Tuscany's Left Bank: Bolgheri and Supertuscan Wines
Castagneto Carducci (Pisa)
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.
About 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.