Can you recommend any Farm or Factory Tours in Tuscany or Umbria?
I am headed to Italy in a few weeks. In addition to seeking out some of the restaurants found on this board, I would like to visit a few food producers. Small or large; guided tour or just a visit; fish, factory, farm, fowl, or fennel: as long as it is interesting. In Tuscany we will be based in Grosseto south of Siena toward the coast. Our Umbria base is between Gualdo Tadino and Foligno. There will be four of us and we will have a car for day trips.
Anyone had any special experiences they would like to share?
As a suggestion for less organized tours of farms, wineries and factories, visit a place that sells at the side of the road, small, or family businesses. Show enthusiasm and ask questions (even in very, very bad Italian or a blend thereof) and, most likely, you'll get a private tour or even a meal.
I've visited wine caves in the mountains of Montepluciano reached by ladder, lit by lanterns and sampled the barrels, saw cheese aging caves and sampled cores, had freshly 'harvested' pig and lardo at a family farm, had bread and pizza fresh froma beehive oven outside the kitchen, saw the manufacture and painting of pottery, helped grind grain and olive oil, meet with the women in the back yard to try to roll pici, saw weavers making linen, and so many other experiences. Most often always offered a meal or some sort of snack.
Look for vendesi/vendi [product] and stop. Be gracious and enjoy!