DE 25 | Tuscany

With its picturesque scale, architecture, wine, and Renaissance museums, there is a reason why Tuscany keeps people coming back for fabulous corporate meetings and much more. In this episode, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth introduce us to the author of the bestselling book turned movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes, who shares her life-changing experience in Tuscany that inspired her memoir and some of her activities in daily life. Taking us beyond the region, she then shares her new book, Always Italy, a travel guide to all 20 regions in Italy. Without missing the best part of the trip, Andy and Todd then sit down with Federico Cerelli, a teacher for Italy’s National Organization of Wine Tasters, who takes us to learn the art of winemaking—from how best to test it to which ones to try.

Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in Tuscany, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.

Watch the episode here:


Author Of “Under The Tuscan Sun” Frances Mayes Offers An Exclusive Italy Travel Guide, And Learn The Art Of Winemaking With Federico Cerelli

A picturesque region people just can’t help falling in love with, it is no wonder why many always go back to Tuscany. From its rich history and architecture to the food, it is simply a great travel destination that offers everything to all kinds of travelers. Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth guide us to this great Italian region with no less than the very people who know it like the back of their hands.

First up, they sit down with the bestselling author of the book turned movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes. Here, she first tells us the story and the life she lived that inspired her memoir. She also talks about her latest partnership with National Geographic and her new book, Always Italy—a travel guide that covers all 20 regions in Italy.

Back in Tuscany, Frances reveals the whole secret of the region, taking us to back roads and small villages to discover it in a whole new way. She also names some of her favorite food and wine and some of the best seasons to go in each place. In her daily life, Frances shares what she typically does in the morning and what her writing process looks like. Her top must-see activities and must-visit places are:

  • The Piazza Life
  • Tuscan Sun Festival
  • The annual horse race (Palio di Siena)
  • San Gimignano

Moving us along to one of the top activities that no one should miss when in Italy, Andy and Todd then interview Federico Cerelli. Federico graduated in the year 2000 at the Università degli Studi di Firenze with a degree in Enology and Viticulture with a maximum score of 110/110. Since 2005 he has been a member of the official commission of DOCG Chamber of Commerce of Florence and Siena, and since 2008 he has been a teacher at ONAV classes in the Florence department (National Organization Wine Tasters).

  • With his years of experience in prestigious Italian wineries, Federico offers us some valuable wisdom to learn the art of winemaking.
  • On properly testing a wine, you must take note of the following:
  • Follow the suggestion in the back label of the bottle
  • For red wine, open at least an hour before drinking
  • For aged wines, melt the cork and check the cork
  • Check the color
  • Close your eyes and try to understand what you’re smelling
  • Put in your mouth and try to spread out the wine in all parts of the tongue

Check the after taste to measure the complexity of the wine and how long you feel its sensation in your mouth

Federico then recommends some of his favorite wine in Tuscany:

  • Sangiovese,  the King of Italian red wine
  • Chianti wine
  • Chianti Classico wine

What is more, Federico also gives us a tour around Castello di Gabbiano, showing us what they offer for all wine lovers who want to bask under the Tuscan sun along vineyards, great architecture, and good food. He then gives a brief overview of Florence. He says to visit in April to August, enjoy the medieval village around San Miniato al Monte, and visit the best cheese producers in the area.

Closing with their bucket-list, here are some of Andy and Todd’s must-see, must-taste, and must-do items that should make your Tuscany itinerary:

  • Florence’s rich fashion history
  • The Vasari Corridor and The Uffizi Gallery
  • The antique market at Arezzo Viera
  • Palio di Siena
  • Sicily, Sardinia, and Elba
  • San Miniato
  • Nessun Dorma Manarola: Cinque Terre
  • Piazza dei Miracoli
  • Chianti Classico

Follow along to this great episode as you take a stroll under the Tuscan sun with really great food and wine in your hands and just enjoy the piazza, Italy’s daily life!

About Frances Mayes

DE 25 | TuscanyFrances Mayes recently published “Always Italy,” which won the Lowell Thomas Award for best travel guide of 2020. Previous bestsellers include “See You in the Piazza,” “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Bella Tuscany,” “Every Day in Tuscany” and “ Year in the World.” These books about travel, taking chances, and the “voluptuousness of Italian life” have been translated into 54 languages.

Mayes has written the memoir “Under Magnolia,” and the novels “Swan” and “Women in Sunlight. She and her husband divide their time between North Carolina and Cortona, Italy.

About Federico Cerelli

DE 25 | TuscanyFederico Cerelli graduated in the year 2000 at the Università Degli Studi di Firenze with a degree in Enology and Viticulture with a maximum score of 110/110. Since 2005 he is a member of the official commission of the DOCG Chamber of Commerce of Florence and Siena. In the year 2006 attended a master for “winemaking process and sensory analysis of high-quality red wines” at the Facultè d’oenologie, Universitè Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2. Since 2008 he is a teacher at ONAV classes in the Florence department (National Organization Wine Tasters).

Federico joined CDG in the year 2011 after 10 years of experience in prestigious Italian wineries with the responsibility and the supervision of important winemaking projects, especially in Tuscany and in the Chianti Classico wine region.

Federico brought his intense knowledge and passion to CDG; his continuous research for quality and innovation is a great asset for the winery.

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