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Depart US for Florence, Italy
Day 2 – Florence - San Gimignano
Arrive Florence International Airport in the AM. A private transfer will be waiting for you for travel to your villa. Depart Florence and travel through the rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards of the beautiful Tuscan countryside where a stop will be made to visit the beautiful town of San Gimignano with its main street, Via San Giovanni, along which you can see nice, small shops and taste some of the local produce. Experience lunch in a local trattoria, stroll in some picturesque alleyways, and see amazing views of the countryside from this lovely village. Following lunch, continue on to Villa Casa Crete. After time to settle in, all will gather for a Welcome Wine and Cheese reception. Observing the preparations for your Tuscan Chef's dinner while enjoying the wonderful wines of Tuscany, makes for a truly memorable first evening in beautiful Tuscany! Buon Appetito!
Day 3 - Pienza
Wake up to breakfast and the amazing views of the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spend the morning on a guided tour in the lovely town of Pienza, known as the “ideal city of Renaissance” and sits amidst gentle, undulating hills and wonderful natural landscapes. The central Piazza Pio II is framed by 15th century buildings like the Pienza Cathedral and Piccolomini Palace. The latter was Pope Pius II’s summer residence and features a roof garden with valley views. To the west is the Pieve di Corsignano a Romanesques church with a circular bell tower which dominates the landscape viewed from afar. This picturesque village enjoys a strategic position standing high atop a hill, dominating all the Orcia Valley with extraordinary views. Visit two of Pienza’s most renowned living sculptors who have lived all of their lives in Pienza and see how their art has been greatly influenced by their cultural heritage and closely represents the history of the valley. Pienza is known for its famous pecorino cheese and offers many shops for tasting. There will be time for exploring and shopping on your own in the many fantastic shops and quaint cafes in which to stop for lunch. Join Chef Bob on a visit to the local pecorino cheese shops to select the finest varieties of pecorino cheeses. Upon return to your villa, enjoy a tasting of the varieties of aged pecorino cheeses. Included Dinner with Wine Pairing offering 6 different wines; Osteria La Porta, La Cantina in Monticchiello, Tuscany
Day 4 - Siena
Your day begins with a step into the past that takes you to the city of Siena with its narrow back streets, fortified houses, medieval towers, tiny piazzas, and lesser known churches rich in masterpieces. Walk around the Palio de Campo, where a bare-back horse race has taken place for centuries in the main square, the Campo, while continuing to stroll past the many cafes, bars and shops. Note the fan-shaped central square where you will view the Palazzo Pubblico, the Gothic town hall, and Torre del Mangia, a slender 14th century tower with sweeping views from its distinctive white crown. This tour takes you behind the scenes into the neighborhoods (called Contradas) with the church and museum, which give an understanding of the spirit and the fascination of this event. After your tour, you will enjoy a gelato at one of the famous Gelateria’s. Choose lunch and/or shopping before meeting your driver to return to your villa. Savor a glass of wine, while the Tuscan Chef demonstrates the unique “art of pasta making.”
Day 5 - A Visit to Agricola Fontanelle, Vineyards, Chianciana Terme, Tuscany
Your relaxing morning begins with a short drive over winding roads that meander through the countryside and offer magnificent vistas at every turn to arrive at Agricola Fontanelle, owned by the Rosati family, known for their attachment to culture of the land and hospitality. The excellent D.O.C.G Chianti wine, exclusively from the owner’s vineyard, is intentionally limited and the choice of looking after small areas of land containing the best characteristics of soil, have awarded the owner with high quality wines that are among the more traditional Tuscan classics, but well-structured and complex; the charcuterie comes from their cured pork meats that come only from Cinta Senese pigs, renowned for its meat, such as prosciutto and salame. Lunch with wine from the Rosati brothers vineyard will be in the Old Town at their specialty shop. Enjoy time for shopping among such brands as Gucci, Prada, Maxmara, Jimmy Choo and more. Roll your sleeves up for a unique and fun evening in the kitchen -- Pandemonium in the Kitchen! - A Cooking Challenge (a surprise ending!) with Italian Chef along with “nuovi amici."
Day 6 – Podere Il Casale Farm
Today, visit a 300-year-old Tuscan farmhouse located on top of one of the renowned rolling hills of Tuscany with a breathtaking view of the town of Pienza, the medieval village of Monticchiello and Mount Amiata and the Orcia Valley. This organic farm property, Podere Il Casale, is a small farm with animals and a dairy, where you will learn about the making of Pecorino di Pienza cheese and taste the distinctive differences created by the aging process. They also boast of very fine goat cheeses as well. Enjoy the cheese tastings with wine processed from the grapes in the vineyards on the farm. Lunch will be on your own and the afternoon free to explore at leisure. You may choose to join Chef Bob on a visit to the local market to select the finest and freshest ingredients for your optional cooking class.
