Italy is infamous for its fresh pasta and filling pizzas, with the culinary offerings a highlight of many trips to the country. The Tuscan capital shares territory with the Chianti heartlands and delivers classic Italian flavours, to accompany a glass, or more, of region’s wine. With wineries occupying land surrounding the city, Florence provides an enriching setting to start – or simply continue – your wine education.
Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is rich in art, culture and gastronomy. There are daily tours offering a range of experiences encompassing wine, cooking, eating and sometimes all three. Below we’ve selected five of the best, taking into consideration guests’ budget, time, and different methods of exploring wine and cuisine.
FROM: €98/per person
From market to table, take the full day to hone your culinary expertise and become an authentic Italian cook. Start your experience with a visit to the historical market in the centre of Florence. Catch the bustling atmosphere; bargaining, trading and regular customers meetings, and sample a selection of food and wine, before selecting your ingredients from the stalls of fresh Tuscan delicacies. Leave the streets of Florence behind, with a short minibus ride to a rustic farmhouse nestled in the hills of Tuscany. Here, your expert chef will guide you through preparation and execution of authentic local dishes. There is, of course, time to pause from cooking to enjoy a glass of Chianti and fresh bruschetta whilst the dishes cook. End the evening enjoying the full 4 courses paired with local wine, before returning to Florence.
From €150/ per person
From Florence escape to the surrounding hills for a day’s education in local food and wine. The tour will first stop off at a winery, run by a well-known Italian family. Guests will tour the wine cellar and enjoy different bottles of wine, paired with cheese and olive oils. The next stop will be the 3-course lunch, featuring freshly made pasta and Chianti. Following the lunch, the tours moves on to Greve-in-Chianti: a small town that hosts the annual Chianti Classico festival, to select cured meats to enjoy at the final destination. End the day at an intimate winery specialising in the Chianti Classico and learn about their wine making process whilst sampling the final product.
From €40/ per person
Over one hour, guests will sample delicious pairings of cheese and wine. In a traditional, historic Italian wine bar, you’ll sip on four regional wines served alongside platters of Tuscan delicacies. The tasting is directed by an expert sommelier, so guests will learn about the characteristics of each wine, their production processes and flavours that best compliment each. Accompaniments will change depending on the season to ensure the best tastes: cheese, fresh fruit, olive oils and cured meats are likely to appear on the menu. To make the experience personal and engaging, each tasting session hosts a maximum of 12 people.
From €49/ per person
This cooking class centres on two highlights of Italian gastronomy: pizza and gelato. The 3-hour session will start with an insight into the history of pizza making in Italy and the distinctive differences between regions; you’ll get the opportunity to try flavour combinations before making your own. The class will then move on to educate participants in the craft of gelato, not to be confused with ice cream, and give tips on the perfect recipe. Enjoy an array of sweet samples before concluding your education in Italian cooking.
From €220/ per person
This 6-hour adventure takes guests to the nearby truffle town of San Miniato. In the town’s woodlands, guests will be accompanied by an experienced truffle hunter and his canine companion to locate truffles, which are thought to be the highest quality and richest of anywhere in the world. The hunt will last 2-hours, before you sit down for lunch at a local truffle shop. As expected its truffle for both courses: a truffle based appetiser and fresh truffle pasta, enjoyed with a local wine. The day will finish with a visit to a Chianti winery, giving an insight into the blend’s process and sampling of a selection of wines.