Set in the Acciaioli Hills on Florence’s southern side is the Villa Florentine with Chef Luciana. A Baroque door let’s you into the courtyard where you will step back into time. Nestled in the Imperial Hills of Florence’s south side, this magnificent property, built in 1470, offers a close proximity to the city and the beautiful peace of the Tuscan countryside.
Set among tall Tuscan cypresses that line its private roadway, and surrounded by its prestigious gardens, the Villa is an extraordinary place for your culinary program. And culinary it is with Chef Luciana. Learn the traditions of Florentine cuisine in a Slow Cooking™ week that is steeped in centuries-old recipes. Cooking classes take place in a great working kitchen that also includes a wood-burning bread & pizza oven. During your hands-on cooking class, you will make antipasti, pasta and desserts and learn about the property’s award-winning wine and olive oil. The property follows the rule for using fresh, local and organic product from their large gardens and practices the Slow Food movement for cooking.
When you are not in the kitchen stroll the vineyards, olive groves and private gardens or take a dip in the swimming pool that overlooks the Certosa Monastery.
The luxurious villa, once home to a noble Florentine family, is set in a an Italian garden surrounded by pomegranate and tall cypress trees and beautiful Renaissance statues. There is a sitting area with Tuscan décor and frescos and dining room where you can enjoy breakfast each day. Each suite inside the villa is large and furnished with Florentine antiques, art and original masterpieces that tell the story of its romantic past. Pastel frescoes decorate the walls and Florentine cotto tiles line the floors. Large windows swing onto rolling vineyards and olive trees. Each suite offers modern bathrooms with hair dryers, plush bathrobes and slippers. Other amenities and services include: air-conditioning, wifi and daily breakfast in the dining room and maid service. Walk the grounds, visit the amphitheater or relax by the outdoor swimming pool, complete with deckchairs and towel services. The swimming pool is open from April 1 to October 31.
During your stay visit the Monastery of Certosa set in the hills. This ancient Monastery continues in tradition where monks make wine and jams with recipes of the ancient past. Visit the Church of San Lorenzo, patron Saint of Chefs & Cooks, for a best-kept secret view of frescos and architecture from the 11th century. Siena and San Gimignano are great day escapes where you can visit landmarks, churches and food shops filled with local specialties like Panforte, the sweet spicy cake made at Christmastime in Siena and Cantucci & Vin Santo.
Your hosts Signor Rodolfo, Signora Lucia and the staff, welcome you for an extra ordinary cooking experience at the Florentine Villa.
Chef Luciana’s lessons are hands-on, teaching you the wonderfully simple flavors of Florentine cooking, noted as the most hearty & wholesome in Italy. Vegetables, fish and especially meat play a major role in Tuscan cuisine, complimented by the property’s organic wine and olive oil. The ingredients that you will use are seasonal and regional. white beans, asparagus, truffles, mushrooms, tomatoes, spelt, artichokes, and Florentine steaks are staple ingredients that are always on Luciana’s table.
During the program, prior to a cooking class, visit a Florentine marketplace, in the foothills. Watch vendors converse with locals over the freshest eggs, the crispiest bread, or firmest cheese, as visiting this open market is definitely a true cultural experience in Florentine living. You will hear the vendors and the customers laughing, shouting out their wares, and negotiating prices. The colorful marketplace is a staple in Italian culture and lifestyle.
Tuscan Bread Making
Learn to mix, knead and make Tuscan breads in the ancient wood-burning brick oven under the direction of Chef Luciana. While all of Italy salts their bread, the Tuscans do not; and this bread making practice dates back to the 12th century when the gents from Pisa boycotted the salt trade to hurt the Florentines who were, at that time, their enemies. The price of salt had risen so high that it became too expensive for the working class people to buy, so salt was left off the table. Tuscan bread to date remains unsalted and in doing so pairs well with the local cuisine, with crostini-salted salumi on toasted bread, along with aged cheese, and also used as a base with traditional soups such as minestra di pane and rebollita.
The list of Tuscan bread runs long, but a few favorites are Covaccino, Doucesses, Pane Integrale, Procorn E Panda, Cazzottini, and Focaccia. After a day at the oven you will be baking bread like a true Tuscan.
Set in the olive groves and vineyards of Chianti is Siena. You can see its unique bell towers from miles, while its Piazza del Campo is regarded as one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe. There is also the Duomo, a great example of Italian Romanesque architecture that was originally intended to be the grandest cathedral in existence (before funds ran out!), and Palazzo Pubblico houses Ambrogio Lorenzetti frescos. However, just a few steps away from the main square, a tangle of narrow, winding side streets and steps temp strollers into every hidden angle of the town, past pretty squares, bars and restaurants and theatres. Specialty food shops are dotted over the town offering everything from faro, spelt, and beans to tiny local chickpeas and almond and spice sweetmeats. Be a spectator and pull up to a café table at the Piazza del Campo for a creamy gelato or steamy cappuccino. Famous for the Palio, a historical horse race held every July in the main piazza, Siena is a magnificent city.
