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Tie on an apron, gather around the old farmhouse table and learn first-hand how to make many of your favorite Italian dishes from recipes handed down from generations of family cooks who are waiting to share their secrets with you. The best cooks in all of Tuscany teach the classes. Come hungry to learn, to cook, to eat, and to drink. After all, the guests don’t just come to cook. Many of the guests come for the wine. Welcome to the center of the Italian wine renaissance, where winemakers are taking Tuscan wine to new heights of quality. Say yes to your vacation of a lifetime in Tuscany in the medieval town of Montefollonico!
Tuscan Women Cook guests stay in I Castagni, luxurious accommodations located in the charming medieval village of Montefollonico. I Castagni is exclusively reserved for Tuscan Women Cook guests. Perched high atop the village, these gorgeous residences boast breathtaking, panoramic views of the Tuscan countryside. Many local shops and internationally acclaimed restaurants can be found just a few short blocks from your front door. If you have a car, you can easily drive to many charming Tuscan villages including Montalcino, Montepulciano, Siena, Cortona and Pienza.
I Castagni boasts newly renovated quarters with elegant decor ensconced in meticulous architectural restoration. Tuscan Women Cook's guests rave about the ultra-comfy spacious suites, perfect for a relaxing riposino (“nap”) after your cooking and sightseeing adventures. Tuscan Women Cook guests will have exclusive access to lush, private gardens and an expansive terrace furnished with comfortable chaise lounge chairs to take in the view. Both are peaceful settings to enjoy your favorite book or an aperitivo with loved ones. I Castagni’s indoor and outdoor accommodations are inspirational outposts to reflect, and perhaps journal about all you have seen, learned, and tasted during your magical week with Tuscan Women Cook.
Guests will begin each day with abundant breakfast buffets with both sweet and savory selections freshly prepared from organic ingredients grown in local farms.
Benvenuto. Welcome. Tuscan Women Cook is confident you’ll feel right at home here in the heart of Tuscany.
Imagine that after a deep slumber, you awake refreshed in a converted 300-year-old olive mill nestled in the magnificent, verdant Tuscan countryside. A gentle, fragrant breeze brings the heady scent of fresh lavender mingled with wild rosemary into your room through an open window. You are finally here. Join a group of accomplished cooks, the culinary curious, and grateful, happy eaters who may very well become your new foodie friends for life. Let your trip to paradise begin.
Your week with Tuscan Women Cook includes six night’s accommodation at La Chiusa in Montefollonico, breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, cooking classes, daily sightseeing, visits to local artisans, and wine tastings. Full translations are provided at all classes. Transportation to all activities is in a Mercedes minibus with private driver.
Arrive in paradise! Check in at the historic I Castagni in the medieval walled village of Montefollonico. You will share antipasti and a glass of Prosecco together before your first dinner tonight at a charming local restaurant. Make a toast to new friends and new flavors. The chef will prepare a delicious Tuscan meal for you to begin your week together. Let the delicious journey begin.
It’s time to get cooking! Your adventure will begin with an interactive travelogue hosted by one of Montefollonico’s esteemed long-time residents. Next, don your apron and get ready to cook with one of Tuscan Women Cook's beloved local nonnas who will lead you through the prep of a delicious multi-course luncheon where you’ll master many essential foundational Tuscan cooking techniques.
After this extraordinary lunch, you’ll wind through the historic medieval hilltop village of Pienza (named for the 15th century Pope Pius II) to peruse the galleries of many of the local artisans. You’ll experience first hand the role Pecorino cheese from Pienza plays in the dishes you’ll enjoy at Tuscan Women Cook.
Tonight you’ll dine at the Cantina de La Porta Monticchiello. Your sommelier for the evening will offer carefully curated wine pairings from Montalcino for your sumptuous meal. Mangiamo!
Three generations of a Tuscan family will lead your class today at the Bernadini family home and agriturismo called Belaggagio. Grandmother Ada, daughter Antonella and granddaughter Gloria were the very first women cooks in 2000. Additionally, stuffed fried zucchini flowers, the “best ever” pasta al forno (lasagne) and tiramisù will be highlighted today. Squisito! (Yummy!)
This afternoon you visit the medieval hill town of Montepulciano where the famous Vino Nobile wine is produced. One of the most sought after ceramic shops in southern Tuscany is in the village. You’ll visit artisan Mariella Spinelli at this incredible shop located in the village’s oldest restored and desanctified church.
