We’re looking forward to our return to Tuscany this year with two Chianti Experience groups. I’m already anticipating the fun our travelers will have on Sunday evening: our cooking class with Stefania and Giulietta. And of course, I’m relishing the thought of the great meal we’ll enjoy at the end of the class, everything prepared by the group.
My husband and co-leader Charley always loves this evening. He was so inspired by our two teachers and their classes that he set part of his second book, A Villa in Tuscany, in a cooking school in Panzano.
The setting is a special part of the experience: Giulietta’s 800-year old home, now a comfortable B&B. The old farmhouse is at the very bottom of the “Conca D’Oro,” the beautiful and fertile valley below the village of Panzano. We bump down the narrow gravel road in our two vans, passing vineyards and olive trees, and finally arrive at Fagiolari.
Stefania and Giulietta welcome us enthusiastically into the attractive kitchen, where they’ve already organized everything we need for our cooking. Everyone dons an apron and most accept a glass of local wine… then they break into smaller groups in two adjoining rooms. One group is with Stefania and the other with Giuiletta.
During the next three hours everyone works together to prepare our four-course meal. Dessert (dolce) is made first so it can chill while the other courses are prepared.
The meat (secondo) is next, then the vegetables (contorno).
And last, the grand finale, the primo: homemade pasta. Everyone is excited to help make the dough, pass it through the pasta machine, and form the pasta shapes.
Usually we make stuffed ravioli or tortellini as well as some noodles. There are so many alternatives with fresh pasta! Stefania dresses the pasta simply with butter and sage.
Everyone is involved and having fun… whether cooking in the kitchen or relaxing in the garden or Giulietta’s comfortable living room.
Time passes quickly as we cook, learn, and laugh together. We want to learn more about Tuscan cooking from Stefania and Guilietta, and we we also enjoy hearing their stories of life in this beautiful area of Italy. All the recipes for the dishes we’ve made– plus many more– are included in Stefania’s cookbook which we’re given to take home.
Finally, we sit together to share the meal the group has prepared… and yes, it’s delicious!! Many of us have seconds, and we scrape the tiramisu bowl clean.
It’s the first full day of our week together and one of my favorite days of all our Experience trips. I love our friendly Italian hosts and this fun cooking class, sharing a delicious and leisurely meal in a beautiful setting. Friends gathering over food and wine… a perfect Chianti experience!
Kathy and Charley Wood lead European Experiences, week-long “slow tours” in some of the most beautiful areas of Europe, including The Luberon Experience in Provence, France. National Geographic Traveler magazine named The Luberon Experience one of their top 50 tours in the world in 2012.
Kathy and Charley host Experience weeks in the Luberon, the Chianti region of Tuscany, Puglia, Alsace, the Dordogne, and the Cotswolds. They also offer two longer tours: The European Christmas Experience (12 days) and The Cornwall Experience in southwest England (10 days).
Kathy and Charley have been traveling in Europe for almost 30 years and love sharing their special places in Europe with other travelers. They've hosted 120 Experience groups since they launched in 2006. They have a second home in their beloved village of Bonnieux in the Luberon. Read more about Kathy and Charley here.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.