Having the courage to go slow: an interview with organic farmer Giordano

There are times in life when you realize you’ve got it all backwards. And that’s when a sudden change of perspective, no matter how small, could lead to big shifts in your life.

This is exactly what happened to Giordano, who realized that what everyone told him to do was the opposite of what he wanted. He hit pause on his life and decided to go against the grain. He didn’t consider himself a hero, just a man learning to embrace his desires, rather than leaving them behind.

That’s when he decided to start a new life, running an organic farm in Tuscany.

Organic farmhouse in Tuscany

I went to see him on a Saturday morning. It had been raining for days and I was looking forward to Spring, brimming with anticipation and eagerness for the new season to arrive.

As I sat down with Giordano at his organic farmhouse in Tuscany, surrounded by nature and under the warm May sun, I could see why anyone would want to trade city life for the countryside.

Running a farm is not easy, however. Giordano was eager to tell me just that, as he showed me around his beautiful hideaway, where he grows classic Tuscan vegetables and produces excellent olive oil.

Farmers have numerous difficulties to overcome. Today’s economy is not welcoming to small, organic smallholdings. And whilst in ages past back-breaking work was the farmers’ main struggle, nowadays it’s also having to manage social media in order to sell. Navigating digital marketing, at the end of a hard day, is just one of the hundred things farmers have to take care of today to make ends meet. It’s all worth it, though, when you can see the sales coming directly from your social media posts or read the messages people send you.

As he explained his daily struggles, I couldn’t help but ask him why he chose to become a farmer after all. “I didn’t have the courage to toil away in a factory or in an office all my life.” he revealed. “I tried, really tried, but to cope with that routine I drank my life away, I also smoked – I was trying to numb my pain. I then realized that I wanted to live to the fullest, without having to rely on heavy drinking and smoking”.

Courage evidently became a leitmotiv, as our conversation continued. “It takes courage to start farming. It may sound cliché, but it’s true. Especially because everyone tells you not to do it, so you take a leap of faith. You might say you need a bit of craziness too! But when you go after the things you want, you realize you’ve been living backwards your entire life and everything starts falling into place”.  

His approach to farming stems from this cathartic experience. At his organic farm in Tuscany, everything is synced to the natural process of nature and Giordano pays attention to the soil especially. Something seldom taken for granted, it is instead of the utmost importance for Giordano, who follows agronomic techniques to increase fertility. However, most of the work is done when he is not there, when the thousands of microorganisms make the soil fertile again.

Farmhouse in Tuscany

“It’s what we humans should do too, renew the fertility of the place where we live, not usurp it, not hurt it. We should follow the cyclical course of nature, not the straight lines we manufactured, lines along which we take everything we can and not think about the consequences” Giordano tells me.

Talking to him I pondered on how the desire for instant gratification is almost ingrained in our culture. We want things and we want them now. From fast food to high-speed Internet, and on-demand everything, we don’t want to have to wait for things. But is it actually good for us?

That’s why Giordano encourages visitors to go barefoot and leave mobile phones behind. He recommends wandering alone, without talking to others and to take some time for oneself, alone in nature. Five minutes listening to the silence of nature, barefoot in a garden, leave people refreshed and often changed, for the better.

Need some more of this in your life? Treat yourself to an inspiring holiday to Italy with us and a day trip to Giordano’s. Choosing to be present is often a luxury in today’s fast-paced world, but it needn’t be.

Contact us directly to book your visit to Giordano’s organic farmhouse and to arrange more experiences during your Italian vacation as well.

… but if you’re a lover of at_a_slowpace travel enjoy the reading!

For once, to Michelangelo Buonarroti, Piero della Francesca and Francesco d’Assisi I preferred Clelia Marchi, Vincenzo Rabito, Countess Emilia. If you’re asking who they are and you want to discover an alternative and unusual Tuscany, you are in the right post!

In the countryside of Valtiberina, not far from Arezzo, there is a small museum that collects the lives of each of us. Daily errands, feelings and thoughts that we might believe trivial, or exceptional and unusual events but that we imagine lacking the same pathos of novels and of the great  stories of love and of adventure. But in the surprising Little Museum of Diary of Pieve Santo Stefano are exposed  just some fragments of the life of ordinary people, who thanks to their autobiographical writings have left us not only the story of Italy, but much more.

