Romeo Innocenti teaches the cooking classes. Romeo is well-known in the area for his cuisine – especially certain Maremma sea-food dishes. He is an experienced cook and very entertaining. The guests can learn genuine Southern Tuscan dishes and the secrets passed down from grandmothers and grandfathers. All classes are hands-on and include local wine. The cooking courses teach the traditional Tuscan “Cucina Povera” (country cooking of the peasants). The courses are taught in a large rustic kitchen and dinner is served in the classic Tuscan-styled dining room.
Day 1: Transfer from Rome and arrival at Villa Poggiarello. Fly to Italy. Upon arrival at the airport of Rome, you will be accompanied by car or van to Roccastrada and then welcomed at your vacation residence – Villa Poggiarello. After settling in, your tour hosts Federica and Romeo will show you around the estate! Then you can either relax in the garden or take a walk around the enchanting outdoor ambiance amidst warm vineyards and olive groves. For dinner you will enjoy a Tuscan meal prepared by Romeo.
Day 2: Siena and local food festivals. In the morning, after your breakfast, you’ll set off for Siena. You will visit the famous Piazza del Campo, the main square where the people from Siena (“i Senesi”) organize, twice a year, a medieval horse race known as Il Palio. Facing the square there is the beautiful tour Torre del Mangia, where if you wish, you can climb up to the top to admire a marvelous view of the city. You can also visit the Duomo which is a gothic style cathedral. At the end of the morning, you will have lunch in a quaint restaurant in Piazza del Campo. Once home, and after having rested, you can prepare with Carlo a healthy Tuscan dinner (cooking lesson). During different times of the year, there are many celebrated local food festivals which take place to honor different types of harvest (Porcini mushroom, Olive oil, wine etc). These will be experienced whenever they are taking place! Once home, you can prepare a healthy Tuscan dinner with Romeo (cooking lesson).
Day 3: Vetulonia (Etruscan) and Castiglione della Pescaia. You’ll start off the day by going to Vetulonia. This fascinating Etruscan hill-top town is isolated, mysterious and beautiful. There is a medieval castle and views out over the Mediterranean sea. The Etruscan city of “Vetluna” (Roman Vetulonia) is located on the Maremma hills, above a lagoon and with access to the sea. The nearest modern city is Grosseto, approximately 30km to the South East. Vetulonia is the Etruscan city where the Lictors rods and Fasces originated.
In 1898, a necropolis was discovered with a bundle of Iron rods with a double axe in the center. Later that year, the burial stele of Avele Feluske was discovered. This became a symbol of power by the Roman Magistrates in later years. The Lictor was the name given to the Magistrates assistant. You will also enjoy a trip to the seacoast to the pretty seaside village of Castiglione della Pescaia. This old fishing village stands up high on a hill with its castle looking over the turquoise bay. You will enjoy a tasty lunch at a local restaurant. Once home, you can prepare a healthy Tuscan dinner with Romeo (cooking lesson).
Day 4: The small hill-towns: Roccatederighi, Montepescali. In the morning, after your breakfast, you can relax and prepare for your cooking course which will culminate with lunch – eating all that you prepared. After lunch, you have the choice to either go riding (mountain bikes or horses) around Roccastrada or you can choose to go on the guided excursion to see Roccatederighi and Montepescali. Both of these towns are stunning medieval villages surrounded with splendid views of the countryside.
Roccatederighi itself is a lovely medieval village in the Maremma countryside in the south west of Tuscany. It sits on the top of a rocky hill overlooking an open plane which stretches to the sea. Around lies luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation, utterly unchanged since the dawn of time. Walking down the narrow cobbled streets and squares of the pedestrian historical center, you see parts of the rock formation breaking through. Montepescali (called the “falcon of the Maremma”) sits atop a hill in Tuscany, 222 meters above the Aurelia, one of the ancient Roman highways. From the Baluardo on the western wall of the town, the Tyrrhenian Sea, the island of Giglio, and the highest mountains of Corsica can be seen.
Day 5: Super Tuscan Red Wine Tour: Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano. Today, you will enjoy a trip to the various wineries of Southern Tuscany. Montalcino is known as a “luminous place” and its ancient name was Monte Ilcinus after the leccio "holm oak" (Quercus ilex.) The Oaks of Montalcino have covered its hills and valleys from prehistory to present day, sharing their territory with the Olive tree, the Chestnut tree and Montalcino's most famous plant the Brunello grapevine, also known as Sangiovese Grosso. Here, you will taste this famous Brunello wine in a unique ‘best-kept-secret’ winery.
You will enjoy a tasty lunch at a local restaurant and also visit Montepulciano (and taste the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) as well as experience the extraordinarily charming town of Pienza. Pienza owes its beauty and fame to Enea Silvio Piccolomini born in Corsignano on 18 October 1405 and elevated to Pope in 1458 taking the name Pius II. During the course of his Papacy, he changed the ancient Castello di Corsignano (first mentioned in 828) into a Papal residence in the Renaissance style, planned and constructed under the supervision of Bernardo Gambarelli called il Rossellino, a student of Leon Battista Alberti, and renamed it Pienza ("Pius"). In the evening, you will have your cooking class and dinner at Villa Poggiarello.
Day 6: Mediterranean Sea: Argentario (Porto S. Stefano, Porto Ercole and Talamone). For your last day, you will get to experience the finest seaside villages Tuscany has to offer. The seafood cuisine here is delicious to the point that no words can describe. Naturally, after yesterday’s red wine tastings, today’s accompanying seafood wines shall be white. Perhaps try a Vernaccia, Greco del Tufo or let Romeo make his on-the-spot finest recommendation. Many wealthy Italians, especially the super wealthy, crave hideaways, and this is for them. Exactly 150 km north of Rome, Argentario is an Italian version of the American Martha's Vineyard, but with better food and older money. Just three small strips of land, one of them a 7-km-long nature preserve, connect the 6,000-hectare mountain to the mainland.
Spain controlled Monte Argentario in the 16th century and built an imposing series of stone fortresses and lookout towers along the Mediterranean water. Some of them have been converted into classy homes and apartments: solid dwellings for a solid crowd. In the evening, you will enjoy your farewell cooking course and dinner.
Day 7: Departure. Enjoy your final breakfast at Villa Poggiarello before heading back to Rome.