Welcome to CiboChat!

CiboChat is the Food and Culture blog of FUA Florence University of the Arts. This blog project reflects our aim to share the cultural and especially gastronomic experiences of our students, faculty, staff, and Florentine locals. Check out our Florentine Food Guide for how to dine like a local!



Gelateria della Passera

Review by: Gabrielle Hartman, Marion Gardella, Devan Hampton, Lauren Hatteberg, Lexi Holcombe
Our group visited the establishment at 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon. There were several other customers at the Gelateria, but the line wasn’t too long. The inside of the shop was charming and welcoming. There are about 20 flavors to choose from, either made with or without milk. We collectively ordered a variety of flavors that varied between a cream base, fruit base or nut base. Typically, Italians order two flavors of gelato and most of us bought two scoops because of the reasonable prices, as each scoop was only one euro. Those that were eating the fruity flavors reported that the gelato was fresh and perfectly resembled the flavor of the fruit. The gelato did not taste as if it had artificial sugars or flavors in it, but tasted like the natural fruit. The gelato that contained nuts was also reported as extremely fresh and contained fine bits of nut, both in the hazelnut and the pistachio flavors. This gave the gelato a more authentic flavor and made the texture unique without tasting artificial. The more creamy flavors were also reported as fresh and authentic tasting. The gelato has a dense texture that left the customer feeling satisfied. Overall, all the flavors that were chosen were delectable, scrumptious and satisfying.
The group decided that Gelateria Della Passera is a must go to while in Florence. The establishment may be small but it is placed in a great location, near the Ponte Vecchio, with a collection of benches outside. The all-around ambience is relaxing and refreshing simultaneously. There is no seating associated with the establishment itself, however it is on the corner of a piazza with public benches for seating. We all agreed that this is one of the most authentic gelaterias we have had the pleasure of trying in Florence. The flavors are packed with flavor without tasting artificial and there are Italians visiting the shop. The woman working the counter appeared to have a developed relationships with other customers coming in, indicating that this Gelateria has made a lasting impact on the surrounding community. Locals, both children and adults, are the main clientele of this gelato shop. Definitely a gelateria to try, as its outstanding reputation and award-winning gelato precedes itself!

Gelateria della Passera
Address: Via Toscanella 15/R
Tel: 055 291882
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 12:00am-midnight. Closed Mondays

TuttoToscana Final Wine Roundup

Our final capstone dinner for the James Beard Foundation audience was a successful evening. Below is a roundup of the other Allegrini wines from producers Poggio al Tesoro and San Polo that were featured at the dinner. Blogpost on the dinner coming soon!

Bolgheri Superiore DOC Sondraia – Poggio al Tesoro
By Su Yan Ying

When tasting this wine, we can clearly see that the color of this bottle of wine is ruby red with a slight dark purple in the middle. This means the wine is aging for a while. After swishing, we can see that the “tears” are not very apparent; two things can be seen here, one is that the wine may taste dry, and the other is that it may not be high in alcohol. Two types of aromas are perceived: one is spicy, like black pepper, chocolate, and angelica. Another type is woody. The cultivated area extends over part of the northern part of the Tuscan Maremma and can be divided into three sub-zones: the hillsides of the interior, the flatter areas closer to the sea, and an intermediary strip in between. The appellation territory is characterized by a special climate due to its proximity to the Mediterranean sea: the refreshing sea breezes and the notable influence on the personality of these grapes. The luminosity is another fundamental factor as well: in addition to the abundant sunlight, the vines also enjoy the reflection of the sun’s rays off the water. In terms of composition, the soils of Bolgheri are significantly different from one another. They range from clays to sands and to combinations of clay and loam as well. It should be noted, however, that it is the rocky substratum, calcareous in composition and containing both limestone and sandstone, which confers a special character to the grapes and the wines. The result is a vigorous and vibrant expression of their territory of origin. Poggio al Tesoro is a newer winery, founded in 2001, and produces excellent wines at reasonable prices and some that may well improve as the vineyards mature. It’s the product of cooperation between Allegrini (of Valpolicella, Amarone and La Grola/La Poja fame) and an American wine distribution company. The wine has high acidity, tannin and alcohol, and the flavor is reminiscent of dark berry and spice. It can be paired with red meats such as steak, lamb, venison, pigeon, and duck.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG – San Polo
By Gino Rouse

From our tasting of the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG we characterized this wine as very clear with a garnet color. This wine was also quite viscous as shown by how close the “legs” of the wine were after swishing in the glass. As you smell the wine you will find it has a clean smell as well as that smell being quite intense. This means as you smell the wine you can get many different aromas and even as it oxidises the smell will still evolve. When I got the chance to smell this particular wine I found it to remind me of ripe red fruits along with spices like nutmeg and pepper. This proved to me that the wine was quite complex. After tasting this wine I found it to be very dry with medium to high tannins. It had a more medium body but this can be related to the wine being so young. The terroir of Brunello di Montalcino is very unusual in that there are many different climatic and environmental mirozones. This happens because these vineyards are grown on hills that differentiate in altitudes. So even though these vineyards are close together they are in very different climates which cause different qualities to the grapes. The philosophy of Brunello di Montalcino is founded on its experiences acquired throughout its lifetime while also exploring new technology, but always maintaining the tradition. This wine is paired with spinach gnocchi, nutmeg butter, and DOP fontina cheese and it pairs well with this dish because of the strong nutmeg notes and the pungent, creamy fontina cheese. Since it is more of a heavy pasta dish a white wine would not pair well but the Brunello di Montalcino because it is more assertive in its own flavor.

