Join us in Florence for our special women-only program in the birthplace of the Renaissance hosted by Chef and food lover Lorena and Florentine art historian guide, Luca. The exclusive Renaissance Women program is perfect for women wanting to join a small group and meet new friends, or mothers, daughters, grandmothers, or girlfriends getting together for a fun and educational cooking experience in Florence, while learning about the birthplace of the Renaissance Italy.
The cooking classes bring you into the Florentine kitchen with Chef Lorena. Step into her kitchen and learn how to create authentic Florentine foods and Italian classics, while participating in hands-on cooking and discovering new techniques for each recipe. Each guest will prepare antipasto, pasta and sauces, fish, meat dish, and delicious desserts. Chef Lorena will lead you through each step using only fresh in-season organic vegetables that she buys daily at the nearby Sant’Ambrogio Market. A market tour to the famous Sant’Ambrogio Market with the Chef is included, as is Lorena’s special Florentine Secret Addresses Tour where Chef Lorena leads you through her favorite places in Florence which will have you experience the city like a local.
This all women’s cooking program shares the experience of Renaissance Florence and its food, art and landmarks.
Food & Romance In Renaissance Florence
Food, art and romance overflows in Florence where ancient cobblestone streets are lined with caffès and trattorias that spill out onto piazzas. There are artisan makers of Renaissance paper, old world books, leather goods, wine, lines, and Florentine food.
Florence is home to two important museums, both the Uffizi & Accademia which include an expansive collections of Renaissance art from Florentine greats such as Leonardo DaVinci (Adoration of the Magi), Michelangelo (Davide), Botticelli (Primavera) and Giorgio Vasari (the Vasari Corridor).
Meet Luca your Florentine guide and expert on art and all things Florence! Luca not only knows the history of the local art, but he knows the best places to eat and drink Tuscan wine. Learn about the first Etruscans who founded Florence, perhaps as early as 1000BC, the Medici Family, the Renaissance Art that followed, and how Florence evolved into being the art capital of Italy. Our English-speaking guide will lead the way while sharing his knowledge on everything Florence!!!
The Renaissance was a time of rebirth and new discoveries in food, art and culture. The era spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century and it all began in Florence. During our all-women’s culinary week, you will hear about great women like Catherine Medici, who shaped Italy at this time. Daughter of Lorenzo de Medici, she was called the Italian grocer. She married Henry of Orléans in 1533, and moved to France taking her Florentine cooks and Italian cooking style with her. The Queen’s recipe book included, cinestra, a broth made with Marsala, beaten eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar and carabaccia, onion soup.
Step in the footsteps of the great personalities who were attracted to Florence, from Leonardo DaVinci to Catherine de Medici. There was also 19th century writer, Stendhal, who loved Florence so much he suffered from withdrawal when he was away. His words rang out with, “Florence and its art causes me to have rapid heartbeat, dizziness and even fainting.” A great travel read by Stendhal is Naples and Florence: A Journey From Milan to Reggio.
Florence ~ Shop With The Chef
Join Chef Lorena as she starts the morning with an early morning visit to the Sant’ Ambrogio Market located in the ancient neighborhood of Camaldoli. Artisan vendors display their seasonal goods – fresh, local and piled high. It is a colorful scene as vendors shout out their specials of the day, and Florentines negotiate the best product and price. Our market tour takes you through the Sant’Ambrogio market under the wings of Chef Lorena and introduces you to the foods of the region. From artisan bread and cheese, to fruits and vegetables, fish and meats, to salumi and sweet baked goods, the market is an authentic place to purchase foods for all tastes. Look for the cavolo nero, Tuscan black cabbage, grown in this region and only in season. Some of the fresh ingredients are bought for the cooking class and used are as an informal tasting before one of the cooking classes. Return to the kitchen and get cooking.
Florence Cooking Classes
In your hands-on cooking classes you will learn to prepare antipasto, pasta, risotto, main courses and desserts under the guidance of Chef Lorena. She learned to cook by watching her grandmother make biscotti and tagliatelle for Sunday lunch. Her passion started when she was a child and continued as she says, “it was always in my heart and soul.”
You will learn from start-to-finish how to make Florentine bread including,-coccoli con prosciutto, schiacciata all’olio, and bruschette. There is fresh pasta, such as crespelle alla fiorentina, tagliatelle ai fungi porcini, and ravioli di ricotta. Also learn to make a great Tuscan pappa al pomodoro or Panzanella. Main courses or secondi, include,-pollo in fricassea, scamerita col cavolo nero, and polpette della nonna. Desserts include,- torta di mele, cantucci, and tiramisù al vinsanto to name a few. Following the seasons, recipes vary.
Everyone joins around the table and enjoys the foods that were made in class following. Local wine, dessert and great conversation always included. Chef, food lover, and member of a professional choir at the School of Music in Fiesole, there is always music in Lorena’s kitchen!
You will be cooking up some of the regions most treasured traditional recipes! She welcomes each and every guest into her kitchen, while sharing the secret addresses of Florence for food, wine, artisan products and local produce. This exclusive Food & Romance cooking tour for women only will have you cooking, learning, and touring – the perfect trip for real foodies!
