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Experience a Vegan Culinary Holiday Under the Tuscan Sun

by Chef Stefania

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The Vegan way of life has surged in popularity in the past few years thanks to A list celebrities - the likes of Brad Pitt, Ellen de Generes, and Anne Hathaway, as well as respected public figures such as Bill Clinton, who have been very much vocal about their commitment to a lifestyle of zero consumption of animal products.

While some people decided to become Vegan due to their stance on animal rights, more and more people are opting to cut out meat, eggs and dairy products entirely from their diet strictly for health reasons. For those who are not too familiar with what a Vegan diet actually entails, it is a super-low-fat diet that revolves around whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts. Hence it comes as no surprise that when one makes the switch to become a Vegan, a dramatic (positive) change in their health would generally follow suit. As a great bonus, they also would often experience noticeable weight loss!

Whatever your reasons may be, if you have been considering to get on the Vegan bandwagon, there’s no better place to get your introduction to the Vegan lifestyle than Tuscany, Italy. For over 20 years, a Vegan culinary holiday organizer, Gioia di Vivere, has been promoting and helping others to improve their health as well as to culivate a good relationship with man and nature through its healthy, natural and organic Vegan-Macrobiotic cooking classes.

At Gioia di Vivere, which translates to “Joy of Living” in English, you will get a first-hand experience in creating your own Vegan Italian meals without sacrificing the full flavor that authentic Italian dishes are known for. If you are interested in growing your own vegetables, in addition to the cookery classes, they will also teach you some useful horticulture techniques that utilize only organic materials (i.e: natural fertilizers) as well as methods that “flow” to the rhythms of nature. 


Join Gioia di Vivere for a scrumptious Vegan culinary holiday of a lifetime in Lucca, Tuscany!


Last but not least, during your culinary holiday with Gioia di Vivere, you will be given plenty of opportunities to discover all the sights and sounds that Tuscany has to offer. Though the beauty of Tuscany is globally renowned, it is also rich in culture and history. What many people may not know is that the Italian languange actually originated form the Tuscan (Tuscano) dialect! More over, during the Renaissance period Tuscany was considered an important cultural center and had a major influence on the commercial and artistic development of Europe – and even the world. As an example, many historians view Tuscany as the birthplace of some of the world’s very first operas which over time led to the early, classical forms of symphonies.

During this holiday, you will stay at villas which are situated in Lucca, a typical scenic Tuscan countryside where there are plenty of things for you to do! You can enjoy the natural walking routes, or choose to bask in Tuscan sun while cycling or horseback riding. Gioia di Vivere also organizes excursions where you can pay a visit to nearby farms, have an organic wine and olive oil tasting or explore neighborhood towns such as Pisa, Florence, and Cinque Terre – just to name a few.


Take a dip in the pool right in Gioia di Vivere’s scenic backyard


Gioia di Vivere invites you to come to Lucca and get the full experience of a vegan culinary holiday under the Tuscan sun! With guidance of their delightful chefs, you are guaranteed to have lots of fun preparing a variety of mouthwatering recipes that are totally organic and vegan in an informal and warm ambience.

If the reasons above are not enough to convince you, Chef Stefania Daniele of Gioia di Vivere would like to share two of her favorite vegan recipes for you to try that will surely leave you wanting more! Give them a go and they look forward to welcoming you in Tuscany soon. 


Vegan Cold Spelt Tuscan Style




  • 200 gr of pearled Spelt
  • 1 Onion, finely diced
  • 1 Celery's stalk finely chopped
  • 1 Aubergine
  • 2 carrots scrubbed and chopped
  • 6-8 Cherry tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Extra virgin olive
  • Oil
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Cider vinegar



Boil 200g of pearled spelt in 400ml salted water for 25/30 minutes or until spelt is tender and water is mostly absorbed. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots stirring often, for 2–3 minutes. Add aubergine and finally cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are crisp-& tender (5–6 minutes). Add vegetable mixture to bowl with spelt. Season to taste with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Add basil as you like. Let cool. Serves 2 pax.

Chef’s suggestion: “If you do not have spelt, Bulgur, quinoa, or whole wheat couscous are good substitutes for this dish”.


Raw Sicilian Fennel & Orange Salad




  • 2 – 3 Fennels
  • 2 Oranges
  • 12 Toasted almonds
  • 2 Red onions
  • Extra virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt or soy sauce
  • Cider vinegar



In a large bowl prepare an emulsion of extra virgin olive oil, salt or soy sauce and cider vinegar. Clean and cut fennels into thin slices and set aside. Peel oranges and cut them into round slices. Chop the almonds, then peel and cut red onions . Mix all ingredients in the bowl and let stand at least 10 minutes. Serves 2 pax. 

Chef’s suggestion: “This salad tastes even better with the addiction of some black olives”


Join Chef Stefania to experience the best Italian Vegan cooking courses using local and home grown ingredients for yourselves! To find out more about Gioia di Vivere culinary retreats, please click here.

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