In 1944, the village of Pieve Santo Stefano has experienced what can only be interpreted as the loss of memory when the ancient village was destroyed by the bombings of World War II. The reconstruction has brought the place back to life, but the memory of the architecture was lost forever. It was with the journalist and writer Saverio Tutino, who in 1984 proposed to the village the creation of a diary archive, of epistolary and autobiographical memories, that the memory once again came back to the village of Pieve.

«If a man in this life doesn’t meet with adventure, he has nothing to tell»
(Vincenzo Rabito)

From the archive, was then created the Little Museum of the Diary, in an intimate and familiar space, opens the doors to Clelia’s life, made of sacrifices but also of love, and that of her husband Anteo who has already gone leaving her alone, she then took one of the good bed sheets and in the silence of the night, wrote the story of their life. Or on the world of Vincenzo, a semi-illiterate Sicilian labourer who with stamina and tenacity wrote a monumental, tragicomic, autobiography. Even on the hindered love of Countess Emilia, or on Renzo’s anger who is at the front waiting for the letter of his Giannina that is late to arrive …

Photo courtesy of Luigi Burroni www.piccolomuseodeldiario.it

What you find in this museum is an exceptional tour, here you travel among the forgotten books, among the secrets and the depths of the lives of those who thought would not have a say in History; but instead they did.

The Piccolo Museo del Diario is an itinerant and transportable version, created by dotdotdot, authors also of the interactive path of the museum.

Do you want to visit the surroundings of the Little Museum of the Diary aswell? From Pieve Santo Stefano you can easily reach the villages of Anghiari, Città di Castello, Monterchi, Sansepolcro (lands of Piero della Francesca) Caprese Michelangelo (Michelangelo Buonarroti was born here the 6th  of March 1475) and the places dear to St. Francis of Assisi such as the Sanctuary of La Verna.

Contact us for a tailor-made tour at the heart’s pace! info@andantetuscany.com


[Cover image courtesy of Luigi Burroni www.piccolomuseodeldiario.it]


An untouched oasis away from mass tourism!

Saturday, September 9, 2017, Andante Tuscany takes you to Gorgona!

The northern and smallest island of The Tuscan Archipelago, the last prison island of Europe, a place where nature and mankind live together, preserving and enhancing the ecosystem and promoting the rehabilitation of the prisoners by allowing them to work in direct contact with the land, surrounding nature and the animals. An exclusive tour through the history, the environment and the daily life of the prison with a hike accompanied by an environmental tour guide along the paths of the island and into the farm.
Gorgona is
mostly mountainous and full of beautiful bays and coves, guarded by the two forts, one from the Medici and the other from Pisan times.

Schedule of the day:
Boarding at 7.45 from LIVORNO in front of the Quattro Mori
8:15: we set sail!
At 9.25 ca. we arrive at Gorgona, where the tour guide will take care of the formalities related to the penitentiary. We will visit the north and west part of the island with a mild walking route along the white paths (6 km long).
Lunch break in the shade of holm oak grove (packed lunches to be provided individually).
* After lunch, we will continue our way to the Old Tower and will then arrive at a pretty little harbor, where, if we have the approval of the Penitentiary Administration, you can take a bath.
Return in the late afternoon (indicative hour of arrival at Livorno: 18:30 or 19:40)

Booking terms: BEFORE 30 JUNE 2017
by telephone at +39.347.0171707 or by writing an e-mail to
info@andantetuscany.com .

It is mandatory to provide personal details (name, surname, date and place of birth, phone, address of residence) of each participant.
Cost: 68 € adult / 38 € for children under 12 years.

The cost includes environmental tour guide, entry tickets to the Park and Maritime Transport.

Upon request, you can also arrange the overnight stay in Livorno and the bus trip!

The old tower (Ph Wikipedia by G. Spinozzi)
The island is a prison, hence the Prison officials will submit to control the personal data of the participants and will reserve the right NOT to authorize the disembarkation of anyone who might have any pending charges. For more information: +39.347.0171707 or info@andantetuscany.com

Difficulty: easy walking tour, maximum length about 8 km; Uphill rise 250 m; Maximum walking time 3h00 ‘. Since the island is in its entirety part of a prison it is NOT possible to move independently in the area or away from the group during the visit; It is FORBIDDEN to disembark photo cameras, video cameras or mobile phones, which will be collected beforethe disembarkation. The swim in the bay will be possible only at the discretion of the Prison Administration. Sneakers are mandatory for the hike.

