Tuscany Cooking Vacations: Treasures of the Tuscan Sun
Explore the traditional hill towns of sun-kissed Tuscany on our sumptuous 5-day Tuscany cooking vacation. Wine-drenched hillsides, art-filled cities, and soft sunsets over swathes of olive groves and truffle forests—Tuscany epitomizes la vera Italia. The heart of our tour is the enchanting village of Cortona, the star of Frances Mayes’ inspiring bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun. You just might run into the town’s famous resident of Bramasole during a daily stroll to the piazza. Explore the region through its cuisine and, of course, through some of the best wines in Tuscany. Learn to cook an authentic Italian meal from local chefs, visit farms and nearby food producers, relax in lush, rolling vineyards, and sip and taste your way through iconic Montepulciano, Pienza, Siena. Hunt truffles with adorable truffle dogs. Dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant with an exclusive tasting menu. Our Tuscany culinary vacation is a relaxing getaway on its own, or continue exploring with visits to Sicily or Florence.
Top 5 Tuscany Food Tour Experiences:
An Italian cooking class specializing in traditional Tuscan cuisine
Wine and cheese tasting in Pienza and Montepulciano
Ice cream and sorbet cocktail class
Truffle hunt and farm-to-table lunch
Dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant
Immerse yourself in Tuscany’s luscious culinary treasures and connect with the warm and generous local residents. For more information on our Tuscany culinary tour, please call 1-800-567-9400 or email us today.
Our Tuscany Food Tour Supports Public Broadcasting
We are thrilled to be a national sponsor of the PBS Dream of Italy: Tuscan Sun Special. Did you know that our tour is based in Cortona, the setting for Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun? After you watch this show, we’re pretty sure you’ll be ready to book your own Tuscan Sun experience.
Max group size: 12
Prices from $2,990 USD
IS IT FOR YOU?
Our Tuscany food tours offer access to authentic experiences that independent travel and other tours simply can’t provide. You won’t just taste the food, you’ll meet the people behind it.
Please note that although this trip is not exceptionally active, there is quite a bit of walking, including some uneven pavement and dirt paths during our truffle hunt.
Detailed Itinerary … learn more
Food: Daily breakfasts, 3 lunches & 1 dinner … learn more
Accommodation: 4 nights boutique hotel … learn more
Travel info … learn more
Recommended Reading … learn more
Tuscany IN THE BLOG
5-Day Tuscany Food Tour Itinerary
DAY 1: Your Tuscany Cooking Vacation Begins
Welcome to Tuscany, Italy’s rustic, tranquil and historic heartland and home to world class wine and cuisine, lush rolling landscapes, and medieval hill towns. Your culinary tour of Tuscany begins at Florence airport, where our driver will be waiting for you. Our destination today is Cortona, the stunning setting for the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun.”
On our way to Cortona, we’ll visit Siena, arguably Italy’s most beautiful medieval city, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Set on three hills in the Chianti region, Siena is a must-see on any visit to Tuscany. Siena’s heart is its central piazza called Il Campo, which is best known worldwide for the famous Palio di Siena, a horse race run around the piazza twice each summer. We’ll tour the ancient town on foot, stopping at its most renowned bakery to taste the local “Ricciarelli,” a traditional Sienese cookie made from almonds, sugar, and egg whites.
We’ll then transfer to our lovely boutique hotel, walking distance to Cortona’s central piazza. Dinner tonight is at your leisure.
Drive Time: Approximately 2 hours
Meals Included: None
DAY 2: Tuscan Cooking Class
This morning we walk a short distance to the historic center of Cortona for one of the most interesting and traditional cooking classes in Tuscany. We’ll meet Antonella, an eclectic and talented chef who is also a journalist and expert on local culture. Her charming kitchen has a massive fireplace and a view of the ancient alleys and roofs of Cortona. Working with the best seasonal ingredients, Chef Antonella will guide you in the hands-on preparation of an unforgettable meal, from antipasto to dessert, including the local pici pasta with ragù. We’ll then sit down at the large kitchen table for our hearty lunch, paired with the perfect wine. Saluti!
This afternoon we’ll tour local food producers, such as a greengrocer, a butcher, or a beekeeper. We’ll also visit a family-owned farm in the Chiana Valley, set on over 37 acres of grain, fields of sunflowers, alfalfa and beautiful vineyards. The farm house has been in the same family for four generations. All of their products are made traditionally without preservatives or dyes, including cheese that is made from raw milk and aged from from 15 days to 12 months. Learning the customs and traditions of rural life, we’ll relax at the farm and taste their various products, such as raviggiolo, ricotta and pecorino cheeses paired with Vin Santo (dessert wine), artisan jam, fresh vegetables and fruits, and extra virgin olive oil.