Dinner will be at the renowned Ristorante La Grotta in Montepulciano, near San Biagio church with the same plan used for the original design by Bramante and Michelangelo for St. Peter’s Basilica.
Keep your apron in your hotel room. There are no cooking lessons today. You will depart after breakfast for a day of touring Siena. Joining you will be Dottoressa Cristina Amberti, your guide for the day in the beautiful medieval city of Siena, who will provide an expert insider’s introduction to the Gothic architecture, the famous Piazza del Campo, the history of the contrade, and of course, the vibrant public markets and culinary traditions.
Built between the 14th and 16th centuries, Siena is a magnificent medieval city that had a huge impact on art, architecture, banking, and urban planning during the Middle Ages in Italy and throughout Europe. Cristina will give you an exciting insider’s overview before setting you loose at the weekly open-air market where shoppers will delight in a dazzling array of booths featuring leather goods, jewelry, clothing, local foods, and artisanal crafts.
After your Siena shopping adventure, Cristina will lead you on a memorable tour filled with fascinating information about Siena, past and present. You’ll enjoy an elegant lunch at Osteria Le Logge, one of Siena’s finest restaurants. After lunch, Cristina will lead you on more sightseeing, a welcome opportunity to explore even more of this glorious city.
After a glorious day in Siena, you’ll return to your home base of Montefollonico to dine at Il Botteghino, considered Tuscany’s best pizzeria by the local residents. Chef Danieli creates pizzas from the very best locally grown ingredients and prepares a truly memorable white pizza topped with fresh porcini mushrooms and shaved local truffles that you’ll be craving long after you return home. Mangia!
Join Tuscan Women Cook for a cappuccino in the village of Montefollonico before this morning’s cooking class at 13 Gobbi. Simonetta and Donatella will teach you today. Cooking class this morning features hand-rolled pici, the delicious eggless pasta that originated in the area of Tuscany. You will also prepare aglione (garlic and tomato) sauce, pollo diavalo, savory grilled fresh vegetables topped with local extra virgin olive oil, and crostata suisina.
Later in the day, you’ll visit the award-winning Cugusi Dairy where sisters Giovanna and Silvana oversee every meticulous step of their handcrafted cheese production. Their sheep graze in carefully tended fields of herbaceous pastures that contribute to the flavor of pecorino cheeses, aged in accordance with local tradition, ensconced in walnut leaves, hay, and ash. You’ll sample slices from many of their most popular wheels and have the opportunity to purchase specially sealed packages to bring home as gifts to your favorite friends. Wedges of Cugusi cheese is one of the most prized purchases amongst Tuscan Women Cook's guests!
You’ll sample Cugusi’s award-winning Gran Reserve pecorino in the 750-year-old cantina of local wine master, Vittorio Innocenti, famous for his Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and his award-winning Vin Santo.
Dinner tonight is at another of the wonderful restaurants in Montefollonico, La Botte Piena (“the full barrel”). The Michelin-ranked chefs are affiliated with the Slow Food movement and feature one of the top-ranked Tuscan wine cellars, which they generously share with Tuscan Women Cook's guests.
Today is the final day to learn to prepare authentic classic Tuscan dishes at Il Covo, with nonna Claudia sharing cherished family recipes, gently guiding you to confidently knead, roll and shape fresh pasta. In the afternoon you will head to a notable winery for tasting award-winning Super Tuscans and outstanding whites.
Back to your home base of Montefollonico, the best pizza is featured for your final dinner together. Local favorites, along with a pizza created exclusively for the guests, is baked to perfection by pizza chef Danieli in his hand-built pizza oven. The white pizza topped with fresh porcini mushrooms and shaved truffles is one of the favorites. Mangia!
While the restaurants throughout Italy have a wonderful cuisine, Tuscan Women Cook has found the very best cooks in all of Tuscany are the local Tuscan women. The local Tuscan women cooks teach recipes and techniques passed down from generation to generation over the centuries - the truly great cooking of Tuscany.
The women of the village of Montefollonico are exceptional cooks. From a Michelin-starred restaurant chef to modest, but incredible home cooks, the women of Tuscan Women Cook will delight you. In your daily classes, you will normally use the services of more than one of the delightful cooks.
