Author: Judy Witts Francini

Judi Witts Francini, owner of Divina Cucina (, offers cooking classes and culinary tours of Florence and Chianti. She has also developed the Taste Chianti app, available from the Apple Store.
March 31, 2021

Recipe: Torta Pasqualina

The hills are green, the trees are budding and the days are getting longer. Spring, to me, means recipes based on tender, young spinach leaves mixed with fresh sheep’s milk ricotta.             There are several Tuscan dishes that I adore, such as ravioli gnudi, “naked” ravioli, which are more like […]
September 10, 2015

Easy Italian cooking ideas

A simple pasta dish can be easy to make, delicious and inexpensive. Master some basic rules and you’ll be eating like a Tuscan in no time.   1. THE PASTA Dry pasta is a staple for Italians. For a special meal, ready-made fresh pasta is easy to
May 28, 2015

How to make Nocino

Infusing whole-grain alcohol or 100-proof vodka with fresh and dried herbs is a common practice in the countryside, and the resulting digestivi are great way to end a meal. Spring and early summer are a great time to forage for fresh herbs, either outdoors or in your local mercato. But June 24 is a special […]
April 2, 2015

Ten years of auguri!

It is hard to believe that it was 10 years ago that I sent in my first recipe to The Florentine, to Nita and Tony Tucker. They had read my blog and asked me to share my recipes, which I had gathered from local chefs, vendors at Florence’s
February 5, 2015

Carnival treats

Religious celebrations in Italy seem to bring out the best in local cooks. Italians have very simple-to-make sweets, and during the Carnival season almost all of them are fried. Among these are castagnole, the recipe for which I share here; cenci (also known as frappe or bugie), shaped
December 4, 2014

Truffled simplicity

Probably the most important thing I have learned in Italy is to spend more time shopping and less time cooking. My mother-in-law, Tina, taught me this. Choosing fabulous ingredients means you don’t have to do a lot to make it taste good. The recipe I offer
November 6, 2014

Craving chestnuts

As fall comes to Florence, the city begins to smell like roasted chestnuts. Stands appear on street corners, and locals love to buy a small bag for their passeggiata, the afternoon walk downtown. Although the prickly outer casing makes chestnuts hard to harvest, the hills around Florence are filled with
October 2, 2014

A sweet ‘cupola’

When you dine out in trattorias there are always a few desserts on the menu for special occasions: zuccotto, zuppa inglese and millefoglie. The oldest of these is zuccotto, which has many connections to the Renaissance. This liqueur-soaked dessert is made of sponge cake and, in its classic semifreddo
December 14, 2006

Glad tidings from the kitchen

The holidays evoke an inevitable urge to cook, not that I ever need much to be inspired here in Florence. I am almost thankful that there is no Thanksgiving here in Italy, as the feasting rites of Christmas almost put me under the table. In this country, food always seems
February 23, 2006

Tuscany’s best carnival recipes

I love Carnival in Tuscany. From the tiniest village party to the huge street parade in Viareggio, tricksters and costumes abound. Tiny children parade on Sunday afternoon along the Arno River dressed as Zorro or little princesses, while older kids run around spraying colored threads from cans and launching confetti