In the late afternoon, just in time for an aperitivo, we’ll head back to Cortona for an ice cream cocktail class. The drinks we prepare will incorporate what is available at the local artisan gelato shop that day. Examples might include a White Lady using gin, triple sec and lemon sorbet, or a strawberry daiquiri using rum, lime juice and strawberry ice cream. Perfect for a late summer afternoon!
Dinner tonight is at your leisure, assuming you still have room!
Drive Time: Approximately 1 hour
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and tastings
DAY 3: Visit the Wineries of Tuscany
Our Tuscany culinary tour continues as we spend the day exploring the Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and world-famous wine region. We’ll start the day at Braccesca Winery, one of the best wineries in Tuscany, for a tour, tasting and lunch. We’ll explore the vineyards and cellar of this luscious wine estate and then enjoy an exclusive, private tasting of their excellent wines including Syrah and Vino de Nobile, one of the most popular Tuscan wines. We’ll then sit down for a delicious lunch paired with Braccesca wines.
After lunch we’ll stroll the beautiful hill towns of Pienza and Montepulciano, famous for their excellent cheese and wine production. We’ll visit an artisanal cheese workshop in Pienza where you will have the opportunity to taste pecorino di Pienza cheese at different ages. And we’ll end the day at Talosa winery, where we’ll tour the cellar and taste several of their award-winning wines accompanied by local pecorino cheese and bruschetta.
Drive Time: Approximately 2 hours
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and tastings
DAY 4: Truffle Hunt & Michelin-Rated Dinner
One of the highlights of our Tuscany cooking vacation is a truffle hunt, which takes place in a “tartufaia” (woodlands where truffles are found) on a family farm and vineyard. Together with our truffle expert and his trained dogs, we stroll through the woods as the dogs sniff out the precious truffles. You’ll even have the chance to handle the truffle dogs directly if you are interested. During the walk, our guide will give you an introduction to the world of Italian truffles, particularly the species of truffles in Tuscany. We’ll learn where and how the truffles are found, how to preserve them properly at home, how they are used in cooking, and what recipes complement them the most. After the hunt, we will head to the farmhouse with our new-found treasure, just in time for lunch al fresco that is paired with the lovely wines that are produced on-site. Our farm-to-table meal includes truffles and other local and seasonal ingredients, such as handmade pasta from flour milled on the premises, local meats and cheeses, and herbs from the garden.
As if you haven’t eaten enough phenomenal Tuscan food this week, our farewell dinner is at the Michelin-starred Il Falconiere, run by award-winning executive chef Silvia Regi Baracchi. You’ll enjoy a unique tasting menu with the freshest local and seasonal ingredients. This is a meal you may never forget!
Drive Time: Approximately 1 hour
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
DAY 5: Our Tuscany Culinary Tour Ends
Our culinary tour of Tuscany is over today, but if you want more, we can deliver! Ask us about our 3-day/2-night Florence extension, which you can enjoy either before or after your Tuscany cooking vacation.
Optional Florence Extension
Round out your trip with our incredible extension to Florence! See more information below:
Please note: This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of what to expect during our trip but is not set in stone. What we actually do on a given day is flexible and can be tailored to the interests of the group.
What Foodies Love About Tuscany
In sunny Tuscany, food is about more than just cooking and eating: It’s a way of life. Tuscany’s legendary cuisine is known for artful simplicity, fresh ingredients, and hearty flavors. Regional diversity is a hallmark of Italian cuisine, with each area offering a variety of flavors and preparation—Tuscan cuisine evokes its regions delicious abundance.
We’ll spend five days exploring Tuscany’s culinary treasures, including world-class wines and cheeses, a dizzying variety of olives and olive oil, delectable pastas and truffles. Local chefs give hands-on Tuscan cooking classes on regional specialties as well as traditional pastas and flavorful sauces. During your Tuscan cooking class you’ll prepare a four-course meal with antipasto, local pici pasta with ragu, a traditional main course and a delicious desert.
Don’t feel like cooking? Pour yourself a glass of wine and just keep the chefs company.
Another class is delicious in a different way. Working with a local bartender, you’ll learn to make Italian cocktails with the local gelato and sortbets of the day.
Our Tuscany cooking vacations include daily breakfasts, three lunches, and countless tastings along the way. A sumptuous farewell dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant caps it off.
