Join us in Cortona, where Chef Simonetta warmly invites you into her home and teaches you all her little secrets of how to make the most of wonderful Tuscan ingredients and produce. Her Villa, nestled on a hilltop in the Val di Chiana, amid the lush fields of grain, sunflowers, olive groves and vineyards encourages your heart to dream of all things Tuscan. Learn to prepare typical Tuscan dishes while having fun from start to finish.
Join Chef Simonetta in Cortona, learn to cook Tuscan delights, eat, relax and enjoy the beauty of the countryside with chauffeured visits along the way.
Enjoy the sensation of kneading fresh pasta and preparing natural vegetables and fruits from Simonetta’s garden. Our Cortona cooking program brings you into Chef Simonetta’s kitchen and will have you cooking Tuscan classics, while learning the importance of regional products and many different precious Tuscan wines with our local Chef.
And when you are not in the kitchen, Giovanni, our native Cortona guide takes you on a fascinating tour of Cortona’s best-loved monuments, Teatro Signorelli, Piazza della Repubblica, the Diocesan Museum home Luca Signorelli’s masterpieces, the Santa Maria Nuova church, designed by Giorgio Vasari, and Santa Maria delle Grazie, plus wine shops, leather crafters and artisan workshops. Your private driver, Manuele, whisks you off for a day exploring beautiful Tuscan hill towns nearby to Cortona, wine producers and artisan cheese makers.
Simonetta is an enthusiastic and passionate cook and she will transmit her love of cooking to you throughout your stay and especially in your cooking classes. Her passion and energy are contagious and will soon have you even more curious about Tuscan cuisine. Roll up your sleeves and tie on your aprons for a cooking lesson with Simonetta making an antipasto, pasta, main course and dessert.
The ingredients used are of the freshest kind, many of which are grown in Simonetta’s garden. Other ingredients are carefully selected from local markets and farmers in the Tuscan hill town.
After your time in the kitchen, lunch or dinner follows with foods that were prepared in class. Eat, relax and share your cooking notes around the table in her dining room where you can choose a wine from a list containing over 60 of the best Italian wines. Surely, one of them will perfectly compliment the meal you have prepared.
Simonetta’s Simply Tuscan Menu
Ribollita – The celebrated Ribollita, is a hearty soup of the countryside
Pappa col Pomodoro – Bread and Tomato Soup
Cecina – A savory chick pea pie
Tortellini di Patate – Traditional Pasta stuffed with a potato filling
Galline – Free range Tuscan chicken roasted on a BBQ spit
Bistecca alla Fiorentina – Naturally raised Florentine beef
Anatra all’Arancia – Duck cooked in fresh oranges
Braciola di Maiale alle Erbe Aromatiche – Naturally raised pork rolled then roasted in herbs
Schiacciata alla Fiorentina – Tuscan flat bread
Castagnaccio – a sweet chestnut cake
There is plenty to see in the medieval town of Cortona, with its fascinating architecture, churches and wonderful Piazzas. Made famous by Frances Mayes when she wrote about renovating her house “Casa Bramasole,” Cortona was originally an Umbrian city before being conquered and enlarged by Tuscany, eventually becoming a Roman colony. This is reflected in the architecture and you will feel as if you are a part of the history of the place.
The prevailing character of Cortona’s architecture is medieval with picturesque narrow streets situated on a hillside embracing the enchanting view of the Val di Chiana. Once a year at the beginning of June, the townspeople celebrate Medieval Week, with a procession of over 300 people wearing traditional medieval costumes while horseback riders parade through Cortona’s historic center. This is a spectacular sight to see and will take you back in time in a moment. The market offers authentic traditional products for old countryside recipes by old world artisans. Slip off to explore inviting alleyways, gaze out over the rolling hillsides that surround this hilltop town, and stop off to sample delicious local specialties in artisan bakers and pastry shops.
Tuscany is the heart of Italy, located right in the center, one couldn’t ask for a better way to see some of Italy’s most well known sites. From art, architecture and history to the seaside, mountains and most importantly, spectacular Tuscan cuisine, there really is something for everyone in this region. From Florence the Magnificent to tiny Montepulciano, there are dozens of Tuscan towns you’ll want to visit, a thousand narrow farm roads waiting patiently for you to make the wrong turn and find your own secret treasure.
Your stay with Simonetta will detach you form Tuscany’s throng of visitors and welcome you to a secret part of Tuscany, where in addition to your cooking lessons, you will have time to soak up the charm of your peaceful, unspoiled surroundings, making it the perfect opportunity to relax both body and soul.
Simonetta’s Villa property is immersed in the green hills of Cortona, the famous city from Under the Tuscan Sun, a short way from important towns such as Arezzo, Monterchi, Sansepolcro, Camaldoli, Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Siena, San Gimignano and the magnificent region of Umbria. The Villa’s rooms are warm and welcoming, and are tastefully furnished with antiques from the 18th to 20th Century. Each bedroom has a private bathroom and daily maid service is provided. Breakfast is served in the elegant setting of the dining room, with homemade cakes using Great-Grandmother Teresa’s recipes, and homemade jams made with fruit from the garden. All served with the finest silver, porcelain and linens.
