Join us in Tuscany for our new Palio di Siena Program, celebrating the historic horse race which is held twice a year in Siena, once on July 2, then again on August 16. Dating back to Medieval times, the Palio is a brief but fiercely fought race, where the jockeys and horses from 10 of Siena’s 17 different contrade, districts, ride bareback for three laps of the Piazza del Campo, the town’s main piazza, over which a thick layer of dirt and turf has been laid. Locals scream wildly, emotions reach fever-pitch and the winning contrada erupts in an explosion of joy. In this race, it is the horse that wins, not the jockey, so the first horse over the finish line wins, even without its rider. People flock from all over the world to take part in the Palio – truly an event that must be experienced!
Meanwhile, Chef Gaetano is waiting for you in the kitchen for our deliciously tempting Tuscan cooking. Gently sweeping hills adorned with pristine vineyards and grey-green olive groves, pretty country churches and imposing stone castles provide the backdrop for your cooking school vacation. Take a tour of the property’s winery, visiting the vineyard, tasting wines and learning about the Chianti Classico; enjoy accompanying your meals with a delicious selection of house reds and whites; and discover the wonderful healing properties of wine and grapes and reserve a wine therapy massage at the Estate’s spa. Back in the kitchen with Chef Gaetano, use the Estate’s first pressed, extra virgin olive oil and fruits and vegetables from the garden, to make simple and delicious dishes that reflect Chianti traditions.
Chef Gaetano’s philosophy is “see, smell and eat it” and each day, Chef Gaetano chooses the best fresh ingredients from the garden and the market for your hands-on cooking classes. The atmosphere in the kitchen is informal, encouraging you to ask questions, roll up your sleeves and get involved. Gaetano comes from the South of Italy but has worked in many countries and many different parts of Italy, all of which has influenced his style of cooking. He spent a lot of time in Tuscany and especially loves Tuscan food. His favorite ingredients are flour and olive oil, and he loves preparing homemade pasta, risotto and all dishes where we you’ll find fresh seasonal vegetables.
Tuscan cuisine is unique and based on the simplicity of raw materials, cooked with skillful craftsmanship. Tuscan history speaks of agriculture and simple living, therefore dishes are based around the use of the ingredients of common people who could not afford luxuries in the kitchen – olive oil replacing lard, vegetables as a base for the soups instead of meat, chestnut flour, and so on. Together with Chef Gaetano you will assemble genuine ingredients using ancient culinary traditions and authentic preparation methods, creating dishes such as panzanella, pappa al pomodoro, pici, lasagna, risotto, roast pork loin, duck, tripe, cantuccini and tiramisù.
Each class is 2 to 3 hours long, and afterwards students sit together and dine on the fruits of their labor. All meals are of course accompanied by local wine.
Gaiole in Chianti
The village of Gaiole is located approximately 40 km southeast of Florence and 15 km northeast of Siena in the Chianti hills, the most famous region of Tuscany. Gaiole in Chianti, like the whole Chianti region, is famous for its wine, artisan food products, and the unique romantic beauty of its landscapes: beautifully tended vineyards and olive groves, gently rolling hills, restored Medieval villages and farmhouses and characteristic avenues of stately poplar trees. Once a market town on the road from Chianti to Valdarno, Gaiole is still a wonderful place to visit for its wine shops, osterias, and local artisan shops, and perhaps more than any other village, represents the divine Tuscan landscape visitors dream of.
Imagine a beautifully restored Tuscan villa nestled cozily in the Chianti hillside: this will be your home for the duration of your cooking program. Rooms and suites are marked by distinctive and charming elements; for example, one suite has a bed made completely from antique oak barrels. Floors are made of the traditional terracotta tiles, exposed stones and beams give character to apartments and furnishings are carefully chosen to reflect the traditional Tuscan style and comfort. Each bedroom has a private bathroom (some equipped with hydromassage), mini bar, TV, air conditioning, some of which boast private living rooms, and others private terraces.
Suites and apartments available for groups and families of different sizes. Please call for more information on accommodation options.
Itinerary: 5 Days, 4 Nights
Day 1: Arrival & Check In
- Transfer from Florence airport to the Estate.
- Check in, then take time to relax and settle in.
- Welcome Dinner with local wine is served at the property.
Day 2: Cooking Class
- Breakfast is served.
- Meet in the kitchen for your Cooking Class. Get involved and spend a half-day having fun, learning and tasting in the kitchen. Chef Gaetano supervises and guides you in the creation of a full three-course traditional Tuscan meal. The course is 2 or 3 hours long, after which everyone has lunch together, enjoying the dishes made during class. Toast with a glass of wine, included.
- Relax in the afternoon or explore Chianti on your own. There are a lot of activities available like tennis, pool, archery, badminton, darts, etc. and at extra cost, you can also benefit from the small wellness center with its spa treatments where you can indulge in a variety of massages and a host of unique services including vinotherapy and chocotherapy.
- Dinner included at the property.
Day 3: Palio di Siena
- Breakfast is served.
- Morning free to relax.
- In the afternoon, set out for the Palio di Siena with your driver. It’s not easy to bag a seat for the Palio – but you will have one! Settle in and enjoy the pageants, parades and flag show that take place before the race, then pick a contrada and get ready to cheer as the riders and horses charge round the piazza. And even if your contrada doesn’t win, celebrate along with the winners and soak up the atmosphere of this unique event.
- Return to property.
Day 4: Wine Tour & Tasting
- Breakfast is served.
- In the morning enjoy your Wine Tour and Tasting. Along with your sommelier, you will tour the property’s winery and cellar, then enjoy a tasting of some of the property’s IGT and DOC wines. • In the afternoon, ask about reserving a Wine Therapy Treatment, including imperial bath with wine or explore the area on your own. (Not included.)
- Gourmet dinner at the property, paired wines included.
Day 5: Check out and Arrivederci!
- Breakfast is served.
- Check out and transfer to the Florence airport.
*Note: This schedule may vary due to inclement weather, saint days or festivals. All activities, in the event of rescheduling, are always included during the week.
- 5 days, 4 nights accommodations in Comfort Room, with private bathroom, based on double occupancy.
- Daily Breakfast.
- Exclusive Welcome Dinner, local wine included.
- 1 hands-on cooking class, with lunch or dinner following on the foods prepared in class. A bottle of local wine and a bottle of water included.
- 2 Exclusive seats at the Palio di Siena horse race. Transfers to and from Siena included.
- Wine tour with wine tasting.
- Gourmet dinner with wine pairing.
- Welcome Bag with Chef’s Apron.
- Arrival & Departure transfers from Florence Airport or Train Station.
$2,350 per person, based on double occupancy. Italian VAT included.
If you are a single traveler and would like to join a group, please call us for best single pricing.