An In-Depth Tour of Tuscan Gourmet Cuisine

A 8 day trip to Italy 
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In Tuscany, eating is more than sustenance. You do not eat to live,  but you truly live to eat. Home cooks understand the reason for pairing types of pastas with different types of sauce. A local butcher is happy to share home recipes. Chefs cook with their hearts, basing their recipes on traditional flavors with modern twists. Your custom tailored tour of Tuscan Gourmet Cuisine leads you through seven Tuscan destinations known for specific types of cuisine, ensuring your immersion into the soul of the province, and showcasing the uniqueness of each personal recipe, in each town, and in each region of Tuscany.  

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Florence, Mount Amiata, Siena, Arezzo, Carrara, Garfagnana

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Florence for Flavor

Florence is a small and urban city that has embraced its Renaissance ambiance. The cobblestone streets line charming stone buildings. Old palaces continue to hide behind antique gates. The historic city walls remain intact, and in some places have the protective towers facing outward to protect its citizens from intruders.

You arrive at Florence International Airport where your private transfer is waiting. Once inside the city, you find cakes and intricate marzipan creations decorating the display cases of bakeries on Via del Corso. Gelaterias have mounds of fluffy, creamy gelato. The aroma of simmering pasta sauce emanates from local restaurants hidden behind cellar doors, but unable to hide the enticing aromas.

The graceful green and white marble façade of the Duomo almost overshadows the enticing flavors of the city. The Medici Tombs in the Cappelle Medicee were designed and constructed by Michelangelo, which hold a particular amount of elegance in their detail. Settle into the city and the Tuscan traditions with dinner at an award-winning restaurant that was once a women’s prison during the Renaissance. The restaurant captures the flair of the city and the flavors of tradition. The menu is ever-changing but always keeps a Tuscan-themed tasting menu, along with a private table in the cellar where the chef presents each dish with passion, care, and precision. You find it the perfect introduction to the feeling of history and heritage.  

What’s Included: transfer, dinner, accommodation

Day 2: Red Gold of Tuscany

In the morning, the city comes to life around the historic city center. Locals make their way to work, and visitors look eager to enjoy the art of the city, from the Uffizi to the Accademia. At breakfast, you can sip a fresh cappuccino and enjoy the balance of bitter and sweet. The red brick dome of the cathedral foreshadows the colors of the countryside. You picture the landscape around Tuscany to be lush with cypress trees lining the country roads, olive groves brushing against vineyards, and even oak trees shading farmland.

When your guide meets you at your hotel and escorts you into the hills outside of Florence, you are not expecting to find fields of purple budding flowers set in rows surrounded by the iconic image of Tuscany. Consider learning more about your travel agents for private Italy tours, and see how they meticulously craft your itinerary so it is highly personalized for you. You find the cypress trees bordering the purple flower petals. Your guide leads you through the rows, explaining the beginnings of saffron farming in Tuscany, dating back to the 15th-century. Your guide points out the red strands at the center of the flower that become the saffron during harvest. The herbaceous aroma has a dark and quiet sweetness. On the same property, olive groves provide savory and unexpected profiles to accompany the saffron, including being used for saffron infused olive oil.

After your tour, your guide leads you to the terrace where the scent of freshly prepared herbs and spices drifts from the farmhouse. Every dish that comes to the table is zested with saffron, accompanied with herbs such as thyme, lavender, and mint. Each ingredient was hand picked from the garden, utilizing the local soil and letting you indulge in the flavors all around you.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Familiarity of Chestnuts

The morning sunlight above Florence washes over the Renaissance sculptures decorating the Loggia dei Lanzi, a corner of the Piazza della Signoria dedicated to acting as an outdoor museum. Cafes fill with locals sipping espresso and watching the city come to expressive life. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you in the hotel lobby and escorts you out of Florence and into the northern town of Carrara. The area is known for an ancient quarry than had given marble to the likes of Rome, and even provided the stone for Michelangelo’s David.

The town sits encompassed by the lushness of Tuscany between the banks of the Carrione River and the Carrara Quarry, which makes the mountains in the background look covered in snow. Your guide leads you through the Duchal Palace, the 16th century seat of power that now houses the Fine Arts Academy. The original palace was erected in the 13th century and the façade is still visible on the Castell Malaspiniano entrance. The second edifice on the palace grounds was erected during the Renaissance. Students from around the world come to study, eager to etch into some of the finest marble in the world, following in the footsteps of masters.

At the nearby Malgrate Castle, you find a stunning stone edifice resembling a fairytale building, situated on the hillside beneath the rugged Apuan Alps. The castle produces authentic chestnut flour, ground with stone into powder after 40 days of using chestnut wood to dry out the nut. The nutty, smoky flavor layers any bread, cake, or baked good in which the flour is used. In the cool halls of the castle overlooking the lush valley below, you can sample a flavorful loaf in a kitchen filled with a unique aroma, one of nutty smoke, charred wood, and sugar, hinted with rosemary.  

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 4: Tuscany’s Northern Borders

The fairytale-like design and ambiance of Malgrate Castle was the tip of the iceberg. An entire storybook of cuisine and tradition opens before your eyes when you make your way to the northern edges of Tuscany to the valleys of Garfagnana situated inside the Apuane Alps. Chestnut woods forest the area and porcini mushrooms blanket the ground. A naturally sweet aroma emanates from the honey in the trees. The image of Tuscany is at its most rustic; a staunch rural area welcomes you in the form of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana.