Our Tuscany Hotels
Our tour focuses on the stunning and historically rich region of Tuscany, whose colorful villas echo the romanticism and splendor of the Italian countryside. You can choose from two lovely hotel options for your Tuscany cooking vacatoin.
Classic Tuscany Hotel
Our classic boutique hotel, originally built as a palace and lovingly restored, offers a spectacular location in town and captivating frescoed walls. The property is listed as a National Monument with the Italian Ministry of Art, and is home to a mural painting dating back to the 1400s.
Our lovely hotel boasts elegant and unique antique furniture, an on-site bar, courtyard, and a relaxing area with a hot tub and lovely city views. This property is located in the center of town.
Deluxe Hotel Upgrade
Our deluxe boutique hotel is set in an welcomes you with soft colors, custom-made local furniture, and travertine marble. Originally built as a monastery, its beamed and vaulted ceilings, carefully restored original frescoes, and imposing corridors and loggias reflect the character of the friars’ home while merging seamlessly with a classic-modern style.
For ultra relaxation, this property also features an extensive spa with indoor swimming pool, as well as a garden and plunge pool outdoor. Located just a few minutes’ walk from the historic center of Cortona.
Note: All Tuscany hotels are subject to availability and may be changed as needed.
Tuscany Travel Information
Arrival and Departure Travel Information
You should make your flight arrangements to arrive at Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR).
Please plan to depart from Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci Airport (FLR).
Pick-up & Drop-off Information
We provide complimentary airport pick-ups and drop-offs at the specified airport and times on the first and last day of the trip. We will be waiting for you with a sign saying ‘Access Culinary Trips’ as you exit customs at Florence’s airport. If you would like to be picked up or dropped off on a different day, or brought somewhere other than the airport, please contact us.
Note: We are not responsible for last minute adjustments due to changes or delays with arrival and departure flights.
If you would like assistance with purchasing your flight/visa or travel insurance, please let us know and we will forward your contact information and trip details to our travel agent partner.
TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS FOR Tuscany
Travel medical insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage, is compulsory for all our trips. We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance that includes cancellation protection so that you will be covered in the event that you are unable to attend our trip (due to injury, illness or other unforeseen circumstances). Please do not attend any of our trips without purchasing appropriate insurance coverage and providing the details to Access Culinary Trips.
Please note: proof of insurance is due within 14 days of booking, and delay in receipt may result in late documentation charges.
We do not provide travel insurance for our clients. Additional details are on our website here.
Passports & Visas
Travel to Italy requires a valid passport (most countries require a minimum of 6 months validity) and US citizens do not require a tourist visa. To learn more about visa and entry requirements, please check out the US State Department’s website.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documentation.
HEALTH & SAFETY IN Tuscany
If your friends or family need to contact Access Culinary Trips due to an emergency while you are on the tour, please have them refer to the pre-departure email that is sent out three weeks prior to departure, which will have specific contact information relevant to your trip. If you need to contact Access Culinary Trips while traveling, please also refer to the emergency contact information in the pre-departure email.
Guests with preexisting medical conditions are required to disclose this information prior to traveling with Access Culinary Trips, and all guests with preexisting conditions are required to provide a note from a doctor clearing them for travel. The US Department of State recommends that travelers with medical prescriptions consider bringing small additional amounts of prescribed medicines as well as a copy of the prescription and a letter from the prescribing physician explaining the need for prescription.
We strongly recommend that all of our guests visit a travel doctor before embarking on international travel. Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that you receive any necessary vaccinations before traveling on your trip with us. If there is a chance that you may be pregnant during your trip, please discuss your travel plans with your doctor.
Please carefully review the health information section of the US CDC webpage for up-to-date health information, including information on the quality of medical care, the availability of medications and the necessity for vaccinations
Our trips are open to anyone who wants to explore our exotic destinations through cuisine. We do engage in multiple walking tours, some of which last several hours.
Safety & Security
To maximize your safety during our tours you should exercise common sense and caution at all times. We recommend that you always stick to set travel arrangements, and avoid unknown areas. We also recommend that you wear minimal jewelry and that you keep valuable items (including cell phones) safely stored. Always keep a copy of your passport, airline tickets, and credit card numbers separate from where you keep the originals. For more information on safety and security in Tuscany, please review the safety and security section of US State Department web page.
Children ages 12 and up are welcome on group trips. Children under 12 are welcome on private tours. Please contact us with any questions.
