MEET YOUR HOSTS
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.
PASTA AND PAPPA COL POMODORO:
TUSCAN WAY INTRODUCES VILLA GAIA COOKING PROGRAM
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,
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
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.
and additional information can be obtained from -
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,
A TRADITIONAL TUSCAN
- 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
- 6 tablespoons of Italian olive oil (Preferably
Tuscan olive oil!)
- 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of bread
- Red hot crushed pepper
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.