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: 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.
The cooking courses are taught by the Master Chef at the restaurant: Tre Corone” on the Villa Castelletti Estate, where you will enjoy cooking, wining and dining in a traditional Tuscan ambiance. We will spend one day during the week preparing original recipes from the famous ‘Trattoria Garga’ restaurant. With over 20 years of experience, owner and chef Sharon, will take us through the simplicity of recreating traditional Tuscan culinary dishes. Sharon and Mim’s will also take us on a tour of the main Central Markets in Florence where you will learn about the fresh raw ingredients that comprise Tuscan Cuisine.
For lunch, we will head back to the magnificent 16th century palazzo, right in the heart of Florence, where we will prepare our meal. You will sample an array of fine wines from the area where you will be based. This area is known as one of the oldest wine zones Carmignano and this DOCG (the highest quality denomination assigned by the Italian government for authentic wine producing regions, literally “di origine controllata e garantita” translated as: of controlled and guaranteed origin) blends Cabernet with the Sangiovese grape which produces some of Tuscany’s finest wines. You will also experience the smooth DOC red known as the Rosso delle Colline Lucchesi in Lucca and Tuscany’s only white wine found in the Chianti region, a favorite of the Grand Medici family, known as the Vernaccia of San Gimignano.
Not only will you be experiencing a fine Tuscan Estate, Linda will take you to discover the famous towns that you will come to experience from a more native perspective. Along with cooking fantastic meals, Linda has incorporated a number of excursions for the week, which feature the region’s cuisine, culture and art while not forgetting to give you sufficient time to shop in some of the most exciting nearby towns and cities. We will visit towns like Lucca and San Gimignano, stroll around the best preserved ancient Roman City sites and become immersed in an unforgettable cultural experience.
On the Estate grounds, about 100 yards in front of the main villa, there is a building called “Il Borgo”, which is where the accommodations are located. Il Borgo (the hamlet), is made up of a group of renovated farmhouses, which maintains the original style of an old Tuscan country house. Accommodations for our guests are in top-notch Tuscan styled apartments, which contain all the creature comforts you would desire.
The renovated mini-apartments are fully independent. Each one is made up of a lounge/dining room, split level bedroom, bathroom, corner kitchen, and can be occupied by 2-6 persons, depending on the size. All apartments have central heating and air conditioning, satellite and Pay-TV, all of which function on a chip-card system. Each apartment is equipped with a sophisticated electronic system, which controls the functioning and comfort of air temperature and humidity, as well as the locks etc. to guarantee our guests a comfortable and secure stay.
Prices shown are per person double occupancy rates. There is a $350 - $450 Single Occupancy Surcharge.
- 4 nights at Villa Castelletti, near Florence, a noble estate. The accommodations are in upscale private apartments in part of the estate’s hamlet
- All meals as indicated in the itinerary. All lunches and dinners in authentic trattorias
- Small groups
- 4 hands-on cooking courses in “La Cucina Povera Toscana” – Tuscan country cooking.
- 5 guided excursions to the enchanting towns of Florence, Lucca, Pisa, San Gimignano, the Chianti and Carmignano wine regions.
- 2 Wine Tours with wine tasting (Carmignano & Chianti Classico). 2 wine estate visits: 1 in Carmignano, 1 in Chianti Classico and 1 vertical tasting with professional wine expert in Carmignano
- 1 visit to Olive oil farm with tasting and lunch
- All transportation (to and from Florence)
- Free time to shop in each town.
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