At Home in a Tuscan Villa Cooking Vacation in Tuscany
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At Home in a Tuscan Villa
Bargecchia, Massarosa Lucca

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About the location: Explore the Versilia, the part of western Tuscany dominating the coast with an awe-inspiring panorama that rolls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa down to the Mediterranean Sea, where it meets the Tuscan archipelago and the coast towns of the Cinque Terre. From the well-known seaside town of Viareggio, to the "marble capital" of Pietrasanta, western Tuscany offers many exciting sites and charming towns to explore, and its proximity to the famed "five lands" of the Cinque Terre make it a perfect place for exploring those charming villages as well.


About the accommodations: The Villa Gobbi Benelli is a magnificent 16th-century historical villa nestled among the hills of western Tuscany. This family-owned villa boasts a swimming pool on a large veranda overlooking the Versilia, and on clear days you can catch a glimpse clear to the sea and the Cinque Terre.


Chef AuroraThe villa was renovated with every comfort in mind, yet retained the original materials and historical character of the original building, resulting in an elegant home that offers peace and relaxation. The six bedrooms and suites all look out onto the amazing landscape and include air conditioning, WiFi, TV, telephone, minibar, and more.


The hands-on cooking classes take place in the "Living Kitchen" of the villa, and end with lunch or dinner accompanied by fine Tuscan wines. The philosophy behind the "living kitchen" focuses on sharing the variety, history, and richness of Tuscan cuisine with all its guests; it also means that local food specialties — along with food specialties and recipes that were lost through the centuries — will be rediscovered. In turn, you'll discover a real sense of community between your fellow travelers and the chefs.


Chef AndreaBefore classes begin, guests will have the opportunity to select ingredients directly from local suppliers in order to better understand about food production and the origin of the products. Along the way, you'll have the chance to do more than prepare food; if you wish, you can learn about table setting, wine pouring, and more. That's not all either. To complement the cooking classes, guests may partake in other activities (at an additional cost) like yoga, meeting a nutritionist, and hikes.


The cooking courses will be led by three different chefs, providing a wonderful way to be truly and fully immersed in Tuscan cuisine. Your instructor for two of the classes will be a local, Chef Aurora, who has experience as a home chef and pastry chef; during the courses, she will relate anecdotes and recipes of the local Tuscan cuisine. For your pizza class, learn all about pizza (and bread!) with the pizzaiolo, Ruben, who has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years. Lastly, learn all about fish dishes with Chef Andrea, who managed an osteria for more than 20 years and who is an expert in seafood and wild game dishes. It will be an experience for all five senses!

At Home in a Tuscan Villa Itinerary

Day One - Sunday

  • Arrival in Pisa and group pickup at 1:00 PM from the train station or airport. Stop in Pisa for an hour to admire the famed Leaning Tower before heading to your home for the week, the Villa Gobbi Benelli in the hills around Lucca.
  • Welcome drink with your host Dunia, the owner of the villa, followed by a welcome dinner on the outdoor terrace if weather permits.
  • Overnight.

Day Two - Monday

  • Breakfast, then your first cooking lesson. Meet Chef Aurora in the kitchen for a hands-on cooking class featuring fresh pasta and different sauces. Lunch to follow based on your efforts along with local wine.
  • This afternoon, meet your driver-guide for an excursion to the charming town of Lucca. You can stroll through the town on your own and discover the untouched Roman walls and medieval churches.
  • Dinner tonight in a typical trattoria in Lucca.
  • Return to your villa and overnight.

Day Three - Tuesday

  • Breakfast, followed by a visit to Viareggio with your driver-guide. You will discover the Belle Epoque buildings that enrich its famous promanade where Carnivale takes place each year, as well as the famed fish market.
  • Next, proceed to Pietrasanta, a town full of art studios and considered the ‘Marble capital’: Michelangelo himself used to come here to select the best pieces for his sculptures.
  • Lunch in a typical osteria in Pietrasanta.
  • Return to your villa after lunch, and in the late afternoon meet your “pizzaiolo” Ruben for a pizza-making lesson, in which you can fire your own pizza in the wood-burning oven. (Other dishes like Tuscan bread and Tuscan schiacciata may also be made).
  • Pizza dinner to follow and overnight.

Day Four - Wednesday

  • After breakfast, meet Chef Aurora for a Tuscan cooking lesson focusing on meat and vegetables direct from the garden.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts.
  • Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the pool or arrange additional activities (for an additional cost, activities may include spa services, bike ride, horseback riding, yoga, hiking, meeting with an Italian nutritionist etc.)
  • Dinner tonight at the Villa and overnight.

Day Five - Thursday

  • For those on the 4-night program, return transfer after breakfast.
  • For those on the 6-night program, after breakfast meet your driver-guide for a full-day, unforgettable excursion to the Cinque Terre, the famed “Five Lands” consisting of the enchanting villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Perched on cliff tops overlooking the sparking waters of the Mediterranean Sea, each of these small villages has an authentic character all its own. They are only a few minutes’ apart by train, or visitors can wanter along the centuries-old footpaths between them, which wind through olive groves, orchards, and terraced vineyards set high above the sea.
  • Lunch on your own as you explore, or you can arrange at the Villa to have a light lunch prepared for you.
  • Late in the afternoon meet your driver to return to your villa.
  • Dinner tonight will be prepared for you and based on traditional Tuscan recipes. Local wine included.
  • Overnight.

Day Six - Friday

  • Breakfast, followed by a free morning for relaxing by the pool, taking a walk in the surrounding gardens, or scheduling additional activities.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • In the afternoon, meet the chef to create a Tuscan menu for our farewell dinner with local wine.
  • Overnight.

Day Seven - Saturday

  • Breakfast followed by checkout and group transfer at 10:00 AM to the Pisa airport or train station. Arrivederci!