I took a group to Tuscany on a culinary trip last September, which sold out and had a waiting list. I was very sorry there was not enough space for everyone! Beautiful Jennifer Wright came, offering a yoga class every morning and an afternoon shorter, relaxing yoga to stretch out our sore muscles after hours of walking, eating, sightseeing, and shopping on cobblestone streets.
Our hotel, The Villa la Massa, was built right on the banks of the Arno River. It used to be a private villa and has been expanded and updated over the years. This is where we could have lunch, afternoon cocktails, or read by the pool. See the little swan in the middle of the river? He was there every day and waiting for pieces of focaccia.
Our day began with yoga for anyone who wanted to start their day with grace and peace (and graceful Jennifer!) Then it was to the unbelievably beautiful outdoor restaurant, overlooking the river for a delicious and elegantly laid out breakfast.
Everyday had a different activity, with large portions of some days free, to explore on your own. We went to hang with the coolest guy in all of Italy, and we all fell in love with him. We had a darling guide, Christina, who took us through the Museum, which was actually built around David, and then through town to see the Bell Tower, Duomo and other important buildings.
I went to the REAL Eataly. It was really cool, but whoa the prices were high. It makes me wonder if any locals actually shop here. Also, did Mario and his buddy open the store in Florence, or did he copy it for the U.S? Hmmmmm...
Here's your sunny chef way out in the Tuscan Countryside at a very fun cooking school/hotel.
We went to two different cooking schools, one tiny one in the evening with a delightful teacher, and this airy one in the day. The daytime class was my favorite, probably because it was fun and beautiful at the same time. It is the Borgo Corto Freda, nestled in the Tuscan Countryside. We could shop in their cave for goodies like truffle this and that, olive oils, very old balsamics, honey, jams, etc. We made ravioli, linguine, two sauces, a stuffing, and tiramisu....
After we made lunch, we had even more fun eating it! On the terrace with blue skies and birds.
No detail was ever too small for the places we went in Tuscany. Every restaurant, shop, museum, cooking class---was perfect.
Why are Europeans so darned stylish?
Each of rooms in the Villa la Massa had a giant urn of fresh fruit artfully arranged, cookies another day, and Italian chocolates put there by me. Italians are really trying to get into the chocolate race. There is a longish area where it is mainly produced and they have nick- named it the Chocolate River.
ne day we went to Cinque Terre, where a knowledgeable young guide took us around. We went by train, trails, and boat. It was so fun!
Here are a couple of locals...
On our last night, we went to the incomparable Villa San Michele. Situated on the highest hill in Florence, it is where Kim and Kanye got married. Just so you know. We arrived at dusk.
It was very chilly up on that hill, but everyone had on layers except for yours truly. La Dolce Vita threw a farewell cocktail party on the terrace before dinner to thank everyone for coming. It was Bellinis and appetizers, cute Italian waiters and even a few cuter husbands! After an hour, they lead us inside to the outdoor dining room overlooking a fairy tale lit Florence.
After an hour, they lead us inside to the outdoor dining room overlooking a fairy tale lit Florence.
This photo was taken in the day, when I went to beg the manager, who had been there 25+ years, to let us eat outside on the night we were coming. Only hotel guests are allowed to eat outside, but going to see him personally changed his mind.
Just a few more pictures of Italy....
I hope you enjoyed these pictures of our trip. Have a great week!