Join Terenzio, Chefs Mara, Maria & Ili and Nicola, sommelier, in the Food & Wine In The Land Of Siena cooking tour, while touring Valdorcia, Pienza, Montalcino, San Gimignano, and Montepulciano; tasting the Brunello wines of the region, and cooking local cuisine in hands-on cooking classes!
The Food & Wine In The Land Of Siena immerses you into the local lifestyle. Cook, tour and make new friends in dreamy Tuscany. Nicola, a coveted member of the ONAV (National Organization of Wine Tasters), AIS (Italian Association of Sommeliers) and Society of Wine Educators, takes you through a culinary tour of guided tastings while touring the countryside of Tuscany.
The Tuscan Villa offers an exciting Tuscan culinary experience set on the hillside of Montepulciano. Throughout time, Tuscany has been known for its diverse cuisine and now you can learn the secrets of Tuscan cooking in an intimate and authentic setting.
Classes are held a professional kitchen with Chef Mara, Marie & Ili in Montepulciano at The Villa. The Villa is a beautiful farmhouse that was built in the 17th century and has recently been restored. The renovations kept the original character and transformed the farmhouse into a five-star luxury accommodation. Each suite is decorated with exquisite antiques, maintaining the traditional feel of old-world charm in the heart of Tuscany
Chef Maria’s Tuscan Cooking Class Menus
Regional appetizers are endless and will include: crostini toscani, assorted bruschetta appetizers made with unsalted Tuscan bread slices seasoned with fresh tomatoes and herbs, or fegatini, regional cold cuts including capocollo, prosciutto, pancetta and lardo di colonnata.
Chefs Mara and Maria will guide you to making homemade fresh pasta with different types of seasonings such as pici all’aglione. Chefs Mara and Mara and Maria will never let you go without teaching you how to prepare homemade fresh pasta, and there is nothing more traditional than pici. Pici is a traditional Tuscan favorite-like spaghetti- but longer and thicker and twisted into neat little coils before drying. When the pasta is cooked, it separates into individual strands. Aglione is the typical roasted garlic and fresh tomato seasoning used on pici. You may prepare the world-famous ribollita Toscana, a traditional soup made with day-old unsalted Tuscan bread and fresh vegetables cooked in a big clay pot. Ribollita, meaning re-boiled, gets its name because the dish is always re-boiled before being served the first time, and is often saved for the next day and boiled again.
Secondo, or second courses follow, and in “Tuscany means meat!” The Villa is located in the heart of Montepulciano, which lies between two valleys famous for bistecca fiorentina, a unique Tuscan meat. Bistecca fiorentina is a big steak, similar to the American T-bone, which comes from a unique white cow, chianina, which lives only in Val di Chiana, Tuscany. Tuscany is also a land of hunters, so we will suggest different dishes of game such as cinghiale (wild boar), piccione (pigeon) and anatra (duck). The scottiglia is a traditional main course of southern Tuscany which includes rabbit, chicken, veal, pork, pigeon, lamb and turkey. Of course there is always chicken, but Chef Mara and Maria’s pollo con olive is delicious. The chicken is sautéed with local olives of Grosetto (olives that are cured in brine and marinated with grated orange zest, fennel and a little garlic) for a unique Tuscan flavor.
Chef Mara and Maria’s desserts are seasonal including Tuscan traditional cakes and biscotti like the world famous tiramisu and cantucci (hard biscotti, traditionally dipped in Vin Santo, a unique dessert made in Tuscany). Another time-honored cake is the stracciata alla fiorentina, a sweet pizza made for the religious feast of Carnivale. The traditional pannello con l’uva is a sweet bread made with fresh grapes and usually served during the time of the harvest. All of the recipes are just a sample of what Chef Mara and Maria are cooking! Please join us in Tuscany for an emotional and delicious new experience – with recipes that you can recreate at home in your own kitchen!
The Villa is a beautiful farmhouse that was built in the 17th century and has recently been restored. The renovations, while keeping the original character, transformed the farmhouse into a five-star luxury accommodation. Each suite is decorated with exquisite antiques, maintaining the traditional feel of old-world charm in the heart of Tuscany.
