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  1. Bellissima!
    Our family of four – myself, my wife and our 17 year-old twin daughters – spent a beautiful week in Tuscany in the middle of winter. Thanks to Mr. Eli Rabbani at http://jewish-tuscany.com/ who specializes in running kosher tours in and around the city of Siena.
    Since it was off season, Eli was able to accommodate us in a villa right outside of Sienna, an old brick tobacco drying house beautifully converted into an idiosyncratic villa. Lucca, the owner / architect, lives in the villa next door and treated us to a tour of the grounds, and a discussion of his work restoring old homes.
    Eli (who oversaw the kashrut for the entire enterprise, including kashering the kitchens; obtaining raw materials, cheeses, and wines; and participating in the cooking), brought in local chef Gennaro, a kitchen wizard who has worked extensively with Siena’s small but still active Jewish community. We took morning strolls through the beautiful (even in the drizzling rain) Tuscan hills, walked the streets of the old city of Siena, took in the local synagogue and museums and visited the stunning fully preserved medieval town of San Gimignano. After a light lunch, the four of us settled into the kitchen as Gennaro taught us recipes and techniques, with Eli helping along. After we cooked – what else? – we ate!
    Our self-made specialties included fresh-made pasta and pizza, oven-poached sea bream, lemon chicken, and a thick traditional vegetable soup called ribollita. Everything was delicious, and sharing our meals with Eli and Gennaro in Lucca’s simple yet elegant dining room was a perfect end to each day.
    We topped off our week with Shabbat in Florence – which is a whole other story – we followed Eli’s advice on hotel and food, and it turned out to be ideal. (He sent us to the Hotel Arizona, a modest hotel – clean and inexpensive and with a friendly staff – right next door to Florence’s only kosher restaurant, and to its magnificent synagogue.)
    If you are looking for a different way to experience Tuscany, http://jewish-tuscany.com/ should certainly be on your list. Eli is a real find; he is genuinely friendly and caring, and speaks excellent English. We can’t recommend his services highly enough. We hired him to arrange our trip, and ended up with a new friend. And while Gennaro doesn’t speak any English, he is fluent in the universal languages of charm, genuine friendliness, and the preparation of a terrific meal.

    Rabbi Moshe Silver