Tuscany, Italy - 6 nights
Available April to June, September to November - Sunday to Saturday
Whether you are a novice or experienced cook, this holiday will teach you all there is to know about Tuscan cuisine. Classes are taught by experienced and professional instructors in a beautiful state of the art kitchen where lessons are truly hands-on and conducted in English. Located between Viareggio and Lucca, the school lies within a beautiful 16th century old estate and all rooms have ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning. In your down time how about some bicycling, horseback or kayaking? One of our best selling cooking holidays! If you already have a place to stay, ask about joining in a day cooking class or truffle hunt followed by a truffle based lunch!
Your host and founder is an accomplished author, contributing to Italy's most prestigious cooking magazines and also conducts private cooking lessons. She is a true Tuscan, extremely knowledgeable as well as very entertaining! The lessons focus on traditional Tuscan techniques, the innovative use of ingredients, and esthetic presentation. What changes is the seasonality of the food. Each course devotes special attention to pairing foods with appropriate wines.
You will arrive on a Sunday and are welcomed with lunch. Spend the rest of the day exploring your new surroundings and relaxing before you enjoy a delicious four course dinner prepared by your instructors.
Monday through Friday, lessons are held from 10:00-1:00. Classes are small, completely hands-on, and make use of all-natural, seasonally-fresh ingredients. Essential Tuscan techniques you will master include: homemade pasta, ravioli, gnocchi, pizza, focaccia, risotto, bruschette, crostini and other types of canapes, vegetable and grain soups, grilled, roasted, fried and stuffed vegetables, fish and meat preparation, sweet and savory tarts, pastries, ice creams and sorbets.
Lunch is from 1:00-2:30 and features foods prepared during the mornings' lessons. Each meal consists of three courses accompanied by local wines.
Afternoon tours take place from 3:00-7:30 and are led by professional, English-speaking guides. You will visit the following:
Pisa - Students will visit the Piazza dei Miracoli and be able to see the leaning tower, the Duomo and the Battistero. Those interested in the Jewish cemetery please inquire as it is not always open. You will also tour the town and pass over the Arno river. On this day, our guides will also take you to Torre del Lago Puccini to see the lake and the house where the Maestro lived and composed most of his operas.
Viareggio - Viareggio is a seaside resort of Italy, where you can spend the morning at the market, walking on the boardwalk, or laying in the sun. The beach in Viareggio is beautiful and sandy. The promenade with buildings in Liberty Style offers a lot of options: bookstores, cafes and pizzerias and great stores.
Pietrasanta - Located about 20 minutes away Pietrasanta is a beautiful art center. Your guides will take you to a marble studio where artists extract beauty from marble just like Michelangelo used to do. After the visit to the studio, students are taken to the town for a visit. The Duomo and the Cittadella are beautifully preserved and so is the Rocca on top of the hill. Statues by Botero enrich the town. It is possible to see exhibits during the Spring period. Folon, Botero, Mitoray and many more chose Pietrasanta as cultural center for their art.
Lucca - You will visit this beautifully preserved Roman and Medieval 11th century walled city surrounded by 3.5 miles of perfectly preserved walls. Located about 20 minutes from the school, you will visit the town with its beautiful churches and cathedral, the walls and the Roman Amphitheater. You will have plenty of time to buy ceramic, gold, fabric and the famous Buccellato, a rustic cake used to be made centuries ago.
Forte dei Marmi - This is the the port where the marble used to be shipped from, Hence the name Forte (Fort) dei marmi (of the marbles). This little town faces the Thyrrenian sea, has a nice park with Pine trees, a boardwalk and many beautiful and expensive stores. Here you can spend time shopping, relaxing or having a coffee in one of the exclusive cafes.
Dinner is at 8pm each night and features four delectable courses prepared by your instructors and accompanied by a variety of excellent local wines. One night during the week, you will be our guest at a famous local wine bar, whose owners will personally prepare an exclusive dinner, each course paired with wines from their incomparable collection. Your Tuscan experience reaches its finale on Friday night at our graduation festival dinner, where you receive a diploma certifying your newly acquired status as an "Authentic Tuscan Cook." **Saturday is solely a departure day and no breakfast or meals are served that day so please plan accordingly.
