Learning to cook like a Tuscan might just change your life. Tuscan cuisine requires spontaneity, using all five of your senses, being in the present, and serenity. (Forgive me if I sound like a mystic here.) A rare adventure visitors to Tuscany can participate in is a cooking class in authentic Tuscan cuisine, using the best fresh ingredients and doing as little to them as possible. There are classes for every stripe: those that last for just a few hours or focus on just one dish; others that extend over a week, and incorporate complex menus. There are classes the whole family can join, others for established chefs, and even some for budding child gastronomes.
Participating in these classes not only gives you the opportunity to taste amazing local fare and learn new cooking techniques; since food is an integral part of family life here, you’ll also get valuable lessons in Tuscan culture and history. A tip: don’t try to cram to many cooking courses into a single trip. Choose one or two, and savor them.
Cucina Con Vista
Under the tutelage of chefs Elena Mattei and Lapo Magni—a mother-and-son team— you’ll learn to cook the sorts of dishes that Tuscan grandmas have been perfecting for decades. Each class covers a five-course meal, including wine pairings. Courses are usually customized and limited to three to four people, although larger groups can be accommodated.
Belmond Villa San Michele
The cooking school at the elegant Belmond Villa San Michele Hotel offers two kinds of culinary instruction: group cooking classes using local and seasonal ingredients; and personal seminars with chef Attilio Di Fabrizio, focusing on traditional Tuscan main dishes—pastas, risottos, and soups. Each class includes lunch at La Loggia, the property’s acclaimed restaurant.
Classes are intimate, home-style affairs at the Toscana Mia farmhouse. You can choose from several single, half-day classes or packages that include daily classes from between two and five days. Each session includes a five-course meal and wine pairings. For parents with kids in tow, there are special family classes, too.
Ecco La Cucina
You’ll amaze your friends at your next dinner party if you’ve spent a session with the chefs at Ecco La Cucina. The classes offered are either single-day or weeklong sessions; for a full-immersion experience, choose the latter for tours of wineries and villages, and accommodations in 18th-century estates or farmhouses.
At this small cooking school in Cortona, a one-day class will teach you everything you need to know about creating a typical Tuscan meal—including menu planning, shopping for ingredients at local markets, and cooking. If you have more time, weeklong “culinary vacations” focusing on traditional Tuscan home cooking and wine are offered, too.