8 Days Under the Tuscan Sun Cooking Holiday Italy

  • Tuscan Sun Apartments, Via di S. Alessio, 3680, Tuscany 55100, Italy

Overview

Tuscan Cooking & Wine Holidays

A great Tuscan cooking and wine vacation in the heart of Tuscany with Chef Paolo Monti. In this comprehensive hands-on cooking and wine tour, you will learn the best of Tuscan cooking and living. Learn more than 45 recipes with with effervescent Chef Paolo Monti and gain understanding of diverse cooking methods. Enjoy field trips to the wholesale market for fish, meat, vegetables and fruits, cheese, and extra virgin olive oils. Visit a castle in Siena for wine tasting. You will also go to Parma and Modena to see the production of Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale.

Highlights

  • 4 cooking classes
  • Market visit, food factory visits
  • 2 wine tastings, wine cellar visit
  • Cheese, cured meats, vinegar tastings
  • Excursions in Siena, Chianti, Lucca
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Cooking certificate
  • 5 days with instruction
  • French, German, Italian, English
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Tuscan Sun Apartments

Chef Paolo Montis Tuscan Sun Apartments are located in the middle of the Tuscan countryside among the fields and Sangiovese vignards, but only 5 minutes drive to the center of Lucca. A quiet green paradise attached to Chef Paolo Montis Cooking School and on the first floor above the restaurant La Cantina Di Carignano.

You can choose among 4 newly remodelled Tuscan style apartments, with terracotta tiles on the floor, wooden beams on the ceiling, wrought iron beds, cooking facilities,but with modern comforts such as private bathroom, telephone, air conditioning, free WiFi and 32 flat screen TV.

Amenities and services

  • Bicycle rental
  • Cooking lessons
  • Horseback riding reservation
  • Language lessons
  • Laundry service
  • Tennis

Day 1, Sunday - Arrival

  • Check in at Tuscan Sun Apartments in Lucca.
  • Meet the other participants in the lobby at 19:00 for aperitifs followed by welcome dinner with Chef Paolo Monti.

Day 2, Monday - Cooking class, excursion

  • 09:.45 Hands on cooking lesson with Chef Paolo Monti followed by lunch. This class is very important, we will start with lesson on the origins of the Cucina Italiana, the main ingredients, fresh herbs, an extravirgin olive oil seminar, explaining how extravirgin olive oil is made and taste a dozen different olive oils to recognize the differences, according to where they are produced. We will then start cooking some of the most important sauces of Italian and Tuscan cuisine. Have a light breakfast! because we will make 14 recipes and we will taste all of them.
  • Afternoon excursion to Lucca and guided tour of the city.
  • Return to the hotel for dinner.

Day 3, Tuesday - Market visit, cooking class, wine tasting

  • 08.00 Trip to see the fish and vegetable market, for italian vegetables, herbs and fruit, salami and cheeses, but mainly to learn how to recognize fresh fish and less then fresh fish! See different types of fish and what they are used for.
  • Return to the hotel and start the cooking class with italian seafood recipes.
  • In the afternoon visit a local winery for wine tasting.
  • Dinner with local Lucchese specialties.

Day 4, Wednesday - Factory visits, cheese tasting, cured meats tasting, vinegar tasting

  • 06:15 Breakfast.
  • 06:45 Trip the Parma province to visit Bertinelli Parmigiano Reggiano Dairy to see the production of this totally organic and wonderful cheese, followed by tasting the finished product of course.
  • We then drive to Langhirano a "Prosciutto di Parma" maker, see how prosciutto is made in a Prosciuttificio La Perla, we visit the factory and see all the steps to produce this wonderful ham, followed by lunch with prosciutto, salami etc, and home made fresh pasta with Lambrusco wine.
  • After lunch we drive to Modeana to Acetaia Malpighi and visit the barrel rooms where the original "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale" or traditional balsamic vinegar is made an ancient tradition going back to the Roman Times and of course taste it!
  • Return to Lucca for dinner.