Petit Manseng Toscana IGT Passito – Poggio al Tesoro
By Gino Rouse

Petit Manseng is a small white grape variety primarily grown in south west France. Its name is derived from its small, thick skin that translate to “small manseng” and produces the highest quality wine of any grape in the Manseng family. This specific Petit Manseng is grown in Maremma, the coastal southwest region of Tuscany and the northern part of Lazio, and only produces about two-thousand small bottles per year. This particular wine has a deep ​straw yellow with amber and gold reflections​ with a fragrance of dried apricots, mangos and hints of honey. This wine is complex and has a balanced and full body. The terroir of Maremma is unique is several ways. This area has a typical Mediterranean climate, plenty of sun with little rain. The soil this grape is grown on is a mixture of sand and limestone which allows great drainage and along with additional exposure of the sun allows strong ripening giving the grape elegant and intense flavors and aromas. These grapes are hand harvested, fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature, matured in oak barriques for eighteen months and then aged in bottle for twelve months. The philosophy of the winemakers is based on simplicity and respect to create beautiful wines with intense care, patience, and a deep understanding and respect for the territory. Since Petit Manseng has so many light, sweet notes within it, this wine would pair beautifully with cheeses and delicate pastries. The dessert dishes for the James Beard event will complement this wine perfectly, enhancing the flavors of the dishes as well as evolving the aromas and flavor notes of the wine with each bite.

TuttoToscana Fundraising Event: Le Formiche Take Over NY!

By Monica Liu and Daniel Yacoubian

On October 23, the second event of the TuttoToscana program was held at the 632onHudson venue. 632onHudson is a four-floor, refined, and artistic building with a rooftop space in the West Village. Guests arrived at 6pm to enjoy Poggio al Sole wines, Solosole and Mediterra. Our culinary team served finger foods and mini-sandwiches during the initial reception and checked out Florentine artist Andrea Mancini’s art exhibition titled “The Girl Who Counted Ants.” 

The exhibition was the first taste guests had with the scope of the mission: fundraising for the FUA-AUF “Le Formiche” scholarships, instituted this fall by President Gabriella Ganugi. 

President Ganugi opened the second part of the evening with a speech about the story behind Le Formiche. The word means “ants” in Italian and are cited in her memoir, a collection of memories and family recipes that tell the story of how a young girl from Tuscany ended up establishing an international school of hospitality.

The highlight of the evening was the NY debut of the Le Formiche fashion collection designed by President Ganugi. Models of all ages, shapes, and sizes wore resort-style pieces that are both casual yet elegant. The lounge area of the venue allowed guests to browse through the collection and other Formiche-themed items, accessories and the memoir and children’s book versions of “The Girl Who Counted Ants.”

From 8-10 pm, people enjoyed the buffet service of the menu the dining and lounge areas. A big favorite was the Solosole wine, both for the enthusiasm for the Vermentino grape and the way it paired with many of the menu items. Desserts drew a perfect evening to a sweet conclusion. 

For our FOH team, we were lucky to have many engaging conversations with guests throughout the evening. We met individuals who came from near and far (including Italy) just for this event, and we learned about the worldwide reach of FUA-AUF. Our involvement went well beyond a wine pour, we had the opportunity to make people feel special, cared for, and a part of an experience that they will never forget.

JBF Alumni Dinner – Reconnecting with Florence

By Monica Hu and Daniel Yacoubian

The James Beard Foundation FUA-AUF Alumni Night, was a magical evening. Our guests, former Career and Study Abroad alums, checked in at 6pm and received Florence campus updates in the Alumni newsletter and table assignments divided according to Florentine squares. An Italian greeting, buonasera, and a glass of Solosole wine from Poggio Al Tesoro in Bolgheri, southwestern part of Tuscany, immediately brought former students back to their time spent in Florence. Alums reconnected with each other months and/or years after their FUA-AUF experience. 

When you are a part of the FUA-AUF alumni network, you become part of a worldwide family. A sense of community is definitely the term to describe the evening’s atmosphere. “Who didn’t cry when they left Florence?” asked by Alumni Coordinator Mattia Delle Piane in his opening speech (nobody raised their hands). 

The evening’s menu featured an arrabbiata-style octopus, a vegetarian “sugo finto” pasta, branzino en papillote, a Florentine deep fry, and a selection of desserts. Food was served family style, a format perfect for the sharing emotions and swapping stories with friends and family. Poggio al Tesoro wines accompanied the meal, and we were lucky to host Allegrini wine rep Robin Shay who shared an insider’s perspective of the winemaking process from the grapes to the bottle. It was inspiring to witness Robin’s passion for great Italian wines alongside the positive response of our guests.

The evening concluded with presentations of our BOH and FOH teams, and an invitation to all alums to join the January 2020 Alumni Week in Florence as well as upcoming NYC editions of the Alumni Reunion Dinner. 

Check out what we’re up to on the TuttoToscana FB page and the Apicius Instagram accounts!

Memories of Tuscan Garden comes to life in Stunning Watercolors

The students of Intro to Watercolor bring to life this year’s theme, rendering the brilliant Tuscan light as colors of remembrance.