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SHORT BREAKS COOKING : ITALY COOKING VACATIONS

Taste Tuscany
. . . gastronomic tours and vacations

Taste Tuscany
personalised tours

"My family had the pleasure of experiencing Tuscany's charms with Tina and Lesley as our guides. During our two-week stay in the area, we called upon their expertise more than once times to help us in our mission to experience the true tastes and sights of this wonderful and unique destination.

Over the course of 4 days, these two resourceful ladies steered our family into some truly unique and surprising adventures. The real Tuscany revealed its secrets as we sipped wine next to giant barrels on a quaint little winery, learned the secrets of organic pasta from the pasta maetro himself, wandered through sheep pastureland on the hunt for homemade "Pecorino" cheese....

Our appreciation of historical Italy deepened as we lost ourselves in the piazzas and sidestreets its towns and villages. We spent wonderful days exploring classic Tuscan places Florence, Siena, Arezzo and Montepulciano. Some of us preferred the sights and others preferred the shopping, but we all loved the gelato!

Thanks to Lesley and Tina for showing us the real Taste Tuscany!"

Tuscany Personalised Tours Tuscany Personalised Tours

Taste Tuscany Personalised Tours
Tell them where you want to go or what you want to see and they will put together a Tour specially for you.

They have a number of established tours but if there is something extra that you would like to do all you need to do is ask. Their speciality is organising one day gastronomic tours and but for those who want a liitle more they can easily organise a long week end of gastronomy.

For example - last year a wonderful couple from Tasmania arrived in Buonconvento and asked for a tour of the farms in the area. They had their own ranch back home down under and wanted to see how it's done here in Tuscany. Taste Tuscany put together what has now become one of their most popular tours, with visits to three different farms and a splendid couple of hours at an Agri-Tourismo where the lunch is made up from all their own produce - see below for full details. It's as simple as that!

They pick you up from your hotel accommodation and drop you back there at the end of the day. Prices are all inclusive so you need only spending money if you wish to purchase something to take back home with you. Other than that it’s all organised for you. They aim to spoil you, to provide an interesting and fun day out.

Their guides all speak at least two languages, including English.

Tuscany Personalised Tours Tuscany Personalised Tours
 
  TOURS  

Cooking Weekends: 3 Delicious Days in Tuscany

Join us for a series of lessons in the art of Traditional Tuscan Cooking. In varied beautiful locations you will produce a different menu each day, all from traditional local recipes and under the guidance of experienced local cooks. The morning lessons will be followed by lunch made up from the dishes that we have prepared together. The setting for each lesson is different and on each of the three days you will be eating outside with a variety of wonderful Tuscan views.

During your stay you will learn to make the typical local Pasta called Pici, traditional thin crust Pizza, summer salads, well known deserts such as Tiramisu and much much more. You can even let us know if you have any special requests and we’ll do our very best to accommodate you.

We concentrate on recipes that are healthy, using seasonal produce and lots of variety. We do however like you to be able to reproduce what you have learnt here once you get back home so we try not to do anything too convoluted and we also present you with a beautifully illustrated booklet of recipes to take away with you.

Each afternoon, after the lessons and lunch, we take you to one of the local producers for Tastings of Wine, Cheese and Pasta. In this way you get to see the countryside, the way of life and some of the specialties of the area. We are located near Montalcino where you will find the famous Brunello red wine. We also visit Pienza, which is well known for its Pecorino Cheese and another small local village that has a bio-dynamic Pasta maker amongst its inhabitants.

For the length of your stay you will be based in a beautiful Agri-Turismo (country hotel). The hotel facilities include two Pools, a Beauty & Spa Centre and Horse Riding. If you wish to add some time either side of the Cooking Days we can arrange that for you.

These 3-Day Cooking Courses run throughout the season and can be booked for a long weekend or during the week.

For further information or a quotation, please contact info@tastetuscany.co.uk

Intensive Wine Weekends in Tuscany

Join us for three days of intensive Wine Tasting in the heart of Tuscany. During your stay with us you will visit a variety of Vineyards in two different areas of Tuscany. We take you to some of the finest producers in the region, each chosen for the either their unique or unusual methods of production, their wonderful settings and most important of all for the high quality of their wine.

The first zone is Montalcino where you will taste the Rosso di Montalcino and the famous Brunello. Montalcino is a village set on a hill south of Siena, overlooking the Val D’Orcia on one side and the sea on the other. 40 square kilometres of vineyards surround Montalcino split into more than 300 different wine producers. Every Wine maker has his own theory for producing the best wine, be it modern or traditional, and we aim to show you various aspects, including organic and bio-dynamic vineyards.

