Going to Tuscany this fall? There’s an app for that. Are you heading to Tuscany this fall? Curse you! But just to show I’m not bitter, here’s a tip that is going to make your trip a whole lot better. Judy Witts Francini, a well-known cooking teacher who has lived in Florence, Italy, for 30 years, has just released an app for tourists in Chianti. Francini’s Chianti app covers her favorite hidden and not-so-hidden places in the Tuscan countryside. You’ll find wineries, pizza and pastry chops, gelato, parks, ceramics, butchers…even her favorite Mailboxes Etc. for shipping things home (just north of Poggibonsi).
—Los Angeles Times, Daily Dish (August 29, 2013)
Siesta Post Fiesta. Consider these spots to relax. Variety writer Kathy A. McDonald guides readers to activities in Italy following the 69th Venice Film Festival, including Divina Cucina cooking school. Click here.
—Variety, Kathy McDonald (September 3, 2012)
Best of the Blogs Italian. Once a San Fran pastry chef, Judy Witts Francini is now bent Over a Tuscan Stove, in the hills between Florence and Siena, from where she runs cookery classes and food tours, as well as updating this authoritative online offering. Tuscan cuisine is the star here, but Judy also travels around Italy a lot – posting recipes, ideas and food tips along the way. It’s enough to spur your own one-way journey to Florence, really. divinacucina-blog.com
—Taste Magazine, New Zealand (July 2012)
Bob and I took two half-day cooking classes with Judy and loved both! She began our class at Florence’s Central Market, where we selected the ingredients for the meal we would make later. We had the opportunity to taste a variety of Tuscan olive oils and 15- and 20-year-old vinegars, nibble on Tuscan cheeses, meet the butcher and the pastry-maker—all while learning about Italy’s culinary history. After returning from the market to Judy’s home, our hands-on cooking began, and a delicious meal followed (with lots of help from Judy!).
—Jane Fortune author of To Florence con Amore
When it comes to a culinary knowledge of Tuscany, and Florence in particular, no one knows more than Judy Witts. From her market tours and classes to her restaurant recommendations, her depth of knowledge, mastery of the Italian language and connections to local people will open doors and help you to understand the real culture of Tuscany. I simply can’t visit the region without calling her and highly recommend her to all my guests and friends that spend time in Florence!
—Mara Jernigan, President, Slow Food Canada
Judy Witts Francini is the best guide around to navigate you through the culinary wonders of Florence. When I click on her web-site, I salivate, sigh, and begin to make lists for my next trip, knowing that I’m getting advice from a master. Her writing and photos are intoxicating-bringing me straight to the luscious core of Tuscany’s culinary heart.
—Susan Van Allen, author of 100 Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go
Certaldo, a picturesque hill town the heart of Tuscany, is the home of Divina Cucina, the cooking school operated by Judy Witts Francini, author, food blogger and member of the Slow Food International movement. Just 30 miles southwest of Florence, Judy’s classes include a one-day tour of the venerable Florence city market and another one day cooking session at a country villa. Her week-long class takes students on a tour of some of Chianti’s well-known food artisans, including Panzano butcher Dario Cecchini, whose shop has been featured in Gourmet magazine and on Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel show.
Grocery shopping while on vacation? Why would I want to do that? When on holiday, one of the last things one would want to do is something like grocery shopping. With the popularity of the “slow” movement, staying in one place and living like a local, going to the supermarket, shopping while trying to understand everything in a foreign language, instead of bopping around here and there, is of great interest to many. I, for one, agree. However, when traveling slow is not an option, and negotiating the market and going to your vacation home to spend hours cooking, is not on your list of vacation highlights, you can still experience, and understand, the pull of this without it being such a daunting task. While there are many wonderful outdoor markets in every corner of Italy, should you happen to be in Florence, Italy, there is a way to spend a few hours and take home with you an unforgettable experience. Judy Witts Francini, an American who has lived in Italy since 1984, began “La Divina Cucina”, with one simple aim—to share her knowledge of Italian cuisine and culinary history with fellow food lovers who come to Florence.
—Examiner.com (September, 2009)
Italy’s Top Cooking Schools tuscan cooking school pioneers. “For the past 20 years, Judy Francini has taught students how to prepare Tuscan dishes like garmugia (a spring stew) in her cooking school bear Florence’s famed San Lorenzo market.”
—Food & Wine (September, 2007)
Top five destinations for culinary travelers. Chef and cooking personality Judy Witts Francini leads one of the most acclaimed short cooking programs in Tuscany, the Divina Cucina. All classes are led by Judy, and begin with shopping in Florence’s central market to purchase ingredients for a custom menu and to taste olive oil, cheeses, vinegar, and other foods. Classes also include a wine pairing by a sommelier, a hands-on cooking class and meal, and a Divina Cucina cookbook and apron. Classes are scheduled throughout the year…
—SmarterTravel.com (June 26, 2006)
When she and her students stroll through Florence’s massive Mercato Centrale in search of fresh vegetables, cheeses and meats for that afternoon’s prepared lunch, she’s the toast of the place. At the Perini stand, she and her groups get treated to generous platters of assorted antipasti. At Conti, a gourmet stand that packs and ships goods worldwide, her guests sample fine olive oils and balsamic vinegars while learning from the family matriarchs how they’re produced. And at Baroni — which features prosciutto, fine cheeses and an extensive spread of condiments — the group nibbles smooth pecorino samples dipped into a sweet-and-spicy mostarda created by Francini herself. Stops at the nearby Casa del Vino for complimentary pre-lunch glasses of Prosecco and at a nearby pasticceria follow, ensuring Francini’s guests have all the fresh ingredients needed for their lesson and lunch, both held in her cozy Florentine apartment that’s just steps from the Mercato.
—Sun Time (August 3, 2005)
Judy Witts Francini provides superb hands-on, one-, two-, or three-day cooking classes in her adopted hometown of Florence. Her website is very informative with an interesting list of food artisans and a reliable Florence restaurant review section.
Judy has an outgoing, lively personality and a thorough knowledge of Tuscan cooking.
—Emily Wise Miller, author of The Food Lover’s Guide to Florence
If you are a lover of all things Italian, especially the food, treat yourself to Judy’s Divina Cucina where enthusiastic participants learn the art of cooking and eating…Tuscan-style.
—Sandra Gustafson, author of Great Eats Italy
Don’t Cook Italian, Be Italian! Travel to Florence and Learn How to Eat-and Live-Like a Local
—Diablo Magazine (November 2003)
If you go to Florence and you eat, the first thing you should do is register for Judy Witts cooking class. Not only does she give you a great tour of the open-air markets and where to find the best deals food or otherwise, but her knowledge of the culture and food of this area will give you a better appreciation of what you are experiencing for the rest of your vacation. We spent two hours shopping in easily the best food market I’ve ever been too.
—Michael Maness of Blogging through Italy