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Located on a nature reserve in the hills of Tuscany, Tenuta di Spannocchia (featured in Bon Appetit magazine) is a 1,100-acre sustainable, "beyond organic" agricultural estate with an educational mission that champions the Slow Food movement philosophy and hosts a multi-national community of staff, interns, and guests. With centuries-old architecture — complete with the original 12th-century tower and restored aristocratic home — bountiful gardens, secret hiking paths, and beautiful vistas, this is the optimal setting to relax and enjoy la dolce vita while immersing yourself in Italian farm-to-table food culture through tastings, cooking classes, and tours.
This is more than a vacation; you’ll observe daily life on a historic property and working farm that raises its own animals, cures its own prosciutto, and produces its own certified organic olive oil, wine, and heirloom fruits and vegetables. Far off the beaten path — just how we like it — this journey is about uncovering the real Tuscany and life’s simple pleasures on a rustic farm in the heart of Italy.
San Gimignano & Spannocchia
Upon our meeting in Florence, our journey unfolds as we head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of San Gimignano, a small, walled medieval hill town with its impressive collection of well-preserved towers that have survived wars, catastrophes, and urban planning. We enjoy a tour of the historical center and lunch, our first introduction to the flavors of the region.
En route to Spannocchia, our cozy home base for the next five nights, we pass a more forested area of Tuscany with a few tidy vineyards, fields of drying sunflowers, groves of silvery olive trees, and rural stone villages. Upon arrival to our idyllic villa, we may choose to wander the grounds, sit by the pool, or stretch our legs on a hike to the ruins of the 13th-century Santa Lucia hermitage, once a stop on the Via Francigena medieval pilgrimage route that connected Rome to Canterbury, England.
This evening, we join other guests, Spannocchia staff, and student interns on the terrace for wine before tucking in to a simple, homemade Tuscan dinner.
Tenuta di SpannocchiaRosia, Italy
Ideally-located within a short drive of Florence, Siena, and many scenic Tuscan hill towns, Tenuta di Spannocchia allows visitors to immerse themselves in a historic, agricultural estate.
The villa rooms Boundless Journeys has reserved occupy the original 16th-century building. The Cinelli family purchased the property in 1925, and guests are instantly transported to a simpler time by the antique furnishings and family heirlooms. Each room is unique, has its own private bath (though not all are en-suite), and feature original wooden ceilings, hand-painted details, and antique marble accents. This is the original inspiration for the rustic-chic farmhouse style currently trending. Guests can enjoy the living room, library, pool, and courtyard.
Cooking class & historical tour
We start today with a farm-to-table cooking class, beginning with a tour through the vegetable garden before heading to the kitchen where Spannocchia's cook and our instructor, Loredana, will greet us. She grew up at Spannocchia when the estate was still a tenant farming property and is a true Tuscan through and through.
Loredana leads us through the preparation of a traditional three-course Tuscan meal utilizing products from the farm. Our lesson concludes with a convivial lunch, where we share the dishes that we have created, paired with Spannocchia's organic wine.
After our indulgences, we enjoy a guided tour of the historic villa, learning about the architecture, the histories of the Cinelli and Spannocchi families, the mezzadria sharecropping system (by which Spannocchia operated for centuries), and past and present agricultural activities on the property. We visit the chapel, library, cantina, Secret Garden, and lastly (weather permitting), we can climb the medieval tower for a breathtaking view of the 1,100 acres of rolling hills and farmland.
We mingle with wine on the terra cotta terrace this evening before another hearty dinner.
Pienza, Cheese farm and winery tours
We have a full, delicious day ahead, as we drive southeast into the UNESCO World Cultural Landscape of the Orcia Valley, or Val d'Orcia, to learn about the cheese and wine traditions in the region. The scenery will change from the forested hills outside Siena to the heavily-cultivated rolling hills.
We first stop in the town of Pienza, originally called "Corsignano." A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, Pienza was rebuilt by Pope Pius II as an ideal Renaissance town using humanist urban planning concepts. It was the first such application, which subsequently spread throughout Europe. We take time to stroll the streets of the village and perhaps enjoy a caffè or browse in some of the quaint shops.
Just outside of Pienza is an organic sheep and goat farm, where we enjoy a guided tour of the farm with the owners, meet some of the animals, learn about the cheesemaking process, and of course, sample the varieties! Lunch is at the farm's restaurant, overlooking the Val d'Orcia, with the Via Francigena and a filming location from the movie The Gladiator rounding out the view.
Afterwards, we make our way on winding roads and through tiny villages to an organic and biodynamic winery that produces the famous Brunello di Montalcino, a famed DOCG (controlled designation of origin) wine of the immediate Montalcino area. Made with 100% Sangiovese grapes (the same varietal that goes into Chianti), Brunello is one of Italy's best-known and most expensive wines. After a tour and explanation of the unique production methods and unusual wine cellar, we enjoy a wine tasting.
Enjoy the iconic Tuscan landscape on the way back to Spannocchia, where we have a bit of time to relax and freshen up before dinner.
Food culture presentation, San Galgano
Italians are deeply allied to their region in terms of food culture and identity. Shortly after breakfast, we have a presentation about just this, investigating how history, culture, and climate combine to make the diverse regional cuisines so unique. We discuss the development of Italian food through the years, with a focus on changing agricultural methods and migration into, out of, and within Italy.
