Sitting under the canopy of vines the gentle aroma of freshly cooking garlic and onion combines with the heady scents of the flowers that surround. The sun is warm and the drink cool in your hand as the chef unlocks the secrets of local Tuscan cooking. This is the way to learn!
We are here to learn of Tuscany, its cuisine ('la cucina' in Italian) but also history, art, culture and countryside. A busy week awaits.
On two days we walk out to a beautiful Tuscan villa for cookery demonstrations, from picking the veg to the finished dish. These take place on a terrace next to the garden where the ingredients are grown. To reach there we walk a short distance from the hotel to Montecatini’s funicular railway and take a slow ride to Montecatini Alto, with ever more panoramic views on the way up. We walk through the town and out into the countryside on another day, to hone our skills we have a hands-on cookery lesson at a professional cookery school close by the hotel, enjoying the fruits of our labour for lunch. The emphasis is on local produce, either from the hotel’s kitchen garden or the local market.
But there is more. From a base in the Montecatini we are a short train ride from Lucca and Pistoia, both beautiful art cities. The pulpit in Sant’Andrea Church in Pistoia must be amongst the finest pieces of renaissance art and the city walls in Lucca offer Tuscany’s most pleasant, peaceful urban stroll. We will have a local guide in each city to ensure we see the hidden jewels. We include a free day at leisure – maybe take the short train journey to glorious Florence.