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This unique culinary vacation offers you the rare chance to live like a Tuscan for a week.
We'll stay on the sprawling grounds of a fifteenth-century stone villa with a splendid view of Tuscany's rolling hills. We'll spend mornings in the villa's kitchen, cooking traditional Italian dishes to be enjoyed in the rustic dining room or on the vast terrace overlooking olive groves and cypress trees below before heading out for an afternoon of sightseeing and culinary discovery.
Thanks to the villa's proximity to two other regions of Italy, we'll also visit Umbria and the Marches savoring three distinct culinary traditions during our stay.
Dinners will be at the area's best restaurants and paired with each region's top-notch wines, including Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino, Verdicchio, Orvieto, Montefalco di Sagrantino, the Super Tuscans, Chianti, and more...
During our week together, we'll visit an olive oil mill, indulge in a wine tasting, sample local prosciuttos and fine cheeses, and meet chefs and food artisans who embody the spirit of the cooking of central Italy. Our aim is to immerse tour participants fully in the regional cuisine, savor local specialties, meet food artisans, and learn authentic Italian cooking at our daily hands-on cooking classes. We focus on visiting smaller destinations, eschewing large tourist centers in favor of small gems where one can really feel part of the fabric of Italian life.
UPDATED June 12, 2022: We have limited availability on our cooking tours. This is all the more true for 2023: we have very high demand now that travel has become safe once again and travel restrictions have been lifted. Space is limited so don't wait to reserve your spots. Please contact us by email or call 917-602-1519 to book. If you are ready to travel with us in 2023, we suggest you reserve now; we unfortunately refuse about 25% of clients because the tour they want to participate in has filled by the time they call to book.
We have had the pleasure of taking hundreds of people on intimate, personally curated cooking tours since 2004. Read their testimonials here.
If you want to receive early exclusive notifications (one week before the rest of our mailing list subscribers) about other tours to Italy we are planning, if you are interested in a customized tour for groups of 8 people or more, or if you have questions about our tours, please fill out the culinary tours early access form.Culinary Tours Early Access
Building their characteristic dishes on a savvy interplay of vegetables, beans, saltless bread, and fruity olive oil, Tuscans are masters at the art of understatement. Sharp sheep's milk cheese lends saltiness and pungency to pastas, savory pies, and salads, and robust grains like farro (emmer wheat) add bulk to soups. Tuscans cook risotto as often as polenta, and fresh pastas like pici, ravioli, and tortelli often grace the Tuscan table. Along the coast, fish and seafood are cooked into thick stews and soups. Inland, a special breed of cattle known as Chianina provides meat for the grill, and the wild boar that roams the Tuscan woods is transformed into sweet-and-sour stews and rich, rosy hams. Desserts include a dome-shaped cake called zuccotto, crisp almond biscotti (the famous cantuccini of Prato), and a flatbread studded with grapes, baked since the days of the Etruscans.
Nicknamed "The Green Heart of Italy," Umbria is nestled next to Tuscany in central Italy. Landlocked, it relies on pork for most of its classic preparations, and its pork butchers (norcini, from the Umbrian town of Norcia) are said to be the best in Italy: every scrap of the pig is put to good use, and specialties like guanciale (the salted and cured meat from the pig's cheek) are tossed into pasta sauces and pots of fava beans or peas. And the region's aromatic black truffles scent many dishes, from delicate polentas to savory cheese breads.
Most Italians know and love the stuffed olives from the Marchigiano town of Ascoli Piceno, fried until golden in a crispy robe of egg and bread crumbs; Dino's father was born in Ascoli, so we've have always had a soft spot for stuffed olives and we make sure that our tour participants get to sample them when we dine in Urbino at our favorite restaurant. There are thick, chunky seafood soups along the Adriatic Coast, and succulent grilled meats imbued with wood smoke and aromatic herbs in the verdant countryside. Sheep's milk cheeses aged in caves (locally known as formaggio di fossa) lend a unique flavor to favorite dishes, and griddle-cooked flatbreads like crescia accompany most meals.
All three regions produce extraordinary olive oil, but Tuscany's is perhaps the most prized in Italy. Panzanella, a simple Tuscan bread and tomato salad, owes its rich flavor to olive oil, as you can see in this recipe from our video membership site.You can find the printable PDF version of the recipe here
This recipe is from our video membership site. View 3 more recipes by visiting each of our other 3 culinary tour pages; each tour page has a video recipe from that region. Bonus: Sign up for a culinary tour and get a FREE one-year video site membership. Here are the links to each page:
The villa is located on the grounds of a large estate in Tuscany. The decor is rustic, with stone walls and wood beams on ceilings. Our group will occupy a single countryhouse on the estate, ensuring privacy and quiet. The pool is for our group's use exclusively. (Bonus: The villa has a huge woodburning oven and outdoor grill; we'll bring our sourdough starter along and teach you the art of sourdough baking if you're so inclined!)