Day 5, Thursday - Cooking class, free time

  • 10:00 Hands on Tuscan cooking class about typical Tuscan cuisine, we will make crostini ai fegatini, crostini alle melanzane, panzanella: the famous tuscan bread salad. We will hand make the local vegetable ravioli and a delicious aromatic meat rag from Lucca with unusual spices, for main dish arista di maiale (loin of pork with typical tuscan herbs). For dessert we will make cantuccini also known as "biscotti".
  • Afternoon: free to relax, perhaps with a bicycle trip along the river or free to walkbout in Lucca.
  • Dinner in a typical restaurant.

Day 6, Friday - Excursion, wine tasting

  • 08:30 Departure for Siena. We stop over in Greve in Chianti to visit this famous village in the Chianti region.
  • Visit a Chianti Castle and its cellars followed by wine tasting and lunch at the famous butcher Dario Checchini' s Butcher shop in *Panzano in Chianti.
  • After lunch we go to Siena for a guided tour of this beautiful medieval city, famous for the Palio Horse Race. There is time to relax and shop.
  • Return to Lucca for dinner.

Day 7, Saturday - Cooking class, free time, farewell dinner

  • 10:00 the final cooking class with Chef Paolo Monti. We will be learning how to make a proper risotto with shrimp and saffron, with porcini mushrooms, with red wine radicchio and speck, with squid ink. We will be preparing two type of traditional beef carpaccio and a buffalo mozzarella with a blended fresh tomato sauce, to finish two dessert, semifreddo al croccantino and charlotte di pere.
  • Free afternoon for shopping.
  • Final farewell dinner with Chef Paolo Monti with presentation of certificates.

Day 8, Sunday - Departure

  • Departure day.

Excursion to Parma and Modena for balsamic vinegar, prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano

Full day excursion to Chianti and Siena

Visit to the wholesale market

  • Paolo Monti

    Montecatini Terme's catering college (Chef)

    Chef Paolo Monti studied all aspects of restaurant and hotel work, as well as French, German, and English. His cooking classes are routinely held in all three languages. Striving to perfect his languages and skills, Paolo worked his way up the culinary and hotel industry ladder passing through several countries. During his career, he has launched and managed several restaurants and catering operations in several countries. His classes are conducted in a light, entertaining atmosphere.

Lucca, a wonderful art town in Tuscany, is nowadays still surrounded by the Renaissance walls that had defensive purpouses in the past and now are like a jewel box that contains all the architectural beauties set on the city plan, like gems on a tiara. Lying on the Via Francigena and hosting a very important Christian relic such as the crucifix of the Volto Santo, have been great advantages for Lucca above all during the the Middle Age. You can't miss a visit to Piazza Anfiteatro, that mantains the shape of its origins (the square was built on a Roman amphiteatre) or either to the Guinigi Tower, amazing and peculiar with the holm oaks on its top.

The park of the Serchio River creates a connection space between the town of Lucca and the river watercourse on a area of 250 hectares of width, where it is possible to go for a walk, to make excursions by foot, by bike or riding a horse, canoeing or kayaking, or even just have a break along the banks to enjoy the view of the natural beauties. There also are several recreational areas, such as football fields, archery fields, an area for playing bowls, model airplane and model car fields, as well as skateboarding ramps.

  • 4 cooking classes
  • 7 nights full board accommodation
  • Excursion to Parma and Modena for balsamic vinegar, prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Full day excursion to Chianti and Siena
  • Visit to the wholesale market
  • Airport transfers

Driving direction from Pisa airport

  • Follow the directions to Viareggio and take the road SS1 'Via Aurelia'.
  • Enter the motorway A11 'Pisa Nord' towards Firenze.
  • Take the exit 'Lucca Ovest'
  • Continue straight onto Via Citt Gemelle
  • At the roundabout take the 2nd exit and take Via Gaetano Luporini
  • At the roundabout take the 2nd exit and take Via Luigi Einaudi
  • Turn left and take Viale Giacomo Puccini/SS439
  • Continuing on SS439
  • Turn right and take Via di Sant'Alessio/SP24
  • Turn left and stay on Sant'Alessio/SP24
  • Take the second right to stay on Sant'Alessio / SP24
  • Continuing to follow Via di Sant'Alessio
  • Tuscan Sun Apartments are on yout left

