Bicycling through rolling Tuscan countryside, stopping along the way for a picnic lunch with a great bottle of Brunello di Montalcino, and discovering the Etruscan towns of this beautiful land is what our unique Cooking & Biking at the Villa Florentine has for you. This active cooking tour takes you from the kitchen to bicycling your way from the Acciaioli Hills in the hills of Florence and Tuscany. During your stay meet your host Lucia and Chef Luciana, cook up a storm and then take the back roads on your bike. Welcome to the Villa, its Baroque door let’s you into the courtyard and here your cooking and biking tour begins. Nestled in the Imperial Hills of Florence’s south side, this magnificent villa property built in 1470, offers a close proximity to Florence and the beautiful peace of the Tuscan countryside.
As featured in April 2011 – Click here to read more!
Set among tall Tuscan cypresses that line its private roadway, and surrounded by its prestigious gardens, the Villa is an extraordinary place for cooking and bicycling. The narrow, hilly roads surrounding the Villa have very little passing traffic making it the perfect locations for your bike tour.
Chef Luciana will lead you in your Cooking Classes, which take place in a great working kitchen with a wood-burning bread and pizza oven. During your hands-on cooking classes, you will make antipasti, pasta and desserts and learn about the property’s award-winning wine and olive oil. Chef Luciana uses only fresh, local and organic product from their large gardens and practices the Slow Food movement for cooking.
When you are not in the kitchen or out on a bike ride, stroll the vineyards, olive groves and private gardens or take a dip in the swimming pool that looks to the Certosa Monastery.
The luxurious villa, once home to a noble Florentine family, is set in a an Italian garden surrounded by pomegranate and tall cypress trees and beautiful Renaissance statues. There is a sitting area with Tuscan décor and frescos and dining room where you can enjoy breakfast each day. Each suite inside the villa is large and furnished with Florentine antiques, art and original masterpieces that tell the story of its romantic past. Pastel frescoes decorate the walls and Florentine cotto tiles line the floors. Large windows swing onto rolling vineyards and olive trees. Each suite offers modern bathrooms with hair dryers, plush bathrobes and slippers. Other amenities and services include: air-conditioning, wifi and daily breakfast in the dining room and maid service. Walk the grounds, visit the amphitheater or relax by the outdoor swimming pool, complete with deckchairs and towel services. The swimming pool is open from April 1 to October 31.
During your stay visit the Monastery of Certosa set in the hills. This ancient Monastery continues in tradition where monks make wine and jams with recipes of the ancient past. Visit the Church of San Lorenzo, patron Saint of Chefs & Cooks, for a best-kept secret view of frescos and architecture from the 11th century. Siena and San Gimignano are great day escapes where you can visit landmarks, churches and food shops filled with local specialties like Panforte, the sweet spicy cake made at Christmastime in Siena and Cantucci & Vin Santo.
Your hosts Signor Rodolfo, Signora Lucia and the staff, welcome you for an extra ordinary cooking experience at the Florentine Villa.
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Chef Luciana’s lessons are hands-on, teaching you the wonderfully simple flavors of Florentine cooking, noted as the most hearty & wholesome in Italy. Vegetables, fish and especially meat play a major role in Tuscan cuisine, complimented by the property’s organic wine and olive oil. The ingredients that you will use are seasonal and regional. white beans, asparagus, truffles, mushrooms, tomatoes, spelt, artichokes, and Florentine steaks are staple ingredients that are always on Luciana’s table. The Tuscan food is simple and abundant with local produce, mellow cheeses and grilled meats. The recipes in Florentine cooking range from original and traditional to more recent arrivals and innovations. Such a wide and occasionally unusual choice of dishes has not only provided some fascinating historical and social information, but the assortment and variety of flavors also offers a style of cooking which is lively and flexible.
After your classes enjoy the foods that were prepared in class and everyone dines together with a glass of the Villa’s wine!
Your bicycle tour takes you through hidden and historical Florence and the region of Chianti. This particular area, known as Siena Chianti, is adorned with tall poplar trees, sun flowered landscapes, and gentle rolling hills where grapevines and olive trees grow. There are also centuries old oak forests and charming Medieval villages. Taste the Chianti wines, Cinta Senesa, Tuscan pork and salumi, and prized Pecorino cheese produced in Siena Crete. *You can also opt for 2 Tuscan country bike hills tour and not Florence.
Our bicycle tour also peddles into Florence, hailed the “Jewel of the Renaissance,” where you will see the city’s art food, history and culture. The famous Piazza della Rupublica resembles more an outside museum than a square. Layers of history abound in the famous square where you can pull up to a café table at the famous Gilli Café and enjoy an amaro. Peddling on, visit the Santa Croce, Duomo and Bobili Gardens. There is also Palazzo Strozzi and Palazzo Medici-Riccardi which once belonged to Florence’s powerful, oligarchic families. Stop for a gelato or panini to fuel up as your bike tour continues.
The Charming Tuscan Towns Of Siena, San Gimignano
Set in the olive groves and vineyards of Chianti is Siena. You can see its unique bell towers from miles, while its Piazza del Campo is regarded as one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe. There is also the Duomo, a great example of Italian Romanesque architecture that was originally intended to be the grandest cathedral in existence (before funds ran out!), and Palazzo Pubblico houses Ambrogio Lorenzetti frescos. However, just a few steps away from the main square, a tangle of narrow, winding side streets and steps temp strollers into every hidden angle of the town, past pretty squares, bars and restaurants and theatres. Specialty food shops are dotted over the town offering everything from faro, spelt, and beans to tiny local chickpeas and almond and spice sweetmeats. Be a spectator and pull up to a café table at the Piazza del Campo for a creamy gelato or steamy cappuccino. Famous for the Palio, a historical horse race held every July in the main piazza, Siena is a magnificent city.
