Ciao! Updates from Tuscany | Chicca's Newsletter June 2024


I hope this finds you well and in good spirits.

June is my favorite month, and it’s almost over. The light is so special, and days are so long that even the gloomiest day feels bright. I started the veggie garden a little late this year but for the first time I planted vegetables together with flowers. I’m thrilled with this result!

Every morning, the first thing I do is step outside to check on the garden: who’s growing today? Which flower is blooming? It’s my routine that brings so much joy to my day.

The vibrant colors of summer vegetables are my constant source of inspiration, and even the simplest ingredients can bring joy and beauty to our plates. Carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, spring onions, and fresh oregano—baked at a low temperature—are my latest culinary addiction.

We’ve made some updates to the apartments, and I stumbled upon these adorable bed headers at the flea market. They are made in ferro battuto, a traditional Italian technique that involves shaping iron by hammering it into the desired decorative form. What do you think?

If you’re traveling to Tuscany and want to learn more about our rentals at La Casa Toscana click here.

Class replay video on demand. Do you want to give it a try?

A few seasons ago, I taught live via Zoom, how to make one of my favorite Tuscan recipes – Panzanella, or Tuscan tomato bread salad, perfect for the summer. Panzanella is a dish of peasant origin when bread was baked once a week and nothing went to waste. During those times, stale bread, hard as a rock after 4-5 days, found its new life in different preparations like panzanella.

After soaking the stale bread, add vinegar, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and basil. A good drizzle of the best extra virgin olive oil is a must. This is a perfect, fresh dish to cherish on your summer table.

​If you want to cook this recipe with me, you can sign up here to watch this class on demand. We strive to keep things as free as possible, and your contribution will support our small business. In today’s challenging world, every bit of help makes a big difference for people like us. Grazie!

▶︎ Sign up now and cook with me Panzanella for only $5

When you sign up, you will get:

• List of ingredients and tools, and a very detailed recipe.

• Lifetime access to a 1-hour instructional video replay with my tips and tricks to cook anytime later!

• New skills and a new recipe to add to your culinary repertoire.

• Wine pairing recommendation provided by our friend Linda Lawless, of My Somm Friend.

Let me tell you a story…

In Castagneto Carducci, the village where we live, there is a very special shop not far from the castle, settled in the old horse stable of the count. Founded over two centuries ago by Emilio Borsi, the ancient liqueur factory still offers the same flavors that made it famous in 1895 and 1899 at the Rome exposition. Emilio Borsi was a pharmacist, who created two special liqueurs. The first, Liquore del Pastore, is a blend of lemon and milk.

The second, Elixir China, is based on quinine and was used as a remedy during times when malaria was common in the area. Even though it’s a bit bitter, I really like Elixir China. Sometimes, I mix it with warm water and a lemon slice, especially on cold winter days.

The shop shut down at the beginning of the 1900s. Forty years ago, Annamaria came from Sicily to Castagneto Carducci. She wanted to keep making liqueurs just like the pharmacist did, with great respect for the old recipes. Now, every bottle is a nod to Castagneto’s rich history.

Annamaria also developed new recipes, adding her own touch to the family legacy. When we visit her with our guests, not only do we get to taste her five liqueurs, but she also prepares a cake for us!

I hope you’ll come to visit this shop one day. And all the authentic culture that our little corner of Tuscany has to offer.

Love from Tuscany,

Back from our morning walk, Arnaud took this picture. I’m not sure what I’m doing.