Italy is a proudly traditional nation that values tourists and their impact. However, out of respect for the culture we are visiting, please note the following etiquette tips:
Try to learn a bit of Italian beforehand – this demonstrates respect and your effort to connect with the Tuscan people
Italians do not always chat with strangers, but it is encouraged to say hello (“buongiorno”) or good evening (“buona sera”) to a shopkeeper when entering a store or bar
Do not put your feet or shoes on tables and chairs
Avoid handling produce when shopping and instead ask for what you would like
Italy’s official language is Italian, although a number of other minority languages are officially recognized by the country.
Italy’s climate varies from the north to the south. This tour takes advantage of the beautiful central-west region of Tuscany, known for its verdant hills and ample sunshine. Overall, the climate in Tuscany is mild with warm summers and pleasant winters. Some rainy days are common, however.
The best months to visit Tuscany are during the summer, from April through October. These dates are optimal for weather (74 degrees F on average) and peak-season availability. Note that July and August are much hotter, reaching temperatures of 80 and 90 degrees F.
Tuscan winters offer many sunny days with cold nights, especially in hilltowns. Temperatures average around 45 degrees F, with January and February being the coldest months.
If you are looking for warm weather and the convenience of peak season, our summer departures are a great idea. However, this is also the busiest time of year for Tuscany. Therefore, if the tranquility of a slower season interests you, we recommend our winter departures.
CURRENCY, BANKING & SPENDING MONEy
Italy is part of the eurozone and therefore uses the Euro. There are exchange bureaus in airports, certain hotels, and most banks. Counters require your passport for the transaction. Look up the latest currency exchange information here.
ATMs are available in all cities and major towns. It is recommended to notify your bank or card issuer that you intend to travel abroad so that no block will be put on the usage of your credit or ATM cards.
Meals: All breakfasts, three lunches (including the lunches we cook during classes) and the farewell dinner are included, Please plan to bring at least $15-$30 per lunch and $20-$40 per dinner for those meals that are not included, as well as money for snacks and drinks.
Tipping is not a common practice, as gratuities are generally included in the bill. However, we’ve included some guidelines below should you need to tip.
Tour Guide/Drivers: If you are pleased with the services provided by your tour guide and driver, then a tip for their hard work will be very much appreciated. In general, we recommend around US $10 -15 per day, per traveler for guides and US $5-7 per day, per traveler for drivers if less than 4 people in a group. We recommend around US $5-10 per day, per traveler for guides and US $3-5 per day, per traveler for drivers if there are 5 people or more.
Hotel & Restaurant Staff: In restaurants, the tip is usually included in the final bill (servizio incluso). However, we recommend checking the bill first to make sure. If it is not included, a tip of 10-15% will suffice. For cafes or bars, just round up to the nearest euro on the bill. In hotels, a tip of .50 – 1.50 euros is encouraged for housekeeping. A tip of about 1-2 euros is customary for porters.
Other expenses: There are no required additional expenses for this trip, but you might like to take spending money for such things as souvenir shopping and nightlife.
ELECTRICITY & INTERNET IN Tuscany
The power sockets are of type C, F and L. The standard voltage is 220V to 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
There is wi-fi access in the hotel.
Most US cell phones will not work in Italy, unless you have a specific international plan. Contact your cellular provider to see what options you have in terms of international calling plans.
WHAT TO TAKE
We strongly recommend using TSA approved luggage locks on your bags and to hand carry valuables on the plane. We recommend that you pack as lightly as possible. There may not always be someone available to help you carry your bags so you should only bring as much as you can carry on your own.
Please note: Transfer vehicles are equipped with space at minimum for 1 cabin baggage and 1 checked baggage (275 cm length+width+height) per person. If you plan to bring more luggage, we require you to inform us in advance. Additional space may be subject to a fee.
We suggest that you bring the following items:
Clothing & Equipment
Season specific clothing including items to layer with
Clothes to wear for optional upscale restaurants
Clothes appropriate for walking in the woods during truffle hunt
Comfortable walking shoes
Sunscreen / sunglasses / hat
First-aid kit (should contain lip balm, aspirin, band aids, a cream for sore muscles (e.g. deep heat), Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
Passport (with photocopies)
Travel insurance (with photocopies)
Airline tickets (with photocopies)
RECOMMENDED READING LIST
Click here to check out our recommended reading before your tour!
FINAL NOTES ON YOUR Tuscany TOUR
This is a tool meant to help you decide what you should bring on your upcoming trip. It is by no means comprehensive. While we do our best to be as thorough as possible, we cannot foresee every possible condition. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
The information contained in this document is provided in good faith. Due to the nature of travel, details in this document may change. You should thus use the above information as an indication only and not as a contractual obligation on the part of Access Culinary Trips.