You may remember the Seinfeld episode in which the Maestro informed Jerry that there are “no homes for sale in Tuscany.” Well, there may or may not be homes for sale, but there are plenty of other things to attract visitors to this rustic, Italian region. From the lush green countryside which is interrupted only by golden fields and centuries old stone buildings and bridges, to endless, winding dirt roads and pristine bodies of water, Tuscany has become the getaway of choice for romantics, poets and budding chefs alike. That’s right, some of the most authentic and enjoyable vacations involve doing something that you probably hoped to get away from at home…cooking!
A host of cooking schools have cropped up within Tuscany, inviting guests to not only sample decadent Italian cuisine, but to prepare it as well. Chefs lead their eager apprentices through classes which teach them how to make traditional Tuscan dishes including homemade pastas, soups and vegetables. One of the most charming and historic classes is in the Tuscan regional capitol of Florence at the Giordino Torrigiani. Nestled within the heart of Florence in a 17 acre garden that once belonged to an Italian noble family.
Guests of this unique culinary school will spend a day immersed in the rich beauty, history and grandeur of this site. Guided and self-guided tours are available, allowing guests to meander down romantic footpaths, past bubbling brooks, magnolia blossoms and magnificent blooms in the breathtaking botanical gardens. As class time approaches, students will join their instructor in the kitchen garden to hand-pick fresh vegetables for use in the afternoon’s recipes. The Chef, while a native Italian, speaks excellent English and provides encouraging and professional cooking expertise to each student. Imagine being in a traditional Tuscan kitchen which has been fashioned from former equine stables, learning to make authentic dishes as the aromas of freshly picked herbs and spices tickle your nostrils and decadent entrees and desserts begin to tempt your palate with the promise of exquisite cuisine.
After meals have been prepared, they are paired with fine regional wines and served as a communal feast at a long table. Classes are available for groups of two to eight participants with costs ranging from 130 to 200 Euros or $189.48 to $291.50 per person.
There are many other classes to choose from in a variety of regional locations. Many are sponsored by Vinarium. For more information and to choose the class that fits your preferences and price range, visit them on the web at www.vinaio.com.
If you are interested in traveling to Tuscany, there are two main airports into which you might fly. They are the Leonardo L. Vinci of Pisa and the Vespucci international airport in Florence. Flights are available out of Dane County Regional Airport on Delta Airlines for about $1617 per person and on Continental Airlines from about $1600 per person.