THE ART OF ITALIAN COOKING

  • Duration:9 nights/10 days
  • Countries Visited:Italy
  • Highlights:Tuscan Treasures and Pleasures
  • Tour Inclusions:
    • Airfare NYC/ Florence/ NYC
    • Accommodations in fine four star hotels
    • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
    • Wine with welcome and farewell dinner
    • 4 cooking lessons
    • Comprehensive sightseeing and visits as shown
    • Services of a professional Tour Escort
    • Transportation by a private deluxe coach
    • Porterage for one suitcase per person
    • Epicurean Tours travel portfolio
    • Program is based on groups of 15 to 20 passengers.

DAY 1: DEPART U.S.A.

Depart this evening on an overnight flight to Italy.

DAY 2: MONTECATINI

Welcome to Tuscany. You are greeted by your Italian tour escort. The afternoon is at leisure to become acclimated to a new time zone. Welcome dinner tonight is at a local restaurant, where lavish seasonal menus are matched with local wines. (D.)

DAY 3: FLORENCE

The city of visual splendor awaits us today. Start with a visit to the food stalls in the San Lorenzo market. The tour continues with the Piazza della Signoria, we see Michelangelo’s David at the Academia, and the incredible Duomo, the Baptistry and the Museum. You have time to discover the Uffizi Gallery with the splendid art collection. For lunch, indulge in one of the many fine trattorias, serving tasty regional foods such a ribollita (vegetable soup thickened with bread and doused with olive oil). The afternoon is at leisure to explore and shop as the Florentines do, who shun the ostentatious and buy clothes at old reliable Neuber, shoes at Raspine and Ceramics at Sbigoli. Overnight Montecatini. (B.D.)

DAY 4: MONTECATINI (optional extension to Cortona)

This morning we start the cooking program.
Every morning the class will focus on a different variety of food, from pasta, to meats, to desserts. The cooking lesson will be on a Tuscan farm, where you learn to prepare the simple and rustic cucina of Tuscany. Later linger over lunch made by your own efforts, washed down by local sfuso- loose wine. Afternoon is at leisure to explore this charming town, which shines with glorious architecture, lovely wide boulevards and non-commercial quality of Tuscan charm. You may wish to schedule a pampering for the body and the soul at the world famous Montecatini spa, where the Princess Marcela Borghese cosmetic line is made and sold. There is a sense of purposeful pleasure in the spa routine, drinking, bathing, massage, and beauty treatments, all implicating the senses in discovery and enjoyment. Or you can enjoy an optional extension to Cortona, so well known to us thanks to Francis Mayes and her “Under the Tuscan Sun” projects. See the town where the movie was filmed and where Francis and Ed spend their treasured moments. (B.L.)

DAY 5: MONTECATINI- LUCCA-PISA

Today we travel through the hills of Tuscany to Lucca, a true gem surrounded by walls, magnificent villas, gardens and vineyards. Visit the town, marvel at the beauty of the Duomo and stop to sample delicious focaccia, baked fresh every two hours at Forno Amedeo Giusti. Lucca is better known for its oil than its wine. Here, the “olio extra vergine d’oliva”, extra virgin-olive oil, has a fragrance and flavor, lean and elegant, peppery when new, completely ungreasy or fatty, and unrivaled by oils from anywhere else. After visiting the town, we stop at Frattoria Villa Maionchi in Tofori. This seventeenth century Villa has everything: frescoed interiors, great views, a formal garden, wonderful olive oil, underground wine cellar, incomparable grappa and even its own legend of a ghost. Continue to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. We then have dinner in Pisa at the Taverna Kostas; a Greek name, but pure, uncluttered Tuscan food. (B.D.)

DAY 6: MONTECATINI- AREZZO

Morning cooking lesson.
This afternoon explore the rustic town of Arezzo. Today is the day for an art pilgrimage! This magnificent town is known for its paintings and linens. We see Lorenzetti’s famous polyptych of the Madonna and Saints, the Gothic Duomo, and the Church of San Francesco, with the work of the great Renaissance painter Piero Della Francesca. Arezzo is also known for the fine linens, and we visit Busatti, whose linens are made in the artisan loom in nearby Anhgiari. (B.L.)

DAY 7: MONTECATINI- CHIANTI CLASSICO

Morning cooking class.
The scenic highlight of any Tucsan wine tour is the rolling hills of Chianti, located on the wine road, between Florence and Siena. This is the land of the black rooster, symbol of the Chianti Classico Consortium. Visit the elite estates of Vicchio Maggio, the villa where the model for Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa was born, now owned by an Englishman, and Castello di Volpaia, presently the only winery in Tuscany licensed to make red and white wine vinegars. They also make fine olive oil and Vin Santo, the delicious holy wine. Dinner tonight will be at a trattoria, with a selection of Chianti Wines. (B.L.D.)

DAY 8: MONTECATINI-SIENA

Depart for Siena and the Medici Fortress, where the vaulted cellars house Enoteca Italiana, the national wine archive, stocking over 750 wines, with a bar for tasting the daily selections, is enshrined. The walking tour of this marvelous city takes us to the shell shaped Piazza del Campo, with the stately Palazzo Publico and frescoes by Lorenzetti and Martini, Siena’s age-old horse race Palio is held here. We also visit the Antica Drogheria Mangenelli 1879, a gourmet treasure trove, selling everything from pecorino cheese to truffle-scented polenta. One room is devoted to wines, liqueurs and grappas. A perfect place for personal indulgences. Take a respite from a busy afternoon with cappuccino, accompanied by the panforte, rich, spicy confection. (B.D)

DAY 9: MONTECATINI

Morning cooking class.
Our day starts extra early this morning as we head for the weekly Thursday market, and choose from stalls, laden with fresh produce. Our market excursion is followed by a morning cooking lesson. Afternoon is at leisure. We recommend a visit to the nearby town of Monsummano Terme for a taste of Slitti Family, coffee and chocolates, which have won many prizes including the prestigious Grand Prix of Chocolate in Paris. Or you may take a walk to a Pasticcerias for a sample of La Cialde, the sweet crunchy biscuit for which Monacatini is famous. Before dinner stop at the Vineria da Guiovanni, an old fashioned, charming wine bar. Tonight we have a farewell dinner in a restaurant, where the chef blends the flavors of Tuscany with Meditteranean cooking. A selection of DOCG wines will be served with dinner. (B.L.D.)

DAY 10: DEPART FOR USA

This morning we are transferred to the airport and our flight home. (B)

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