*Food allergies and dietary and religious restrictions will be respected. Please let us know your preferences.
*The content or order of the itinerary may change depending on dates, availability of services or activities, local festivals/holidays, weather constraints, etc. Menus are samples and may vary according to the season
A minimum of 4 participants is required to run this tour and the tour is limited to a maximum of 12 participants.
(The number of participants refers to how many persons are required to run the tour, not to how many persons you must have in your party. Please inquire.)
HOW TO ARRIVE
The Cooking School is located 12 miles from Pisa International Airport which has direct flights from Rome, Milan and most other major European cities. The driver will pick you up at Pisa Airport or Pisa Centrale Train Station but arrival information must be provided at least two weeks ahead of time. This service is included in the price. Included transfers are only from Pisa Airport or Pisa Railway Station. For Pisa Airport: Pickups only on Sunday (arrival day) at NOON or 4PM . For Pisa Railway Station (Centrale): Pickups only on Sunday at 12:30 PM and 3:30 PM. Drop offs start on Saturday morning (last day) at 8AM. Earlier flights would require a cab to be arranged
*These details are provided as additional information. Please check below to see if transfers are included in this tour.
*Pricing may vary depending on market fluctuation
A non-refundable deposit of US$600 per person and the completed and submitted registration form will secure your reservation. Balance is due no later than 90 days before course date. We reserve the right to cancel the booking if the balance is not paid 90 days before the course starts.
April 26-May 2
May 31-June 6
June 28-July 4
September 27-October 3
*Airport or train transfers
*Six (6) nights' accommodations
*All meals paired with excellent wines
*Wine and olive oil tasting
*All cooking lessons (18 hours of hands-on lessons)
*Tours to Lucca, Pietrasanta, San Gimignano, Viareggio and the Roman Ruins of Massaciuccoli
*Truffle hunt and truffle tasting
*All tours with English-speaking guides
*Taxes, tips and gratuities
(There are no hidden costs or additional expenses).
NOTE: Included transfers are only from Pisa Airport or Pisa Railway Station (Centrale). For Pisa Airport: Pickups only on Sunday (arrival day) at NOON or 4PM . For Pisa Railway Station: Pickups only on Sunday at 12:30 PM and 3:30 PM. Drop offs start on Saturday morning (last day) at 8AM. Earlier flights would require a cab to be arranged
Airfare, personal expenses and breakfast on Saturday departure day are not included.
For further inquiries or to register, click here.
CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICY
Please contact us for cancellation policy information. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
Allison M., Vernon Hills, Illinois"I decided very last minute to try to arrange for a cooking class in Tuscany. Active Gourmet Holidays was immediately and consistently responsive in trying to find a trip I could join. From initial contact to booking was only 9 days and everything went off wonderfully. Would absolutely recommend Active Gourmet Holidays."
David K., New York, New York"Dear Jo-Ann - I had a terrific week learning a variety of recipes and techniques. The hosts were friendly, highly knowledgeable and did a great job of mixing teaching with a vacation. The rooms were excellent, well kept up, clean and comfortable. We ate a wonderful variety of dishes, drank lots of good wine, saw some interesting towns in the area and had a great time. The other people on the trip were enthusiastic and fun to meet. I HIGHLY recommend this trip!!"
Jodee B., Duluth, Georgia"Dear Jo-Ann - What a wonderful experience! Sandra and the other chefs were so gracious and the cooking lessons were just the right blend of serious hands-on learning and lots of laughter. The estate is lovely and accommodations were charming and comfortable. Even with daily excursions, the pace was relaxes and allowed ample time for sitting by the pool, reading, and exploring the grounds. I would not change a thing!".
Joneen and Ray S., Auckland, New Zealand"Dear Jo-Ann - We just had the most amazing week. It was everything we could have hoped for and more. We are already planning a "make your own pasta party" at our house to introduce friends to the very unique flavours we tried and made! We met great people and just fell in love with Sandra, Anthony, Jacob and Jennifer. They were enormous fun and we learned so much. A great treat each day were the trips out with Elena and Christine. They were so helpful, funny and well informed about the whole area and we had not realized this was all part of the deal. Jo-Ann the others who came through Active Gourmet - Ed, Cathy and Kelly were all very complimentary about the service they had received from you, as were we. I was hugely impressed with your immediate attention to every detail and I will certainly recommend friends to your website if they are considering similar trips to ours."