San Gimignano is a medieval city perched on a hillside in the Tuscan country. It is renowned for being the town of towers, with only 14 still standing of the original 72 towers that once stood in the times when wealthy families tried to outdo each other by building impressive towers. A stroll round the main piazza and its shops is a must, and there is no end of things that will catch your eye: hand-painted pottery, thick, carved olive wood chopping boards, art galleries, a selection of local wines, olive oil, the area’s famous salamis made with fennel seeds and deep red Prosciutto. Cozy trattorias offer stunning views of the red roofs of the city.
Tuscan Hills & The Carthusian Monks
During your free time explore the hills of Tuscany that lead to La Certosa! Whether you bike or drive, it is worth the trip. The La Certosa is a Carthusian monastery positioned in the Acciaioli Hills and just minutes from the Villa. The monastery was one of the most influential of its kind in Europe with approximately one hundred monks that worked diligently turning it into one of the richest in Europe. Built in 1341 by Niccolò Acciaiuoli, the monastery’s was constructed as a religious site and a place for young Italians to learn. The Carthusian monks went into seclusion from the world to pray, meditate and work in honor of St. Benedict following his Rule. The monks lived carried on, ate and worked in their small rooms while working diligently making liquor and jams. The Church of San Lorenzo with a Renaissance cloister, houses a great amount of frescoes, a 16th Century marble altar and a crypt containing the Acciaioli family tombs. The monks’ cells open onto the cloister, with a few opening up to the monks’ living spaces where visitors can still visit today: a great day escape exploring the countryside of Tuscany. Guided visits with a monk by your side are available upon reservation.
Organic Olive Oil and Wine Tour & Tastings
During your culinary program, taste and learn about the superior wine and extra virgin first pressed olive oil. The products are genuine and certified and the sommelier will take you on a tour of the cantina, the vineyards and the cellar. At the end of the visit you will have the chance to taste the products grown on the estate. The tasting is paired with a selection of typical Tuscan appetizers, served in the wine cellar or under their Loggia, giving you the insight on the food and wine that locals have been enjoying for centuries.
Itinerary: 4 Days, 3 Nights
Day 1: Arrival & Tuscan Dinner
- Transfer from Florence Airport or Train Station to the Villa.
- Relax, check in and meet your hosts.
- In the evening, Chef’s welcome dinner with wine tasting.
Day 2: Cooking Class & Tuscan Lunch
- Breakfast is served.
- Head into the kitchen with Chef Luciana for your hands-on Cooking Class. Start with an antipasto such as Bruschetta, then the first course such as spaghetti with Pommarola Sauce for a slow simmered to perfection tomato sauce. Your second course may include one of Chef Luciana’s specialties such as chicken escalopes with insalata di arancio, a fresh orange salad, and for dessert, Florentine cakes and biscotti. Menus vary to use the best fresh seasonal ingredients and can be tailored to accommodate vegetarian, food allergies and other diet requirements.
- Lunch follows on the foods prepared in class. Wine pairings from the property included.
- Afternoon is free and on your own. Suggestion: rent bicycles from the property and set off for a ride through the Tuscan countryside. The gentle slopes allow for a pleasant ride for all levels and bring your camera for incredible photo-taking opportunities along the way.
- Return to the Villa in the later afternoon.
- Dinner on your own. Suggestions provided upon request, or reserve in advance for dinner at the Villa.
Day 3: Walking Tour Of Florence ~ City Of Art
- Breakfast is served.
- Transfer to downtown Florence for a Walking Tour with local English-speaking guide.
- Stroll the Renaissance City and see the Duomo, the Baptistry, Santa Croce and more with your private tour guide to explain the history, the legends and little known facts about the city, often called, the City of Art.
- After your morning tour, take time to explore the city on your own, shop the world-renowned leather goods, or the sparkling gold and jewels along the Ponte Vecchio. Lunch and dinner on your own, suggestions provided upon request.
- Return transfer to the Villa.
Day 4: Departure
- Breakfast is served.
- Check out and departure transfer to Florence Airport or Train Station.
- Arrivederci Firenze!
*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.
- 4 days, 3 nights accommodations in deluxe double room.
- Daily buffet breakfast and maid service.
- Chef’s Welcome Tasting Dinner.
- Round trip transfers from Florence Airport or Train Station to villa.
- 1 cooking class and wine tasting, lunch included.
- Walking Tour of Florence, inclusive of private transfer and professional English speaking guide.
- Cooking Vacations welcome bag with Chef’s apron and recipe booklet.
$1,995 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 an already scheduled group.
Add On: Half-Day Excursion to Pisa
Visit Pisa, the land of the Leaning Tower. One of Italy’s best known tourist destinations, the ancient maritime republic of Pisa is a quiet university town that boasts one of the best loved piazzas in the world. The piazza, Campo Dei Miracoli, is a vast green lawn that houses the town’s Duomo, its famous bell tower, better known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Baptistery and the Camposanto which has to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries ever built. Interestingly enough, however, it’s not only Pisa’s tower that leans. A closer look at the Baptistery and the Duomo will reveal that they too are far from straight, though less noticeably so than the tower. Tour lasts approximately four and a half hours and includes private driver.
455E for the Pisa excursion, including transportation to and from Pisa with time to explore on your own, based on 2 guests.