Driving direction from Florence city center and airport

  • Take the motorway A11 'Firenze-Pisa Nord' towards Pisa.
  • Leave the motorway at the exit 'Lucca Ovest'
  • Continue straight onto Via Citt Gemelle
  • At the roundabout take the 2nd exit and take Via Gaetano Luporini
  • At the roundabout take the 2nd exit and take Via Luigi Einaudi
  • Turn left and take Viale Giacomo Puccini/SS439
  • Continuing on SS439
  • Turn right and take Via di Sant'Alessio/SP24
  • Turn left and stay on Sant'Alessio/SP24
  • Take the second right to stay on Sant'Alessio / SP24
  • Continuing to follow Via di Sant'Alessio
  • Tuscan Sun Apartments are on yout left

Driving direction from the motorway exit Lucca Ovest

  • Continue straight onto Via Citt Gemelle
  • At the roundabout take the 2nd exit and take Via Gaetano Luporini
  • At the roundabout take the 2nd exit and take Via Luigi Einaudi
  • Turn left and take Viale Giacomo Puccini/SS439
  • Continuing on SS439
  • Turn right and take Via di Sant'Alessio/SP24
  • Turn left and stay on Sant'Alessio/SP24
  • Take the second right to stay on Sant'Alessio / SP24
  • Continuing to follow Via di Sant'Alessio
  • Tuscan Sun Apartments are on yout left

Driving direction from the motorway exit Lucca est

  • Turn left into Viale Europa
  • At the roundabout take the 2nd exit and take Viale Carducci
  • Turn right onto Piazzale Luigi Boccherini
  • Turn left to stay on Piazzale Luigi Boccherini
  • Continue straight onto Via Alfredo Catalani/SS439
  • Continuing on SS439
  • Turn right and take Via di Sant'Alessio/SP24
  • Turn left and stay on Sant'Alessio/SP24
  • Take the second right to stay on Sant'Alessio / SP24
  • Continuing to follow Via di Sant'Alessio
  • Tuscan Sun Apartments are on your left

Arrival by airplane

  • The nearest airport is Pisa International Airport (PSA).

GPS

  • Latitude: 43.86146559154036 N
  • Longitude: 10.463706556474335 E

Distances

  • Bus station, 3 kilometers
  • Florence Airport, Peretola (FLR) 70 kilometers
  • Pisa International Airport (PSA), 30 kilometers
  • Train station, 5 kilometers
For information about the booking conditions, please send Paolo Monti an inquiry.
  • The deposit is fully refundable if the booking is cancelled up to 30 days before the arrival date.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Verified BookCulinaryVacations.com reviews

  • Review by Ron Avraham from Israel

    "Dear chef Monti, I'd like to thank you very much for the wonderful week that I experienced. I enjoyed to learn being led by you. You are a good chef, a great teacher, and a wonderful person. I'll recommend this experience to all cooking lovers. I hope to visit you next year with my wife. Best regards to Ms. Giovanni and all the staff."

    BookCulinaryVacations.com website, edited

  • Review by Ruth from Brentwood, UK

    "Paolo Monti is an excellent chef and very good teacher. He has endless patience and corny jokes. I went to this Italian cooking vacation in July 2014. "

    BookCulinaryVacations.com website, edited

Testimonials

  • Review by John L from North Carolina, USA

    "My wife and I spent a wonderful day learning Chef Paulo's easy to follow recipes and cooking techniques. His kitchen is a short taxi from historic Lucca. Chef has a delightful sense of humor but a serious attention to the details of fine food preparation. We have already used several of the recipes back at home. One of the real highlights of our 3 weeks in Italy."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Michael from New York, USA

