous Cypress trees.
 (Photo: Amelia Osborne) 6.
Sample a variety of accommodations
Renting a villa for a week or two might
be tempting, especially with a large group, but the Tuscan region is too big
and rich to explore through mere day trips.
Consider breaking up your trip, with three to five nights each in a grand,
castle-centric property, a hotel in a medieval village and a villa, as your
last stop.
More adventurous travelers might enjoy spending a night or two in an
agriturismo, a sort of bed and breakfast on a farm.
7.
Don’t be afraid of road trips
Tuscany is relatively easy to drive
around, with a handful of good highways and country roads that are wide and
well marked.
Be sure to request a GPS device with your rental car, and enter latitude and
longitude coordinates rather than addresses, as many small towns are not
recognized.
Produce in Pienza.
(Photo: Amelia Osborne)
8.
Create your own meal
Whenever possible, visit a town’s weekly market,
small family-run stores and farm shops and put together picnic meals of crusty
bread, pecorino, prosciutto, tomatoes, olives, and wine.
If you can’t, appeal to a winery, restaurant or your hotel for a small
spuntino, or snack, which will inevitably result in a meal of nibbles fit for
Tuscan royalty.
If you love to cook and are staying in accommodations with a kitchen, take
advantage of the area’s bounty by visiting the markets and preparing a
feast from what you find there.
Indagare can arrange for an excellent private chef to come to you and give a
private cooking lesson.
More from Indagare: La Dolce Vita: Tuscan Villas WATCH: 
Iceland:  The Most Magical Layover Ever Let World traveling club
Travel inspire you every day.

Looking the part is more than half the battle in Tuscany.
Here's how to blend in with the locals.
.
3.
Take your time
Italians’ rapid speech and the even quicker hand
gestures that punctuate it, together with sports cars like Ferraris and
Lamborghinis might be the only aspects of the country’s culture that
move quickly.
For the most part, life in Tuscany proceeds at a determinedly slow pace.
Few scenarios present any sense of urgency, and visitors must adjust to
having even small interactions, like ordering an espresso or shopping for
handbag, involve conversation, contemplation, a phone call or two and possibly
a cigarette break.
More from Indagare: Small is Beautiful: Tuscan Boutique Hotels The
barrel room at Avignonesi.
(Photo: Amelia Osborne)
4.
Know—and appreciate—the wine
The Sangiovese grape reigns
supreme in Tuscany.
It is the prime ingredient of Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino,
Montepulciano Vino Nobile, Chianti Classico and a participant in the trendy
Super Tuscans.
Unsurprisingly, every Tuscan has an opinion on which is the best wine.
The differences between the varieties, vintages, and aging processes could be
grist for a college-level course.
A fun way to study them is to set up tastings in the three key winemaking
regions: Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Chianti.
(For extra credit, try the white wines of the Maremma region or the newly hot
Bolgheri wines, which have a higher alcohol content and are typically made
from the same French varietal that is mixed with Sangiovese grapes to create
Super Tuscans.
)5.
Visit in shoulder seasons
Most of the popular regions of Tuscany are
overflowing with international tourists in July and August, but in the spring
and fall, they are comparatively empty.
Italians from Florence, Rome, and beyond might be your only co-visitors
during the gorgeous months of May, September and October, when temperatures
are a bit cooler but there are wildflowers galore (in spring) and mushroom,
truffle, and chestnut foraging (in fall).
You might have smaller hotels nearly to yourself, which is particularly
magical in a castello (castle) or borgo (town) property.
More from Indagare: Spotlight on Siena
A classic Tuscan view, featuring the ubiquitous Cypress trees.
 (Photo: Amelia Osborne) 6.
Sample a variety of accommodations
Renting a villa for a week or two might
be tempting, especially with a large group, but the Tuscan region is too big
and rich to explore through mere day trips.
Consider breaking up your trip, with three to five nights each in a grand,
castle-centric property, a hotel in a medieval village and a villa, as your
last stop.
More adventurous travelers might enjoy spending a night or two in an
agriturismo, a sort of bed and breakfast on a farm.
7.
Don’t be afraid of road trips
Tuscany is relatively easy to drive
around, with a handful of good highways and country roads that are wide and
well marked.
Be sure to request a GPS device with your rental car, and enter latitude and
longitude coordinates rather than addresses, as many small towns are not
recognized.
Produce in Pienza.
(Photo: Amelia Osborne)
8.
Create your own meal
Whenever possible, visit a town’s weekly market,
small family-run stores and farm shops and put together picnic meals of crusty
bread, pecorino, prosciutto, tomatoes, olives, and wine.
If you can’t, appeal to a winery, restaurant or your hotel for a small
spuntino, or snack, which will inevitably result in a meal of nibbles fit for
Tuscan royalty.
If you love to cook and are staying in accommodations with a kitchen, take
advantage of the area’s bounty by visiting the markets and preparing a
feast from what you find there.
Indagare can arrange for an excellent private chef to come to you and give a
private cooking lesson.
More from Indagare: La Dolce Vita: Tuscan Villas WATCH: 
Iceland:  The Most Magical Layover Ever Let World traveling club
Travel inspire you every day.

Looking the part is more than half the battle in Tuscany.
Here's how to blend in with the locals.

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