If I could wake up every day to a day like the ones I experience in Tuscany, it would be like a never-ending dream. It’s truly a scene, just like the ones we have all read and seen from Under the Tuscan Sun.
From distant church bells ringing and roosters crowing, to the crisp scent of lavender spread through the beautiful morning air with the sun rising over the hills, Tuscany is where you can find yourself waking up to this every day…in a perfect world.
In October, I took my enthusiastic guests to Tuscany where we spent our time exploring, tasting, and experiencing Tuscan culture. The highlight of our trip, and an experience that amazes me every time, is our time spent with Veronica at her beautiful family estate. Veronica serves as our warm, gracious host while we stay on her property, and is also a renowned chef leading us during a day-long cooking adventure.
While the culinary journey is one I could write about in great depth, it would be an injustice to not provide some of the intimate details behind Veronica’s estate. This 17th century stone cottage is idyllic. The perfect place to stay while you soak up Tuscany. Originally bought in the early 1960’s by her father who spent many years renovating and restoring the property, Veronica lovingly took it over a few years ago when he passed away. Today, she runs her villa where guests come to stay, as well as her renowned cooking school that you can experience in her family kitchen. With passion, she creates a unique culinary and wine adventure for all.
Upon our first arrival to her estate, we are greeted with a warm smile and special gourmet treat while Veronica explains our day and menu. I’ve been to many cooking schools across Italy, and what makes Veronica’s unique, is the authentic way in which the meals are prepared. Much of what we use in her kitchen is grown & harvested right there on the property. From the olives that are produced for olive oil, and the grapes on the vineyards for their wine, to the ducks and chickens that provide the eggs, and a wonderful garden of lemon groves, fruits and vegetables.
Our day spent together cooking and eating was a pure joy. During this hands-on lesson, we learned how to prepare such delights as gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce, delicious Italian meatballs with fresh peas, and more! We enjoyed Pecorino cheese with homemade marmalade, and jellies such as pumpkin, pear and plum, and learned the authentic preparation of Tuscan antipasto—and for dessert, some homemade Tiramisu. At the end of this wonderful day, we enjoyed a multi-course meal in the outdoor garden. Delizioso!
Veronica has a beautiful soul and it is impossible to not fall in love with her and all that her property has to offer. The warmth and love from this one day is infectious. The last time I was there in October, the sun was setting and we had just finished our cooking day. We settled for our meal and took our time telling stories around the table, sipping wine, and slowly tasting every flavour as the sun set in front of us. It could not have been a more perfect moment.
I’m thrilled to bring another group of guests to this property in 2013. The villa, nestled in the medieval village of Impruneta, just 20 km outside of Florence, is a special treat. You will literally walk among the locals and become swallowed up in Tuscan culture. I can truly say, that Veronica is about as wonderful and authentic anyone can be. I’m very proud to include Veronica and her Villa as part of my Tuscan culinary trips. Only a handful of culinary planners, like myself, have access to her villa and cooking classes, which are listed amongst the top 5 in Italy. It’s an unforgettable experience that will resonate with you forever.
Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to planning, co-ordinating and curating customized group tours to hand-picked destinations. As an experienced travel planner, Carol’s customized itineraries, specialized tours and off-the-beaten-path experiences create memorable journeys for her small groups of singles, couples, divorced, widowed and solo travelers seeking exceptional trips into the culture and cuisine of destinations around the world. Spring and Fall bookings invite travelers to taste delectable local cuisine, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Spain, Ireland and India.