    "I took two classes with Chef Paolo - one on pasta making and the other on Tuscan specialties. Both were excellent. The instruction was both serious and entertaining, and the food that we made, and then ate, was delicious. Chef Paolo not only demonstrates cooking techniques, but also talks about the ingredients - and the ingredients he provides for this classes are of top quality. Based on searches I did for other cooking classes in Italy, Chef Paolo's are very reasonably priced, so you will definitely feel that you are getting good value for your money. Also, I signed up for the class on my own, but it was no problem feeling incorporated into the lesson, even though others were in groups (families or people traveling together). In fact, part of the fun was meeting other people."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Greater London, United Kingdom

    "What a fabulous, friendly, simple, and easy to follow way of learning how to prepare and cook some fabulous Tuscan dishes. Chef Paolo is engaging, funny, inclusive and really makes you feel you can rustle up these sumptuous dishes with very little effort. We made all his favorite dishes (and ate them all for lunch), which was enlightening and delicious. The Semifredo finished off the many delicious savory dishes, despite the fact we were all already completely full. His restaurant next door serves wonderful food, so stay a few days and sample its delights too. Luca is only a few minutes drive away and worth a visit whilst you're there."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from California, USA

    "I love Chef Paolo's sense of humor and teaching style. This class is highly interactive, fun, with interesting and new types of Italian dishes. I took Chef Paolo's class last year and made it a point to take another class this year with my husband. I use his recipes and knowledge often at home. I highly recommend Chef Paolo's classes and will take his class every time I am vacationing in Lucca. Message for Chef Paolo: Keep up the fantastic work and your natural charisma, is magnetic."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Matt H. from Florida, USA

    "Chef Paolo is not only a master chef but a great teacher as well! We walked away with full stomachs, a very satisfied palette, and armed with lots of new knowledge! We also made some new friends! The atmosphere is light and friendly and the class was enjoyable for all! What a treat!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Shane R from Adelaide, Australia

    "We booked a Sunday morning class With Chef Paolo Monti from Australia before we began our holiday. Three of us attended his restaurant at 8 a.m. for the market tour. We found a taxi was the best mode of transport if you did not have a car. The fare approximately is 25 EUR. Chef Monti drove us back into Lucca to the market, which was a good learning experience relating to local foods, their supply and how to choose good produce. From there we returned to his restaurant door coffee and relaxed until 10 a.m. when the class began. We had chosen to do "Chef Paolo Monti's favorite recipes" course. We went straight to work preparing ingredients for the stock, sauces, and dessert. We enjoyed these tasks and we're pleased by the technical skills he imparted. Around 11:45 a.m. we began to eat what we had helped produce; a feast. Four antipasti appetizers, three primi first courses, three secondi main dishes and semifreddo al croccantino dessert. "

    "We loved the experience; the food was excellent and felt two sizes larger when left by taxi at 2 p.m. Chef Monti is great to work with, his English is excellent and we found the time elapsed far too rapidly. If you enjoy your sleep in, skip the market tour and just do the course."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Brett A. from Toronto, Canada

    "It is a must experience while visiting Italy! My son and I took the pasta class and it was the best way to end our trip to Italy. The tricks we learned, the sauces we prepared, and the fun we had with Chef Paolo and his staff are precious and irreplaceable. We took the recipes home and shared with family and friends. Taking a cooking class with Chef Paolo and his staff it is like taking a bit of Italy with you wherever you go. Thank you Chef Paolo and staff for such an amazing experience."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Carol from New Jersey, USA

    "We went to the vegetarian class and were totally blown away by the tasty food we prepped! My wife and I ended up in a small class with chef Paolo and got lots of hands on with making dishes, getting an insight into his food philosophy and even a first hand look at running the type of business he has in somewhere like the countryside around Lucca. We walked there from the walled city for about an hour (5 kilometers) and it just added to the experience. It's so beautiful around there. Chef Monte has a wealth of knowledge and experience and that translated into great food and great tales of a life in the culinary field from all areas of the world. If you're at all interested in making great Italian food, whether meat-based, strict vegan, or vegetarian styles, I suspect you won't be disappointed. We weren't and have a wonderful highlight from our three weeks in Italy. Thank you chef!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Carol from New Jersey, USA