A Note On Florentine Food & Wine
Tuscan food is simple, delicious and from the land offering thick hearty soups, antipasti, salumi and artisan cheese, wholesome pastas topped with sauces, truffle and porcini when in season, and meat sauce. Beans are also a staple in the Tuscan diet, as is the famous Florentine meat, roasted, grilled, fried, braised and always with wine, most often Chianti or Sangiovese. Bread is a staple as well, there are many; always made without salt respecting the anti salt tax laws that once existed. Florentine’s love their dolce be it biscotti, cantucci, crostata or torte made with golden apples, roasted chestnuts, and tarts made with pears. And not to forget gelato, whatever the season, gelato is available in all the 4 season, and flavors include pumpkin, rose petal, summer fruits and winter blends of caffè, caramel and chocolate.
Buon Appetito~Antipasto, Primo, Secondo & Dolce!
Start off with Tuscan bruschetta, a trilogy of three Tuscan breads served with first cold pressed extra olive oils dusted with sea salt and herbs, or white beans & olive oil, and always the Tuscan black olives and fennel. Then for the adventurous at heart, try the classical, toasted bread and fegato, sautéed livers and onion.
Florentine pastas such as gnudi, little pasta dumplings made with ricotta (in Renaissance dialect, ignudi literally meant naked) or pici, thick wholesome strands of hand-rolled pasta served in a zesty garlic sauce, and the classics, tagliatelle, ravioli and tortelli served with vegetable or meat sauces! Coniglio in umido, vitello and bistecca Fiorentina. Dessert include: Tuscan cantucci dipped in Vin Santo, frittelle di pere bosco, pears dipped in Vin Santo and baked and torte di mela, gapple cake served with gelato.
Florence Accommodations – Select from 3, 4 or 5 Star
3 Star – Renaissance, Stylish & Historical
In the very heart of Florence is our boutique-style B&B set in a Renaissance palazzo and overlooking the River Arno. Comfortable, cozy and adorned with all the modern amenities, the historical property offers a spacious terrace caffè, a kind professional staff and a beautiful location. The property is centrally located and just a short walk from the Museum Uffizi and shops, restaurants and artisan shops. Step into newly renovated rooms, complete with Italian linens, comfortable bedding and large windows, ensuite private baths in every room with showers, hairdryers, and air conditioning. An elegant Renaissance breakfast room serving farm fresh eggs, artisan breads and cakes and jams, cheese, salumi and ham, assorted fruits and cereals, yogurt, cereals, Nutella and tea, coffee, espresso and cappuccino. Dine outside on the terrace, where permitting, or sip an afternoon wine. The terrace overlooks the River Arno.
4 Star – Sophisticated, Elegant & Stylish
Our 4 star property is set in the heart of Florence overlooking the Arno River. Elegant and luxurious is the vibe. Stylish comfortable bedding, Italian linens, ensuite private tiled bathrooms, Italian design furniture, drapery and sophisticated décor dominated by warm tones of wood and bronze set the mood in every room. Amenities include fluffy terrycloth towels, slippers and bathrobes of the utmost quality. Additional amenities include air-conditioning and heating, feather or hypoallergenic pillows upon request and wifi. A Florentine bar and bistro accented with comfortable armchairs and tables is open daily for your convenience. The bistro and bar serve wine, Prosecco and cocktails along with light bites of antipasto, pasta, pizza, sandwiches and soups made by the chef using high-quality Tuscan products. Daily breakfast is included featuring Tuscan farm fresh eggs, artisan breads and cakes and jams, cheese, salumi and ham, assorted fruits, yogurt, cereals, Nutella along with tea, coffee, espresso and cappuccino. A kind professional staff is at your service for your every request. Superior rooms offer balconies and spectacular views overlooking the Arno River and the roof tops of Florence.
5 star options, available upon request.
When you’re not cooking, stroll round Florence’s cobblestone streets and pedestrian walkways to discover the city’s famous goldsmiths, jewelers and leather artisans. Cross the ancient Ponte Vecchio and visit the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. The beauty of Renaissance Florence will surely inspire you to add a little Renaissance magic to your own life as well. The Medieval City of Florence, home to Brunelleschi’s Duomo, is hailed the most romantic city in Italy. We will provide you with our hot pick list of where to eat, shop and visit!
Itinerary ~ 5 Nights, 6 Days
Monday: Arrival & Chef’s Tasting Dinner
- Arrival and check in.
- Introduction to your Renaissance Women’s culinary program, and a welcome aperitivo.
- Chef’s Tasting Dinner with the Chef’s Tasting Menu at our favorite Ristorante, including classics such as crostini, bruschette, a classical antipasto; tagliatelle and porcini or gnudi, as your primo. Secondo includes, tempting Tuscan beef-fillet with arugola and Parmigiano or the classic bistecca alla Fiorentina.
