8 Days All-Inclusive Italian Culinary Vacation in Tuscany

  • Podere Montestigliani Villa, Siena, Tuscany, Italy

Tuscan Culinary Tour

Our cooking classes and wine tour package gives you an in-depth experience of Italian cooking and the Tuscan way of life. Your accommodations are on a lovely olive estate just south of Siena in an 18th century villa or farmhouse renovated with care to include many of the original Tuscan architectural features. Walking trails through olive groves or cypress lined lanes give you the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Tuscany. Enjoy cooking lessons, visits to local wine and food producers, wine tours, all meals with wine and visits to quaint local villages. During the week we will open up the world of Tuscan wines from the basics to the complexities of this varied region.

Highlights

  • 3 cooking classes
  • 3 wine tastings, 2 wine tours
  • Farm visits, market visit, mushroom hunt
  • Cheese tasting, cured meats tasting, olive oil tasting
  • Visits to Siena, San Gimignano, Montalcino, Chianti
  • Guided visit to medieval abbey and cloister
  • 7 breakfasts, 6 dinners, 5 lunches
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 6 days with instruction
  • Italian, English
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We'll spend the week on a beautiful estate just a short drive from Siena, the accommodation are provided in a carefully restored 18th Century villa and farmhouse. Many of the original Tuscan architectural features have been maintained with chestnut beamed ceilings, terra cotta tiled floors and open fireplaces. Use of the original wood burning bread ovens, dining outdoors and swimming pools are all a part of our lovely surroundings. The estate is beautifully landscaped with gardens of lavender, herbs and flowers, as well as olive groves and cypress lined lanes for walks in the woods.

Day 1: Saturday - Arrival

  • Afternoon check-in.
  • 19:00 An aperitivo or glass of wine at our Villa at Montestigliano in front of a roaring fire, followed by a simple dinner of grilled meat and salads, will give us all a chance to become acquainted and discuss the itinerary for the week.

Day 2: Sunday - Sightseeing tour, cheese tasting, wine tasting

  • 09:00 Breakfast
  • 10:15 We leave 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.
  • 12:30 Lunch in Pienza, a beautiful hilltop town well known for its pecorino cheese. We'll visit several of the shops and have a tasting of pecorino before having a typical Sunday lunch at the Trattoria Latte della Luna.
  • 16:00 Following our visit to Pienza, we'll hop on down the road to Montalcino and have a tasting of a flight of Brunellos at the Enoteca in the Medici Fortress that guards the town.
  • 18:00 Back to the Villa where the evening is yours to relax or dine out.

Day 3: Monday - Cooking class, free time, farm visit, olive oil tasting

  • 08:00 Breakfast is available in the Villa.
  • 10:00 Our first class begins in the main estate kitchen. Today we'll be learning about the basics of Tuscan cooking, with an overview of what makes it special and typically Tuscan. We'll make typical bread dishes like panzanella as well as braised meat dishes and cantucci. There will also be an olive oil tasting during class where we'll taste different extra virgin oils.
  • 13:30 Lunch, followed by free time.
  • 16:00 Leave for a visit to an olive oil press where we'll see the olives of Montestigliano 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!
  • 20:00 Dinner at a local trattoria.

Day 4: Tuesday - Farm visits, mushroom hunt, cooking class

  • 08:00 Breakfast
  • 10:00 We'll leave to visit two farms in the area, a goat cheese farm and a farm where they raise Crete Senese pigs. After the tour there will be a light lunch where we can taste the delicious products made on both of these estates.
  • 13:30 Back to the Villa where there will be an optional mushroom hunt after lunch for anyone interested in collecting our own mushrooms! In the hills surrounding Montestigliano, 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 Wednesday.
  • 16:30 Our second class will focus on making pasta and the accompanying sauces. We'll make ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and chestnuts and topped with a sage and butter sauce; spaghetti alla chitarra, a thick square spaghetti cut on a chitarra, or guitar, and topped with a porcini mushroom sauce; tagliatelli topped with a wild boar rag.
  • 20:00 Dinner following class, set in front of a roaring fire!

Day 5: Wednesday - Market visit, excursion, free time, cooking class

  • 08:00 Breakfast
  • 09:00 We leave for the market of Siena where we'll purchase the ingredients for cooking class in the evening. The market is filled with stalls selling everything from clothes, shoes, scarves, table linens, as well as accessories.
  • 11:30 Walking tour of Siena with Carla Galardi
  • 13:00 Lunch in Siena on your own, time to walk around and shop or sightsee.
  • 17:00 Meet in the kitchen for a cooking class, we'll focus on risotto, soups and roasted meats.
  • 20:00 Dinner in the main dining room in front of the fire.

