Overview

Discover The Heart of Tuscany, Florence, Chianti and Brunello Wines & Best Local Cuisine...


Click above to view a video presentation of our Chianti weeks

This week-long vacation will consist of a small and intimate group of no more than 18 people. It is an 8 day, 7 night all-inclusive experience that offers a wonderful mixture of some of Central and Southern Tuscany's highlights, including the magnificent cities of Florence and Siena, along with some off-the-beaten-path treasures unique to the area. It is a week that embraces Italian cooking, culinary and artistic tradition with some of the most wonderful locations in Tuscany. It is a week of discovery as you integrate into Italian village life, living among the villagers, and getting to know them. Most of all, it is a week of fun, family and laughter as we share what makes Italy so special in a very personal way.

The Cooking and Wine Classes

We'll have four classes this week. Three are half-day cooking classes. We'll also have a wine class and pairing with a certified sommelier to teach us the intricacies of the wines of the region. Our cooking classes will be full four course meals. Our classes are completely hands-on, they are are not demonstrations. We structure them so that you can be as involved as you wish in every stage of every course we prepare. With every class, we roll up our sleeves and get wrist deep in making everything fresh, from scratch.

We'll be making local Tuscan specialties, such as Pici pasta and pesto from scratch, Gnudi, Tuscan Lasagna, Eggplant Millefoglie,Crostata, Cantucci with Vin Santo, & much more!

*For those that would rather eat than cook, two of our classes will be in our hotel kitchen. While our sommelier class is also in Radda in a garden of a nearby palace. If you would like to pass on the cooking, take a stroll around town, lounge away at the hotel, or enjoy the spa services offered. We can also help with the grilling duties at our Grigliata afternoon, which is at a beautiful location with lounges, a pool, etc.

The Excursions

We have some wonderful excursions this week in Central and Southern Tuscany. Among these are several wineries that produce Chainti, Brunello, Vino Nobile, and other Tuscan wines. One such winery is a small family-run producer of one of the last remaining truly artisan wines, made entirely by hand. Another is housed in a 14th century palazzo that is recognized as the most beautiful wine cellar in the world.

We have a guided tour of the beautiful city of Siena, and get an insider's view into some of Siena's "Contrade",- the neighborhoods that compete for the coveted Palio di Siena. We'll visit the Siena Cathedral and the famous Piazza del Campo with it's wonderful architecture and scenic cafes.

See Florence like never before! A true highlight of the week is our day-trip to Florence. Here we will have a fantastic day exploring the city from an insider's perspective. We'll have a foodie tour heading to the places where the locals go. Including specialty grocers, bakers, and enoteca. We'll visit the Central Market where the locals shop daily. We'll be eating and drinking along the way! Since we are in Florence, a must see is Michelangelo's masterpiece, The David. We'll have our own private guided tour of the Galleria del'Academia and learn about this and other historic and incredible works of Renaissance Art. We'll also have the opportunity to mingle with the Florentines at a popular happy hour spot with spectacular views of the Ponte Vecchio!

We will visit an artisan cheese producer in Pienza, a Cashmere Goat farm in Chianti that produces some of the highest quality cashmere you will find. We'll visit with a small family run Chianina Ranch (Chianina Beef is the type use for Florentine Steaks), and enjoy an afternoon cooking out with the family. We'll even spend one evening at a traditional Italian "Grigliata" -- An Italian BBQ, during where we can swim, cook, grill, sing & dance!

*For those that are not big wine enthusiasts, not to worry! While we are visiting four wineries this week, each one of them is selected because it has much more to offer than just the wine. They are truly family experiences, each unique in it's own way. One is in the heart of Montepulciano. Another makes Brunello. One will be combined with our cashmere visit. And the other is a family living in a small hilltop enclave.

The Food & Wine

We are all about food & wine, and if there is one comment we hear more than any other from our guests throughout the week, it is "I can't eat another bite".

You will never be hungry, and you will never want for more wine, period. All of the restaurant meals are in small, local restaurants that are considered the best of the best for their area. These are the places the locals rave about, not just for the tourists. Furthermore, we don't do "tourist food". We insist on the highest quality at all times, and always pull out all of the stops.

The wine is always flowing at lunch and dinner. We always focus on local wines from the area we are in, and it is always fantastic!

Additionally, the meals at our cooking classes are not little 'learn to make pasta' classes like many others. Instead, the classes are traditional Italian 'Sunday Family Meals'... 4 courses, done to the max.

When the week is over, you will have experienced the real Italy that few tourists have ever experienced. You will have made new friends, and you will have learned why Italian culture is so amazing... because you will have lived it.

Cities we'll visit...

  • Radda in Chianti (Our Home Base)
  • Florence
  • Siena
  • Cortona
  • Montalcino (Outskirts)
  • Pienza
  • Montepulciano
  • Gaiole in Chianti
  • Castellinuzza

What we'll be cooking...

Classes 1 & 2 (Sunday):
Wine Class and Pairing with a Certified Sommelier

Cooking Class: Roasted Tomatoes; Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi; Pork Filet in Chianti Wine Sauce; Limoncello-Rasberry Tiramisu’.

