Cooking & Discovering-Siena, Pisa, Florence & San Gimignano
Join Fabrizio at the family estate, a beautiful farmhouse villa located in the heart of the Tuscan countryside. The Tuscan cooking classes, held in the villa’s private kitchen, feature typical recipes from the Florence area under the direction of Chef Melina. She will lead you through making Tuscan antipasto, pasta, main course and dessert. Melina’s energetic personality, along with her talented cooking skills make this class our best seller for Tuscany. The entire staff, along with Fabrizio and his family, welcome you for a fun-filled cooking experience in the heart of Chianti!
This food lover’s tour at the family estate blends cultural excursions to the famous towns of Siena, Pisa, Florence and San Gimignano. Tour along winding roads sprinkled with sunflowers, vineyards and castles of bygones past in our Tuscan Traveler’s Dream program. Private excursions through the Tuscan hills, visiting Chianti and ‘la strada del vino,’ the wine road, touring through San Gimignano-Italy’s wine country, Siena-the Medieval City of Art & Romance, and Pisa-famous for its Leaning Tower, in a private car with our driver. This program brings together the best in Tuscan cooking, while exploring the famous towns and cities noted for art, wine and la dolce vita.
Cooking Lessons & Market Tour
Experience the delights of the traditional Tuscan lifestyle, while attending fun-filled cooking classes and enjoying relaxing excursions. You will learn to prepare all the essential components of a Tuscan meal: appetizers and breads, soups, homemade pasta, meats, vegetables and desserts.
Tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and pepolino, wild thyme, artichokes and tomatoes stuffed with herbs and cheese, gnocchi with ragù, Chianti Etruscan sauce & beans all’uccelletto, Vin Santo & cantuccini, traditional Tuscan almond cookies, tiramisù, schiacciata con l’uva, Tuscan cake made with red grapes and rosemary, are just a sample of Melina’s excellent recipes that you will learn. Recipes will vary depending on the seasons.
The kitchen is the classroom, in which our Chef Melina leads hands-on cooking classes, featuring traditional Tuscan cuisine. The estate’s country-style kitchen is located in the main villa and in what used to be one of the family’s wine cellars.
You will learn the secrets of making gnocchetti verdi di patate con pomodorino fresco e basilico, green potato gnocchi with fresh tomatoes and basil, filetto d’orata al gratin di patate, fish with potato gratin, and semifreddo alle nocciole con cioccolato fondente, ice cream cake with dark chocolate and nuts. Following the class, everyone eats the fruits of their labor together, accompanied by wine from the estate. In addition, you will learn to prepare dishes such as Seafood Risotto, Tenderloin with Black Truffles, Porcini Mushrooms, and dolci. Dolci, desserts in Italian, include: bavarese alla frutta fresca, Tuscan cake with fresh fruit and the famous cantuccini, almond biscotti.
Experience a visit to the vibrant marketplace as the aromas of just baked bread, artisan cheese, and morning picked produce from the nearby rolling hills stir your senses. Listen to the sounds of sellers calling out their daily catch, prime cuts and specials. Shop along rows of passionate purveyors who have kept the old world way of protected food and wine. The sleepy Tuscany towns are a sharp contrast against the lively marketplace.
Then we continue on through the quaint town of Certaldo,. Step along cobblestone paths lined with small cafes brewing up perfect brews of espresso & cappuccino, fresh pasta shops turning out hand made pici, pappardelle and ravioli along with open doors of pretty churches welcoming you for a peak of the stained glass windows. Visit the home of great Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio who penned Decameron and On Famous Women in a Medieval Tuscan town set on a hill. A stop in Lucardo beckons for small shops showcasing vino, faro, spelt and all things Tuscan.
The family has operated its vineyards, specializing in the Chianti wine since the 19th century.The wines are long-lived and are examples of the best in the Chianti wine region, thanks to their knowledge and appreciation of wine. Tradition and old family customs merge with modern winemaking technologies, which yield production totals of nearly 30,000 bottles a year. The award-winning wines boast the Silver Label, awarded at the Tuscan Gastronomic Show in New York City 2005 & 2006, and earned honorable mention at the VIII edition of the Tuscan Wine Selection in 2008.