[The cover image is exemplary and does not correspond to reality on the island of Gorgona cameras are not allowed!]


The origin of the Via Francigena  goes back to ancient times, when it was nothing more than a set of tracks, trails and paths used in the era of the Lombards and Byzantines. Francigena means “originating in France” and it soon became the road linking the north to the south of Europe. Not only for armies and merchants, but also for pilgrims eager to reach Rome if they came from the north (and from here the harbours of the Apulia to then reach Jerusalem) or Santiago de Compostella if they came from the south. It was Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury, who went to Rome in the year 990, that left us a diary of his journey and thanks to which we have been able to retrace the trails as we know them today.

From Canterbury to Rome on foot – this is what any good pilgrim sets as ultimate goal. It does not matter if it is led by a religious or secular motivation; the journey brings benefit to the spirit, to the mind and to the body. It is a slow and conscious journey, a gift to that part of us wanting to go back to a slower pace.

Moving wasn’t a matter of hours any more, but of days, weeks. To avoid any mistake, before setting off, I had to look thoroughly at the maps, I got back to studying geography. The mountains have become again possible obstacles in my path and no longer beautiful, irrelevant finishing touches of a landscape seen through a porthole.

Tiziano Terzani, A fortune-teller once told me

The stretch of the Via Francigena in Tuscany covers 15 stages and is nearly 400 km long, from the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines to the beautiful Crete Senesi. A small but significant part of this journey can be experienced in the tract that goes though of the Valdelsa hills, a land rich in castles and abbeys. What we propose is a 2-day package, accompanied by a licensed nature tour guide. The departure is from San Miniato railway station, where stands the fortress used as a control point on the Via Francigena. From here we will walk along the Via Francigena to reach a sustainable completely self-sufficient eco-Farm submerged in the silence of the surrounding hills. The evening will be dedicated to relaxation and tasting of locally grown produce. After a peaceful sleep and a delightful breakfast, we set off for the next stage, which will lead us to Castelfiorentino, centre artistically interesting for its sanctuaries, historic villas and  for the frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli (1420-1497). Following the visit to Castelfiorentino you will be accompanied to the train station for your return.


For more information: info@andantetetuscany.com – 0039.3470171707

There is a dream that is tempting me. Just imagine a winter day and its colours at sunset. You are outdoors, the cold is biting, but you are relaxing in a nice hot tub. Beside you, your other half is passing you a glass of organic Chianti wine.

The only thing you have to do  is to relax and your only concern will be to figure out when your drink will arrive.

There will be the aperitif, with all organic products of the farm where you are staying. And there will be a taste of extra virgin olive oil from the new harvest.

The next morning you will open your dreaming eyes and realise it’s not a dream but it’s all true, even the tray on the table with breakfast,  made out of all local organic products. And yes, today you will visit the romantic Florence, or you can go for a walk in the countryside visiting small, relaxing, villages.

I am so tempted by this dream break, aren’t you?

Andante offers you a romantic getaway package:

– 2 nights in a Farmhouse in Tuscany, between Florence, Arezzo and Siena, on the hills of Pratomagno

– Bath in the outdoor heated Jacuzzi

Breakfast basket with local organic produce

Aperitif with organic produce including the new extra virgin olive oil harvest 2016 tasting

From 220 Euros for 2 people

Info and reservations: info@andantetuscany.com – 0039.347.0171707





Oh Autumn, how much have we missed you! The rainy days, the laziness to leave the house, just wanting to remain indoors enjoying the sofa and a blanket over you lap. And while the body slowly gets used (or, rather, surrenders) to the daily morning fight against the ‘instinct to hibernate’ around lunch time a sudden enthusiasm overtakes you. Because it’s November. And the new oil is comingto our tables.

This time of the year every meal in any Tuscan household ends with bread and oil. It is not simply a habit, it is actually the body that requires it, craving it as if it were a primary necessity. Hunger, thirst, sleep, and “Fettunta”, that’s what bred with olive oil is called!

