Who are Mike & Elena?
The travelers, writers and photographers behind My Kind of Italy are a husband and wife living in the medieval Tuscan city of Lucca.
Mike is an English/American who spent his first 31 years of life in England followed by 25 years in the US (Chicago, Santa Barbara, and Austin) and now almost 10 years in Italy. Forty years ago when not in his London office working as a Chartered Accountant, Mike was to be found at the South Kensington auction rooms of Christie’s bidding on various lots of Port and Claret on behalf of syndicates of family, friends and work colleagues. His early interest in French wine over time led to a growing passion for Italian wine, a much more complex and fragmented industry that defies an easy narrative or a simple definition. And when many years later cycling took over from rugby he found that his bike tours in Italy invariably covered the same territory as the vineyards so both passions could then be indulged at the same time.
Elena has a much more impressive resumé. She is a native of Florence who studied Geography, History and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Florence and has spent many years teaching Italian as a second language to foreign nationals of all levels and ages. She organizes personal tours of Florence and Lucca and the surrounding areas, as well as conducting tutored tastings of both olive oil and Italian wine. She is an Italian certified Sommelier and Maestro d’Olio and the author of two hiking guides to the hills around Florence.
When they first met nine years ago Elena made Mike do two things: learn how to speak Italian better and learn how to cook the Italian way. The first task she took control of herself and for the second one she enrolled Mike in various full-time intensive cooking courses but more importantly he has been able to learn from her mother's 70 years of daily cooking experience. Mike is now allowed to cook and bake bread for both Elena and her parents and as a result, he spends a lot of time in the kitchen. And when he’s not in the kitchen he is either on his bike in the mountains above Lucca, Pisa, or Florence or discovering a new Italian wine or he is persevering with his Italian language studies in the never-ending quest for linguistic fluency.
We have both traveled extensively throughout much of Italy and we are passionate about the country, its people, and its traditions. We now spend increasing amounts of our time visiting less well-known Italian winemakers and olive oil producers as well as continuing to dedicate a lot of time to this website. We hope you find it interesting and informative.