Your local cooks grow most of the ingredients for each class in their own home gardens. Eggs come from their chickens, wild boar comes from their husband’s skills, tomatoes and fresh zucchini flowers are picked just before the morning’s class. Seasonal cooking, green methods of gardening, sustainable food products, slow food, local suppliers and purveyors - these are not new concepts to these Tuscan women, rather these are methods and concepts that have been passed down over the generations and are still practiced today.
Simonetta welcomes guests into the Ristorante 13 Gobbi kitchen to learn how to prepare their immensely popular pungent, garlicky aglione sauce. Guests spoon this delicious sauce over everything, from fresh pasta to the bountiful grilled vegetable platter Simonetta serves at lunch.
Cristina will be your tour guide in the beautiful medieval city of Siena.
To watch Donatella’s arms stretched wide, twirling fresh pici is to akin to watching extraordinary choreography. And like a dancer, Donatella makes the most complicated handmade pasta and pastry look effortless, leaving guests who visit her at Ristorante 13 Gobbi both awed and inspired. Her fresh fruit crostata is the perfect ending to one of the best meals you’ll have in Montefollonico.
You’d be hard pressed to find a Tuscan kitchen with a better view than La Costa’s where Tuscan Women Cook guests delight in alfresco dining, swooning over both the views and their meals. This busy, fragrant kitchen is run by Ada, who has prepared her long list of regional specialties for decades. Tuscan Women Cook guests always ask for seconds of Ada’s rich, flavorful ribollita soup. It’s a recipe many guests report preparing as soon as they arrive home to recapture the memory of Ada’s bustling kitchen.
This mother-daughter team of Antonella and Ada run the kitchen at Agriturismo Belagaggio, a picturesque family compound perched atop a Tuscan hillside. Three generations of family members cook and teach in their kitchen on any given day, sharing their secret stuffing ingredient with guests for their memorable fried stuffed zucchini flowers and patiently guiding the hungry and the willing through each delicious, delicate layer upon layer of their famous pasta al forno.
Vittorio Innocenti is a local wine master. He is famous for his Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and his award-winning Vin Santo.
Flavio is the seventh generation of his family to practice the art of making wine. He was recently honored at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City for his outstanding wines.
This vacation will take place in Tuscany, Italy. Tuscany is the center of Italy - its culture, its food and wine, and its major attractions. Tuscany is a region of tremendous geographical and cultural diversity. It is composed of nine provinces, most of them along ancient boundaries. Each Tuscan city maintains its historical uniqueness and charm.
Your home for the week will be at I Castagni in Montefollonico. I Castagni is centrally located for all your cooking classes and daily excursions. Within a short drive of Montefollonico, you’ll be able to visit many towns, large and small that are rich in history and culture.
It is an architectural jewel set in the magnificent open countryside. By papal decree in 1462, Pope Pius II decided to rebuild the village of his birth and commissioned Bernardo Rossellino to the task. It is also famous for the world’s best Pecorino cheeses.
Montepulciano is a medieval and Renaissance hill town located a short nine-kilometer drive from Tuscan Women Cook. It is famed for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine. The Etruscan town’s central square, the Piazza Grande, is as beautiful as any in Italy. The spectacular San Biagio church sits just below the town at the far end of a long avenue of tall cypress trees.
Fragrant hedges of colorful roses line the endless rows of vineyards parading up and down the low slung hills. The area produces one of the world’s best wines, Brunello di Montalcino.
It is home to the Chianti Classico and Chianti Rufina wine growing regions.
Built between the 14th and 16th centuries, Siena is a magnificent medieval city that had a huge impact on art, architecture, banking, and urban planning during the Middle Ages in Italy and throughout Europe. Outside of Florence, Siena possesses the richest artistic heritage in Tuscany, and a wonderful Wednesday morning market brimming with bargains.
During the vacation, you'll have three daily delicious gourmet meals and spectacular local wines. Your days will begin with an al fresco breakfast on the terrace that includes fragrant, fresh-baked bread from La Chiusa’s wood-burning oven along with fruits and vegetables grown in their organic garden.
You can take a train to Chiusi station (located between Florence and Rome). Once you arrive, take a short car ride through the winding roads curvaceously paved through the Tuscan countryside to the town of Montefollonico.
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