"Holiday of a lifetime"
A delicious and indulgent foodie tour of Tuscany.
7 nights in a 17th century villa and warm Italian hospitality.
Hi, we're Carlo and Sioban Baldini, your hosts. We met in Tuscany many years ago; Carlo was running a restaurant and I (Sioban) was visiting from Australia after completing my chef apprenticeship at Neil Perry's Rockpool. Fast forward fifteen years - now we love to share the amazing Tuscany land, food and language through Mad About Tuscany Tours.
Our 7 Night Tours are a fabulous way to visit Italy's hidden gems; villages, countryside and restaurants that are not often visited with regular European tours.
We take a maximum of 8 guests so each tour is personal and tailored to your interests. Carlo provides structure to each day, then allows you freedom and flexibility to experience Tuscany on your terms. This allows you to visit the museums, shops and galleries of your choice and the freedom to walk around at your own pace.
The tour includes 4 days of visiting stunning little villages in Tuscany and a day into Umbria. Breakfast is included daily, as well as 5 lunches and 6 dinners along with wines to match.
Included in your tour is 7 nights accommodation in a recently restored and renovated 17th century stone villa 2.5km from Cortona. Set in the hills with breathtaking views of Val di Chiana, it's a wonderful area for walking. The villa offers all the comforts of home such as WIFI, air conditioning and central heating, quality furnishings, gorgeous bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, modern kitchen and a beautiful pool and outdoor area.
Day One - Saturday
The journey begins when we greet you at Camucia train station and bring you back to the villa - your home for the next week. The villa is located just 5km (3 miles) from the town of Cortona, and has incredible views across the valley.
Relax, unpack and familiarise yourself with the villa during the afternoon before joining Carlo and other guests at 5.30pm for an aperitivo (Italian pre-dinner drink), while discussing the weeks itinerary. You'll enjoy a fabulous 3 course traditional Tuscan dinner cooked by Sioban. Local wines are included.
Day Two - Sunday - Touring Day
Our first stop is the beautiful hilltop town of Pienza, famous for Pecorino cheese. Enjoy a coffee with the locals while enjoying the breathtaking panoramic views, then have free time to explore this glorious village and enjoy tasting all the delicious cheeses in one of the many cheese shops.
Our next stop is Lucignano D'Asso, one of Tuscany's true gems. It's a stunning little hamlet in the middle of the Val D'Orcia with breathtaking scenery. Lunch at the local bar features a wonderful spread of sliced meats and cheeses. We'll return to the villa and have a few hours to relax in the afternoon before heading to Cortona at 6pm for an aperitivo followed by dinner.
Day Three - Monday - Touring Day
Our first stop is Montepulciano, a hilltop town famous for its wine and food shops, and seriously good clothing and shoe boutiques. We'll allow you plenty of time to explore on your own as well as the opportunity to enjoy a wine tasting of the famous Rosso di Montepulciano should you wish before departing for lunch.
12:30 pm - We move onto Monticchiello, a tiny medieval village with fewer than 200 residents and breathtaking views. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch and local wines at La Porta, listed in the Michelin guide, while taking in those views.
We'll spend the afternoon relaxing at the villa and Sioban will leave dinner for you prepared in the villa, with local wines to match.
Day Four - Tuesday - Touring Day
8.15am - It's an early start for this day's tour, which is a step back in time visiting some magical places. First stop is Orvieto, where we explore the ancient underground Etruscan tower town over which the modern city is built; visit the Duomo or investigate the excellent range of shopping opportunities. If you don't fancy the underground tour, there is great shopping time and an excellent museum.
Next, Carlo takes you to his favourite village, Civita di Bagnoregio (below, left). This village is only accessible by a suspended footbridge and only nine people remain living there. We'll have a traditional Umbrian lunch and wine in an old trattoria.
In the afternoon, we make our way back to the villa, with free time before another yummy Italian dinner prepared by Sioban. Local wines included.
Day Five - Wednesday - Free Day
You will then have the day free with several options to explore;
You can relax at the villa and sun bake by the pool.
Discover Cortona with it's wonderful shops, galleries and museum, or simply sit in one of the 20 cafes watching the world go by.
Or take a day trip to either Florence or Siena. We can organise a private driver to take you there and back to either of these beautiful cities or we can take you to the train station. These travel costs are not included in the tour and are at your own expense.
Carlo will pick you up at the villa at 7.15pm to take you to one of our favourite slow food restaurants.
Day Six - Thursday - Cooking School Day with Sioban, visit to the Camucia markets
Included in your tour is a day's Tuscan cooking school with Sioban.
Start the day with coffee at one of Carlo's favourite local bars - it has a particularly wonderful view which we're sure you'll love. If you've seen the movie "Under The Tuscan Sun", you may recognise this spot - it's the exact location where the film was produced and filmed.
Carlo will then take you to Camucia markets where you can experience first hand the hustle and bustle of a large, busy, Italian market. Italians frequent the markets weekly if not daily to buy the freshest produce as an expression of their great love of good food. You'll also find great shopping - leather handbags, shoes, table linen and clothing.
Late morning we return to the villa to participate in a hands on cooking school with Sioban. We will prepare 5 courses together and sit down to enjoy a long leisurely lunch with beautiful Tuscan wine of course. You'll learn to make fresh pasta, crostinis and canapes and an Italian dessert. The menu changes with the seasons and features fresh produce from the markets and our garden.
You are then free for the evening to relax in the villa.
Day Seven - Friday- Touring Day
Today is the wine tour day! Carlo will drive you through the rolling green hills, fields of sunflowers, vineyards and beautiful hilltop villages - the classic Tuscany everyone dreams of. Our first stop is Salcheto; a modern biodynamic winery that operates totally off the grid - they create enough energy to run the winery and restaurant. We take a tour of the winery and cellar, followed by a tasting of 4 wines with antipasto.
Next stop is Il Palazzo Vecchio, a traditional style winery where the cellar dates back to the 1300's. A tour of the grounds and winery is followed by a delicious 3 course lunch, paired with 2 red wines.
We return to the villa to ensure that you have some time to relax and get ready for dinner. There's one more chance for shopping before dinner at one of the best restaurants in Cortona.
Day Eight - Saturday
We have our last breakfast together and say farewell to new friends. Carlo can take you to the local train station.
2019 TOURS HAVE SOLD OUT!
2020 Tour Dates
Maximum 8 guests on each tour
2nd - 9th May, 2020 8 places
9th - 16th May, 2020 8 places
23rd - 30th May, 2020 8 places
30th May - 6th June , 2020 8 places
13th - 20th June, 2020 8 places
20th - 27th June, 2020 8 places
4th - 11th July, 2020 8 places
26th September - 3rd October, 2020 8 places
3rd - 10th October, 2020 8 places
Price and Inclusions
2100 Euro per person twin share (approximately A$3500 or US$2730)
7 nights accommodation in a renovated villa in the hills near Cortona
Twin share room and private bathroom
Continental breakfast each day
Five lunches and six dinners
Regional Italian wines with all your meals
One Day Tuscan Cooking School with Sioban, recipe booklet and apron
Tours of two wineries including wine tasting
Four full day tours of Tuscany and Umbria with Carlo
Entry fees to local attractions whenever they apply
Free transport to and from the local train stations if required
A pre-departure meeting in January 2018, held to discuss travel arrangements for the tour
For guests traveling solo, a single supplement of 300 Euro per person (approximately A$500 or US$390) applies, to ensure you have a private bedroom and bathroom.