For our picnic lunch, we drive a short distance to the Gothic-style Abbey of San Galgano, abandoned since the mid-1300s. We meander in the abbey and the round chapel that houses San Galgano's tomb. Here, we can marvel at the sword in the stone, purportedly planted there by Galgano himself. You may choose to join our guide on a short walk in the area, or simply relax and enjoy the view.
The afternoon brings a tasting of Spannochia's organic products, including cured meats. We learn about the farm's connection to the international Slow Food movement and about its sustainable practices, from the native livestock breeds to the beehives and the "beyond organic" gardens and vineyard.
Tonight features a special dinner — pizza! — made in the outdoor, wood-fired oven. If it's warm enough, we will eat al fresco.
Cooking Class & Siena
We have another opportunity this morning to learn more of the secrets of Italian cooking with Loredana and savor our achievements during lunch.
In the afternoon, a 30-minute drive brings us to Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of the famous medieval horse race, Il Palio, still held twice each year. Our guide will lead us on a city tour of this splendid town before we have some free time to explore independently, shop, or grab a cone of gelato.
We meet up again for our farewell dinner at one of Siena's best restaurants that brings a modern twist to traditional Tuscan cuisine.
Today we say ciao to this spectacular Tuscan estate. We return to Florence where you may choose to extend your experience on a walking tour of Florence with our guide (additional expense), fly to Bari, Italy, to join our Puglia tour, or continue on your own independent travel.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Sep 15-20, 2019
$2,995 Per Person
See single supplement policy below.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Tuscany Culinary Immersion is rated 1+, easy with one optional moderate hike, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). It features walks on city streets and dirt paths that average 1-3 hours per day, as well as standing during cooking classes. It is often possible to opt out of a day's walk if you would prefer to relax on the estate.
Most Convenient AirportPeretola Airport (formerly Amerigo Vespucci Airport), airport code FLR in Florence.
Arrival RecommendationWe recommend arriving in Italy at least one day before your tour begins. This will give you time to rest after your travels and recover from any effects of jet lag. It may be most convenient to spend a pre-trip night at the Hotel Palazzo Lucchesi in Florence, as this is our meeting place on Day 1.
Meeting Time & PlaceAfter breakfast, at 9:00 a.m., in front of Hotel Palazzo Lucchesi inFlorence.
Departure Time & PlaceYour guide will provide transportation to the Santa Maria Novella Florence train station by 12:00 p.m. on Day 6, and from there it is easy to catch trains to other cities in Italy or transportation to the airport. It is not necessary to purchase train tickets in advance. If your travel plans necessitate an earlier departure, we will be happy to assist you with arrangements at your own expense.
The weather in early fall is usually very pleasant, with daytime temperatures that range from mid-60s to mid-80s, and 50s and 60s at night. September can have occasional showers, so please come prepared to walk rain or shine. We will always walk unless weather conditions make it dangerous to do so.
Tuscany has a pleasant, sunny climate. The spring and fall months tend to be the best times to visit, as this avoids the very hot summer months and peak tourist season.
Traditional, authentic Tuscan cuisine is much more simple than what the international community often thinks or than what is often served at North American Italian restaurants. It centers around fresh produce, cheese, and pasta. Dishes typically highlight one or two ingredients rather than mixing together several competing flavors. Recipes are simply-seasoned as Tuscan cooks prefer to let the flavors of the fresh ingredients speak for themselves. Pork and beef, as well as wild boar are common. Fish and chicken are rare.
Interestingly, the bread in Tuscany is traditionally made without salt. In 1100, when Pisa blocked the supply of salt to Florence (the two towns were enemies), the Florentines and surrounding communities started making their bread without salt. Practically, Italian's view bread as a conduit for olive oil and cured meats — the former's flavor is altered with salt and the latter already has enough salt — and is rarely eaten alone, thus the lack of salt in bread becomes inconsequential.
Dining at Spannocchia is a social experience. Farm guests, special groups, interns, staff, and sometimes the owners eat together. Meals are served family-style, and the set menu changes daily. Multi-course dinners start with a primo (pasta or risotto) and is followed by a secondo (a meat dish), then a vegetable side dish or salad, and finally, dessert. Dinners can last up to two hours, but guests should feel free to return to their rooms when they like.
Breakfast is buffet style that includes bread, jams and butter, homemade granola, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, juices, and homemade breakfast cake. Lunches vary from pasta and salad to sandwiches.
Born and raised in Northern Italy between misty hills and the Po river, it was Domenico’s love of Siena and the Chianti countryside that led him to study archaeology. Combining his passion for history, art, archaeology, architecture, the environment, and Chianti and Brunello wine (of course!), Domenico has become a cherished Boundless Journeys guide. Over many years he has become familiar with every alley in Siena, as well as the surrounding trails that combine breathtaking views with memorable locations. He is a licensed nature and tour guide, but above all, this is his home. He looks forward to joining you on this immersive culinary experience, where you will taste and feel Tuscany with all five of your senses.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Walking, 1-3 hours per day on dirt paths and city streets.
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
By: Katya d'Angelo
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