Olive oil is the main element of the Mediterranean diet and its beneficial properties have been extensively studied and proven. But we all know that not always what is good for us is also tasty. So why do we like so much bred and olive oil?

Because it’s part of the story of our lives. It helps us mark the seasons, the years, the memories. We travel, we move, we lose ourselves, but the smell and the bitter taste of the oil immediately takes us back home. It’s our madeleine. We have no choice: it is the very oil consistency that makes it so enveloping and not easily to remove. When you prepare a “fettunta” you are entitled to forget your manners and get your hands dirty. And as the ancient Greek athletes oiled their body before starting the competition, we too are getting ready to face any challenge of the day with our fettunta. Some say that an oily mouth never speaks evil, and even though the proverb is used in other contexts, it is true that bread with oil has, among other properties, a calming effect!

A fun and enjoyable way to understand the devotion towards olive oil in Tuscany is to try our tour “Between art and Oil” . You will be accompanied to visit the historic Olive oil mill of Saint Téa in Reggello, situated in the hills of the Florentine province and at the end of the journey through the history of the production of the green gold you will at last be able to taste the famous “Fettunta”!

PH Martin Bauer
Ph. Martin Bauer

“Today outing in the woods with the whole family!”
How many times have you heard this sentence and felt a sudden wave of fatigue come over you? Prepare maps, search for some general info about the area, think about the sandwiches, find a suitable area for a campfire, revise plants and animals so to be able to answer the inevitable children’s flood of questions…

Now, imagine being able to visit a place at the forest ridge, where you’re greeted by good environmental tour guides who are just waiting to show you the secrets of the forest you are about to visit.

We are at “Ponte a Enna”, Visitor Centre of the St. Antonio Forest in Reggello, not far from Florence and Arezzo. Access Point to a protected natural area, is located on the crossroads of many paths, connecting two valleys, the Valdarno and the Casentino valleys, joined by the ridge of Pratomagno (over 1500 meters above sea level).

But back to the children. Visiting this place with the little ones can become a fantastic adventure! Because the expert tour guides turned it to a Learning Centre too. So, thanks to numerous experiential games they can learn a lot about nature, flora and fauna, for example, how to recognize a plant by its scent or how to spot deer without disturbing them. Groups can take part to games such as the botanical treasure hunt, mini orienteering or nature detective, complete with microscopes and compasses.

After this experience, we assure you that the pleasure you will find in walking will grow and a family holiday will become an opportunity to stimulate the curiosity about any form of plant life you will encounter.

Even your office plant will become an object of interest!

Have a nice walk! And this time you’ll be the one asking a thousand questions to your children on every tree, rock or animal you encounter !



The Visitor Centre is open Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 am to 6 pm (from June to August 2017). Upon reservation, you can arrange activities for groups and schools throughout the year.

Take a break
around a blade of grass,
where there isn’t too much of everything,
where the little is still celebrating you
with the bread and the light,
by the silent lust of a rose

(Moved Geography of inner Italy by Franco Arminio)

The musical rhythm closest to the beat of our heart is Andante.
Once, maybe, this was true. Because if you listen to my heartbeat nowadays I would say that it goes at a pace that it’s to say at the least Allegrissimo. Work, children, worries, run otherwise you miss the train, today there is traffic and tomorrow is the same, what will I make for lunch? oh well I’ll take a sandwich on the way.

But on holiday…

On holiday, I would like to live fully the time that I cannot live in my everyday life. I would like to slow down, to return to a more human pace, walking in the countryside and stopping to look at a blade of grass, every time I like. I would like to explore places and itineraries that are off the beaten track, stopping to talk with people and finding myself following their suggestions and advice.

This is why Andante Tuscany was born.

For those of you that like me want to travel in nature, choosing small, familiar structures that care for the environment. For those who want to try organic and natural food, admire artwork away from the hustle of the big city museums and discover the true local artisanship.
For those who want to try living at another speed.

The Tuscan countryside is the ideal destination, behind every hill lies a church, a bell tower, an artisan workshop, a farm. Let go of yourself to the journey and you will see that your heart will resume an Andante pace.