Tuscany's Left Bank - Bolgheri and Supertuscan Wines: Italian Cooking Vacation
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Tuscany's Left Bank: Bolgheri and Supertuscan Wines
Castagneto Carducci (Pisa)

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Tuscany is a land well known for its rolling hills and vineyards. The western part of the province may be lesser known, but it's no less beautiful between its sprawling wine estates, hilltop towns, and miles of sandy coastline along the crystal-clear Tyrrhenian Sea. This land, known as the Etruscan Coast, is most famous for its Super Tuscan wines.

The wine production on the left bank of Tuscany began shortly after World War II when an Italian aristocrat decided to experiment with Bordeaux varieties and use French winemaking practices. With the land's rich soil and the sunny maritime climate, the wines quickly took off, and by the 1970s they were renowned around the world and considered on par — if not better — than French Bordeaux wines. Even so, it wasn't until 1994 that Bolgheri red wines received a DOC designation.

About the accommodations: Nestled among these Bolgheri vineyards and near the Etruscan coast is the hamlet of Castagneto Carducci, just about 60 miles from Florence. Castagneto Carducci was named after the poet Giosue Carducci, and today the town continues to inspire artists and writers with the way the natural landscape seamlessly intertwines with the charming medieval town. In this stunning region, stay four nights in the lovely Villa Le Luci, once an old villa and now a boutique relais with just six rooms.

Chef Deborah CorsiAbout the cooking classes: In Tuscany, a bottle of wine isn't complete if its not paired with some regional cuisine. Through two hands-on cooking classes you'll learn about different aspects of western Tuscan food. Chef Deborah Corsi, of La Perla del Mare restaurant on San Vincenzo beach, loves infusing her grandmother's recipes with molecular gastronomy, as well as being inspired by the season. She'll teach you how to make such dishes as tuna carpaccio marinated with citrus fruits, chickpea soup, seafood tagliolini, and crispy millefoglie with vanilla ice cream. You'll also prepare a full Italian menu consisting of traditional dishes, and enjoy the fruits of your labor paired with fine wines.

Tuscany's Left Bank: Bolgheri and Supertuscan Wines Itinerary

Day 1

  • Arrive at Pisa airport and transfer to the medieval hamlet of Castagneto Carducci. Check in to your accommodations, Villa Le Luci, which is situated among the vineyards just a few kilometers from the beach.
  • After a brief welcome by your host, Giovanni, settle in and perhaps take a stroll in town.
  • Enjoy a welcome dinner at il Vecchio Frantoio restaurant, only a couple of steps from the villa. Some dishes you may enjoy include tortelli with ricotta cheese and roasted pig.
  • Overnight.

Day 2

  • Breakfast.
  • In the morning, meet your driving guide for a private full-day excursion. First, stop at Podere Sapaio — a 40 hectare vineyard and olive grove where they produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot wines — for a guided visit and wine tasting.
  • Next, it’s on to the colorful village of Bolgheri. Lunch on your own.
  • In the afternoon, visit Petra winery, a 300-hectare seaside estate designed by architect Mario Botta. After the wine tasting, take a walk into the medieval village of Suvereto and its fascinating hamlet.
  • Return to the hotel. Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 3

  • Following breakfast, transfer to San Vincenzo for a cooking class with Chef Deborah Corsi at the seafood restaurant La Perla del Mare. In your private hands-on class, you’ll create a full menu. Lunch to follow based on your efforts, and the meal will be paired with DOC wines.
  • In the afternoon, take some time on your own to stroll down San Vincenzo beach and discover the village. You’ll then return to Villa Le Luci for some leisure time.
  • For dinner, head to Da Ugo restaurant, a favorite of the locals, to taste Ugo’s signature game dishes.
  • Overnight.

Day 4

  • Breakfast.
  • In the morning, transfer to la Perla del Mare for your second cooking class with Chef Deborah.
  • After class, enjoy lunch based on your efforts.
  • In the afternoon, transfer to the Tenuta Argentiera winery where you will enjoy a guided visit with your host. After a drive among the wine rows, you’ll reach the top of the hill, which overlooks the estate’s vineyards as well as the Tyrrhenian Sea. The tour concludes with a stop in the wine cellars for a wine tasting.
  • Return to Villa Le Luci.
  • Dinner on your own in town.
  • Overnight.

Day 5

  • Check out and private transfer to Pisa airport.