After I had won the Rotary Young Chef of the Year, I had the opportunity to go and enjoy my prize which was a trip to Italy and I took my Mum. When we first arrived I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. When we arrived in Pisa, my Mum and I were greeted by Filippo Berio’s export marketer, Louise Dellor, who was our tour guide and translator throughout our 3 day stay.
Firstly we went to the leaning tower of Pisa, which was an amazing landmark to see, and luckily the weather was nice. We also had a tour of the town, and got to see the river which runs through and lots of old pretty buildings. We then went back to the hotel ‘Mirage’ in Viareggio and went out and had a lovely meal in a restaurant down the road with Louise. We had a variety of things to try, such as different meats, and for my main meal I had tortellini in a Ragu sauce, which was delicious and very authentic as the pasta was ‘al dente’ and freshly made.
The next day we went to Filippo Berio head office in Lucca, where all the olive oil is manufactured on the site, and got to have a factory inspection. They also have a science lab, where different olive oils are tested professionally to make sure the quality is high. We also got to sample the oil, and felt the Filippo Berio tasted a lot better than the others! We then went to a small lovely restaurant along the sea front and ordered a variety of different dishes, to get a taster of Italian cuisine! We then went to visit the Filippo Berio olive groves and then got to visit the pressing plant to see the crushing.
On the final day we went to Lucca, which I really enjoyed as we had a tour of the traditional Italian shops which were very rustic as they were full of breads, cheeses, pastas and we got to go to a beautiful chocolate shop called ‘caniparoli cioccolateria’ where we got to taste a variety of different handmade chocolates which also incorporated an artistic style to them.
We met the owner and her husband who actually makes all the chocolates by hand and I was amazed at the skill which must be involved in making all the various types of product they produce. I would recommend anyone visiting Lucca to find this shop, it is well worth a visit for a ‘special’ gift to bring home, or just a wonderful treat for yourself. There were a lot of old striking buildings which had breathtaking detailing on them and a variety of traditional shops and some fantastic chic boutiques. After also looking around a few clothes shops as well, wesadly departed to the airport and flew back to the UK.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Filippo Berio for their kind and thoughtful hospitality, Rotary for giving me this amazing opportunity and Louise Dellor for her tour guiding skills and for making the trip memorable, and everyone else who was involved as I had the most amazing time which I will always remember, and would love to go back in the future!!!