    "My husband and I wanted to take a cooking class while in Tuscany, so looked up reviews and found Chef Paolo Monti having high ratings. We found out why, after taking his pasta, sauces, and gnocchi class. This was the highlight of our trip, even with everything else we did and saw. Chef Paolo Monti went through all of the steps of each sauce and type of pasta. We left so excited, that upon returning home bought all equipment needed to make our own pastas. We have all his recipes for the sauces. We will always remember our cooking class with Chef Paolo Monti and would recommend his classes to anyone."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Waldenbuch, Germany

    "A friend and I took the basic ingredients and sauces class and had a blast! Chef Paolo was very entertaining and informative. We enjoyed learning about the essential ingredients and then being able to help prepare the dishes was so much fun! Of course the dinner was wonderful and we walked away well fed, well informed, and very satisfied. I would recommend any of his classes without reservation!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Sherilady from Essen, Germany

    "We cooked the Tuscan dishes today and learnt some new skills. Chef Monti is a pleasant and funny man. Food and wine were both delicious. We'd like to return another time and do another course. This is definitely good value for money. Absolut empfehlenswert und gutes Preisleistungsverhaeltnis. Bis bald!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Katherine from Albany, USA

    "This is a must do activity if you have time to spend in Lucca! What a fabulous experience cooking with other travelers and sampling local favorites. Chef Paolo is a delightful teacher and a generous host. Doing the half-day class on the Flavors of Lucca was a highlight of my trip to Italy!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Bill from California, USA

    "Chef Monti is not only a great teacher, he's also hysterical. His jokes are terrible, politically incorrect, and laugh-out-loud funny! The classroom is very intimate and from the first minute you are working hands-on: measuring, weighing, slicing, chopping, kneading, etc. I took the pizza, focaccia, and bread class, and although I've been making bread for 20 years, I learned many new tricks, including how to toss pizza dough, and more importantly, how to catch it again! His approach is very easy to follow and his methods stress how things should feel rather than relying on slavish devotion to recipes. The school is attached to a working restaurant in the Carignano Hotel in the outskirts of Lucca. He offers six, four-hour courses and many people stay in the hotel and make these cooking classes a destination vacation. I was very entertained."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Chris N. from Oxford, United Kingdom

    "I have very little to add to the many strongly positive reviews already posted. Chef Paolo Monti is passionate about good food, a great communicator, and (in spite of his occasional efforts to play, none too convincingly, the short-tempered maestro) a warm-hearted and genial host. We enjoyed a leisurely cycle from Lucca along the bank of the Serchio, arriving in good time for our 10:00 class in risotti, carpaccio, and scallopine (not forgetting the almond caramel semifreddo dessert). A strong emphasis on the importance of good ingredients and preparation. Yes, it really is as good as everyone says! Chef Paolo has clearly rehearsed his performance (and his frequent jokes) over many years, but what results is quite miraculous - the apparently effortless transformation of simple ingredients into dishes that would not be out of place in your favourite Michelin-starred restaurant. We chopped, sliced, stirred, and ate. Perhaps there was also a little wine. By the time we got to the semifreddo, at about 14:30, we were in foodie heaven. I can't praise this course highly enough. I'm sure we'll be back soon, ideally for the full week-long experience. A welcome blend of demonstration and hands-on learning proved just right for us (as part of a diverse group of eight pupils) Grazie Mille!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Anna from New Jersey, USA

    "We enjoyed this experience very, very much. Chef Paolo was so informative and taught us so much, he is so nice and welcoming, and very funny! We felt like we were in a live TV cooking show; everything was hands-on and everyone had special roles. Nobody was left out. We made awesome food, including Tuscan bread salad, homemade raviolis, pasta, roast pork wrapped in pancetta, roast potatoes with fresh herbs, and biscotti. It also came with wine and drinks. Afterwards, we ate our delicious meal in the dining room and were so proud of what we accomplished! We happened to be there with a great family, who also made the experience so enjoyable. Thank you so much for such a great time. Till next time, Anna and Mike."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Nadia from Moscow, Russia