One of the three days will be spent in Chianti, which is set between the beautiful cities of Siena and Florence. This is another stunning part of Tuscany with winding roads and tiny villages and vineyards squeezed into every spare metre of land. Here we give you the opportunity to taste the Chianti Classico and other wonderful wines of the region.

You will have a choice of accommodation depending upon your preference for either hotel or agri-turismo (country house). The price will obviously be calculated accordingly.

These 3 Day Wine Weekends run throughout the season (March to October inclusove) and can be booked for a long weekend but also during the week upon request.

For further information or a quotation, please contact info@tastetuscany.co.uk

Cooking Lesson with Lunch

The cuisine has always represented and continues to represent one of the most important aspects of the Italian culture. Your holiday in Tuscany could be an ideal occasion to enter into hands on contact with this tradition, learning its secrets and experimenting for yourself.

We take you to a typical Tuscan house in the middle of the countryside. Here we work together to realise a selection of five courses, all typical Tuscan recipes. For example a menu such as:

  • Two different antipasti (starters)
  • A savoury Tart
  • A Pasta dish
  • A second course of meat with accompaniments
  • A dessert

The preparation of these dishes is followed by a relaxed lunch. This is set on the veranda where you can appreciate the various flavours whilst looking at the beautiful Tuscan countryside.

. . . and the wine, of course, will be already on the table. In this land of red wine a glass of Rosso di Montalcino is obligatory!

If you are passionate about great flavours you can't possibly miss this day!

Cooking Lesson with Lunch and Wine Tasting

The cuisine has always represented and continues to represent one of the most important aspects of the Italian culture. Your holiday in Tuscany could be an ideal occasion to enter into hands on contact with this tradition, learning its secrets and experimenting for yourself.

We take you to a typical Tuscan house in the middle of the countryside. Here we work together to realise a selection of five courses, all typical Tuscan recipes. For example a menu such as:

  • Two different antipasti (starters
  • A savoury Tart
  • A Pasta dish
  • A second course of meat with accompaniments
  • A dessert

At the end of the lesson itself we all move out of the kitchen onto the veranda for an aperitif accompanied by the first of your wines, a crisp white. This will be followed by a selection of red wines that because of their particular characteristics have been chosen to compliment the dishes with which they are matched. All the wines have been selected from the best vineyards in the region. Whilst sipping your wines and savouring the various flavours of the dishes that you have yourself have prepared you can enjoy the beautiful views of the Tuscan countryside.

A special Tuscan day of fine flavours and great wines!

Cooking Exclusive -Cooking Instruction, Dinner and Wine Tasting
All in the comfort of your home complete with service at table

The Italian cuisine is a fundamental aspect of the culture. In Tuscany we pride ourselves on simple, nutritious but abundant meals. One of the highlights of your stay in a Tuscan villa could be a meal prepared and explained to you in the comfort of your own kitchen but at the hands of expert local cooks.

We arrive fully equipped and laden with goodies. With a glass of fine wine in hand you participate visually as we prepare you a five-course dinner. Learn the secrets and top tips of local cooking and assimilate the knowledge of wine, olive oil and other typical Tuscan products.

We offer a varied menu, but which will usually be made up as follows:

  • A selection of antipasti (starters)
  • A savoury First Course
  • Fresh Pasta with sauce
  • A second course of Meat with various accompaniments
  • A delicious dessert

At the end of the preparation we ask you to take your seats and we wait on you at table. We serve you also with a selection of wines that because of their particular characteristics have been chosen to compliment the dishes with which they are matched. All the wines have been selected from the best vineyards in the region.

This combination of 'lesson', dinner and wine tasting will result in an evening to remember, full of fascinating facts, full flavours and fine wines.

Above all we promise you a very personal service throughout. We leave you with a clean kitchen, a full and satisfied stomach, and hopefully a yearning to explore further the delights of Tuscan cuisine and wines during the rest of your stay in this beautiful region.

Treat yourselves with this Evening Special and we will treat you royally!

Personalised Cooking Tours
Long weekends / Weekly Courses / Special Requests

We are available all year round for Daily Classes but also offer Weekend Cooking Tours, Weekly Cooking Classes and a variety of other Personalised Cooking Holidays.

It is possible to combine cooking classes with trips to see the Cheese producers, local farms, typical Tuscan products such as Salami and Pasta, and many other interesting gastronomic delights.

Keep an eye on our special events page for upcoming events. Alternatively contact us to arrange an Event especially for you.

Let us know what we can plan and organise for You!

Cheese Spectacular Tour

This part of Tuscany is also famous for its Pecorino Cheese. Whether it's 'Stagionato' (hard and dry) or 'Fresco' (soft and creamy) it is a cheese with a unique and strong flavour. It is made from sheep's milk (pecora in Italian is sheep) and is to be seen in round forms in all the local shops. A firm favourite on the menu for after supper is a slice of Pecorino topped with a dash of local honey - simply delicious!

