Our senior Tuscan guide, Luciano, is famous among our guests for his singing skills. A trained operatic tenor himself, he’s been known to serenade guests with renditions of Bocelli favorites like Con Te Partiro and others. With Andrea set to give a solo performance at the historic Duomo in Milan (which you can watch here,) we asked Luciano to share some of his first-person memories of his now more than a decade friendship with Andrea, his brother Alberto and his sister in law Cinzia. Pour yourself a Brunello or Super Tuscan and enjoy.
I met Andrea, and his brother Alberto and his sister-in-law Cinzia when we were scouting a new coastal Tuscany tour, back in 2008. We knew that the Bocelli’s were producing very good wine, so we looked at that as a good opportunity to include a visit there so guests could experience the food and wine of this part of central Tuscany, as well as having the bonus of meeting his family and seeing where he grew up.
His father Sandro, who passed away in 2000, had a real passion for producing wine and loved his family, leaving this heritage. Ever since I met Andrea, Alberto and Cinzia, I found out right away that they were not snobbish at all, but genuine, authentic Tuscans; fun people, who are intelligent and curious too. We started a friendship. Because I live only an hour or so away from them, on some occasions I would bring my wife and daughter to visit them on the farm. They were so hospitable. We were not even working with them yet! But this is how things go in Italy; you must be very patient and not rush things. You meet someone. You ask about them and their family. You demonstrate that you care about them as people. Then once you are friends, you can inquire about working together. It is not the fastest way to get things done. But I really enjoy it.
As we scouted the tour, I asked if I could come to their wine farm with Classic Journeys small groups and have wine tasting and maybe a snack. (They are also very well known for the quality of their honey.) When we started to bring our groups, whoever was there on the farm that day would welcome us like extended family: Andrea, Alberto, Cinzia (always), and even some times their teenage daughters and son. All of their family is so nice, including the kids. They grew up in this beautiful small town called Lajatico, where you can breathe the Tuscan countryside.
What was to be a snack often turned in to a spontaneous lunch together with them as they sat with us at the table and enjoyed talking with our guests about all aspects of life in Italy and the US. Here we were prepping our guests for a wine tasting and they find themselves spontaneously having a simple lunch with the Bocelli family as the teenagers returned from school!
We also liked to hike near their home. Cinzia always takes us into their vineyards and then over to Andrea’s home on the farm, where he comes to visit and ride his white horse. (Andrea does not live on the farm anymore because of an allergy which was hurting his singing, so he moved one hour away, to Forte dei Marmi on the Tuscan coast.)
In March 2017, they opened “Officine Bocelli”, a food and wine tasting space near their home in Lajatico, which is also a museum dedicated to Andrea. My wife Patricia and daughter Victoria were there with me on the inauguration day when Andrea arrived by helicopter and then sat at the piano singing with his son Matteo!
Andrea's mother told us the story of how, although he could not see, she did not try to overly protect him, but allowed him to experience and play as a child. What do I think of the Bocelli’s? They are just a lovely family and it is so clear that Andrea reflects all the love and support he has received from his family. He expresses it in his melodic warm voice and music. No wonder he is such a genuine ambassador of Italy in the world.