Day 7 – Montepulciano - Cortona
After breakfast, your morning travel begins with a tour of the medieval town of Montepulciano set atop a narrow ridge of volcanic rock that combines Tuscany’s superb countryside with some of the region’s finest wines. Make your way up the steep and winding walkways that lead to the narrow streets, where you will arrive at the Piazza Grande, the heart of Multepulciano and the focus of the city. Stop in the middle of the square or near the lovely fountain and feel the unique atmosphere offered by the Plaza surrounded by the Duomo, the Palazzo Comunal, the Palazzo Tarugi and the Palazzo Contucci. Historic cantinas right within the walls, which have been dug out underneath the prestigious palazzos, make for a nice stop for a glass of wine. Visit the famous Thursday market in the old town at the top. The marketeers arrive early with their draped stalls and rows and rows of fresh vegetables, aromatic herb stalls and forays of olives, breads, oils and cheeses that will be touted at every turn. Experience the market with Chef Bob, as he selects the freshest ingredients for your dining experience. We continue our walk to Cantina Fattoria della Talosa for a wine tasting of their Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, including lunch in the famous Talosa Cellars, which date back to the 16th century. The brick passageways contain a series of vaults and niches where the barrels are placed. Inside the Historic Cellar, there are huge oak barrels where Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is aged. After lunch, we make our way to the town of Cortona, made famous in the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun”. In Cortona, there will be time for enjoying a bit of history combined with time for shopping in the many wonderful art galleries and shops.
Day 8 – Pienza
For your last day in Tuscany, enjoy a shopping morning in Pienza to purchase last minute gifts such as fine leather goods and beautiful linens to take home. The impression given as you walk through the narrow streets for the last time is that of an extremely perfect and proportional ensemble, somewhat as if you are admiring a Renaissance village depicted in a magnificent painting. After shopping, enjoy lunch on your own. In the afternoon, spend the balance of your day at leisure. Wine Tasting Experience at the Villa with Sommelier, Klajdi Belaj (Private Sommelier to George Lucas, Producer/Director) and Chef Bob’s Farewell Dinner; “pairing the food with the wines of Tuscany."
Day 9- Transfer to Florence
Private Group Transfer to the Brunelleschi Hotel or similar for 3 nights
The historic location of the Brunelleschi Hotel inside the oldest tower of the city of Florence and the medieval church, will allow you to immerse yourself in enchantment and mystery of Renaissance Florence. Welcome Dinner at a local, typical Italian restaurant; Wines and alcoholic beverages available for purchase
Day 10 - Florence
Wake up to breakfast and an amazing view of the city of Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. Today, embark on a guided walking tour of Florence’s Renaissance heart, followed by a visit at theGalleria dell' Accademiat to see works by many of the greatest artists of the 14th and 15th centuries to include Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David. The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore Florence on your own. Florence is filled with Renaissance riches to include the Duomo and the 14th century Ponte Vecchio, framing delightful views of the Arno River. Dinner on your own
Day 11 - Florence
This morning, visit the San Lorenzo Market, which runs along several streets surrounding the Mercato Centrale. File between the hundreds of stalls on either side of the street with vendors selling pottery, clothing, souvenirs and various leather goods. This is a great place to find gifts to bring back to your friends and family. After your shopping experience at the outdoor market, you may choose to visit The Centrale Market which is a two-level food market, making up the second half of the San Lorenzo Market. The Mercato Centrale is in a beautiful building designed by Giuseppe Mengoni, a famous architect. Enjoy lunch at one of the many food vendors or wander to find the perfect Osteria to savor local Italian wine and cheeses. Be sure to sample the gelato on your walk about! The rest of the day is free to discover Florence with its many shops at your leisure or choose a dinner venue to enjoy the best Tuscan cuisine in one of the many restaurants available. Dinner on your own.
Day 12 – Transfer to Florence International Airport for flight to US
ABOUT CHEF BOB WAGGONER
Chef Bob Waggoner Bob received his formal training with Michael Roberts at Trumps in Los Angeles from 1981 to 1983, and later in France at a constellation of Michelin-rated restaurants with chefs Jacques Lameloise, Charles Barrier, Pierre Gagnaire, Gerard Boyer and Mark Meneau. At 23, he took on his first chef position at the private club “Members” in Caracas, Venezuela. Chef Bob Waggoner returned to France at age 24 to become chef of the Hotel de la Poste in Avallon for three years. Then, in 1988 at age 26, in the town of Moneteau in Burgundy, he became the first American chef to own his own restaurant in France, the much acclaimed Le Monte Cristo. He is one of the few Americans to be Knighted with the “l’Odre du Mérite Agricole” from the Government of France. In 1991, Waggoner was offered the opportunity of Chef de Cuisine with Chef Jean-Pierre Silva, the two-star Michelin, at Le Vieux Moulin in Beaune, France. After 11 years in France, he returned to the States in 1993 to cook at the award-winning Turnberry Isle in Florida, before joining The Wild Boar in Nashville, where he earned the restaurant a coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award and the Grand Award from Wine Spectator. He finally found his way to Charleston where he was Executive Chef of Charleston Grill at Charleston Place for a dozen years. Every year, Chef Bob was at the Charleston Grill, it was awarded AAA Four-Diamond and the Mobile Four-Star award, and in 2001-2005 he was nominated four times for The Beard Foundation "Best Chef Southeast" award. Always well regarded as a media-savvy chef, he has won an Emmy for his television show “Off the Menu” with Turner South. He also hosted 2 cooking shows with PBS, U Cook with Chef Bob and Sing for Your Supper with Chef Bob. Currently, he is the owner of “In the Kitchen with Chef Bob Waggoner” where he hosts cooking classes in a relaxed, casual, and sophisticated atmosphere. With his easygoing nature, he can teach anyone the culinary tips and techniques for "how it's done" in the finest restaurants.