Our Cheese Tour takes you to two different producers. The day starts with a drive through some of our loveliest countryside to arrive at our first destination. We travel up rolling hills and through valleys, past rows of cypresses, old farmhouses and fields of cows and, more importantly, sheep, to reach this farm. The tour of the workshop starts with the production side, where they explain the cheese making process and then outside to see the grazing sheep that are fundamental to this product. The views of the pastures and surrounding hills here are breathtaking.

A Cheese tasting is followed by lunch here on the farm. Weather permitting this will be taken al fresco on the farm's veranda.

After a good lunch we visit an Agriturismo (working farm), where they produce no less than 32 different types of Pecorino, including Herbed and Spiced, Honeyed, Peppered; something to suit every taste! A beautiful location, with old hay mills on site, the sheep stalls within walking distance and an owner who is very enthusiastic about both his flock and his cheese.

Again you will have a chance to taste the cheese. Such is the abundance of the samples that afternoon merenda (afternoon tea Italian style) is often taken here.

The day is topped off with a brief stop for a wine tasting one of the best vineyards in Montalcino. What better to go with your cheese than a glass of Rosso di Montalcino, or if you are feeling extravagant, a Brunello?!

There will be plenty of opportunity to taste and buy the cheese products at both sites. If you really like a particular type you can mail order from home when you return.

So if you are passionate about cheese why not join us for the day?

Tuscany Personalised Tours

Farm Extravaganza

Join us for a day in the beautiful Tuscan countryside with the animals and the farmers. Here is a chance to see how they raise the beasts and cultivate the crops in this wonderful landscape from which this fantastic Italian cuisine is produced.

First stop is a farming and hunting estate comprising some 600 hectares. Here they cultivate wine, olives, cereals and the surrounding woodland.

This visit will include a tour of the reserve, where it possible to see the local fauna; wild hares, deer and pigs.

We follow this with a visit to their wine cellar for a wine tasting accompanied by locally produced anti-pasti.

We then move on to an agri-tourismo and full working farm. Here we have a lunch prepared with produce from the farm. After lunch a 4 x 4 tour of the farm, where you will see, amongst other things, the horse trekking centre, the cattle, and the grain production. This is one of the biggest producers of Wheat and Cereals in this area.

Our final stop will be to one of the small family farms in the area, where you will be up close to the Chianina cattle, a Tuscan breed from which the famous Florentine steak is produced. These delicate white cows have beautiful big black eyes with eyelashes to die for! Come and see for yourself!

Or maybe you'd like to see the local Cinta Senese pigs. These black and white striped beasts are the source of the Prosciutto, Salamis and other goodies that you will find in all the delicatessen shops in the area.

So if the Country fascinates you come and see it up close with us!

Tuscany Personalised Tours Tuscany Personalised Tours

Wine Tasting Tour

We are situated in the heart of winemaking country, amidst Wine Cellars of great repute. Here you will find, amongst others, the Rosso di Montalcino, the Brunello di Montalcino and the Super-Tuscans. Fine wines are in abundance.

The area surrounding Montalcino is very special. It is here that they grow the Sangiovese grape from which one of the most well known wines in the world is made - Brunello di Montalcino. Some 120 estates produce over 3.5 million bottles. The wine is very precious and sought after in the fine restaurants and dining tables around the world. .

We will take you to one of these wine estates in Montalcino, where you will visit the cellars, to learn how they produce the wine, to see the beautiful barrels and caskets where the wine is aged and gain an understanding of the love and work that goes into producing these fine wines. You will have the chance to taste a selection of the Wines and maybe even a Grappa or a Vin Santo or two . . .

We then move on to one of the oldest Vineyards of Montalcino for a relaxed lunch, served of course with a fine wine from the region.

After lunch we will visit one of the 'wine' museums. The possibilities are either the glass museum where you can see the evolution of glass, bottles and other wine paraphernalia, or the Brunello Museum with its collection of the many different Brunellos produced in Montalcino and in addition the story of wine.

Time permitting we finish our tour with a visit to a very special Abbey set in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, another spot that produces a limited supply of wine and olive oil.

We promise you an interesting and varied day out in the land of Red Wine. Join us for a glass or two!

Tuscany Personalised Tours Tuscany Personalised Tours

One Day Gastronomic Tour of Pienza

Join us for a day in and around our local village of Pienza.

First stop Bio-Dynamic Pasta - See how Pasta is produced, from the strands of fresh Pici arriving to the beautifully packaged Pasta ready to buy. This is in a State-of-the Art Pastificcio where they make the pasta from products grown here in the Val D'Orcia. If you wish to try Pici all'anatra (Tuscan spaghetti with Duck) after your holiday you can buy the pasta to take back with you and we will provide you with the recipe to go with it! This producer is one of the best in Tuscany and supplies stores like Harrods and Fortnum Mason in London.

