Tuscans love to tell the story of how their very own Catherine De’ Medici left her home in Florence in 1533 for France to marry then-prince and later King Henry II, taking with her the traditional Tuscan recipe for Onion Soup, ‘Zuppa di cipolle toscana’ which soon became ‘Soupe d’oignons’ – French Onion Soup.
Catherine De’ Medici also took with her the trusty Florentine recipe Anatra all’arancia (Orange Duck recipe) which later became ‘Duck a l’orange’.
What’s more, she also bought along a new and strange utensil with her.
The fork. At that time, the fork was considered a personal item bought by each diner to the dinner table to avoid having to use one’s hands as was then custom.
Then there is also the wonderful history of gelato, whereby Catherine De’ Medici’s personal chef, the aptly named Bernardo Buontalenti* who invented gelato and subsequently took that recipe to the French also.
One other Florentine tradition credited to Catherine De’ Medici is the introduction of the modern perfume to the French. Yes, French perfume is… Italian**.
It was the Egyptians who first used extracted fragrances from herbs and barks, placed in oil to make a powerful cover-up less-than-desired odours.
Modern perfume then sprang from the alchemists who used made fragrances designed to cast spells, enchant and attract (or repel, as the case may be) attention from suitors. It was not long before the notion of potions became perfumes as we know them today.
Catherine De’ Medici’s personal perfumier (every woman should have one!) was Renato Bianco. He too accompanied Catherine to France, where he later set up shop, selling perfumed gloves of all things! These became the height of chic, as most things Florentine and Parisian are wont to do, and from there sprung the rage for perfumes that has never waned.
Great as gifts (for other people or yourself!), perfumes can be romantic, create and invoke memories, attract us to people (or otherwise).
But being on the nose has never been so exciting as at the FRAGRANZE fair being held in Florence from the 9th to 11th September.
Organized by Pitti Immagine, the wonderful creators of Florence’s largest fashion show, Pitti Uomo, the event is set to be a fun and unique thing to do in Florence. From the 9th to the 11th September, at the Stazione Leopolda near the Cascine Park, just on Viale Fratelli Rosselli, Firenze.
One of the more unusual features of the perfume fair in Florence is the Casa Fragranze – the Fragrance House. This structure by Atelier Gras! Architecture studio, At Casa.it and Casamica is a kind of garden within house, the roof and walls of which are dressed in fragrant plants for their scent, herbs known for their medicinal value and bright flowers for their beauty.
To explore the Gardens and Fountains of Florence with your own personal Florence Guide, we have the My Exclusive Gardens and Fountains of Florence Tour, including the Piazza della Signoria, Boboli Gardens and Bardini Gardens.
See the Tuscan garden-like countryside, from Florence it is but a short and delightful drive. If you would like to have a private guide accompanying you, we have private tours that cater to your every desire. From Florence (and Tuscany) to Rome, Venice to the Cinque Terre and beyond, we are at your beck and call.
If you would like to immerse yourself in the Tuscan countryside and be part of the scenery that has inspired so many great artworks, we have a small-group Best of Tuscany tour visiting Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni too, as well as stopping for lunch and wine tasting at an award-winning wine estate. See the highlights of Tuscany in one spectacular day tour from Florence – Best of Tuscany small-group tour.
If you are looking for some great things to do in Tuscany to explore the Tuscan countryside and traverse Tuscan Villa gardens in a small group, you can visit a Tuscan villa on the Taste of Tuscany at the Villa wine tour. Explore the historic wine estate before undertaking a wine tasting. Tread through the terrain, enjoying spectacular views of the Tuscan countryside up-close and personal.
Stroll through the Tuscan countryside, join us for a Perfect Morning in Tuscany small-group walking tour. Leaving from Florence’s city centre and heading to the surrounding countryside, this small-group walking tour includes, well, walking in Tuscany, as well as lunch with wine at a stunning Renaissance Villa Estate, accompanied by an expert tour guide.
To explore other areas of Italy, can check out our Artviva Walking Tours website to read more about the tours we have to offer in Florence, Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.
* Buontalenti translates to something like ‘Good Talents’!
** So say the Florentines in any case – the French may well have another version of this tale!