Listen to music, read a book from the library or simply enjoy a glass of wine or liqueur by the fire in the sitting room that was once the Villa’s ancient stables. Take a stroll round the well-tended garden, stopping to soak up the sun or relax in the shade of an ample pine grove. The southern side of the grounds offers a sweeping view to the peak of Monte Amiata. For those needing to unwind, what could be better than a few hours spent at the swimming pool.
Itinerary ~ 6 days, 5 nights
Day One~ Arrival
- Pick up at train station – Check in – Introduction of Property & Welcome Tea.
- Dinner served at the Villa – Wine and Beverages not included.
Day Two~ Food Lover’s Tour of Cortona & Cooking Class One
- Breakfast is served.
- Transfer to Cortona. Meet your guide Giovanni at 10am for a walking tour through the historic center of Cortona. Visit the town’s main piazzas, Piazza delle Repubblica and Piazza Signorelli, follow the ancient Etruscan city walls, and admire the sweeping views down over Lago Trasimeno. Along the way, stop off in artisan bakeries that carry on the time honored tradition of local dolci, like cantucci, ricciarelli and brutti ma buoni, and learn how local nonnas prepare delicious local pici pasta. And of course, no food lover’s tour would be complete without a glass of wine or a creamy cappuccino.
- Return to Villa.
- Early evening will consist of hands-on pizza-making Cooking Class 1 followed by dinner including the pizza prepared in class and tastings of other foods. Wine and beverages not included.
Day Three~ Visit To Local Vineyard & Cooking Class Two
- Breakfast is served.
- Visit to local a vineyard just a few miles from Montepulciano, wine tasting experience and 3-course lunch included. Transport to and from provided along with tour, wine tasting and 3-course lunch.
- In the afternoon, return to the Villa for your hands-on Cooking Class 2 with Simonetta followed by dinner including the foods prepared in class “al fresco”. Wine and Beverages not included.
Day Four~ Montepulciano, Pienza & Artisan Cheese Maker
- Breakfast is served.
- At 9:30am your private driver Manuele picks you up for a full day trip through the Tuscan hills and countryside surrounding Cortona with plenty of stops to admire the local scenery and take photographs along the way. First stop is at an artisan cheese maker where you will learn how local artisans create the area’s wonderful Pecorino cheese. Discussions and tastings included.
- Next a visit to Montepulciano, which is not only one of Tuscany’s best known wine centers, but also home to such famous films such as The New Moon. Wander through the streets, do a little shopping and peak into the many wine shops and wine bars. Then, tour a renowned winery to learn about the unique growing conditions, delicate harvesting and careful winemaking and aging techniques that make the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and other local wines. Discussions, wine tasting and light lunch are included.
- Following lunch, we head to the delightful town of Pienza with its curious trapezoidal piazza, Palazzo Piccolomini, and the Duomo. Remember to leave enough time to stroll along the main thoroughfare, past shop windows displaying artisan cheeses of every description, truly some of Italy’s best, along with artisan shops selling Italian linens and brightly colored hand-painted ceramics. Return to the Villa in the afternoon.
- Dinner on your own.
Day Five~ Explore Cortona & Arezzo
- Breakfast is served.
- Explore Cortona on your own for the day. Simonetta offers complimentary transfers to & from the town. As an alternative, you can also take the train from Cortona to the beautiful town of Arezzo, Visit the Romanesque Church of Santa Maria della Pieve, the imposing Vasari Loggia and the unique, sloping Piazza Grande. This town was also featured in Roberto Benigni’s award-winning film Life Is Beautiful. Pick out a little trattoria for lunch, and after lunch stroll round the many narrow streets lined with great shops, art galleries, wine bars, and antiques.
- Return to the Villa in the afternoon and dinner on your own.
Day Six~ Departure
- Breakfast is served.
- After breakfast, check out and arriverderci!
- 6 days, 5 nights accommodation based on double occupancy.
- Daily breakfast.
- Dinner included on your first-night arrival. Wine and Beverages not included.
- 2 cooking classes with lunch or dinner following; wine and beverages not included.
- Transfers to & from Cortona for free time in town.
- Local vineyard visit with transport, tasting and lunch included.
- Full-day excursion with private driver, wine tasting & light lunch included. Visit to cheese artisan with tastings also included.
- Guided Food Lover’s Tour of Cortona, discussion and tastings included.
- Maps included for your self-guided tours.
- Simonetta’s Villa offers a swimming pool (open during the season).
- Arrival & Departure transfers from local Camucia-Cortona Train Station.
- Wi-Fi internet connection available.
$2,625 per person, based on double occupancy. Includes all taxes and Italian VAT.
$2,995 per person, based on single room occupancy based on minimum 2 participants in the program.
Single Cookers: If you are a single guest and would like to join us, please call us for the best group price. We are happy to welcome you into an already scheduled group.
*An Italian visitor tax may apply in some cities and must be paid directly on site at check out.