Gucci Osteria in Florence stands in the heart of the city, emerging from the flourishing colourful flower garden in the historic palazzo of the Tribunale of the Mercanzia, on the Piazza della Signoria. This brainchild of the renowned chef Massimo Bottura attracts tourists from around the world who come for the witty curated Gucci Garden museum and the cuisine of chefs Karime Lopez and Takahiko Kondo.
Inside the Gucci Osteria Tasting Experience
Gucci Osteria in Florence adds some of the most prestigious Tuscan wineries to its multi-sensory gastronomical exploration.
Karime Lopez and Takahiko Kondo. image: Gabriele Stabile
This month, the curious experience of wandering through the spiritual and artful campaigns of Alessandro Michele in the Gucci Garden museum and sampling the multifaceted cuisine of Mexican chef Karime Lopez and Japanese Takahiko Kondo, has been taken further, with a picturesque journey to prestigious local wineries, such as Tenuta di Valgiano and Tenuta Sette Ponti and dining with the producers themselves.
Gucci Osteria has been a successful project guided by the renowned chef Massimo Bottura, who has previously shared his playful Italian spirit with new openings of the Osteria in Seoul, Beverly Hills and Tokyo. Karime Lòpez, Head Chef of the original Gucci Osteria in Florence was awarded the restaurant’s first Michelin star in 2020. More recently she has been reunited in the kitchen with her partner in life, chef Kondo Takahiko, who had been the right hand of Bottura for more than 10 years.
By embarking on this special Tasting Experience one starts the day with a tour of the unchained mind of Alessandro Michele and his immersive fashion campaigns, distributed over an expansive two-floor space. You then enter a luscious, vivid green dining room that screams the Gucci aesthetic and whispers the mood of the ancient palazzo.
The lunch menu orchestrated for the occasion features Karime’s signature crispy purple corn tostada with Chianina, salsa verde, chilli mayonnaise and hibiscus powder. Next follows an homage to regions of Emilia and Tuscany that is home-made pasta with a rich Bollito Misto (a ragout from all the parts of Chianina).
All this, enjoyed in the good company of Laura Di Collobiano, the co-owner of the sixteenth-century wine estate in the north of Lucca in Tuscany. Laura was the host of last year grand event, GELINAZ, and welcomed some of world’s best chefs such as Tenuta di Valgiano.
Chatting at the table she reflects on last summer with a great sense of satisfaction and also a little irony, « I didn’t worry much about how famous those chefs were» and indeed she remained unbothered by the presence of the world’s greatest culinary stars such as Mauro Colagreco and Italian masters Riccardo Camanini and Carlo Cracco.
Laura Di Collobiano
Throughout the meal the dishes were paired with the wonderful wines of Valgiano, wines that fully respect the terroir and follow the biodynamic approach from 2002. Laura has lined up the cuvées of reds "Tenuta di Valgiano Rosso" of 2014, 2015 and 2016 vintages, produced mainly with Sangiovese grapes (60%) with equal parts of Syrah and Merlot from the oldest vineyards, matured in French oak barrels for a minimum of 15 to 18 months. This was certainly a great accompaniment with which to enjoy the next dish of smoked prime beef with caviar and Rossini sauce. Then to finish, a cute meringue dessert perfumed with the symbolic Italian flavours of basil and mozzarella and sweetened with strawberry under the delicate meringue foam and crispy hand-painted meringue crisps.
The afternoon continues at the vineyard. Arriving at Valgiano is to experience an enchanting gateway. Climbing up the hills and following Laura’s directions we reach the hidden 16th century estate, managed by Laura together with enology specialist Saverio Petrilli and Laura’s partner and co-owner of the estate Moreno Petrini. The couple have owned the estate since 1994 and have defined a new era for production with a close eye on tradition and international presence. In fact, these wines are now sold all around the world.
In the company of this active and generous trio, one can understand the meaning of the «terroir wine». Valgiano has maintained the centuries old bounties of the landscape with its wild plants and olive groves and has always strived to respect the wonderful biodiversity that gives the wines their specific character and the finesse of the Colline Lucchesi appellation.
Tenuta Valgiano image:Michele Martinelli
The luscious vineyard neighbouring the farm covers 24 hectares, while a further 13 hectares are covered with olive trees and beehives.
The magic of Valgiano continues as we step inside the splendid mansion where a dinner table awaits in the spacious and bright dining room. Here is a little surprise from Laura, as we are introduced to a delicious treat that has been nicknamed “Ambrosia”, the nectar of the Gods.
Laura grabs a piece of fresh whole grain bread, and avidly smears the bread with honey and olive oil, all made right there in Valgiano. «This is our breakfast» she tells us. So of course you take this as a signal to do the same, and what a combination of flavours! The beach honey with Lecciona soul, where the bees fly above the pinewood and Mediterranean flowers grow along the shore. According to Laura, this honey is used by some of the best chefs, such as Alain Passard who uses it for his famed soufflé.
Improvised honey tasting inside the Tenuta Valgiano
Laura then fills a wine glass with honey and playfully swirls it in the air to release those characteristic notes.
What a wonderful moment of genuine hospitality, being in this majestic Tuscan estate, meeting these courageous people and experiencing the unique and exquisitely executed food from chefs Lopez and Kondo. Be sure to add the next Gucci Taste Experience into your travel plans.