After the pasta we take you into the village for a Tasting of Tuscan products including Chocolates, Grappa and Biscuits in Pienza. This is with a wonderful couple who have had a shop in Pienza for more than 30 years. Their shop has a multitude of wonderful Tuscan food and health and beauty products.

A Coffee follows this then free time to have a look around historic Pienza with its array of cute boutiques and beautifully kept buildings, houses, gardens the Palazoo and of course the outstanding views.

We will take you to one of the many fine restaurants in Pienza for a relaxed lunch and then it's off to a Caseficcio (Cheese Producer) in the countryside just outside Pienza. Here our enthusiastic cheese man will show you the workshop where he makes no less than 32 different types of Pecorino Cheese. A cheese tasting is also on the menu, as always with a glass of local red wine.

By the end of your day with us you will have sampled many of the gastronomic delights of Tuscany and we hope that you will go back replete and happy!

Tuscany Personalised Tours Tuscany Personalised Tours

Montalcino Classic Tour

Montalcino is most famous for its red wine, in particular the Brunello, one of the most precious and sought after wines in the fine restaurants and dining tables of the world.

We'd like to show you this aspect of Montalcino but also much more.

We start the day with a tasting . . . of honey. A local apiculturist will explain how they make the honey, will show you the hives and the bees then let you taste a selection of the different varieties of honey that are produced including Chestnut and Acacia. This is the appetiser for the day.

We then move on to the village centre where after a coffee break you are free to investigate the boutiques and gift stores or wander and appreciate the historic centre of this ancient hill top town.

We slowly make our way up to the Fortress where you can climb up to the ramparts to see the spectacular view over the surrounding countryside. We will also be enjoying a relaxing lunch here in the wine library style Enoteca.

After lunch we will be taking you to a more classic tasting . . . . of the wine for which this region is famous. There is a wealth of vineyards to choose from and we will accompany you to one of the finest. A luxurious setting and a touch of history (museum of wine) set the scene for you to try a Rosso di Montalcino, a Brunello and if it takes your fancy a Grappa.

Time permitting, before we take you 'home' we'd also like you to see a very beautiful Abbey set at the foot of the hill outside Montalcino. Here they also make wine as well as olive oil. A touch of beauty to end your day with us in Montalcino.

If you'd like to sample fine wine but also see other aspects of this lovely hilltop Tuscan town.

Tuscany Personalised Tours Tuscany Personalised Tours
   
  ABOUT THE TEAM  

Taste Tuscany is two girls, one English and one Italian, both of them enjoying life to the full in Tuscany, with its simple pleasures, excellent food and friendly locals.

Their aim is also simple, to supplement their incomes and to show others what a truly beautiful part of the world Tuscany really is, seen from the inside.

They strive to be reliable, knowledgeable and well organised, with an over-riding sense of informality. Their visitors come with independent minds and a quest for adventure, they will not compete with the 'coach tours' and rigid and restrictive guides.

Arrive here without their help and knowledge and you will probably miss 90% of what Tuscany and the Tuscan people really have to offer. Remember they live in Tuscany! When you live somewhere you benefit from a knowledge and intimacy denied to normal visitors. Join them and you will experience the real Tuscany.

Their tours are individually tailored, yet they offer standard tours on the same informal basis and at a lower cost. The choice is yours; perhaps start with one of the scheduled tours, use it to discover areas of specific interest and then let them indulge you individually.

They can only manage nine people on any one day, and it is neither in your interest nor theirs to increase on this, and they strive for a truly personal experience. Some of the places they will take you require four-wheel drives, (mini-buses and coaches are not possible). You will see, feel and taste so much more with them. You will need to book well in advance if your requirements are more than the odd day as they get extremely busy in the season. Please don't discount the Spring and Autumn, when it is far more comfortable to see what they have to show you and a lot quieter also.

Their homes are near Siena and that is where they are based. They collect and deliver you to your accommodation as part of the service. In addition they will treat you like a friend, advising on local restaurants, shops, facilities, translating for you, negotiating purchases and smoothing out any concerns you may have, whilst with them. It is important you know they do not take any form of profit from any activities other than their agreed tour fee.

Lastly between them they speak English, Italian and French and . . . so unless you have just arrived from Mars, communication should pose no problem!

Photography by Lesley Smith www.photographylesleysmith.co.uk

  CONTACT DETAILS  
   

Taste Tuscany Personalised Tours
In collaboration with:
Country Road Tours
Via Roma 14
53022 Buonconvento (SI)
Tuscany
Italy

Email:
info@tastetuscany.co.uk
Website:
www.tastetuscany.co.uk