San Gimignano is a medieval city perched on a hillside in the Tuscan country. It is renowned for being the town of towers, with only 14 still standing of the original 72 towers that once stood in the times when wealthy families tried to outdo each other by building impressive towers. A stroll round the main piazza and its shops is a must, and there is no end of things that will catch your eye: hand-painted pottery, thick, carved olive wood chopping boards, art galleries, a selection of local wines, olive oil, the area’s famous salamis made with fennel seeds and deep red Prosciutto. Cozy trattorias offer stunning views of the red roofs of the city.
Visit Tuscan Hills and The Carthusian Monks
During your free time explore the hills of Tuscany that lead to La Certosa! Whether you bike or drive, it is worth the trip. The La Certosa is a Carthusian monastery positioned in the Acciaioli Hills and just minutes from the Villa. The monastery was one of the most influential of its kind in Europe with approximately one hundred monks that worked diligently turning it into one of the richest in Europe. Built in 1341 by Niccolò Acciaiuoli, the monastery’s was constructed as a religious site and a place for young Italians to learn. The Carthusian monks went into seclusion from the world to pray, meditate and work in honor of St. Benedict following his Rule. The monks lived carried on, ate and worked in their small rooms while working diligently making liquor and jams. The Church of San Lorenzo with a Renaissance cloister, houses a great amount of frescoes, a 16th Century marble altar and a crypt containing the Acciaioli family tombs. The monks’ cells open onto the cloister, with a few opening up to the monks’ living spaces where visitors can still visit today: a great day escape exploring the countryside of Tuscany. Guided visits with a monk by your side are available upon reservation.
Tuscan Bread Making
Learn to mix, knead and make Tuscan breads in the ancient wood-burning brick oven under the direction of Chef Luciana. While all of Italy salts their bread, the Tuscans do not; and this bread making practice dates back to the 12th century when the gents from Pisa boycotted the salt trade to hurt the Florentines who were, at that time, their enemies. The price of salt had risen so high that it became too expensive for the working class people to buy, so salt was left off the table. Tuscan bread to date remains unsalted and in doing so pairs well with the local cuisine, with crostini-salted salumi on toasted bread, along with aged cheese, and also used as a base with traditional soups such as minestra di pane and rebollita. The list of Tuscan bread runs long, but a few favorites are Covaccino, Doucesses, Pane Integrale, Procorn E Panda, Cazzottini, and focaccia. After a day at the oven you will be baking bread like a true Tuscan.
Day 1: Welcome and check in to the villa property.
- Pick up at the Florence Train Station or Florence Airport.Full course welcome dinner. One half bottle of wine included.
Day 2: Cooking Class 1 & Bike Tour
- Breakfast is served.
- Following breakfast, hoin Chef Luciana in the kitchen as you roll up your sleeves and learn about the traditional foods of Florence and the Tuscany Region. This hands-on cooking class will have you making a full course lunch including an antipasto, pasta, main, and dessert. Wine is included.
- Lunch follows and includes the foods that were prepared in class.
- In the afternoon, you will be taken on a bike tour, with English-speaking guide, of the hidden and historical parts of Florence, often called City Of Art.
- Dinner on your own. Reserve in advance at the Villa or we have great local restaurants near the Villa upon request. Florence is just a 5 minute taxi ride away, let us know and we will reserve a table at one of our local trattorias.
Day 3: Bike Tour 2
- Breakfast is served.
- Enjoy your Tuscan bike tour to the tranquil Chianti area with English-speaking guide. Guests will depart from the Villa and tour into the Chianti area and travel through the beautiful Tuscan villages including Impruneta.
- Evening is on your own. Suggestions for dining are provided.
Day 4: Cooking Class 2 & Check Out
- Breakfast is served.
- The morning will consist of Cooking Class 2 followed by lunch on the foods prepared in class.
- After lunch check out and arrivederci!
- Four days and three nights at a villa accommodation, based on double occupancy with ensuite private bath.
- Daily breakfast and maid service.
- Full course Chef’s welcome dinner on your first night arrival with half bottle of wine. (Additional wine, beverages, after-dinner liqueurs and caffè available at a surcharge).
- 2 hands-on cooking classes featuring Tuscan classics with full course lunch or dinner following including the foods that were prepared in the cooking class. Award winning wine from the property included.
- 2 Tuscan Bike Tours to Chianti and Florence with English-speaking guide.
- Round trip transfers from Florence Airport or Train Station to Villa.
$2,095 per person, based 2 guests.
For Single Guests: If you are traveling on your own, please call us for the best group price. We are happy to welcome you into an already scheduled group.
Add On: Half-Day Excursion to Pisa
Visit Pisa, the land of the Leaning Tower. One of Italy’s best known tourist destinations, the ancient maritime republic of Pisa is a quiet university town that boasts one of the best loved piazzas in the world. The piazza, Campo Dei Miracoli, is a vast green lawn that houses the town’s Duomo, its famous bell tower, better known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Baptistery and the Camposanto which has to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries ever built. Interestingly enough, however, it’s not only Pisa’s tower that leans. A closer look at the Baptistery and the Duomo will reveal that they too are far from straight, though less noticeably so than the tower. Tour lasts approximately four and a half hours and includes private driver.
455E for the Pisa excursion with private driver, to and from Pisa with time to explore Pisa on your own, based on 2 people.