Tour of Italy September 2015
Day 1 Arrival day Rome – accommodation Hotel Academia located near the Trevi Fountain.
Day 2 All day tour of Rome (8 hours) including Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica and all the important monuments.
Day 3 Half day food tour of Rome (walking) including pizza making at an authentic Italian restaurant, Campo dei Fiori traditional market, tastings at market stalls, traditional Roman bread, tastings of local meats and cheeses finished with a typical Italian coffee.
Day 4 Tour of Tuscan Hill Towns , Castles and Vineyards including Monticchiello – tiny hilltop town; Pienza town famous for cheeses and ceramics; Tuscan farm, fully organic; Montalcino Castle – with access to climb the walls and watchtowers.
Day 5 Depart Rome for the coastal town on Talamone with overnight stay.
Day 6 Depart for Castiglioni Fiorentina to Agritourism ‘La Maesta’ family run working farm (farmhouse accommodation with ample bathrooms).
Day 7 Cooking class in the morning – afternoon trip to Cortona.
Day 8 Cooking class in the morning – afternoon free to sit around the swimming pool working on the suntan.
Day 9 Sienna – all day tour of the area. See the square where the Palio Horse race will be run in the following weeks plus the fantastic architecture and churches.
Day 10 Morning cooking with Nonna Lazzeri in readiness for a fabulous meal with the family on the outdoor terrace on sunset.
Day 11 Depart La Maesta and arrive Florence. Hotel Pitti Palace Ponte Vecchio. Afternoon free time to explore this fabulous city.
Day 12 Tour of Florence (Walking Tour) includes Michelangelo’s David and the Slaves; Duomo; Underground of the Duomo (ruins of an ancient church); Gates of Paradise; Ponte Vecchio; Piazza della Signoria; Orsanmichel Church (outside); Piazza Republica; Il Porcellino; Uffizi Gallery.
Day 12 Explore Pitti Palace and gardens, and the markets of Florence.
Day 13 Leaning Tower of Pisa and surrounds. Last night dinner at a restaurant.
Day 14 Departure day.
A Tuscan Diary by Robyn Barrand
Day 1 Arrived in Rome tired and not quite prepared for the onslaught to the senses which inevitably comes with international travel! We eased into the culture with a lovely train journey to Florence. I met up with my colleagues for the week and we enjoyed a meal together and then wandered around the spectacular city of Florence – a good start to this week of Italian cuisine. We’re in the home city of the woman widely regarded as the mother of modern food – Catherine De Medici.
Day 2 We had an early morning visit to the San Lorenzo market in the heart of Florence. Although rebuilt last century, there has been a market on this site since ancient times. We sampled a range of olive oils, plus flavoured and aged balsamic vinegars. The market featured early porcini, fresh herbs, salad leaves, superb berries and summer fruits. I bought some delicious flat peaches that we enjoyed on the train trip later in the day to Castiglioi Fiorentina. When we arrived at La Maesta, our home away from home, we were welcomed by our hosts the Lazzeri family. We enjoyed a simple meal of panzanella on the outdoor terrace of our small self contained private villa within the Lazzeri’s agriturissimo working farm.
Day 3 We visited the local fresh vegetable farm that supplies customers who live nearby … so basically all home grown produce, including summer vegetables, fruit, eggs and homemade cheeses. Our first class was given by Nonna (Grandma) Lazzeri on the roasting of a freshly killed and dressed young cockerel from their poultry house. It was prepared with lemon, sage and garlic under-skin stuffing, marinated for five hours and then roasted. Perfect! We prepared a beautiful dessert for that evening. We spent the afternoon by the pool and in the evening we shared the family meal of five courses under the trees outside the farmhouse. We presented our dessert which they loved and even asked for the recipe!
Day 4 We enjoyed a “free morning” and trip into Cortona and lunch in town. In the afternoon we learned about the finer points of creating antipasti and pasta (Primi Piati), followed by some more time by the pool. Dinner was pasta rotollo on the private terrace of our villa which we ate while watching a hazy sunset.
Day 5 We visited a nearby town market where we purchased truffles, vegetables and fish. Back in the teaching kitchen we had a lesson with Nonna Lazzeri on making potato gnocchi.
Day 6 We enjoyed a bread and pizza making class and shared the family meal that evening. We contributed our pizzas.
Day 7 Our last day involved a class on Italian meat dishes and then we visited Montechino. That night, our last, we prepared Bistecca Fiorentina over an open fire.