    "We are a family from Russia: me, Nadia, Alex, Sasha, and Vika. We stayed in Paolo's sunny apartment and took cooking classes. Everything was amazing: very tasty, very interesting, very useful, and very simple! We are able to self-replicate all the recipes back home with consistently excellent results. Paolo is great chef with wide expertise of international cuisine and its own bright ideas for his own unique dishes."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Ohio, USA

    "Seven girlfriends and I spent seven days cooking with Chef Paolo Monti at his cooking school in Lucca, Italy. This is a not to be missed experience. On day one, we met the chef and had dinner with him in his restaurant, how great is that? Here is the day to day breakdown. Day one: basic sauces, like tomato and classic meat sauce, chicken stock, and cherry tomatoes with garlic and basil. Bruschetta with tomato, one with mushrooms and another with beans. The first was butterfly pasta with creamy mozzarella, tomato sauce, olives, and basil, and penne with tomato and pancetta. Second was chicken cacciatora and a very yummy pork tenderloin with a lemon cream sauce. Dessert was tiramisu. Day two started with carpaccio and fresh mozzarella with raw tomato sauce. Next was the risotto with mushroom, arugula saffron with shrimps, radicchio, speck, and gorgonzola and squid ink. Main dishes included veal scaloppine with porcini, veal scaloppine in tomato sauce, veal in lemon sauce, and yummy saltimbocca. Dessert was semifreddo with almond crackle. Day three was Tuscan bread salad and yummy eggplant crostini. Pasta, ravioli, and linguine. The second was roast pork with pancetta, rosemary, and sage. Dessert is biscotti with Vin Santo. Day four was shrimp salad on fennel and orange, mussels in garlic, lemon and wine, mussels with celery, carrot and sambuca, and fresh tuna tartare. Primi was spaghetti with clams, seafood fettuccine with saffron, and pasta with pistachio and shrimp. Next is chef's signature dish, grilled tuna with lettuce sauce and a whole baked fish. Dessert was panna cotta. The last day was pizza dough, bread, rolls, and focaccia. We stayed in the Tuscan Sun apartments that are comfortable and convenient. I gave the chef the excellent service pin and he seemed very proud and pleased. Chef Paolo is informative and funny. Do not miss this if you are in Tuscany."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Don Miller from Chilliwack, Canada

    "My wife, Wendy, and I spent a wonderful time with Paolo. Our class consisted of sauces (Ragu) and lemon sauce for pork tendeloin, as well as other sauces, and of course, we made terra mesou. He demonstrated the preparation of the vegetables and why it is done a certain way. If we had more time, we would have signed up for another class on making pasta. Very enjoyable experience. My wife and I tried the recipe for our family, and they loved it. The class is well worth the money for the experience and of course the wine. If we get back to Lucca, we would go back to this cooking school for sure."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Glenda from Portland, USA

    "My sister, Lisa, and I stayed for two days with Chef Paolo in September and we had a fabulous experience! We took the main sauces class and were surprised at how quickly dishes could be prepared. A highlight of the course was learning how easy it really is to make Tiramisú; our favorite dessert (we've made it several times since our return home and it always comes out perfect!). Chef Paolo and his staff made our visit one to remember and we cannot wait to return; but we will plan on taking more than one class on our next visit. Over the holidays I made the Penne all'amatriciana and it is now everyone's new favorite! "

    TripAdvisor website, edited

Lucca, Italy

Chef Paolo Monti is the founder of Cucina Italiana cooking school. Their goal is to give you a basic knowledge of contemporary Italian recipes and how they are prepared using traditional ingredients.

Speaks English

from --

8 days / 7 nights

Availability

Available all year round, with arrival on Sunday except Christmas and Easter weeks. Please select an arrival date below.

 

Low season
  • November - March

 

High season
  • April - October

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