I had the sneaking suspicion we were in the wrong parking lot. We had just arrived in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, a small town in Tuscany, to meet with Arianna and Alessio from KM Zero Tours. We were a few minutes late so I was alarmed when I didn’t see them. I texted Arianna and, sure enough, it was the wrong parking lot. She sweetly assured me that she and Alessio would be right over as they were very close. Before long, a van pulled up beside us and out hoped Arianna, all smiles and hugs. After a warm greeting, she instructed us to follow them to a nearby restaurant by the name of A Casa Mia.
We entered the small country trattoria with a table waiting for us. The atmosphere was casual, cozy and rustic, just the kind of place I love to find. Wooden beams combined with a brick-lined arch and creamy stucco walls made it all the more intimate. Arianna and Alessio were good friends with the proprietor, as is usual among the many artisans they have known over the years. It is these very artisans with whom they correspond in their daily work as tour guides for those seeking the authentic Tuscan experience with the locals.
Arianna and Alessio are the owners of KM Zero Tours, a small boutique travel company based in the Chianti region of Tuscany. Their goal is to introduce the authentic culture and cultural heritage of Tuscany with meaningful and immersive experiences for the traveler who desires a much deeper understanding of this ancient land. They are passionate about the local artisans and farmers who have been friends for years. These people are deeply in love with their land and cherish the age-old traditions.
So how exactly does KM Zero Tours work? “Our travel experiences can last from one day to the whole week and have different themes according to guests interests and needs: from organic wine tastings to cheese making lessons, from “slow food” cooking courses to local handicraft, from sustainable cashmere to olive oil tastings, not missing visits to local villages and art centers, hikes in the nature and lots of time around the table, sharing stories and experiences.” I couldn’t have said it better, and I love the whole concept.
Km Zero was described to me as meaning literally ‘no distance.’ They believe there is a much better way to visit the real Tuscany by making conscious decisions to purchase and consume local products as near to the area where they were produced as possible. This ensures the freshness and seasonality along with the biodiversity, which is the different types and varieties of those products. It is a true calling back to the land of origin, to commune deeply with it.
I don’t know about you, readers, or what your preferences are as a traveler, but this is the kind of travel I long for. I want to become one with my environment, to experience in a deep and meaningful way the rhythm and flow of an ancient land. I want to understand the people, who have built a generations-old art, whether it be farming, growing crops, or leatherworking. I greatly respect them and the heritage they work so hard to keep alive. To me, this is the true heart and spirit of meaningful travel and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I return home, I am a richer, wiser, a more sensitive and passionate person as a result of a down-home, off the beaten path, authentic Italian experience.
I thank Arianna and Alessio with heartfelt gratitude for spending a few precious hours with us. You are unique in your approach to the tourism business and I hope and pray that the tide of the future will enlighten travelers to seek out everything you two work so hard to preserve. An authentic, slow, respectful and meaningful experience that reveals the spirit of the true Tuscany and remains a special memory for those who have chosen to live it.
Have you ever had an authentic Tuscan experience? Or in Italy? How do you like to travel? Please feel free to share your thoughts. I really enjoy hearing from you…