Day 6: Thursday - Wine tours, wine tastings, free time

  • 08:00 Breakfast
  • 10:00 Leave for a day trip of wine tasting in Chianti! Castello Brolio is a beautiful medieval castle sitting high on a hill overlooking the vineyards north of Siena. We'll walk through the gardens and visit the family chapel, then take a tour of the winery and taste the excellent wines. Then a quick stop at Borgo San Felice, a lovely medieval hamlet, to try their excellent wines.
  • 13:30 Lunch at La Taverna di Vagliagli, followed by a wine tour and tasting at the estate of Dievole.
  • 16:00 There will be time to stop at the large Coop grocery store to stock up on food items you may want to take home, then back to the Villa.
  • Dinner and the evening is free time and you may want to relax at the Villa or catch a taxi out for dinner.

Day 7: Friday - Cooking class, cured meats tasting, free time, excursion

  • 08:00 Breakfast
  • 10:00 Class begins for the final lunch together. We'll focus on soups and will make cauliflower with rosemary, cream of winter squash, and the traditional Tuscan ribollita, followed by stuffed crepes for a second course and a traditional fruit crostata.
  • 13:30 Lunch with prosciutto tasting and prosecco, then naps all around!
  • 19:30 Head to Siena for a glass of wine at the Enoteca I Terzi and then into the Selva Contrada for their annual Festa della Castangna or Chestnut Festival. Held outside in a quaint corner of the city, the dinner includes dishes and desserts made with chestnuts, served with excellent local wines.

Day 8: Saturday - Departure

  • Check-out at your leisure, taking with you lots of great recipes, new skills and ideas for your own Tuscan dinners at home!

To gain further understanding of Italian food and wines we will be taking day or evening excursions into the surrounding countryside.

We'll visit an artisan goat cheese and Cinta Senese pig farm and taste their products, as well as a trip to taste Brunellos in Montalcino and a saffron farm in San Gimignano. A whole day is dedicated to wine tasting in Chianti, with visits to cellars, castles and estates.

A morning is spent at the market of Siena with a guided tour of this beautiful medieval city to follow. Day trips remain flexible to take advantage of seasonal activities and so best expose you to all the best Tuscany has to offer.

For information about the booking conditions, please send Ecco La Cucina an inquiry.

Testimonials

  • Review by Traveler from Washington, USA
    9 out of 10

    "“We recreated the Tuscan menu for our friends and they loved everything, especially the biscotti with the vino santo. I had the best time cooking with you, thank you again and I hope you’ll come see us when you’re in Seattle.” "

    Ecco La Cucina website, edited

  • Review by Traveler from Texas, USA

    "Dear Gina and Mary,"

    "I want to thank you both for a wonderful couple of days. I will always look so fondly on my time spent with you at the mill. You have changed the way I think about preparing food and have inspired me to cook fresher and more creatively. You guys were great. I’m so glad I got to meet you too, Mary. I hope your next week of students was fun for you."

    Ecco La Cucina website, edited

  • Review by David from Italy

    "In June, my mother and I traveled to Tuscany to celebrate my 50th birthday. It has been a dream of mine forever and this trip lived up to every expectation. We chose a week long tour with Chef Gina so we could really experience Tuscany. I didn't want a tour that went from hotel to hotel and getting on and off a bus all the time and eating at tourist destinations."

    Tripadvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Fresno, USA
    9 out of 10

    "If you are considering attending Gina Stipo's cooking class please know that in addition to cooking, you will be transported to a magical world of sights, smells and experiences that will leave you in awe of the Italian culture. If you decide to spend the week with Gina and Sister Mary, you will be shown out of the way spots in the countryside and you will experience first-hand Gina's passion for the rich, healthy abundant food sources in Italy. You will learn and experience what 'fresh' food is and how it is married to a congenial form of social 'being'(Italian style) while sharing a meal with others. When you aren't touring a farm or experiencing a local festival or simply relaxing you will be privy to watching Gina cook with passion and knowledge. If you choose to arrive early or stay longer after class, Mary Stipo (Go Italy) is an expert at recommending unique lodging in every region of Italy. If you are able to spend only a day or two with Gina, please don't hesitate to experience one of her classes. Her devotion and passion to teaching people about the essence of Italian cooking is absolutely not to be missed. Our time with Gina was spent at the Cetinale Villa, La Cerbaia near Sovicille in Tuscany which was featured in Architectural Digest. Gina and Mary are delightful, beautiful souls who have a way of taking care of and providing an amazing experience for everyone in the presence. Don't put this trip off for long as your life will be changed in the most amazing ways."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by David from Italy

    "We had so many memorable meals in Siena and the surrounding countrysideThis was an .an epicurean delight.One cannot pick out indidual places to eat sine they are all good and much depends on ones particular tase. The prices were reasonable,service everywhere friendly and helpful .WE WERE ABLE TO RENEW OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GREAT TUSCAN CUISINE"

    Tripadvisor website, edited

Tuscany, Italy

Chef Gina Stipo leads Tuscan food and wine tours and will teach you all about Italian food in beautiful Tuscany!

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8 days / 7 nights

Departure:
Saturday October 14, 2017
(8 days / 7 nights)

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