How Sprezzatura Started...
Updated: May 11, 2018
Almost 5 years ago, I was working a very mundane customer service job for a major financial services company when my entire department got laid off. While many layoffs are immediate with little to no severance pay, we got 6 months notice and a very generous severance package. I took this as a sign to take a different path in life. Most of my ex co-workers took similar jobs at a competing company doing similar jobs but I chose to use my severance pay to start Vivace Gourmet. While it was the scariest thing I've ever done, it was the best decision I'd ever made!
In my first year of business I met a 3rd generation wine maker from just outside of Florence who toured the US with a Private Chef promoting his wines several months a year doing private wine dinners. He was very supportive of my business and he became a mentor offering very valuable advice. After 2 successful years in business, I decided to something else I didn't have the opportunity to do while working a corporate job - travel. I had always wanted to go to Italy and I felt that as a Personal Chef, it was only proper to go to Italy! I watched every travel show, read every travel guide, bought my 3 day museum pass, rented an apartment and headed off to Tuscany - solo! I learned so much on that trip like what part of the city NOT to stay in, I needed to be better prepared to climb a lot of stairs, Florentine people are extremely friendly, and trying to see every museum in the city in 3 days is exhausting and impossible! And in each museum I saw super large tours of 50 people or more all with equipped with audio units being led around by a tour guide holding a flag or umbrella. I thought to myself - no person should experience Tuscany being led around town like a herd of sheep.
One afternoon, I was walking along the Arno River when a leather shop owner standing in the door of his shop greeted me with a very friendly "Ciao"! He invited me in to chat and we became immediate friends. As we talked, I told him that I would love to create a small group tour to show people the Tuscany that I love. He immediately wrote down the name of a high school friend that now owns a tour company and this is how I met our driver, Marco. From that point on, it seems as if I was magically guided to new and wonderful friends and connections in Florence and Tuscany and that's how Sprezzatura started!
Marco will be our English speaking Italian driver for all of our day trips. He is funny, knows Tuscany like the back of his hand, plays piano and has the definitive Beatles collection and a kick-ass disco master mix on the thumb drive in his Mercedes minivan. He is also responsible for recommending the amazing agriturismos we will visit during the tour. Giuseppe, my 3rd generation wine maker friend, is excited to finally being giving my groups a tour of his family winery. Natalie does an amazing job in coordinating the food tour of Florence.
Sprezzatura is created with love. While many people enjoy the large tour experience, I designed my itinerary to be more personal, easy going, flexible and just plain relaxing. Going forward, I hope to conduct these tours twice a year. I wish I could articulate how beautiful I think Tuscany is, but I can't. I hope you will join me and find out for yourself!