The medieval ambiance crowns the confluence of the Turrite and Serchio Rivers. The Ariostesca Castle has a burnt sienna hue and was erected in the 12th century. The castle housed the Renaissance poet Ariosto in the 16th century. The seducing aroma of freshly baked cakes and chocolate wafts out of the Fronte della Rocca. Locals and visitors sip prosecco and enjoy the tranquil breeze. Sacks of spelt are stacked near the old city walls near the grocery of Alimentari Poli Roberto.

The mountainous area has housed the wheat ancestor for thousands of years and gives the grain unique characteristics. The soil lacks nutrients and the spelt can only grow between 984 and 3,280 feet above sea level. You realize now that the tall grass around the valley wasn’t wheat or grass at all, but spelt. In an Osteria older than a century and a half, the aroma of savory spelt and black cabbage soup makes you eager to taste the aromatic dish.  

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Frescoes and Tagliatelle

The mountaintops surround the Garfagnana Valley. The breeze blows through the towering spelt stocks. After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you out of the Apuan Alps, leading you away from the storybook streets of Castelnuovo di Garfagna and onto the Medieval streets of Siena. The city is a different experience altogether. The small urban feel is filled with café terraces lining the arcades of the main square known as the Piazza del Campo. The Gothic architecture houses a relaxed ambiance but compared to Castelnuovo di Garfagna, the town feels like a metropolis.

The cobblestone streets lead into charming narrow alleys. Arching buttresses hang overhead connecting buildings and supporting one another as well. In the Palazzo Pubblico, you can find an elegant, allegorical fresco. The bright colors brighten up the vast space of the 14th-century edifice. Visitors like to climb to the top of the Torre del Mangia; the 335-foot tower topped with a marble crown. You notice the fresco is bisected into two tales, one of good government, and one of bad government. In the tale of good government a farmer is pushing a Tuscan hog. The 14th-century fresco embodies the importance of the farming communities around the city, along with a rich connection to the cuisine enjoyed by the locals. The particular breed of pig, known as Montagnola Senese, was a local breed favored by Sienese. The olive groves and vineyards around the city create a pleasant, serene ambiance. Cottages line gravel roads outside of the historic center.

As the sun begins to set over the golden hues of Siena, you make your way to a restaurant hidden in plain sight. The savory aroma has a hint of sweetness from the simmering tomatoes. The tagliatelle pasta absorbs a portion of the meaty sauce, holding its integral shape. You taste the rustic and buttery flavor from the meat, letting the sumptuousness settle on your palate.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Legendary White Steer

In the Val di Chiana, along a stretch of fertile valley between Siena and Arezzo, the Chianina cow is raised. The white steer has grazed on the grasslands of Tuscany since prehistoric times. Cave art around Europe shows the steer, commemorated on the walls of history. Today, your guide leads you through the winding country hills, taking you for a full day excursion to the hilltop town of Arezzo. The city was once a Roman military outpost and flourished during the Middle and Renaissance Ages due to its attractive landscape.

The main square of Piazza Grande has a particular slope, showcased in Roberto Benigni’s film Life is Beautiful. Palaces border the piazza and a colonnade on the north side belong to the Palazzo delle Logge. The bell tower was erected in the 16th-century and contains one of Italy’s oldest working clocks. The old world charm of the town continues to embrace you, from the local old men sipping espresso in the café lined piazza, to the kids kicking soccer balls against the walls of the 12th-century Parish Church of St. Mary.

There is a simple luster to the city, stemming from its historic charms and sustained traditions. The heritage spills over into the butcher, Antonio Tonioni, an expert in the Chianina steak. The butcher is keenly aware of every meat he prepares and is happy to share cooking advice on the best way to prepare and relish the Tuscan beef, known as Bistecca Fiorentina.

In the evening, you can settle at a chef’s table and watch as the local chef prepare each dish to perfection. Each course will be paired with wine from the restaurant’s pristine selection.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 7: On the Edge of a Volcano

At sunrise, the bakeries of Siena pour the aroma of fresh brioche from their doors. The comfortable warmth of each bakery is illuminated against the quiet shadows of the cobblestone streets. After breakfast, your private guide greets you at your hotel and takes you back into the Tuscan countryside, this time venturing south to the volcanic soil of Mount Amiata.

The region is rich in nutrients stemming from the volcanic activity over the millennia, including covering the landscape with lava, which became the mineral-rich landscape of today. The summit reaches a height of more than 5,695 feet and is the tallest dormant volcano in Italy. Chestnut trees grow freely and mushrooms sprout along the hilly floor. Springs and rivers trickle past boulders and rocks.

A boutique shop is dedicated to the fruitful production of the land around Mount Amiata, including the production of Pecorino Toscano, a semi-soft sheep’s cheese. From the shop, you can look out over the gardens and historic hillside towns peeking over the treetops. The cheese monger in Castel del Piano explains the process of making the cheese, from its genesis to the point of fermentation. The cheese monger slices a thin piece of the semi-soft cheese and lets you taste the end product, filled with a creamy, silky texture.

In the evening, you return to Siena with a chance to taste another local specialty to top off your exploration of local, flavorful cuisine. Indulge in the rich qualities of a lamb stew.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Flavors Found

A tranquil mist settles over the valleys around Siena in the early morning hours. By the time you wake up, you can see the dewy remnants of the earlier haze, which catches the sunlight, casting an ethereal glow over the Tuscan landscape. At breakfast, you relax, savoring the familiar bittersweet flavor of your daily Italian espresso. The traditional gourmet tastes of Tuscany have surprised you in the best of ways, taking you on a journey of a lifetime.

After your meal, your private transfer greets you in the hotel lobby ready to escort you back to Florence and the Florence International Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 

Price

Starting Price 

$2,195
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.