In Italy, much of life takes place around the table, preparing food, talking and eating. So perhaps it’s no surprise that it has one of the world’s most impressive and exportable culinary cultures, with recipes that vary from region to region.

For those who want to try their hands at these Italian recipes there are plenty of tours out there. But for anyone wanting that tour to be an authentic experience, things get a little more tricky.

You’re looking for a tour that takes you off the well-trodden tourist routes and into the homes, kitchens, vineyards and cellars of real Italians. One where you’ll get hands-on experience of cooking and working with ingredients. Preferably in a beautiful place. Surrounded by friendly people. With fascinating trips to local places all part of the deal.

Is it a lot to ask? Not for the organisers of a tour that we’ve just discovered. An 8 day all-inclusive tour based in central Italy with dates that run throughout the summer, it’s less like your average run-of-the-mill tour, and more like a full immersion in culinary and artistic discovery.

Aside from the cooking, you can expect to see some of the highlights, hidden treasures and architectural gems in an area that was once the land of the Etruscans.

wine & cooking under the tuscan sun

Experience a real taste of Italy

On this tour, with the evocative name of Wine and Cooking Under the Tuscan & Umbrian Sun you’ll get more than you bargained for. You’ll stay in a beautiful villa. You’ll get to know local people, shop with them, cook with them and share meals with them too. Here you’ll get served up a slice of the real Italy. So that you really will feel like you’ve lived in the place, if only for a week.

This was, and still is, one of my best holidays ever!

Linda, British Columbia.

You’ll also get to see some of the most breathtaking places Italy has to offer including Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. Imagine green landscapes, rolling hills, the idyllic countryside of Tuscany and some small Medieval hilltop towns that will melt your heart. (If the food hasn’t already!)

Civita di Bagnoregio

The Food

The itinerary really does make the mouth water. Aside from all of the marvellous foodie experiences you’ll have – from making ricotta with a shepherd, to making grappa in a cellar and trying your hand at typical biscotti – you’ll also be staying in a beautiful and characteristic town, where you’ll be living amongst locals. Half of each day is dedicated to cooking and the other to relaxing and visiting places. And every spare moment is spent eating and enjoying the local wine. Yum.

During the course you’ll be cooking everything from full meals, to desserts. As Sam from Culture Discovery Vacations says: “This tour is 100% hands on. With every class, we roll up our sleeves and get wrist deep in making everything fresh, from scratch!”

Depending on the week you arrive, you could be making anything from fresh pappardelle pasta with home-made bolognese sauce to home-made ravioli, country wood-fired pizza, chicken ‘alla cacciatora’, and even gelato!

wine & cooking under the tuscan sun

The Excursions

When you are not cooking, you’ll be exploring. Want to visit and dine in a wine-cellar? You’ll have the chance. How about visiting a real Umbrian olive mill? Check. There will even be a visit to the Deruta ceramics factory where you’ll be able to get a first hand experience of making ceramics.

The list of places you’ll see is endless. Exploring Umbria you’ll visit Assisi, with the breathtaking Basilica of Saint Francis, and Orvieto with its marvellous Gothic cathedral. You’ll be charmed by Pienza – Tuscany’s ‘ideal city’. You’ll visit Montalcino – the city of wine, and Viterbo – the city of Popes. You’ll discover Civita di Bagnoregio, also known as ‘the dying city’, precariously perched on a rock of volcanic tuff.

Hungry for more? You’ll get to have dinner in what has been labelled ‘the most beautiful cellar in the world’ in the charming hilltop town of Montepulciano.

And along this voyage of discovery, you will get to enjoy some of the very finest Italian meals you can imagine.

The People

You can’t really get to know a place without getting to know people, and this is the thing that we like most about this tour. The fact that so much attention goes into making it a really immersive experience.

Every day brings an encounter with local people. From breakfast in the local piazza, to dinner at a winery, you’ll get to interact with local people. In their homes. This way you’ll get a chance to touch, smell, talk, live and really partake in life in Italy, not just tour through it.

The Details

These 8-day tours are all inclusive and run throughout the season, until early October. The website gives friendly and exhaustive information about this and other Tuscany Cooking Vacations, but these tours are popular so it’s advised to book as early as possible.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, all opinions are ours. The photos of this tour have been reproduced with the kind permission of Cultural Discovery Vacation.