Today we meet Debora De Marco, who runs food and wine-centric Bed & Breakfast Villa Landucci in the heart of Florence with her partner, Matteo Falleri. Debora is half Calabrian and half German but studied to be a sommelier at the AIS (Association of Italian Sommeliers) in Florence and never left. She honed her winemaking knowledge at Tuscan vineyards and her passion for welcoming visitors to Florence followed after working at hotels in Germany.
Casa Mia: How did you get started in the hotel business and why in Florence?
Debora De Marco: Matteo and I both studied hotel management. I did in Germany and Matteo in Tuscany. We each have worked more than 15 years in hotels and restaurants because food, wine and tourism is our passion! In 2003 I decided to become a sommelier and what better place to study great wines than in Tuscany? So I never went back to Germany once I finished my studies and then I met Matteo at the famous Cibreo restaurant in Florence where we worked together. In 2012 we opened our Gourmet B&B Villa Landucci.
CM: You call Villa Landucci a ‘gourmet hotel’. What does that mean and please explain your philosophy?
DDM: We want to create a place where food & wine lovers can be inspired, where they can learn more and more about producers, good food, gourmet spots plus Tuscan food and wine culture in general. These are some of the things available to our guests: a great library centered around wine and food literature; organic breakfasts every morning; cooking demonstrations and classes; gourmet food and wine tours; visits to local gourmet food and wine shops; specially themed dinners and other events.
CM: Please give me an example of one of your organic breakfasts.
DDM: We have both sweet and savory products, for example organic jam from local producers, organic rice crackers (gallette di riso), fresh eggs from free-range hens, homemade cakes made with organic whole wheat flour, salads of fresh tomatoes and zucchini from our urban garden and a selection of organic teas.
CM: How many bottles do you have in your wine cellar and who are some of the producers?
DDM: Our problem is that we drink most of the wines so it is difficult to have a full wine cellar!
Kidding aside, we have about 350 bottles and the producers are mostly from Tuscany, Calabria and Germany. We usually promote wines we know really well, for example Fattoria Lavacchio, which is an organic producer of Chianti Rufina, where I worked for 2 Years.
CM: Who are the winemakers you visit?
DDM: We have a wide list of producers that I love. It is very important to understand the kind of wines our guests want to taste, for example classics like Chianti and Brunello or something more international and new like Bolgheri and Montecucco. After we get a sense of what our clients are interested in and if they’re eager to discover something new we start to explore lesser known wines like Poggio Rubino, Donna Olimpia or Vignamaggio.
CM: What are some of the typical Florentine dishes that you recommend and which are your personal favorites?
DDM: I love all Florentine and Tuscan food so I’m really lucky because Matteo makes an amazing pappa al pomodoro, the typical summer tomato bread soup with basil. But if you plan a trip to Firenze you can’t miss a panino col lampredotto, which is a delicious sandwich of Florentine bread served with tender, stewed tripe in its gravy and topped with green and spicy sauce.
Stay tuned for more Our Italians interviews!
Elizabeth Janus is a passionate traveller, and makes it a point to peruse the farmer’s markets in every place she visits to get an immediate pulse of the city. For the last decade, she has been guiding discerning clients on food adventures at farmer’s markets, speciality shops and into her home for unique Italian meals to experience Italy as an Italian..