Walk in the footsteps of Catherine de Medici in Florence and celebrate the glorious Renaissance ~ an explosion of food, art & culture! This Cooking Vacations program features the best of Florence’s food, art and music in a one-of-a-kind full immersion experience!!!
In 1519, Catherine De Medici was born in Firenze and the Medici Family, a banking dynasty, were commissioning the greatest masters to paint, create and build Florence. With Florence pioneering itself as the center art, culinary trends and cultural traditions, it became the most important city in Europe and the richest in the world. The trends that were made during the Renaissance era are the traditions that are carried on today. Today, the food, wine, art and lifestyle of Florence have remained a must-see for any traveler throughout history.
Join us in Florence and discover the roots of this city which started in the glorious Renaissance era. We’ll stroll through the Piazza della Repubblica and to Santa Croce; visit the School of Florentine leather makers; tour the Sant’Ambrogio Market and cross the Ponte Vecchio, while sipping, shopping, and conversing in the City of Art.
When we are not exploring Florence, we’ll be cooking with Chef Barbara. The day starts off with a visit through her organic garden (weather permitting) growing beautiful fruits and vegetables of the season. Start with a cappuccino or tea and cantucci, Tuscan biscotti, while everyone gets acquainted in Chef’s Barbara’s kitchen set in her home.
Travel with us through the Renaissance era when Italy was blossoming with new ideas, while Catherine de Medici was marrying King Henry II of France and while the Duomo was being constructed. Discover how Catherine introduced her Italian cooking style, chefs and ingredients to the French Court. We will even create one of Catherine’s menus making Florentine crepes and sorbetto.
Discover la vita di tavola, a time of liberation in cooking, art, dress and table art thanks to Queen Catherine. The Queen pioneered new cooking trends and expressed her passion in Italian hospitality with lavish dinner parties, table decorating and brought sorbetto, orange duck and onion soup to the French Court.
Walk in the footsteps Queen Catherine and the de Medici’s from October 14 to 18, 2021.
The Italian Renaissance
The Renaissance intellectual and artistic movement started in the Quattrocento in Italy, and Florence was its birthplace. A magical time with an artistic explosion of new food trends thanks to the sea traders who were coming from the East carrying exotic spices and coffee, as well as velvety and silk fabrics. We can certainly give thanks to Catherine de Medici and other Italian women who turned the page on freedom for their female compatriots. Food, art, music and literature soared during the Renaissance. It was a time of expression that followed the Dark Ages. Italian artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Giorgio Vasari, Raphael Sanzio and Leonardo Da Vinci were dedicating their lives creating works of art such as: the statue of David, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and La Primavera, Giorgio Vasari’s Last Judgement; Titan’s Venus of Urbino; Brunelleschi’s Dome, Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise; and Fra Angelico’s San Marco frescoes.
Florence, Italy ~ Boutique Hotel Accommodations
Glorious Florence – 4 Nights, 5 Days
Check into our boutique hotel in the heart of Florence overlooking the Arno River. Conveniently located with a caffe terrace garden overlooking the city, you are welcomed by the professional staff Signor Massimo and Signora Laura.
Elegant bedrooms with private en suite baths, modern amenities including comfortable beds, security boxes, air conditioner, wifi and TV in the room. Traditional décor is subtly blended with a touch of modern color in larger size rooms for your stay. A professional concierge is at your service, daily breakfast is included with Wi-Fi too. Step out your hotel and onto the Arno River and find everything from designer shops, artisan boutiques, bookstores, restaurants, and of course, the Uffizi, Accademia and all Florentine museums and landmarks that Florence has to offer.
Florentine Food Experience
A traditional Chef’s Welcome dinner with Tuscan wine starts of our first evening in Florence! Enjoy antipasti, pasta, a main course and dessert at our favorite trattoria. Our week will include, a Food Lover’s Walk lead by Luca our English-speaking guide introducing you to the grand piazzas, quarters the Sant’Ambrogio market.
At the market, we’ll tour and learn about local products from the farmers and venders along with how to select the freshest produce. Endless rows of fruits, vegetables, kiosks with artisan cheese, Tuscan wine and salumi, bread and sweets – there’s even Vin Santo – the blessed wine of the region. During the week, we’ll also prepare a delicious Tuscan lunch in hands-on cooking classes. Learn cooking techniques while making Florentine favorites and even Renaissance recipes too. Taste your way through the City of Art, while discovering, sampling and visiting historic shops and landmarks with us.
Florence Visits and Excursions
In Florence you will discover the amazing Galleria degli Uffizi through a private tour guided by Luca. In your free time, we suggest that you visit Palazzo Vecchio, Pitti Palazzo, Villa Castello (today known as the premises of the Accademia della Crusca – literary academy established in Florence in the 16th century to preserve the Italian language).