Claudine K., Hampshire, England"Dear Jo-Ann - The whole week was exceedingly well organized and I felt that we had a wonderful variety of everything, the talks as well were great. You were very helpful and accommodating. All in all a great week and good value."
Cat M., Lutz, Florida"Dear Jo-Ann - There is not a single thing that could have improved the vacation--it was wonderful--better than I could have expected! There were a number of times that your name came up, in appreciation of your assistance. You have always responded promptly to all our questions, requests, etc. and that is truly a sign of a professional! We all spoke highly of our experience with you and gave the info regarding your company (website) to the other guests. I worked in Customer Service for Delta Air Lines for 14 years, so I can appreciate excellence when I see it! Great job! Thanks, again!"
Gail G., Toronto, Canada"Dear Jo-Ann - I had a wonderful time and the cooking classes were great. Sandra is very charming as was the estate—I would recommend this to any one who is interested in Italian cuisine."
Cynthia G., Staten Island, New York"Dear Jo-Ann - Everything from arrival to departure at the school could not have been planned better. I would absolutely consider another trip with Active Gourmet Holidays and will recommend to others. Thank you for your gift. Your expression of thanks was appreciated. This estate was just perfect whether you are traveling alone, as a couple, or with friends."
Ed B., Cayman Islands"Dear Jo-Ann -Thanks for organizing a FABULOUS vacation!! It was a PERFECT week with PERFECT weather and wonderful people!!! Florence was perfect as well! We felt like royalty with our personal guide and drivers."
Kelley P., Tampa, Florida"Dear Jo-Ann - Thank you so much for everything. Everyone was so accommodating and the guides were perfect as well as the transportation personnel. The cooking school, Sandra and the other 3 chefs were wonderful and I'm looking forward to showing off to my family and friends. I would without a doubt recommend this experience to all my friends. Also, I would most recommend your services as I feel you made everything run so smoothly for us. I will go back to Italy again!"
Peter and Dianne S., Canada"Dear Jo-Ann - We learned SO MUCH during each of the 3 hour lessons. There were 4 chefs and each had us come to their area to explain what we were to do. There was no time wasted! We learned how to use sharp knives properly and chopped matchstick- size veggies first thing. Then we made bruschetta with chick peas, onion/potato soup, Nara cake, fresh egg pasta (with individual machines), gratinated fennel, hazelnut gelato, green bean souffle, double boiled vegetables, potato gnocchi in tomato sauce, sorbet, fish balls, octopus (pushed into a pan, baked and sliced, over arugula!), crayfish salad, pannacotta, tri-color ravioli (colors made from beets, Swiss chard and squid ink), farro salad w/tomato decoration, ricotta tarts, farro bean soup, biscotti, frittatas, risotto with mushrooms and 60 individual pizzas.
I doubt if anyone gained weight as everything was made from fresh ingredients and nothing was deep fried. We felt guilty opening cans or having a hamburger when we got back. The tours were excellent too and the guides SO helpful and fun.
Between cooking and the tours, oh, and eating (!) we were kept very busy. No trouble sleeping. The wines were very good and were flowing for every lunch and dinner. The staff never minded if the guys pulled out a bottle of grappa or limoncello after dinner."
Bernie and Ricky P., Cheshire, Connecticut"From the moment we arrived at the airport in Italy, we were treated like old friends. Sandra and her staff were amazing! "
Jean V., Parkhurst, South AfricaDear Jo-Ann - We had a fantastic time - the cooking was amazing, Sandra is a wonderful cook and personality, the location was spectacular and rest of the students were interesting and fun. We would not have changed a single thing if we did it all again.”
This exciting region is depicted below. You can also access Google MapsTM by clicking HERE.
*In some cases mapping may give clients a general sense of location due to changes in venue. Please inquire about specific location.