The Villa Accommodations
The private villa has recently been restored, respecting its old-world charm, while adding modern comforts. Set on a working vineyard, the property is surrounded by rolling green Tuscan hills in the heart of Montespertoli. The estate has a vast olive grove and an organic vegetable garden, which produces beautiful olives, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and a bounty of seasonal produce. Guests are invited to pick the fruits and vegetables, which are then used in the cooking classes.
The accommodations are large apartments and oversized superior rooms, traditionally furnished and newly renovated with modern conveniences; most with air-conditioning. Each room has a private bathroom, telephone, full kitchenette, refrigerator, satellite TV, and a private garden or spacious terrace.
Stepping outside your door is a colorful garden with a café-style terrace for eating, reading or painting. There is an outdoor wood-burning brick oven for pizza parties, an over-sized swimming pool and terrace on the property grounds. Majestic Murgesi horses are bred on the premises. If you like to ride, tell Fabrizio and he can arrange for horseback riding in the beautiful surroundings.
In the farmhouse’s spacious dining room, breakfast is served daily, featuring breads, cold cuts, cheese, homemade jams, biscotti and cakes baked each morning by Melina. Traditional Tuscan lunch or dinner is also available; reservations must be made in advance.
Itinerary~ 7 Days, 6 Nights
Day 1: Welcome & Tuscan Dinner
- Check in, relax. Welcome aperitivo and introduction.
- In the evening, a classic Tuscan Dinner, prepared by our chefs. Chianti wines produced by the property are included.
Day 2: Introduction & Cooking Class 1
- Breakfast is served.
- In the morning meet our family – Fabrizio, along with Melina. They will be your hosts for the week. You will have an introduction and overview of your cooking week. Take a walk through the property, the vineyards, and the horse stables. Horseback riding is available on the estate; if you would like to ride, make arrangements with Fabrizio in advance. Relax by the pool or take a swim (weather permitting). Walk to the small village at the entrance of the villa property and explore, sip a cappuccino at the local Italian café.
- In the afternoon, your Cooking Class 1. This hands-on experience, led by Chef Melina, teaches you her Tuscan family recipes. The menu includes a first course, second course, contorno, side dish, and dessert. Dinner follows with everyone eating the foods prepared in class. Wine is included.
Day 3: Visit To Farmers’ Market & Winery With Tastings, Cooking Class 2
- Breakfast is served.
- Morning visit to the local Farmers’ Market. Visit the local producers of vegetables, fruits, fish, game and olive oil. Piled high are baskets of the season’s freshest produce. Select the ingredients that will be used in class.
- Lunch on your own.
- Afternoon, Cooking Class 2. Dinner follows with everyone eating the foods prepared in class. Wine and dessert included.
Day 4: Excursion~Siena, San Gimignano & Tuscan Dinner At The Villa
- Breakfast is served.
- Following breakfast a full day excursion to Siena and San Gimignano. You will visit Siena, the magical town of the towers, the round Piazza del Campo, home to the famous horse race, the Palio, held each year in early July. Also, visit the Siena cathedral, reference for the whole of Italian Gothic architecture. Then, it is off to San Gimignano, city of music, sunflowers and towers. San Gimignano rises on a hill (334m high) dominating the Elsa Valley with its towers. Once the seat of a small Etruscan village of the Hellenistic period (200-300 BC) it began its life as a town in the 10th century taking its name from the Holy Bishop of Modena, St. Gimignano, who is said to have saved the village from the barbarian hordes.
- Evening, Tuscan Dinner served at the Villa. Wine and dessert included.
Day 5: Florence Excursion
- Breakfast is served. Following breakfast, private transfer to visit Florence, Italy’s City of Art, for a full day visit. Explore the city on foot, and we suggest the following sites not to be missed: (A private tour guide is available, upon request. Reservation required. Museum tickets are not included in the program.)
- The Accademia Museum: Florence’s most celebrated museum, home to Giovanni da Milano’s Pieta (fourteenth century), the “Annunciation” by Lorenzo Monaco (fifteenth century), the beautiful front called Adimari Cassone showing a sumptuous marriage procession (c. 1450) and the Madonna of the Sea attributed to Botticelli (1445-1510). A recent re-arrangement and restoration of some of the rooms have given more space for the display of paintings from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, plaster models of Lorenzo Bartolini and Luigi Pampaloni, famous Italian sculptors of the nineteenth century also on display, and Michelangelo’s David.
