A sample itinerary for the week
Day One, Saturday
Arrive in late afternoon with time to unpack and settle in. In the evening we’ll toast with prosecco or glass of wine at our Villa on the terrace overlooking Siena’s Montagnola or in front of a roaring fire depending on the season, followed by dinner giving us all a chance to become acquainted and discuss the itinerary for the week.
Day Two, Sunday
After breakfast we will depart for a visit to the Abbey of Mount Oliveto Maggiore in the Crete Senese hills. Mass with the monks singing Gregorian chant is at 11:00 a.m. and you can either attend the Mass or stroll around the lovely grounds. Lunch in Pienza, a beautiful hilltop town well known for its pecorino cheese and a UNESCO World Heritage site. We’ll visit several of the shops and have a tasting of pecorino before having a typical Sunday lunch at a local trattoria. Following our visit to Pienza, we’ll stop for the famous views of the Val d’Orcia with its rolling cultivated hills. A visit to Montalcino famous of its Brunello di Montalcino wines will follow with time to walk through this quaint village. We will visit a famous winery making award winning Brunello wines before returning to our Villa where we’ll have a light dinner and then the evening is yours to relax.
Day Three, Monday
Breakfast and then our first class begins in the 900 year old mill close by to the Villa. Today we’ll be learning about the basics of Tuscan cooking, with an overview of what makes it special and typically Tuscan. Depending on the season we’ll use the freshest ingredients to create a four course lunch paired with the regional wines. There will also be an olive oil tasting during class where we’ll taste different extra virgin oils and you’ll learn what to look for when you return home and purchase olive oils.
We’ll enjoy our lunch in the garden under the pergola and after have a few hours to relax, swim, nap or take a walk on the beautiful estate. In the late afternoon we’ll depart for a visit to an olive oil press (during the season of the olive harvest) where we’ll see the olives of a local estate being washed, mashed into pulp and then pressed to remove the oil. We’ll bring some wine and bread to toast on the open wood fire while we wait for them to press our olives! Afterwards we have dinner at a local trattoria.
Day Four, Tuesday
Today is our food tour day! After breakfast we will visit a famous goat cheese farm and a farm where they raise Crete Senese pigs. After the tour there will be a light lunch featuring the products from both of these estates – the delicious goat cheeses and cured meats from lardo to prosciutto! There will be an optional mushroom hunt after lunch for anyone interested in collecting our own mushrooms! In the hills surrounding the estate, the woods are filled with many different kinds of edible mushrooms like porcini, chanterelles, hedgehogs and black trumpets. Whatever we find will be used in the class tonight! Our second hands on cooking lesson will be at our villa kitchen and focus on making risotto, soups and/or roasted meats. Dinner is paired with regional wines from one of Tuscany’s famous wine regions.
Day Five, Wednesday
Today we’ll visit Siena the jewel of Tuscany! It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and we’ll have a guided walking tour of this magnificent city. First, we visit the largest market in the region around Siena’s fortezza in the morning. The market is filled with stalls selling everything from clothes, shoes, scarves, table linens, as well as accessories. We’ll show you where to purchase the best linens and must have kitchen items and interesting gifts to take home with you. In late morning we will meet our guide and friend Carla and she will uncover the beauty and history of Siena. During the walking tour you’ll visit the famous Duomo (Siena’s main cathedral), all about the Palio and Siena’s neighborhoods or contrade as they are called. Lunch is after the tour on your own with time to walk around and shop or visit a museum. We’ll return to the villa with a couple of hours to relax before departing for a special dinner at a local restaurant.
Day Six, Thursday
Today is our wine tour to Chianti Classico region to visit two beautiful historic wineries with a delicious lunch at a family owned local trattoria. We’ll stop at a historic estate and visit the garden with spectacular views of Chianti region and it’s vineyards and olive trees. On our way home there will be time to stop at the grocery store to stock up on food items you may want to take home! Dinner and the evening is free and you may want to just relax at the Villa or catch a taxi out for dinner.
Day Seven, Friday
Today is our third cooking lesson and we’ll focus hand made fresh pastas – ravioli and tagliatelle. You’ll hone your skills on making the dough and forming the ravioli so that you can recreate the meal once you are home. Our four course lunch will be paired with regional wines and we will enjoy it under the pergola in the garden. Since it is our final lunch together we will toast with prosecco and a prosciutto tasting before we begin lunch. After lunch we return to the villa for packing time, relaxing or naps!
In the evening we depart for Siena for an aperativo in the Campo or last minute shopping and then into the Selva Contrada for their annual “Festa della Castangna” or Chestnut Festival. Held outside in a quaint corner of the city, our farewell dinner includes dishes and desserts made with chestnuts, served with excellent local wines. If the festival is not taking place, we will visit another local festa or restaurant.
Day Eight, Saturday
Check-out at by 10 a.m., taking with you lots of memories, great recipes, new skills and ideas for your own Tuscan dinners at home!
All Inclusive Package
All classes begin Saturday evening. Cost is $3,800 U.S. for the full week inclusive of accommodations (based on double occupancy), tours, tastings, cooking lessons followed by lunch or dinner with wines, all meals while group is together.
Dates and prices subject to change. Single supplement is $600.
- 7 nights accommodation in historic countryside villa
- Full-time support by specialist guides, transportation to all events, plus all entrance and/or guide fees
- 3 hands-on cooking classes in the 900 year old flour mill or our villa
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners during the week (except when you are on your own)
- Regional wines with meals, tastings of wines, pecorino cheeses and local olive oils.
- $600 single supplement
- Our group stays in a beautifully restored villa on an estate in the Montagnola hills south of Siena (about 12 km south).
- 7 bedrooms with twin or double beds, en suite bathrooms
- Minimum number of participants: 8; maximum participants: 14.
- Other houses available for smaller groups
Cost does not include:
- Airfare, transportation to/from the estate on arrival and departure day, any meals or expenses incurred by you during shopping excursions and free time.
- A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold your reservation in the culinary week, with the balance to be paid 60 days prior to the scheduled start date of the class.
Prices and dates are subject to change.