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Snuggled in postcard-perfect Tuscan hills, you can find a castle fit for a fairy tale: Castello del Trebbio.

Located some 14km east of Florence (in Pontassieve), it was built in 1184 and powerful Renaissance families once fought over the castle and the land around it.

But today peace rules under Anna Baj Macario, who inherited it from her family in the late 1980s.

Today it functions as an ‘agriturismo’ (working farm that welcomes guests for meals and overnight stays) and is one of the only castles lived in year-round.

Anna, her husband Stefano Casadei and their children, welcome guests from all corners of the world into their home. Here the crisp air is equally as refreshing as the world-class Chianti Rufina DOCG they produce (the highest expression of the territory).

They serve delicious, mouth-watering family recipes (all made from produce from the surrounding land). One you must try is their pappa al pomodoro (Tuscan tomato soup).

It’s made from simple, fresh ingredients: homegrown tomato, stale Tuscan white bread, basil, garlic, leek, chili and a drizzle over Anna’s exquisite Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

You can visit the castle and meet the family on Trafalgar’s ‘Italian Concerto’ and ‘Italian Glory’ tours.


  • 250g/ 9oz stale white Tuscan bread
  • 1 L/ 1 ¾ pts good stock
  • 500g/ 1lb of ripe tomatoes or very good tinned tomatoes
  • One leek
  • ‘Pepperoncino’ (small chili peppers)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Cooking instructions

  • In a large saucepan: sauté the chopped leek with the pepperoncino in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  • As soon as the leek looks cooked, toss in the peeled tomatoes and nice bunch of the fresh basil, all roughly chopped.
  • Bring it to the boil at a medium heat and after 5 minutes add the stock.
  • Season with salt and when the ingredients start to bubble again, add the thinly sliced, (slightly stale) white Tuscan bread.
  • Cook for a further 5 – 10 minutes.
  • When the bread has soaked well, turn off the heat and wait for the bread to soften. Then, with the help of a spoon, divide the bread into small pieces, reducing it to gruel.
  • Let the ‘pappa’ rest for about 1 hour.
  • Serve the dish hot or cold and add a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on top.