- The Uffizi Gallery: Florence’s first museum to open to the public is 8,000 sq.m. and it displays one of the most important collections of art of all time, including classical sculpture and paintings on canvas and wood by 13th to 18th century Italian and foreign schools. Its four centuries of history make the Uffizi Gallery the oldest museum in the world.
- The Duomo: the distinctive icon in Florence’s skyline is the dome of the cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. The building located due north of the Piazza della Signoria, was begun by the sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296. Numerous local artists continued to work on it during the following century and a half. The painter Giotto designed its sturdy bell tower, campanile, in 1334. The Duomo’s octagonal cupola (1420-36), which dominates the city, was the creation of Filippo Brunelleschi, master architect and sculptor.
- Though the cathedral was begun by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296, in 1366, the city of Florence, following the advice of certain painters and sculptors, decided that the Gothic style should no longer be used and that all new work should follow Roman forms, including an octagonal dome spanning 42 meters, to be built at the east end of the nave. The dome was not built until the early 15th century, when in 1415, Filippo Brunelleschi, a goldsmith and sculptor, prepared a design for the dome. He daringly proposed to construct the dome without the aid of formwork, which had been absolutely necessary in all previous Roman and Gothic construction. He built a 1:12 model of the dome in brick to demonstrate his method and the design was accepted and built under his supervision from 1420 to 1436. Brunelleschi was hailed as the man who “renewed Roman masonry work.” The Duomo was established as the paragon of built form.
- Opposite the cathedral stands the Baptistery; the building dates from the 11th century but is a Roman monument dating back to 1330; 1401-52. The third pair of these doors, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, were of such rare beauty that Michelangelo christened them the ” Gates of Paradise.”
- Evening, dinner on your own in Florence. Suggestion: Mamma Gina, by the Arno River, noted for their fegatini, a traditional Tuscan appetizer, pici pasta, Florentine Steak, or Ribollita, a typical slow-cooked Tuscan soup.
Day 6: Pisa, or Medieval Town- Monteriggioni, Vineyard Tour & Tasting, Cooking Class 3
- Breakfast is served. Morning excursion to Pisa, land of the Leaning Tower. Stop for some photo taking and visit the cathedral. Or, we can visit the quaint little town of Monteriggioni. Tour the Medieval town that takes you back in time.
- Walk through cobblestone streets, taste local products such as panforte, the traditional fig & nut cake, stop for a cappuccino and biscotti brutti ma buoni, a traditional Tuscan sweet, or lunch on a hearty bowl of pici pasta. Ancient churches and stone buildings dating back to the 900s and wild flowers all around, make the visit to this old-world town worth the trip. Take time for lunch, not included.
- Return to the Estate for a tour the property’s olive grove and vineyard. After the tour, you will visit the wine cantina, where their wines are produced – Premium, Reserve and Grappa, too! Discussion and tastings included with Fabrizio, our award-winning “Super Tuscan” wine producer and olive oil maker.
- In the afternoon, Cooking Class 3, followed by dinner with the foods prepared in class.
Day 7: Departure & Arrivederci!
- Breakfast is served.
- Departure, Ciao & a presto!
*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.
- 7 days, 6 nights in a superior double room, based on double occupancy. Click To View!
- Daily breakfast.
- 3 hands-on cooking classes followed by lunch or dinner with wine included.
- Vineyard tour and wine tasting at the Estate.
- Market tour with informal discussion and tastings.
- Full day excursion to Siena and San Gimignano.
- Half day excursion to Pisa.
- Transfers to and from Florence for a full day in the city.
- 2 classic Tuscan dinners at the Villa, wine & dessert included.
- Arrival and Departure Transfers to and from Florence train station or airport.
$2,995 per person, based on double occupancy. All taxes and VAT included.
Please call us for single pricing and we will do our best to fit you in with a group to ensure you receive the best possible single rate.
ROUND TRIP GROUP TRANSFERS
*Round trip group transfers from Florence Airport/Train Station to the property are included in your program.
ARRIVAL – Arrival group transfers from Florence Airport to the property are scheduled 12:30pm; and from Florence Train Station to property at 3pm.
DEPARTURE – Departure group transfer from the Estate to Florence Airport/Train Station is at 11:00am
If you cannot make the scheduled group transfer time, a special transfer can be reserved. The new transfers are not part of the included Group transfer and are not included in the program price. New transfers can be ordered by Cooking Vacations or guests may take a taxi on their own.