The Villa is privately by Terenzio and after several years in the hospitality industry and wine making business, he created exclusive programs with Lauren at Cooking Vacations. Lauren’s long-term friendship with Nicola ripened the idea for hands-on cooking classes that explore the regional cuisine of Tuscany while staying at the gorgeous Villa. The property is surrounded with the family’s vineyards, vegetable gardens, Tuscan sunflowers and a private swimming pool. The ancient town of Montepulciano can be seen in the distance.
Each suite has been named after the eight districts of Montepulciano, created by the City Stature in 1337. They are San Donato, Voltaia, Poggiolo, Talosa and Gracciamo. All of the bedrooms have been furnished with great attention to functionality and elegance. Interior decorators have carefully selected the colors, paired the cloths and blended the various antique pieces with simple Tuscan handicrafts. The rooms are magical and each one has a private bathroom. In the three suites, guests can enjoy a tonic Jacuzzi sipping a glass of the best Spumante Classico. All the rooms are equipped with TV, refrigerator and telephone.
The Villa estate boasts a well-furnished wine cellar where you will discover the thousands of flavors in the Italian oenology, including the property’s own production. The underground wine cellar in the farmhouse, which keeps it well protected from light, vibrations and changes of temperature, guarantees that the selection of wines are kept in perfect condition. Raise your glass and toast with a great Tuscan wine!
Tuscany is noted for its Chianti Classico, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the Brunello di Montalcino and the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The villa’s wine cellar offers the following: Barolo – Porta Rossa, Chianti Classico – Borgo Pretale, Pinot Grigio – Gaierhof, Prosecco – Banear, Amarone – Corte Vecchia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi – Bonci and Vernaccia di San Gimignano – Signano.
The cooking classes and dinners are available exclusively to the guests, in order to maintain the prestige and unique atmosphere of The Villa. Cooking classes are kept to small groups with a minimum of four people and a maximum of eight. The cooking classes start at 5 pm and last approximately three hours. During the class, Chef Mara & Maria guide you in the kitchen creating a full menu from appetizer to dessert, starting each course from scratch and using only local seasonal products. The menu changes daily according the season and local ingredients. At the end of each class, everyone enjoys the foods that were made in class together at the table. Local table wine is included.
Hundreds of years of war and battle, from the Roman times through the Middle Ages and the two World Wars, have taught Tuscans how to use food in the most creative and effective way. Tuscans developed a cuisine based on the quality of the ingredients. Under the guidance of Chefs Maria & Luca, participants will learn the secrets, history and culinary traditions of Tuscany’s cuisine with three diverse menus.
Tuscany has also been the cradle of the arts in Italy throughout time, and the villa’s location makes it a short distance to the nearby towns of Montepulciano, the jewel of artistic and architectural treasures, properly called the “Jewel of the Renaissance.” Pienza, an achievement of a dream of Pope Pio II Piccolomini; Chiusi, a most important and powerful Etruscan town, which now has an open-air museum where you can visit the tombs and the museum of the first inhabitants of Italy. Also nearby is Montalcino, with its great Fortress and home to the world famous Brunello di Montalcino~ a must see. Also not to be missed is Orvieto, Perugia, Assisi, Gubbio, Arezzo, Cortona, Siena, San Gimignano and Firenze.
Itinerary: 7 days, 6 nights
Sunday: Arrival & Dinner In Montepulciano
- Pick up at the Chiusi-Chianciano train station.
- Arrival to Ortaglia, check-in, relax.
- 7pm Welcome aperitivo drink by the pool.
- 8pm Dinner In Montepulciano included with one bottle of local wine for every 2 people.
Monday: Visit Montepulciano & Cooking Class 1
- Breakfast is served.
- 10am Visit of Montepulciano: Terenzio, will take you to Montepulciano so you can discover the history and beauty of the town such as the Piazza Grande, the City Hall, the Cathedral, the Cantina del Redi and the hundreds of lovely little roads.
- Lunch on your own.
- Return to Ortaglia with Terenzio.
- In the afternoon, tie on your apron for Cooking Class 1, featuring Maria’s seasonal specialties from appetizer to dessert.
- Dinner follows on the foods prepared in class, along with local wines.
Tuesday: Tour Valdorcia & Dinner In Montepulciano
- Breakfast is served.
