"CucinArte” - The Art of Cooking
In Val d'Elsa, the passion for cooking has an irrefutable connection with its art, culture, architecture and poetry. This enchanting territory is the birthplace of such internationally known dishes such as Duck a l’Orange and Onion Soup - two exquisite dishes that were brought to the Paris court by Caterina de' Medici of Florence. Val d'Elsa is also the origin of the famed “Mediterranean Diet,” whose originator is said to be Medieval author, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375).
Our daily cooking courses, for a group of 8 guests, feature internationally recognized Chefs, Gilberto Rossi and Paola Cattabriga, as well as regionally acclaimed chefs and restauranteurs. Our hands-on classes, demonstrations, dining experiences and wine tastings are held in Medieval castles, Renaissance villas, ancient historical estates, prestigious “aziende agricole” (working farms) and first-class restaurants. These locations highlight the area’s vast works of art, its multi-era architecture and vibrant culture, which are intertwined with cooking in our daily itineraries.
Learn about the culinary traditions of Tuscany while experiencing its contemporary authenticity. Our hands-on classes will immerse you in the rhythm of nature and its bounty. Our culinary tour is truly unique because you are introduced to a complete meal courses, taught by a variety of highly trained chefs, each in a different and exciting venue.
Your tour group will be escorted from the airport on Sunday and returned to the airport late Saturday afternoon for Sunday departure flight, from Sunday, September 24 through Sunday, November 5, 2017. Dates are subject to availability. Pricing is based on groups of 8 travelers, double occupancy, and may vary depending on dates, group size and customization; approximate price is $4200 per person. See above, "Features Included in All Tours."
Sample Itineraries – Subject to Availability
DAY 1 (Sunday):
Pick up at Rome (or other) airport and transfer with tour leader by private bus to our 4-star hotel in central Tuscany, in the Val d’Elsa. After some free time, we meet for aperitivo (cocktail hour) on the terrace and our Welcome Dinner at the hotel’s excellent restaurant.
Following an exquisite breakfast offered daily, we visit the Florentine city of Castelfiorentino and its special museum devoted to Renaissance painter, Benozzo Gozzoli. Next, we transfer to a former Medici castle for our first cooking class to prepare antipasto and a main course (such as wild boar stew), and pair each with fine wines produced on the estate.
After lunch, we visit the hill town of Certaldo Alto, home of author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), for a guided tour of his home and works of art from the Etruscan, Medieval and Renaissance periods. Later in the afternoon, we visit a family-run “agriturismo” to participate in the “vendemmia” – the harvest of the grapes! We will learn all about the process of wine-making, and enjoy a wine pairing and typical Tuscan supper with our host family.
We depart early to a private estate where we will participate in a truffle hunt in the woods, followed by a tasting of truffle dishes paired with biodynamic wines from the estate. Then we transfer to nearby San Miniato for lunch at a famous butcher shop to learn about and enjoy Tuscan cured meats, such as prosciutto and local salami.
After lunch, we take a walking, guided tour of the main artistic and architectural sights of the city. In mid-afternoon, we transfer to a nearby villa where we indulge in a hands-on pastry and dessert course taught by Michelin-starred chef, Ghilberto Rossi. After class, we transfer to Chef Rossi’s restaurant for a four-course gourmet dinner, including our own desserts!
We drive through some incredible landscapes to the mysterious city of Volterra to visit its excellent Etruscan museum and a brief tour of some of its major sites. Enjoy some free time shopping for Volterra’s world famous alabaster products and Etruscan reproduction jewelry and sculpture, before departing for a nearby agriturismo where we will witness the making of Tuscany’s famed pecorino cheese. We will be treated to a four-course lunch featuring a variety of dishes using cheeses made on the farm.
In the afternoon, we visit San Gimignano, famous for its many medieval towers. After touring its major artistic sites, and some free time to wander, we depart for a nearby estate for an incredible cooking and tasting experience. We will learn about and taste olive oils, while preparing 3 types of “primi piatti” such as pasta and risotto, followed by a dinner pairing multiple wines with our creations.
A day out of the kitchen! We visit medieval Monteriggioni, a functioning castle village, before departing for Siena, Florence’s historic rival. We walk this marvelous walled city with our private guide to witness a few of its major artistic and cultural attractions, including points of interest of the Palio, Siena’s medieval horse race still run every July 2 and August 16. After a grand Sienese lunch, we visit its incredible Duomo and other sites before breaking for free time. Siena is full of boutiques offering all kinds of Italian artisan goods and fashion items. We reunite for aperitivo and a fantastic dinner at a restaurant near the famous Piazza del Campo, venue of the Palio.
This a is an especially unique day! We meet in the seafood market of Italy’s main coastal city, Livorno, with acclaimed TV chef, Paola Cattabriga. Together, we purchase the ingredients, and proceed to Paola’s new restaurant, to prepare Livorno’s famous seafood stew, “Cacciucco.” After this sensory culinary experience, we relax while touring Livorno’s canals, before returning to our hotel for some early evening R&R, aperitivo on the terrace and our grand “Arrivederci Dinner.”
DAY 7 (Saturday):
After a leisurely morning, we depart for your (included) hotel stay at Rome’s (or other) airport for tomorrow’s departure flight. We say “Arrivederci” to beautiful central Tuscany as we head for Tuscany’s southern coast and lunch overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. We arrive at the airport hotel with plenty of time to relax or take a bus into the city for dinner on your own.
DAY 8 (Sunday):