Italy Cooking Tour: Parco Fiorito & Villa Pitiana

A 7 day trip to Italy 
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Mangia Bene (Eat Well)!  Tuscany and Umbria will win both your heart and stomach with regional delicacies, warm hospitality and celestial landscapes. Journey outside the kitchen, and through the Italian countryside, on a once and a lifetime culinary adventure that will inspire your palette and refresh your mood.  A tour that blends tradition and history with gastronomic experiences, it will introduce you to a deeper, truer understanding of the art of Italian life. 

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Rome, Florence, Cortona, Montepulciano, Tuscany, Umbria, Orvieto

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1 – Welcome & Buon Appetito (Enjoy Your Meal)!

On your comfy drive from the airport to the hotel, prepare to spoil your senses with a multitude of Italian delights that begin in Rome, a city that celebrates over 2,500 years of history.  At L’Albergo Cesari, a delightful boutique hotel, you’ll be a hop, skip and leisurely stroll to extraordinary monuments like the Trevi fountain and Pantheon Dome.  Before your afternoon guided tour, unwind in your suite or enjoy an espresso on the hotel’s garden rooftop to steal a panoramic view of the immense historical heritage that highlights the city.

A friendly expert will accompany you through the Vatican where some of the most influential names in Italian art are represented including Michelangelo, Botticelli and Signorelli.  A holy see of renaissance, classical and contemporary works, the Vatican exhibits some of the greatest masterpieces ever realized.  In Saint Peter's Basilica, see beautiful relic sculptures of saints and angels and learn the history of Christianity.  Stare up in awe at Michelangelo’s massive dome structure that towers above Saint Peters shrine.  Around the altar, behold the stunning Baldacchino, four large bronze canopies by Bernini.

You’ll have the rest of the afternoon and evening free to explore the city.  Head back to the hotel and freshen up before taking a walk over to Via del Corso and Via del Tritone, lively streets filled with stores and located extremely close to your hotel.  You can shop for the perfect trinket so you remember your visit to Rome.

For dinner, treat yourself to an evening of Roman fare at one of the many restaurants around Piazza della Rotonda.  The vibrant plaza is filled with outdoor cafes and restaurants and home to the magnificent Pantheon Dome, one of the largest dome in the world. Watch the square come to life between divine bites of Saltimbocca alla Romana, tender mouthwatering veal scallops cooked with white wine, sage and seasoning and then topped with prosciutto.  After a scrumptious dinner, grab a cup of gelato before your short stroll back to the hotel and drift off to sleep in pure contentment.

What’s Included:  transportation from airport, private tour of the Vatican, and accommodations at L’Albergo Cesari

Day 2 – Slow Cooking in the Hills

If it’s warm in the morning, have breakfast on the hotel’s rooftop garden where guests are offered a lovely spread of fresh pastries and cakes.  Depart Rome and drive off into the hills, enjoying picturesque valleys and mountains that border the neighboring regions of Tuscany and Umbria.  It’s a captivating rural vision.

Tucked up in the hillside, about 5 minutes from the city of Cortona, is the majestic estate where you’ll be spending the next few days.  The elegant Relais Parco Fiorito is a medieval sixteenth century monastery where guests now visit to enjoy its modern comforts and array of amenities. You will feel like you are in an enchanted forest where you’ve entered an Italian fairy-tale.  At Relais Parco Fiorito, you will be provided with relaxation and enjoyment.  The property is maintained by the Russo Family, Italian natives, and they will make you feel like you’re part of the family as they share their passion and knowledge during cooking classes at their culinary school.

Gain a profound understanding of local food and wine as Roberto Russo uses fresh ingredients off their farm to prepare traditional Tuscan dishes.  Your palette will relish in the quality of how their produce completely enhances dishes like tagliatelle alla boscaiola, linguine pasta with a hearty sauce of porcini mushrooms.  Also enjoy panzanella, a bread salad with marinated red onions, ripe tomatoes, and basil that’s tossed with vinegar and olive oil made from olives handpicked off the farm’s olive grove.  

What’s Included:  breakfast, transfer, 3 course lunch and cooking lesson with Robert Russo, accommodations at Relais Parco Fiorito

Day 3 – The Beauty between Umbria & Tuscany

Today you’ll explore the natural foliage and gastronomic culture that exemplifies the Italian countryside.  The fresh air is as intoxicating as the taste of simple ingredients used to prepare specialty farm-to-table dishes.  Handmade pastas, cured meats, organic produce, extra virgin olive oil and fine wines dominate all aspects of the culinary spectrum.

In your morning cooking lesson, give your grocery list a makeover while preparing dishes that feature local products. You will feel like a budding chef as you learn the difference between black and white truffles and how to build the ultimate antipasto platter of crostini’s with cured meats like Tuscan ham and spicy Finnocchia, salami splendidly intertwined with wild fennel, black pepper, and garlic.

After indulging in a gourmet lunch that leaves you culturally enriched and satisfied, go on a leisurely walk around the trails and paths that outline Lake Trasimeno, the largest park in Umbria.  Rent a bicycle to tour the lake’s contour and look out to mountains in the distance.  In Trasimeno, stroll around the tiny village and encounter shops with friendly locals selling crafts and products.  Tour incredible century-old olive mills and villas restored with modern flair; these could be your new luxury summer rental!  

End your day by spoiling yourself with one of the fun and relaxing services offered in the wellness center conveniently located at Relais Parco Fiorito . Take a dip in the Jacuzzi and feel rejuvenated after having a massage where you overlook an endless valley of olive groves stretching to Cortona.