Discover the Oltrarno – the Left Bank of the Arno River– home to food artisans, leather craftsmen and Tuscan wine shops and artists.
Day 1 – Welcome to Renaissance Florence!
- Group transfer from Florence airport to your hotel. Check in.
- Welcome aperitivo. Meet the guests in our group and review the week’s itinerary and answer questions.
- Chef’s Tasting dinner featuring antipasto, fresh pasta and sauce, a main course, dessert with a toast of local red or white wine included.
Day 2 – Food Lover & Market Tour with Tastings
- Breakfast. Following breakfast, we meet Luca for our Food Lover’s Tour of Florence while making our way to the Sant’ Ambrogio market and indulging in the rich history and culture of the city. Luca’s interest in Slow Food and local culinary traditions, along with his passion for art history makes him the perfect food and history guide for our tour. This tour leads us to the Sant’Ambrogio. We’ll visit the food marke, and learn about the traditional and seasonal produce, while learning what to look for when buying and tips on what to cook in season. We will visit the purveyors of local products, sample their products, and learn how to shop like a local. We’ll taste artisan cheese, salumi and sip wine while strolling through the stalls of this ancient market. Following the market tour, everyone takes time out to purchase cheese, wine and products.
- Late afternoon, take time out on your own to shop or sip a vino or cappuccino in the piazza.
- Later in the evening, enjoy dinner at our any of our favorite suggested trattorias. Dinner not included.
Day 3 – Cooking Class & Secret Addresses Walking Tour
- Breakfast. Following breakfast, we will tie on your apron and get cooking with Chef Barbara! Get ready to prepare a Renaissance menu including antipasto, pasta and main course. During the cooking class, you’ll learn techniques and cooking tips from Chef Barbara while also soaking up food notes on the history of Florentine cuisine. Following the cooking class, everyone enjoys the foods that were prepared in the cooking class. Delicious wine is included. Dessert and caffe follow.
- Later in the afternoon, meet your English-speaking guide for a tour along a Secret Addresses Walking Tour along the Oltrarno. We’ll stroll along cobblestone paths to our favorite Renaissance boutiques where the art of paper and leather making is displayed and made available for purchase. We’ll also visit Florence’s famous perfume shop filled with soaps, creams, perfumes and more; made with recipes of dating back to the 1600’s made by the monks.
- Following our tour, take time to wonder through the quarter of Saint Stefano – visiting the church and its courtyard or slip into a cozy caffè and soak up the Florentine culture.
- Dinner is on your own. Cooking Vacations provides suggestions to our favorite local restaurants.
- Prosecco aperitivo at Florence’s best wine bar with Florentine snacks included.
Day 4 – Bobli Gardens & Uffizi Tour
- Breakfast. Following breakfast, we’ll visit Giardino di Boboli, the Boboli Gardens an historical garden which opened to the public in 1766. Originally designed for the Medici Family, this garden is the first and most important of its kind that was and still is today, an Italian Garden. The large green area is a an open-air museum with beautiful statues of various styles and periods, ancient and Renaissance. There are fountains and grottos, among them the splendid Buontalenti grotto built by the artist, architect and sculptor Bernado Buontalenti between 1536 and 1608. The garden offers a carefully curated rose garden along with Mediterranean citrus trees.
- At 3pm, we meet Luca at the Piazza Della Signoria in front of the statue of David. He will take us on private guided tour of the Galleria Degli Uffizi. This is one of the most important Italian museums and one of the largest and best known in the world, holding a collection of priceless works from the Italian Renaissance. Galleria Degli Uffizi tour with museum tickets included.
- Chef’s Tasting Dinner with a toast of local red or white wine to say arriverderci, until the next time.
Day 5 – Arriverderci Florence – Until Next Time!!!
- Breakfast served. Group transfer to Florence Train Station or Airport. Ciao – a presto!
- Group transfers to and from Florence airport or Train Station.
- 4-nights and 5 days in boutique hotel accommodation on the Arno River.
- Daily breakfast and maid service included.
- 1 Welcome Dinner featuring a Chef’s Tasting Menu with local red or white wine included.
- 1 hands-on cooking class preparing an antipasto, fresh pasta, main course and dessert with wine included.
- Food Lover’s Walk and Market Tour with English-speaking guide. Tastings included.
- Guided visit to the Galleria degli Uffizi with English-speaking guide, museum tickets included.
- Secret Address Walking Tour with English-speaking guide. Aperitivo and Tuscan
- Visit to the Bobli Garden, museum ticket included.
- Prosecco apertivo at Florence’s most famous caffe.
- 1 Farewell Dinner featuring a Chef’s Tasting Menu with local red or white wine included.
- Welcome Bag with Chef’s apron and Prosecco toast.
$2,095 per person per person, based on 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 our already scheduled group.