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Tuscany Culinary & Wine Vacations

Why Villa Gaia?

Tuscany Cooking HolidaysWe invite you to experience Villa Gaia located in the largely undiscovered, charming towns of our Tuscan region, south of Siena. Many Italians consider this area to be one of the most splendid Italian regions because of its ancient villages and stunning landscapes. Best of all, it has always been a bit off the beaten path and has not been exploited by tourism.As our guest,we’ll take you to visit the little towns of the Monte Amiata and Val d’Orcia areas, where cultural heritage is remarkably preserved.These are far away from places like downtown Rome and Florence,which, while beautiful, are heavily visited by tourists.

Join us for the cultural Tuscan experience we offer and the secrets of the enchanting country estate...Villa Gaia! And keep in mind – our program is for everyone interested, whether or not you can boil water for pasta.

Villa Gaia Gourmet Regional Italian Food and Wine Tours

Deep, red Italian wines; smoky; enticing Pecorino cheese; gourmet, organic, cold pressed olive oils; unspoiled vineyards and centuries-old olive groves. The pure, delicious flavors of Tuscan peasant cooking; fish fresh from the unspoiled sea, vegetables hand-picked from the Tuscan soil every morning, pasta hand-made by your chef’s nonna. Wine tastings in ancient Italian wine cellars; the aroma of Italian breads baking in traditional stone ovens; meals enjoyed like a true Italian in authentic Tuscan trattorias, shopping for groceries in an outdoor market that is hundreds of years old. These are just some of the exclusive cultural and culinary experiences you will enjoy as as welcome guest at Villa Gaia.

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In the medieval village of Seggiano, in the province of Grosseto, Villa Gaia lies sheltered by the rolling hills of Monte Amiata and cooled by the sea breezes of Castiglione della Pescaia. As yet un-exploited by tourism, this region, famous for it’s sublime Italian wines, delicious, smoky Pecorino cheeses, and award winning organic olive oils, remains true to its pure Italian culture, maintaining it’s traditional Tuscan flavors and style. The Villa Gaia estate lies next to the San Bernardino monastery, a 15th century Franciscan monastery. It features frescoes painted by Italian artists Bernardino Gagliardi, Clemente Maioli, Giovanni de Vecchi, and Biagio Puccini. Villa Gaia is also located in the center of some very important Italian cultural locales, and we are often taking part in traditional Italian cultural and music festivals, Italian art exhibits, and theatre events during the spring and summer months. Villa Gaia reminds one of the country gentry, the noble Romans and Florentines who built their homes here, and of simple, comfortable elegance.


Villa Gaia is owned and operated by the Cannaviello family, Maria, and her two sons Francesco and Fabrizio. Originally from Naples, they gave up the busy city life for the peaceful, elegant Seggiano country side. Restoring this villa estate back to it's original beauty and luxury, they have graciously agreed to open their doors to aspiring Italian chefs from all over the world. Warm, hospitable, and welcoming, the Cannaviello family personifies Italian fine living and traditional Italian hospitality.


Italy Cooking and Wine VacationsCOCONUT GROVE, FL -- Tuscan Way, a provider of packaged and custom tours to Italian destinations, is introducing a new program -- Villa Gaia Cooking and Wine Vacations. Hosted by native Tuscans, Romeo Innocenti and Federica Leoni, participants are taught the traditional Tuscan cuisine, "La Cucina Povera Toscana", (Tuscan peasant cooking) by resident and guest Italian chefs in the intimate environs of a working estate, Villa Gaia, and take daily excursions with native guides.

The program, three, four, five and seven days, includes accommodations, all meals, three or five cooking classes, guided excursions and transfers to and from the Rome airport or train station. It does not include airfares. The program runs Saturday to Friday for the seven-day package and Saturday to Tuesday or Tuesday to Friday for the four days.

