Day 1: Meet in Florence – Arrival at the Villa Gaia. Our meeting place will be in Florence. After having arrived at the Villa Gaia Estate (about 2 hours drive from Florence) you will settle in your rooms. Then you can relax, feel at ease in your villa and prepare for your first cooking lesson in Tuscan cuisine followed by dinner.
Day 2: Montalcino and Wine tasting. Today you will visit the renowned Senese (Siena area) town of Montalcino. You will be visiting La Rocca, the 14th century fortress and Montalcino’s main piazza where you can stop and have a cappuccino in the piazza’s authentic liberty style café as well as shop for pottery in a local store. Then we will take you to visit a winery where you can have a light lunch and a tasting of the best wines of the Val d’Orcia including Brunello. Evening cooking course at the villa followed by dinner.
Day 3: Bagni di San Filippo and Pienza. Tuscany abounds with natural hot springs. During this tour you will visit the hot springs of Bagni di San Filippo. You will then continue to Pienza, where you will have lunch in a local restaurant and then visit its main square, Piazza Pio II, which is a model of Renaissance planning. Once home at the villa, you can prepare a healthy Tuscan dinner (cooking lesson).
Day 4: Montepulciano and Wine Tasting. Visit the magnificent town of Montepulciano with architectural masterpieces by Rosselini, and then enjoy its wines including Nobile di Montepulciano at a wine estate nearby. Dinner at Villa Gaia with cooking lesson.
Day 5: The villages of Monte Amiata. Today you will go to Santa Fiora, a village on the slopes of Monte Amiata. There you’ll visit the historic center and an ancient Parish Church which contains fine terracotta bas-reliefs by Andrea della Robbia (15th century), and La Peschiera, the private gardens and swimming pool of the Sforza family (16th century). Then you will continue to the other side of the mountain and stop in Abbadia San Salvatore where you will visit its famous abbey and crypt. For lunch you will stop in Arcidosso and pay a visit to Carlo. Cooking course and dinner at Villa Gaia.
Day 6: Castiglione della Pescaia. For the last day in southern Tuscany, you will 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. In the evening, you’ll enjoy dinner at one of the best-known restaurants in the area of Monte Amiata, which specializes in mushrooms and truffles.
Day 7: Departure. Transfer to Florence.
Cooking Courses and Wine Tastings: The cooking courses are taught by several guest chefs each bringing his or her own specialty to our kitchen and table. My father Carlo will teach 2 cooking courses during the week. He specializes in a vast array of traditional Tuscan “Cucina Povera” (country cooking of the peasants). Next, my brother, Romeo Innocenti will share his passion for several specific seafood dishes for which his reputation is growing as is the entire region of La Maremma where he is from. We will also have a guest chef who will show us how to prepare hand-made pasta and, when available, Antonio who will fire up the villa Gaia’s wood-burning oven to show us how to make authentic Italian pizza. Isabel Innocenti, will be accompanying our professional guide for tours of smaller private and larger well-known wine cellars of this famous wine country. Guests will learn genuine Tuscan dishes and secrets from these talented people. The courses are informal and taught in a large rustic kitchen.
Excursions: We will take you to discover the famous Southern Tuscan wine towns of Montalcino (Brunello wine and great shopping for ceramics) and Montepulciano (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) as well as some of the charming villages of Monte Amiata: Santa Fiora, Abbadia San Salvatore and Arcidosso (Carlo and Isabel Innocenti’s hometown). We will also visit a town known for its hot springs called Bagni di San Filippo and another town famous for being the ideal model of Renaissance architectural planning: Pienza. We will be following parts of the “Strada del Vino” (the celebrated ‘Road of Wine’ that is recognized by the Region of Tuscany Authority and Governing Body). Specifically, we will be visiting and tasting wines in the wine cellars of these different towns as much as possible.
“Villa Gaia” is comprised of a main house and a separate building. The separate building is called La Foresteria, which has four double rooms, each with its own en-suite bathroom. These rooms enjoy the use of a large common living room with fireplace, kitchen, laundry, storeroom, telephone and a large summer porch.
The main house has two apartments: Amiata on the first floor and Le Rondini on the second floor. Both Amiata and Le Rondini have their own separate private entrances. Amiata has a large living room, kitchen, two double bedrooms with one large bathroom and a beautiful outdoor porch. Le Rondini has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room with a fireplace, kitchen and a 550 square foot panoramic terrace that has an external wood-burning stove.
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