Join property owner & Terenzio and Chefs Maria & Ili for a fun-filled week of hands-on cooking classes paired with excellent wines that explore the cuisine of Tuscany in the VIP Premium program. In this food & wine lovers’ dream vacation, Nicola, member of the ONAV (National Organization of Wine Tasters) of the AIS (Italian Association of Sommeliers) and of the Society of Wine Educators, will escort you through a culinary tour of guided tastings. Together you will explore the secrets of Tuscany and its food & wine.
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.
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.
Classes are held in 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.
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. All the rooms are equipped with TV, refrigerator and telephone.
The Wine Cellar
The Villa estate boasts a well-furnished wine cellar where you will discover the thousands of flavors in the Italian oenology. 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. And best of all, you can taste the family’s wine produced on site.
Tuscany is noted for its Chianti Classico, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the Brunello di Montalcino and the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, offering 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
Chef Mara & Maria’s Tuscan Cooking Classes
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 6pm and last approximately two to 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.
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 this 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!
V.I.P. Premium Program
8 days ~7 nights
Sunday: Arrival & Dinner
- Arrive and check in at The Villa.
- Welcome aperitivo and meet & greet with Terenzio.
- Dinner included with a glass of local red or white.
Monday: Cooking Class 1, Montepulciano & Spa
- Visit the town of Montepulciano at your leisure.
- Spa treatment * Relaxing body massage.
- Cooking at 6pm, dinner following with the foods prepared in class.
- *Monday or Wednesday afternoon, depending on the availability of the Terme di Montepulciano.
Tuesday: Cortona & Lake Trasimeno
- Breakfast is served
- 10am: Set out for a tour of the beautiful town Cortona, made famous by the bestseller “Under the Tuscan Sun.” Ancient stone paths lead you to churches, quaint shops selling linen, Tuscan olive oil, hand-painted ceramics and wine. Transfers included.
- Lunch at Terenzio’s favorite trattoria by Lake Trasimeno.
- Return to The Villa where you can relax.
- Dinner on your own.
Wednesday: Cooking Class 2 & Wine Tasting
- Cooking class: the class focuses on the art of fresh pasta making, ravioli, and gnocchi. This class is held in Montepulciano.
- Following, Terenzio will meet you at Crociani winery for a seminar tasting of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
- Light lunch at The Villa with cheese, salami, first press Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Vin Santo with cantucci.
- Relax, stay by the pool, or do some shopping in town.
- Dinner with the pasta made in the cooking class, other creations of the chef included. A glass of local red or white wine included.
Thursday: Val d’Orcia & Lunch
- Tour of Valdorcia with lunch in a wine cellar in Montalcino, transfers included.
- Dinner on your own. We have lots of great Restaurant Hot Picks for you.
Friday: Cooking Class 3
- The morning is free to relax, stay by the pool, visit the local market, or do some shopping at the famous designer “Mall”, featuring all the Italian designers, and just a short drive away. Terenzio will assist with directions to the shopping Mall.
- Cooking class at 6pm. Dinner follows with the foods prepared in class.
Saturday: Siena & Crete Senesi
- The entire day is at your leisure. Suggestion: take a drive to Siena through the beautiful landscape of the Crete Senesi, noted as the clay hills of Siena, or catch an early morning train to Florence and tour Italy’s famous art city.
- Dinner at a well known local restaurant.
- Check-out and arrivederci!
*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.
- 8 Days, 7 nights accommodations, based on double occupancy in a Double Deluxe Room. Click To View!
- Daily breakfast.
- 3 cooking classes followed by dinner with the foods prepared in class.
- 2 bottles (white & red) of premium wines with discussion about the wines and the areas of production
- A visit to the Crociani wine-cellar in Montepulciano
- Wine Tasting at Crociani Wine-cellar
- Body massage at the Terme di Montepulciano
- Dinners in the two best restaurants of Montepulciano, wine included
- 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 Cortona and Lake Trasimeno with lunch in Terenzio’s favorite local trattoria, wine included.
- One light lunch at The Villa.
- Maps and itineraries of the region for self guided tours.
- Welcome Bags with Chef’s Apron.
$3,195 per person, based on double occupancy in Double Deluxe Room.
$3,995 per person, based on single occupancy.
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, although it includes excursions, requires a car. This program is designed for the person who wants to blend our scheduled cooking classes and tours, with free time to explore the Tuscan Countryside on their own. Terenzio will provide information, suggestions, directions and maps for you. Driving through Tuscany and getting from town to town is easy and the driving is pleasant. There are no transfers included from the train station or airport.