Class 3 (Tuesday):
Eggplant Millefoglie; Homemade Pici Pasta with Fresh Pesto Sauce; Fire Roasted Tuscan Chicken and Duck; Tuscan Crostata with Fresh Marmalade

Class 4 (Friday):
Pear and Pecorino Tart; Tuscan Lasagna; Stuffed Turkey Breast with Local Herbs; Cantucci (Tuscan Almond Biscotti) with Vin Santo Wine

Experiences & Wineries & we will visit...

  1. Michelangelo's David in Florence
  2. Florence Gourmet Food and Wine Tour
  3. Piombaia Winery (Brunello)
  4. De Ricci Winery (Vino Nobile)
  5. Chianti Cashmere Goat Farm
  6. Vignavecchia Winery (Chianti & more)
  7. Castellinuzza e Piuca Winery & Chianina Ranch

Dates & Prices

Map

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Accommodations

Common Area in Hotel
Common Area in Hotel
Common Area in Hotel
Room at Palazzo Leopoldo
Room at Palazzo Leopoldo
Room at Palazzo Leopoldo
Terrace at Palazzo
Terrace at Palazzo
Terrace at Palazzo
Breakfast area & Cooking Class Kitchen
Breakfast area & Cooking Class Kitchen
Breakfast area & Cooking Class Kitchen
Indoor Pool & Spa at Palazzo
Indoor Pool & Spa at Palazzo
Indoor Pool & Spa at Palazzo

Palazzo Leopoldo

Our home for the week is the beautiful "Palazzo Leopoldo". This ancient Palazzo dates back to the 1400's. A private villa for centuries, the Palazzo was recently restored and converted into a beautiful boutique hotel with just 18 rooms. It features large rooms, beautiful views, and a true small-town Tuscany experience.

Location

The Palazzo is right in the heart of Radda in Chianti, on the main pedestrian road, just a few steps away from the Piazza. The location just couldn't be better, as you step out the front door and find yourself on the main "corso" of this darling little Tuscan village with shops, cafes, etc.

Amenities

While small, the palazzo offers most traditional services. Free WIFI throughout, air conditioning, heating, in room safes, hair dryers, laundry service, etc.

How We Selected Palazzo Leopoldo

If you have been reading through our website, it should be clear that there is a personal story behind everything we do, and this is no exception. It all started when Spartaco and Rocky were scouting the area. They really wanted to put something together here, mostly because this is Spartaco's favorite area of the country. They happened to meet Massimo, the owner of this and three other hotels in the area, and somehow there was an instant connection. So much so, that when they told Michael about what they had put together, most of their excitement was about Massimo! They said that he was just like us, and asserted that the moment Michael met him, he would be "all in" as well. This was roughly two years before we launched this new location, and in that time, Michael DID meet Massimo, and WAS "all-in" after meeting him. In fact, in that time, a friendship was born that went beyond business. Massimo has been our guest in Soriano and we frequently visit, if for nothing else, just to hang out. The point is that it is rare to find people that truly share our philosophy. When we do, we need to work with them for the sake of working with them. That is, people that believe that it is about friendships, and passion, and not about money, need to stick together!

Visit the Palazzo Leopoldo Website

Is This For You?

Is This For You?

Your Disposition

Our vacations are focused on having a good time with new friends. Everything we do revolves around that. People seeking a self-centered vacation might reconsider. Our groups tend to span all ages, men & women, singles & couples... everyone is welcome, and when our guests come ready to embrace a new culture, look forward to trying new things, and interact with other guests, it is always amazing. Even the way our guests see us is important. If you see us as "providers of a service", you may reconsider our trips. We bring you into our family and become part of the group with you... as though you are visiting friends and family. If you are able to be in this frame of mind, our trips will be like nothing you have ever experienced, but if you are looking for a more detached relationship with us, our trips may not be for you.

Be Ready to Embrace the Culture

Our trips focus on bringing you into the true culture of the place, but some guests want to see it, but not live it. We embrace the culture and do things the way locals do, which may or may not be what you are looking for. This includes little things like not having cappuccino with our meals (Italians only have cappuccino as a breakfast beverage), not having bacon and eggs for breakfast (Italians have coffee or tea and pastries), or larger things, like the fact that we have our dinners after 8:00 PM, like the Italians do. Every step of the way we adapt to the local culture, rather than asking the local culture to adapt to us. This also tends to make us much more welcome guests than other groups!

Physical Limitations

Physical Intensity
You by no means need to be athletic for this vacation, but you must be able to handle some level of physical exertion. A good rule to follow would be to ask yourself if you can do three flights of stairs, then continue walking without needing to sit down for a while. Or, if you can walk up to 2 miles per day.

Age Concerns
We have had guests as old as 90 years old with no problems whatsoever. Age is not a limiting factor, so long as you are in good physical condition with no health problems that exertion would complicate.

Altitude
Radda in Chianti is at an altitude of 1,700 feet (500 meters). The highest altitude of the week will be 2,000 feet (600 meters) in Montepulciano.