The majority of people who take tours with us spend a couple of days in their city of arrival in Italy - whether Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice or other - and then join us when the tour starts. This is a good way to plan your trip, since it will give you a day or two to beat the jet lag (depending on what time zone you are coming from). Some folks will be driving, others flying in to nearby airports, others taking the train.
Keep in mind that the villa is far from the beaten path: the closest major train station is in Arezzo, about a 45-minute car ride from our villa. We can help you get to and from the villa by booking a car service that will pick you up or drop you off from your hotel in your city of arrival, or from a train station or nearby airport of your choice. We can also help you determine the best pre- and post-tour itinerary; we have many wonderful ideas for places to visit and we are happy to share our knowledge of Italy with you.
Check in is at 3 pm on the first day of the tour, and after you settle into your private room, we'll start off with a welcome reception: a little wine, some finger foods to nibble on, and the opportunity to meet your fellow travelers; this will be followed by a wonderful dinner at the villa.
The next morning, we'll enjoy our first hands-on cooking lesson in the villa's kitchen, followed by lunch, an afternoon of sightseeing and culinary discovery, and dinner in a nearby town.
This will be the pace of our week together: cooking in the mornings, lunching together, and discovering Tuscany, Umbria, The Marches, and Emilia-Romagna by private bus in the afternoons. We'll include wine tastings, olive oil tastings, encounters with local food artisans, even a gelato class and chocolate tasting on our daily itineraries, so every day will bring a new adventure.
Since we'll be exploring small medieval towns, there will be some walking involved, including some stairs or moderate hills; we suggest comfortable walking shoes.
Italian food is extremely varied and deeply regional. From making fresh pasta by hand to kneading focaccia dough, roasting and braising meats, poaching fish, whipping up amazing desserts, and more, each class at the villa will focus on key Italian culinary techniques and will culminate in a full Italian meal.
Our hands-on cooking lessons will be led by tour hosts Micol and Dino, and will touch on every aspect of Italian cuisine: antipasti, fresh pasta (gnocchi, tagliatelle, and more), risotto, fish and meat, vegetables, handmade bread and focaccia, sourdough baking, and classic desserts. By week's end, you'll have perfected many essential culinary skills and learned dozens of Italian dishes. We'll even bring our sourdough starter along and teach you to bake crusty bread and focaccia in the villa's woodburning oven!
We have selected restaurants in nearby medieval towns where you can enjoy a taste of the local cuisine. Some restaurants will be elegant, some will have a Michelin star, others will be family-run and cozy, but all will provide us with a memorable gastronomic experience. The only prerequisite is to bring your appetite (and perhaps pants with an elastic waistband, according to a past tour participant!), because the meals will be generous and wine is always included!
|April 30-May 6, 2023||7 days/6 nights||$4,350.00|
|September 24-30, 2023||7 days/6 nights||$4,350.00|
On this tour, we have a total of 12 rooms, each with a private bathroom, available for our group.
All activities, meals with wine, and cooking classes are included as part of the tour cost once you arrive at the villa. Our philosophy is that once you arrive, everything is included: every meal with wine, transportation to and from the various sites, tastings, and all activities we will be enjoying as a group:
Cost excludes airfare and ground transportation for your arrival at the villa on the first day of the tour, and transportation from the villa to your next destination at the end of the tour. We are happy to suggest a car service that can arrange for pick up and drop off as requested (the closest train station is in Arezzo, about 45 minutes away). We strongly encourage trip insurance.
A deposit of $1,100 per person is required to reserve. Final payment is due 3 months prior to the start date of the tour. Deposits and final payments are non-refundable.
Price is subject to change as a result of international currency fluctuations that may affect the cost of air/land/sea transportation, hotels, or other related services.
In the event that we cancel a trip, you will be given a full refund of all deposits and payments unless the reason for cancellation is due to circumstances outside our control (such as a pandemic, act of God, war, etc.). In the case of cancellations due to circumstances outside our control, you will not be refunded but you will be able to apply your payment to another tour within the following 2 years. We do not give refunds on deposits or final payments for tours that commence as scheduled, including for unused portions of the tour. We do give credit for cancellations as noted below.
In the event you cancel your tour for any reason, we allow credit for final payments (but not deposits) in the following way: