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Tuscany trip report - cooking and wine tour

Tuscany trip report - cooking and wine tour

Old Jun 16th, 2002, 06:22 AM
  #1  
TJ
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Tuscany trip report - cooking and wine tour

Just back from ten days in Tuscany and Umbria. Stayed in Florence, Cortona and San Gimignano. Took day trips to Spoleto, Orvieto (unbelievable Duomo), Montepulciano, Montalcino (fun for wine lovers) and Siena (always great). Also took a cooking class one day and a wine tour one day.

Loved all cities visited, personal favorites were Cortona, San Gimignano (at night), Florence and Montalcino.

The cooking class we took was outside of Perugia with an Italian chef (Tita) and an American translator/coordinator (Nonie) who has lived there since mid 70s. Great class at the chef's home where we learned several recipes that were impressive and relatively easy to prepare (and then got to eat the results!). Nonie's contact info is [email protected].

The one-day wine tour with Lorenzo Gatteschi was also a great time. He picked us up at our hotel (didn't want to drive after too much sampling) and took us to three different wineries (ranging from large to small) in the Chianti region and arranged a great lunch at Castellina in Chianti. Lorenzo was very knowledgeable on wine production and the region in general. We were out for a full day and the time flew. We even made him stop by his house so we could buy a bottle of the chianti that his family produces (he didn't have any with him so purchase was brought up by us). His contact info is website: www.chiantiservices.com / email: [email protected].

All our meals were outstanding (and we're big foodies) but highlights were: Pane e Vino (Florence - great wine and traditional cuisine), 13 Gobbi (Florence-boisterous atmosphere with good food), Trattoria 4 Leoni (Florence-great outdoor dining) Osteria Le Logge (Siena-order the malfatti), Il Pozzo (Montereggioni-tortelli con tartufo- best pasta on the trip and worth the stop), Trattoria Toscana (Cortona-fun friendly service and good food), Le Vecchia Muir (San Gimignano-food good, but highlight is the view over the valley). Favorite gelato: Perche Nod (Florence), Vivoli (Florence) and #1 Gelateria Snoopy in Cortona (how can you go wrong with a name like that).

If anyone wants further detail or questions drop me an email. We had a great trip.
 
Old Jun 16th, 2002, 06:50 AM
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TJ
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Forgot our hotel list:

Excelsior (Florence) - very posh, great service and room had a wonderful private balcony overlooking Fiesole.

Il Falconiere (Cortona) - beautiful old property 5 minutes outside of Cortona. Very nice restaurant (kind of nouvelle so enjoyed once, but most nights went into town).

La Cisterna (San Gimignano) - definitely not as luxurious as the other two, but one third the price, right in the heart of town, charming with incredible views out over the countryside and again snagged a private balcony (favorite spot for a little wine and reading/relaxing before dinner)
 
Old Jun 16th, 2002, 11:09 AM
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Janet
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Great report Tom. We're leaving in a few weeks and hope to try some of your restaurant recommendations. Regarding your cooking class, was it a group or just you and some friends? Thanks
 
Old Jun 16th, 2002, 11:12 AM
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Kav
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Tom, Sounds like a delicious trip, thank you for posting details.
It's another destination up near the top of my list...
Kavey
 
Old Jun 16th, 2002, 01:03 PM
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Helen Donegan
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I second the Trattoria Toscana - it is very good and very reasonably priced.
Another good restaurant is below Cortona in Camucia. Canta Napoli is great, especially for fish - price about 23 Euro including a normal wine.
 
Old Jun 16th, 2002, 01:54 PM
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TJ
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Kavey - definitely was a good eating trip. Busy at the gym trying to get rid of the extra lbs added on vacation. Janet - our class was just two of us (me and a friend). Tita and Nonie could accomodate up to 6 people which would lower the cost, but we had alot of fun just the two of us and actually felt we got more hands on experience and learned more.
 
Old Jun 17th, 2002, 06:54 PM
  #7  
sam
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Question on your wine tour..did you have input into which wineries you visited? Thanks
 
Old Jun 18th, 2002, 06:41 AM
  #8  
TJ
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Lorenzo allowed us to have some input as to which wineries we visited. We pretty much trusted his judgement, but we like Vernaccia di San Gimignano so we did schedule a visit to a local producer (also we were staying in San Gimignano at the time so it was very convenient).
 
Old Jun 18th, 2002, 06:47 AM
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karen
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what did the cooking class cost?
 
Old Jun 18th, 2002, 06:52 AM
  #10  
Bob
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We will be staying in San Gimignano in just over a week and was curious about your wine tour. What did the tour cost and how did you find Lorenzo?
 
Old Jun 18th, 2002, 09:11 AM
  #11  
TJ
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Karen and Bob...neither were cheap ($525 for the cooking class and $500 for the wine tour).

Regarding the cooking class, there were two of us and we wanted to learn more so didn't really want to be paired with other people. Although not inexpensive, they went to alot of prep work prior to our arrival and this also included wine etc. We felt it was reasonable since we learned to make about six or seven different things. If there are more in your group the cost per person would come down (they also may be able to pair you up with some other people).

Bob - the wine tour included fees paid to the wineries, lunch and door to door service from our hotel. Lorenzo drove a minivan so could probably accomodate four people (there were two of us) and I doubt the cost would go up that much.

Highly recommend both as they were two of our favorite days on our trip.
 
Old Jun 18th, 2002, 09:13 AM
  #12  
TJ
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sorry bob, forgot....we found Lorenzo through La Dolce Tours (www.dolcetours.com). They typically do longer trips so they acted as liason for Lorenzo to do a daytrip for us. It might even be cheaper if you go direct. For what it's worth, La Dolce Tours was also very reputable (refunded our money when we had to cancel with two days notice due to Sept. 11).
 
Old Jun 19th, 2002, 05:10 AM
  #13  
tom
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top for Joe
 
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