Walking & Bus Time
In Italy, walking is always a larger concern than it probably is back home. This is because the towns are ancient, and much is closed to vehicle traffic. Some guests are also concerned about how much time they will spend in a bus. While we are in a very central area, we try to go to some of the most interesting places. Some days will have more travel time, and some very little.

Here is a general outline of the intensity and amount of walking and time in the bus during this week:

Total Walking All Week (Excluding walking between your home and the town piazza each day):
~8 miles (12 km) - Total for the week, NOT per day

Total Time in Bus All Week (Excluding transfers at beginning and end of week):
~Approximately 11 hours - Total for the week, NOT per day

Detail Day By Day:

While in Radda in Chianti
Radda is a Tuscan hill town. There are moderate inclines while walking in town. The town is very small, but being on a hill, there will be some up and down, as well as stairs as you explore the town.

Saturday
Walking on Saturday:
On Saturday when you arrive, you will be walking from piazza to the hotel for check in. We will help with your bags if you desire. The total is just about 200 feet (60 meters) on a very slight incline. Dinner tonight will be at a restaurant in town that will be the equivalent of several flights of stairs each way (down on the way to dinner, and up on the way back). Total walking Saturday is about 0.25 miles (0.4 km)

Time in Bus on Saturday:
The only time you will be in the bus today is to get to Radda. The drive from the airport is 37 miles (60 km), and should take roughly an hour due to winding roads and traffic.

Sunday
Walking on Sunday:
There is very little walking today, and no hills to speak of as we'll be in Radda throughout the day. Total walking today is about 0.25 miles (0.4 km)

Rest Time on Sunday:
After lunch we will have an hour to an hour and a half of rest at the hotel before our first cooking class begins.

Monday
Walking on Monday:
This is a long day out, with about 1.2 miles (2 km) of walking all day. Most of the walking is during the afternoon in Montepulciano. You will have free time to browse the town on our way to the main piazza. This is about 1/2 mile (0.8 km), which is on an uphill incline. If you prefer not to do this, there is a city bus that will bring you to the piazza. There is also a 0.4 mile (0.6 km) walk after the last winery that is all downhill.

Time in Bus on Monday:
This is one of our longer driving days of the week. The drive to Montalcino is 48 miles (78 km), which will take about 90 minutes in the morning. From there, Pienza is 19 miles (30 km), which will take about 30 min. Next the drive to Montepulciano is 7 miles (12 km), taking about 10 min, and finally th drive home is 49 miles (78 km), which will take about 80 min.

Rest Time on Monday:
Today is a full day out. We will not be back in town until after dinner . Most guests take time to close their eyes on the bus ride.

Tuesday
Walking on Tuesday:
Tuesday we will be in Cortona. Figure about 1/2 -1 mile (0.8 km) of walking total today, most of which is flat.

Time in Bus on Tuesday:
The drive to Cortona is 55 miles (90 km), and will take about 90 minutes each way.

Rest Time on Tuesday:
After cooking class we'll have free time in Cortona. There will be time to freshen up before dinner in Radda.

Wednesday
Walking on Wednesday:
When we visit the cashmere farm, our mini bus may not be able to get all the way there. If this is the case, we may need to walk about 0.25 miles (0.4 km) each way. The cashmere farm and the winery do not have much walking, however they are rural areas. Some walking will be on dirt roads or walkways. Most of our walking today will be in Siena. Figure roughly a mile or two of walking today, mostly on flat surfaces.

Time in Bus on Wednesday:
The drive to the cashmere farm and winery is less than 10 minutes. The drive to Siena is about 19 miles (30 km), and will take about 40 minutes each way.

Rest Time on Wednesday:
On the bus to Siena after lunch.

Thursday
Walking on Thursday:
Our day in Florence will be a lot of walking. Our foodie tour, museum visit, time on our own, walking to the meeting point, etc will be roughly 4 miles miles of walking You may walk more, depending on your enthusiasm while exploring the city.

Time in Bus on Thursday:
The drive to Florence is about 33 miles (53km) and will take about 1 hr 20 minutes each way.

Rest Time on Thursday:
On the return ride from Florence to Radda. We should also have time at the hotel to freshen up before the Grigliata.

Friday
Walking on Friday:
There is not much walking today.

Time in Bus on Friday:
There will be about a total of 1 hour in the bus today, half hour each way.

Rest Time on Friday:
After lunch, we will have about an hour and a half of rest time at the hotel before our cooking class.

Special Needs we can (and cannot) cater to in Chianti

Physical Limitations
You must be able to walk up to at least 4 miles in a day. You must be able to at least walk a couple of flights of stairs without rest in order to come on this trip in order to go on the excursions.

Food Limitations
We can cater to most food allergies, vegetarian diets, and to some extent kosher diets. We will substitute with other dishes if you let us know in advance. We can even cater to a gluten-free diet. Our cooking class menus will not change based on a guest's food limitations, but even in the classes, we can usually offer alternatives to eat. That said, if you do have limitations, it is important that you have a positive attitude about it. We are happy to substitute, but the variety of alternatives may be limited.