Following a gourmet dinner on the grounds restaurant, relish in the evening ambiance over a plate of Cantucci cookies and a glass of Vin Santo.  Both regional specialties, the dessert wine soaks up the cookie’s almond flavor to provide sublime crunchy bites. 

What’s Included: breakfast, cooking lesson, gourmet lunch, gourmet dinner, accommodations at Relais Parco Fiorito

Day 4 – Under the Etruscan Sun (Day Excursion to Cortona – Montepulciano - Vino Nobile)

The movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, gave Cortona a second wind of fame. Cortona is known as one of Italy’s oldest hill towns that preserves Etruscan Civilization, dating back to 600 BC.  Inside its medieval walls you’ll wander the narrow passageways and behold panoramic views looking out to the Valdichiana.  Some might consider Cortona the heart of Central Italy, its valley stretches out and over both Tuscan and Umbrian land. Around the historic center, Piazza Republica and Piazza Signorelli, browse through shops holding a splendid assortment of handmade linens and olive motif tablecloths.

In Montepulciano, you’ll develop a palette for red wine as you sip a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and learn the history of the region’s classic and famous wines.  You’ll explore an age-old winery and its underground cantina (cellar) that’s like a treasure chest filled with the finest red bottles made from the area.  The cantina is a fun and delightful way to learn about wine and you’ll be excited to share this knowledge with your friends at home!

A gourmet lunch and final cooking lesson at Parco Fiorito will also provide more insight as to why the Italian diet and cuisine is so unique.  For example, Italian produce is prepared around the seasons, and during the fall olive harvesting commences.  You will be able to sample a multitude of appetizers and pasta dishes that include ingredients like chestnuts, walnuts, pumpkin, porcini mushrooms, artichokes and leeks.  Another beauty of this region is that no matter when you visit, it's always the season for fine local wine! 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfers, guided tour of winery in Vino Nobile, gourmet lunch, cooking lesson, accommodations at Relais Parco Fiorito

Day 5 – Florence

Revitalized after a luxury adventure through the countryside, a pleasant change of scenery leads you to Florence where you’ll explore the classical wonders that flourish the city.  At the Accademia Museum, a four-hour tour will take you centuries back in time to when the Medici Family ruled Florence.  You will learn their contributions to making Florence a thriving center during the Renaissance period.  Near the entrance you’ll spot the Cassone Adimari, a narrow rectangular wedding chest once owned by the affluent Florentine Adimari family.  Rich in design, the antique trunk captures images of noble Florentine families from the 1450’s.  Feel the momentum build along the hallways and grand columns to arrive at the center where a gladiator towers 14 feet over you bearing a rock in one hand and a sling in the other.  Michelangelo’s Statue of David is an unfinished masterpiece built to depict the biblical figure before his battle with Goliath and is the essence of classical beauty. 

When you arrive at Villa Pitiana, a picturesque vision of vineyards and fields, relish in the fact that just a short while ago you were walking around a lively and noisy open aired museum and now you’re standing on a peaceful landscape of sheer rustic elegance.  Before your evening cooking lesson, take a quick stroll through the estate grounds to the arboretum and botanical gardens where you will see lush bunches of flowers, plants and aromatic herbs that will intrigue your green thumb.    

In the evening, before a gourmet dinner of Tuscan fare, enjoy an intimate cooking class in the refurbished monastery and learn the art of preparing traditional, regional dishes with some contemporary flair.  The chefs are eager to share their passion for cooking and knowledge of fine Tuscan food and wine.   They will give you an unforgettable experience that blends old and new world flavors. 

What’s Included:  breakfast, transfers, guided tour of the Accademia Museum, cooking lesson, gourmet dinner, accommodations at Villa Pitiana  

Day 6 – The Underground City of Umbria

In the morning you’ll travel through Umbria southwest to Orvieto and visit an ancient city that sits on volcanic rock.  Orvieto offers dramatic views of the surrounding valleys, olive groves and vineyards.   Guarded by a fortress, the medieval town is filled with cryptic tombs and cemeteries from Etruscan times.  There is an astounding collection of archeological ruins, artifacts and a preserved underground city.

Take a look at the city’s famous cathedral built during the Middle Ages.  The cathedral’s impressive design hints at construction of Romanesque to Gothic style and took nearly three centuries to finish.  The Chapel of the Madonna di San Brizio, a later addition, portrays tales of The Apocalypse with eerie frescos by Luca Signorelli.

Opposite the church and along the row of shops in the square, a guide will assist you underground to explore what will seem like a mystical labyrinth.  Hear fascinating stories and events that took place in the underground passageways.  See rock carvings and caves used for everything from wells, to olive oil presses, and bomb shelters, depending on the century.

After an unforgettable experience, you’ll be ready for your final gourmet lunch of Umbrian dishes paired with the region’s best wines.  A glass of Orvieto Classico tastes refreshing with Bruschetta, made from local tomatoes, and drizzled with the regions renowned olive oil.  Savor dishes like fresh pappardelle pasta dressed in a hearty lamb Ragu and grilled pork tenderloin glazed in balsamic and shaved with black truffles.  As you round out the meal with dessert and relish in a slice of torta della nonna (grandmother’s cake) and Italian coffee, it will signify the overall essence of your trip, traditional culinary excellence. 

What’s Included:  breakfast, transfers, guided underground tour, gourmet lunch, accommodations

Day 7 – Ciao Italy!  

After breakfast, a shuttle service will bring you to the airport.  

What's Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized Italy tour packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $450 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $350 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $300 per person per day

The customized package will include hotels, airport transfers and other transportation within Italy, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final hotel choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.