Inside Rachael Ray's Life in Tuscany: From Cooking, to Food Shopping, to 'the Best Pizzeria' She's Ever Been To

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Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray. Photo:

Courtesy of Genoa Seafood

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray loves to cook, and nowhere is that more true than her home in a small village in Tuscany.

It’s there that she gathers vegetables from half a dozen beds cut into the side of her property, makes olive oil from her own olive grove, and even has her own vineyard to make red wine. Ray, whose self-titled talk show is ending after 17 seasons, told Travel + Leisure she loves to host large meals at her house (think: lunch for 20 with 20 different dishes), using the ingredients she has right on the property.

“I worked my entire life to have a home in Italy,” Ray told T+L, adding, “When you live outside, it just changes your mind about everything, it really does. You feel more a part of life when you eat outdoors, especially if you care about the quality of your food. I am lucky now I get to walk into my own backyard and get great fresh vegetables.”

She added: “You're supposed to cook seasonally everywhere… So I cut what's grown on that day and I make something with that. That's what it is to be a cook.”

What Ray doesn’t grow herself, she gets locally. But shopping for groceries in Tuscany is just a bit different than going to the supermarket in America, she noted to T+L.

“In Italy… you can’t go to the fishmonger, the butcher and just get something. When I get cinghiale, it still has hair on it… When I get a fish, it still has gills on it. You definitely have to know and be grateful for where your food comes from,” she said.

When she’s taking the night off of cooking, she’s frequenting some of her favorite restaurants in the area, like Porta di Bacco in Montepulciano, which she calls “one of our go-tos.” Ray also loves the pizza at La Gustea in Sarteano, which she raves is “the best pizzeria I’ve ever been to in my life.” And then there’s Monteverdi Tuscany, which features culinary classes and amazing food, and happens to be where Ray’s own friends stay when they come to celebrate her anniversary.

Beyond food, Ray said people who visit her in Tuscany can take day trips and visit some of her favorite local shops, but they also have the (sometimes rare) opportunity to just relax. The destination is near and dear to her heart, and happens to be where she got married.

“The air is so different in Tuscany,” she said. “It’s the vistas. And we all live primarily outside as long as we can… From this time of the year on, we can be outside and live our lives alfresco.”

It’s that love for the outdoors that inspired Ray to partner with Genova Premium Tuna for a $20,000 Ultimate Al Fresco Experiential Kit sweepstakes complete with a custom al fresco-inspired design. To win, people can enter online through May 31.

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