- Set out in the morning for a full day Tour of the Valdorcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Tuscan Countryside:
- Terenzio will drive you to visit Pienza, the town of the Pope Pius II. You will continue on to San Quirico d’Orcia, a little town with 12th century walls and a beautiful Romanesque-Gothic “Collegiata Church;” and Montalcino, the hillside town with enclosed walls and fortress from the 13th century, internationally known for its Brunello wine and masterpiece of the magic Toscana, “Abazzia di Sant’Antimo,” which has preserved its solitude in the depths of a delightful landscape with olive and cypress trees. You continue on to Monte Amiata, the tallest mountain volcano in Tuscany (5.650 ft) with its lower slopes covered with lush grass, cypress, vineyards and olive trees; and Bagno Vignoni, the oldest hot spring famous since Roman times. From the springs you can see the ruins of the Spa-for the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. You will visit Parco Naturale di Lucciolabella, with the most famous country road of Tuscany; and Monticchiello, the medieval village from where you can enjoy a superb view of Val d’Orcia.
- Lunch is included in a wine cellar with the world famous Brunello di Montalcino. Tastings and informal discussion to follow.
- Return to Ortaglia in the late afternoon and relax.
- Dinner included one bottle of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano for every 2 people.
Wednesday: Cooking Class 2, Wine Tasting & Spa Massage
- In the morning, Cooking Class 2 with Chef Massimo & Luca. He and his staff will teach you to make Tuscan-style fresh pasta, ravioli, and gnocchi. After the class, take a stroll through the Montepulciano, do some shopping or take in an aperitivo at one of the outdoor cafes. Lunch on your own.
- 12pm Terenzio will meet you at the Crociani Wine Cellar for a tasting of Montepulciano wines.
- Back to Ortaglia to for a light lunch.
- In the afternoon, transfer to the Terme di Montepulciano for a Body Relax Massage.
- Return to Montepulciano for dinner including the delicious pasta you made in class, with other wonderful foods prepared in class, and one bottle of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano for every 2 people.
Thursday: Visit to the Crete Senesi & Siena
- Breakfast is served.
- Excursion through the Crete Senesi (the clay hills of Siena) and on to Siena. Visit the town and its historic center at you leisure.
- Lunch on your own in Siena.
- Return to Ortaglia with your driver.
- Dinner included with one bottle of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano for every 2 people.
Friday: Tour to Cortona, Lake Trasimeno & Cooking Class 3
- Breakfast is served.
- Following breakfast, Terenzio will drive you to Cortona, the pretty town made famous by Frances Mayes, author of “Under The Tuscan Sun. Then visit Castiglione del Lago on the Trasimeno Lake.
- Lunch at a local Trattoria.
- Return to the Villa in the afternoon for your Cooking Class 3 with Chef Maria.
- Dinner follows and dine on the foods prepared in class.
- Check-out and transfer to Chiusi train station.
*This schedule may vary due to weather, feast days, market days, openings and closings of vineyards, etc. If you happen to have a specific private activity in mind, please let us know so we can check your final itinerary.
- 7 days, 6 nights accommodations, based on double occupancy. Click To View!
- Daily breakfast.
- Transportation to and from the Chiusi-Chianciano train station
- Welcome aperitivo drink.
- 3 cooking classes followed by dinner.
- Three dinners at prestigious local restaurants, including a bottle of wine for 2 and transportation to and from.
- Wine tasting at the Crociani Wine Cellar in Montepulciano.
- Light lunch at Ortaglia.
- A full day guided tour of Valdorcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with full lunch in a local Trattoria, wine included, and visit to the winemaker in Montalcino.
- Tour of the Crete Senesi & Siena.
- Visit of the beautiful town of Cortona, made famous by the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”, and lunch in a local Tattoria of Castiglione del Lago, a peninsula on the Lake Trasimeno.
- Body massage at the Terme di Montepulciano, including transportation.
- Transportation to the dinners, to the self guided Tour of Montepulciano and to all the guided Tours.
- Welcome Bag with Chef’s Apron.
$3,495 per person, based on double occupancy in Deluxe Double room.
$300 per person, supplement for Junior Suite.
$400 per person, supplement for Superior Suite.
$4,295 per person, based on single occupancy in Deluxe Double room.
All taxes and Italian VAT included.
2019 Dates: This program is available throughout the year. Check-in is on Sunday, but other days may be available on request. 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.
This program is designed for those travelers who do not want to drive, and includes all transfers and excursions listed.