- Fish or vegetarian menus are also available. Desserts are delicious and include sweet Tuscan torta mela or cantucci and Vin Santo.
Tuesday: Market Tour & Cooking Class 1
- Breakfast is served.
- Market Tour. Chef Lorena takes you to the Sant’ Ambrogio Market. Make your way through the tiny streets and you soon arrive to the famous marketplace where you will learn about the local foods in season. As you make your way through the heart of the Sant’ Ambrogio Market, experience the scents, sounds and sights of venders selling their produce and products.
- Next, head into the kitchen for cooking class 1.
- Lunch follows on the foods prepared that were prepared in class. Wine, water and café included.
- Afternoon free and dinner on your own.
Wednesday: Cooking Class 2 & Uffizi Museum Tour
- Breakfast is served.
- Meet Chef Lorena for cooking class 2.
- Lunch follows with the foods prepared in class, wine & beverages included.
- Afternoon: Uffizi Museum Tour with our professional English-speaking guide. Spend the morning at the Uffizi Gallery and see the Masterpieces of Botticelli, Da Vinci and Caravaggio. Giovanni Botticelli’s, Birth Of Venus & Primavera depict Renaissance art at its best. Visit the drawings by the female Renaissance artist Plautilla Nelli (1523 – 1588) with her works, Head Of A Woman and Kneeling Woman. The half-day excursion is with our private guide and reserved museum entrance and tickets included.
- Dinner is on your own. Cooking Vacations offers suggestions to their favorites.
Thursday: Florentine Secret Addresses Tour
- Breakfast is served.
- Morning: Florentine Secret Addresses Tour. Our English-speaking guide leads you through Florence along the city’s cobblestones streets for a window shopping experience to the most exclusive artisan shops in the historical center. This personalized tour has you experience Florence like a local while you meet local artisans who share their craft. Along the way, stop for caffè and dolce, sweet, wine or gelato.
- Lunch is free and on your own.
- Afternoon is free to explore Florence on your own or visit the Galleria dell’Accademia and Florence’s most popular tourist attraction – Michelangelo’s Davide. Other important works by the genius of the Renaissance are housed within the Accademia as well.
- Suggestion, visit the Santa Croce area for afternoon shopping and a caffé at one of the many chic spots in the neighborhood.
Friday: Boboli Gardens & Renaissance Women Discussion
- Breakfast is served.
- Meet your English-speaking guide for a Renaissance Women’s Tour at the Boboli and Bardini Gardens. An informal discussion on the achievements of important Renaissance women as you tour the Gardens.
- The Gardens, a true example of late Renaissance art, were laid out for Eleonora di Toledo (the wife of Cosimo I dé Medici) one year after the Medici Family purchased the palace. These romantic Garden, with art, and perfect shapes and symmetry, is an example of the Renaissance.
- Lunch is on your own, suggestions included.
- Afternoon free. Suggestion: Visit the San Marco Museum or the Church of Santa Maria Novella where you can see some further works of Plautilla Nelli – ‘The Lamentation with Saints’ housed in the Refectory of San Marco Museum, or the ‘Last Supper,’ housed in the Refectory of Santa Maria Novella. For a glimpse into the history of female fashion, visit the Costume Gallery of Pitti Palace to admire unique examples of Renaissance female attire.
- Breakfast is served.
- Check out and say goodbye-until next time.
- Ciao e Arrivederci!
*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 program.
- 6 Days, 5 Nights in classic room, based on 2 guests.
- Daily breakfast and maid service.
- 2 hands-on cooking classes followed by lunch or dinner on the foods prepared in class. Wine and beverages included.
- 1 Florentine Secret Addresses Tour with English-speaking guide, coffee, wine or gelato included.
- Chef’s Tasting Dinner with Tasting Menu at local restaurant, antipasto, primo-pasta, main course and dessert. Wine and beverages not included.
- Welcome aperitivo and introduction.
- Sant’ Ambrogio Market Tour, with guide along with discussion and tastings.
- Museum Tour of the Uffizi Gallery, including 3-hour tour with private professional guide & reserved entrance to the museum with museum tickets included.
- Renaissance Women’s Tour at the Boboli Gardens and Bardini Gardens with museum tickets included.
- Round trip transfers to and from Florence Airport or Train Station.
- Cooking Vacations’ welcome bag, Chef’s apron and handmade journal for travel writings.
$ 2,795 per person, based on 2 guests in a 3-star deluxe property.
$3,695 per person, based on 2 guests in a 4-star deluxe property.
Prices starting at – based on room category.
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. Prices may apply during fair dates.
*An Italian visitor tax may apply in some cities and must be paid directly on site at check out.
2023 Dates: This program is available throughout the year. You can check in and start your cooking program any day of the week. Rates are subject to change based on currency exchange. Call for updated rates. Airfare not included. Group transfers for any cooking tour or tours that include transfers, are for the group and are not private. Transfers before, after or to another destination outside of your cooking tour are not included in the program price. If you would like to add on a private transfer or transfers, let us know and we will send you pricing.
Add-on additional nights with cooking, painting or Italian classes!