Day 1: Pick-up in Florence and arrival at Villa Castelletti. We will pick you up in Florence and take you to Villa Castelletti where you will be welcomed at the Borgo (Hamlet) - your vacation home next to the main Villa. After settling in, Linda will show you around the entire estate, which will be your home for the week! You will have time to relax in your lovely apartment before enjoying a welcome drink with the staff at the Borgo. We will dine at the restaurant on the Villa Castelletti estate where Roberto, your cooking teacher for the week, will prepare your first Tuscan meal at the “Tre Corone” restaurant where you will be taking your hands on cooking classes throughout the week.
Day 2: A perfect morning in Lucca – Wine Appreciation in Carmignano. In the morning, after Breakfast either in your apartments or out in the breakfast room, you will be off to beautiful Lucca, a town West of Villa Castelletti. You will enjoy a walking tour around the heart of Lucca, which is considered to be one of the most picturesque of all the fortified (medieval wall) towns in Tuscany. After our informative tour, you will have free time to shop, take a walk around the 16th century intact walls, visit museums and churches or simply sit in one of the many cafe’s that line this Roman city. You will enjoy a light lunch in one of the many Trattoria’s in Lucca. Early evening transfer to the heart of the Carmignano region where you will meet Francesco, Sommelier and owner of ‘Super i canto’ a wine bar in the town center. You will be introduced to the wines of Carmignano accompanied by a tasting-specific menu.
Day 3: A ‘Nobile’ Winery and Medieval Towers in the heart of Chianti. After breakfast, you will take a walk up to the restaurant where you will enjoy a cooking course followed by lunch. In the afternoon, you will visit a famous winery owned by a Florentine Nobile (noble) family, wine makers for twenty six generations! The Wine cellars are situated below an Abbey consecrated in eight hundred A.D. Massimo, the estate’s wine-maker, will take you on an informative tour followed by a tasting.
After your tour, you will continue on with a drive through the Chianti region situated between Florence and Siena. Here there is an ancient Roman road which will take us to the medieval town known as San Gimignano. You will discover why San Gimignano is the only remaining medieval town which has been called the “Manhattan of Tuscany” and witness firsthand its ten (originally there were seventy two) towers! You will have a chance to shop while strolling along the magical windy streets, which are packed with local artisans’ stores that specialize in ceramics, leather goods and wooden crafts. Enjoy dinner at a local wine bar where you will try the white wine of San Gimignano called Vernaccia.
Day 4: Cooking in the Heart of Florence. On this special day, we will meet up with Sharon, who is the restaurant owner and Chef of the famous Trattoria Garga (located in the heart of Florence not far from the Ponte Vecchio), at the main central market in Florence. Sharon will take us on a gastronomic tour teaching us about the main organic ingredients of Tuscan Cuisine which we will later use to prepare our cooking course. After this eye-opening outdoor market tour, we will make our way to Sharon’s cooking school and enjoy a hands-on cooking extravaganza (cooking course followed by lunch). After lunch, you can shop and discover the historical treasures of Florence. In the evening, we will transfer back to Villa Castelletti for a light, quiet and restful dinner or you can choose to remain in Florence for a free evening on your own terms!
Day 5: Wine Tasting in Carmignano. This morning you will have breakfast at your own leisure and enjoy a cooking class with Elvio and Roberto followed by lunch. Then we will have some free time to take a stroll around the estate or simply relax in your comfortable apartments before taking a picturesque drive through the Carmignano wine region to the winery known as Fattoria di Bacchereto. In addition to wine tasting you can learn about the olive oil making process and meet Alberto who often toasts bread over a wood fire for us and makes “Fettunta” which is really nice and special.
Day 6: The most famous Leaning Tower. In the morning, you will enjoy a drive along the Arno river heading West towards the Mediterranean Sea. We will go to Pisa and meet an expert “Pisan”guide (who specializes 100% in Pisa) and visit the Cathedral, Leaning Tower and Baptistery (exterior only) followed by a stroll in to the city center. Arrive at the Roman Forum where you will view the lavish 15th century Palazzi built by The Medici family. We will proceed as far as the Arno river before we say good-bye to our guide and then we can enjoy free time to ourselves - to shop and have a bite to eat. Later in the afternoon, we will return to the Borgo where we will enjoy our last cooking class followed by dinner.
Day 7: Farewell Villa Castelletti and friends. After Breakfast and good-byes, you will be taken to the airport or the train station in Florence in time for your departure or Florentine hotel check-in, if you choose to spend additional time in Florence.