Villa Gaia is a charming Italian country estate outside the town of Seggiano, in the lush Province of Grosseto, south of Siena, and borders an ancient monastery founded by San Bernardino. It is a two hour drive from the airport in Rome. Accommodations are in two buildings: the main villa has a large two-bedroom apartment with a large bathroom, living room with fireplace, kitchen and terrace; the second house, La Foresteria, has four rooms with private bathrooms, a shared living room with fireplace, kitchen, laundry and summer porch. Guests have use of the swimming pool, satellite television, mountain bikes and the many trails winding through the estate's rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves. The guest rooms are comfortable and decorated in traditional Tuscan style.

Cooking classes are held in the estate's large rustic kitchen and are taught by a variety of Tuscan chefs, using Tuscan recipes passed from generation to generation. Typical, hands-on classes include "La Cucina Povera Toscana", the simple and flavorful style of southern Tuscany -- risotto ai funghi porcini (porcini mushroom risotto) and pappa col pomodoro (a traditional Tuscan soup); Italian seafood dishes from the region of La Maremma -- spaghetti agli scampi; hand-made pasta; and authentic Italian pizza, cooked in a wood-burning oven. (see sample recipe below..)

Guests are shown how to choose the freshest ingredients, the basis of all Tuscan dishes, the colors and consistency of olive oil, types of accompanying wine and how the style of "La Cucina Povera Toscana" came to be. Classes are always informal -- a glass of good, Italian wine nearby, cheat sheets (recipes to take home), constant taste testing and plenty of stories, Italian folklore, and anecdotes.

Daily excursions, with Romeo, Federica, and other guides who grew up in the area, include two wine-tastings -- in Montalcino, tasting Brunello and Morellino with the expert guidance of the local vintners; and in Italy's oldest wine cellar, at the Redi Winery in Montepulciano, tastings of the Nobile di Montepulciano, one of the region's most ancient and celebrated wines. Other stops include the hot springs of Bagni di San Filippo; La Rocca, a 14th-century fortress in Montalcino; the 600-year-old town of Pienza, the first modern example of town planning, commissioned by Pope Pius II; the little villages of Monte Amiata -- Santa Fiora, touring La Peschiera, the private gardens and swimming pool of the 16th-century Sforza family, and Abbadia San Salvatore, visiting the 8th-century crypt below the abbey's church; and the seaside village of Castiglione della Pescaia.

Special meals include lunch at "Casa Innocenti", the family's 900-year-old home in Arcidosso, prepared and hosted by the patriarch and head chef of the family, Carlo Innocenti, and dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant known for its Tuscan mushroom and truffle recipes. Plenty of time is set aside to explore the cultural areas of the villages and shop for the wines, olive oils and Etruscan ceramics for which Tuscany is famous.

Reservations, brochures and additional information can be obtained from -

Tuscan Way,
2829 Bird Avenue,
PMB 242, Coconut Grove, FL, 33133;
Telephone (800) 766-2390 or (305) 598-8368,
Fax (800) 767-9699 or (305) 598-8369,
Website: www.tuscanway.com


Mussels Grate’

Ingredients (for 6 people):

  • 1 & ½ kilo (about 3.3 pounds) of mussels
  • 50 grams (about 1.76 ounces) of parsley
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 200 grams (about 7 ounces) of dried bread
  • 6 tablespoons of Italian olive oil (Preferably Tuscan olive oil!)
  • 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of bread crumbs
  • Red hot crushed pepper
  • Salt

Clean the mussels, boil them until they open up (about 3 minutes) and then drain them keeping one cup of the water. Chop in very small pieces the 4 cloves of garlic and the parsley. Soak the dried bread for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water and add some olive oil to the bread. Put half of the shells of the mussels on some baking tins. Turn on the oven to broil. Fill in the shells with the bread mixture. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on the mussels. Cover the baking tins with a little water of the mussels and then put them in the hot oven. Cook for about 15 minutes. Serve on platters with fresh sliced lemons.