Torre del Tartufo - Arezzo, Italy
As we walked the grounds just minutes after we arrived my friend Lisa quietly admitted she was thinking on the plane…”it is such a long trip, what if I really don’t like this place? Judi, this is truly the most beautiful and peaceful place I have ever seen. I am coming back for my 60th.” Within five minutes she was already planning to return.
That is the feeling that I felt my first trip with Kelly in 2010 to Tuscookany’s Casa Ombuto which is located just a thirty minute drive from Torre. Both locations are wonderful with spectacular views and restored villas that make you feel as if you are living a true Tuscan lifestyle.
Tuscookany staffs each villa with about six people. The manager, Barbara is the perfect hostess and sees to your every need. She dines with you several times and makes herself available to arrange a trip or answer travel questions. There are two housekeepers whom you seldom see. They tidy your room daily and do your laundry if requested. There is a groundskeeper you might see pruning the bushes or stoking the wood fired hot tub. Of course there is your Chef and their assistant. That is it. And, after dinner, everyone leaves the villa. The only sound you might hear is that of a wild boar.
This trip we took the Seven Day Italian Course. While this sounds like an intense amount of cooking we actually were only in the kitchen about four hours a day for four days. The rest of the time we spent relaxing by the pool, having massages or site seeing in the towns nearby.
Barbara greeted me with hugs and tears. She was pleased to see me return and made certain I was well taken care of. She placed me in what is known as the “honeymoon suite”. It is a very large room with a fireplace and an iron canopied king bed. All of the bathrooms are marbled floor to ceiling with large wooden beams that remind you of the rustic barn like feeling of a true Tuscan building.
The floors are stone and several large windows that are kept open allow the mountain breezes to waif through your room day and night. No air conditioning is needed in the warmest of temperatures.
This is truly a slice of heaven on earth.
Poolside at Torre. The honeymoon suite has the four windows with white curtains.
The drive leading from Casa Umbuto to the main road. We are dreaming of being on this road!!
Yesterday Kelly reminded me that we will be flying off to Florence in just 9 weeks! We will share an Italian cooking vacation for seven days at Casa Ombuto near Florence. Paolo, Laura and Franco, our chefs, have returned from Sicily where they sampled several new dishes they will add to our Mediterranean Cooking Class cookbook. There is much to do to prepare.
We were wondering if it will be necessary to purchase the international phone package for our IPhones. I say “yes”. The GPS will probably come in handy for our walking tours. And it will be great to be able to send pictures of the culinary masterpieces we will create. I can smell the garlic and truffles already.
Each day is well planned with a sightseeing trip after breakfast and hands-on cooking lesson in the afternoon. Then we dine on our creations accompanied by delicious Tuscan wines that compliment the dishes. Although the week long course is intense there is plenty of leisure time for a trip to Florence to shop or a visit to LaVerna and its ancient monastery where St. Francis of Assisi lived most of his life.
International chef Laura Giusti teaches the Mediterranean Cooking Class. Laura was born in Subbiano which is a charming village close to Arezzo in the heart of Tuscany. Her passion for food and wine inspired her to pursue this as a profession. She studied to be a Professional Sommelier and she also complete and Oil” degustation course. To improve her cooking skills she took courses with famous chefs from Florence, Rome and Lucca and with the “Slow Food” organization and the Institute of Alberghiero near Sienna. She also completed a Moroccan cookery course in North Africa. In 1989 she opened up her own restaurant in Capolona near Arezzo “Il Giardiano Sull’ Arno”. She started teaching in 2002 and was happy to finally unite her two greatest passions, cooking and teaching. Her extensive knowledge of food and wine, combined with passion for teaching and personal charm will inspire us.
Here is a typical day at Casa Ombuto. “Day 7 Breakfast. Morning of leisure. Light lunch if you are around. About 3:00 pm begin hands-on cooking lesson. Prepare an elaborate buffet dinner using all the cooking techniques that you mastered during the week plus some new tricks. Presentation of food will also be demonstrated. Grand finale dinner. You will be presented with a certificate of attendance, cookbook and apron.”
During the next nine weeks I will be brushing up on my Italian and shopping for comfy travel clothes. I intend to pack light as I will be responsible for my suitcase. Kelly will be a great travel companion and shares the same love of wine and cooking. My 13 day vacation is a dream come true and another line item to check off of my personal bucket list! Thank you honey for making this possible. Ti amo!