I fell in love with Tuscany about 10 years ago when I went on a holiday. The landscape, the food, the weather…I grab each chance to go back with both hands. How lucky was I to be invited on a trip with JUST AWAY!
With a bunch of lovely girls – , Marieke from Brouwertje.com, Lindsey from Dailylin.nl, Bo from Francescakookt.nl, Suzanne from Talkies magazine and Maud from Cherrypicker– we were ready, set, go to indulge ‘under the Tuscan sun’. A program filled with activities was awaiting us: a cooking workshop, a Vespa tour (check that bucket list item!), soaking in some culture in Florence, seeing Pisa’s crooked tower from up close…that didn’t sound bad at all!
The weather wasn’t all that sunny upon arrival, but that wasn’t going to ruin our good moods. The thunderstorm had vanished by the time we got to our accommodation ‘Fattoria di Castiglionchio’. A fattoria is an old farm which is often turned into an agriturismo. Farming activities remain (resulting in an array of ‘on the spot’ produce to take back home), but the old buildings now serve as housing to vacationers. It is way more charming and authentic than staying in a regular hotel, plus you still have hotel advantages; rooms are cleaned daily, there’s a pool and many activities. Fattorias are usually tucked away off road, so you’ll also be able to enjoy the surroundings.
Once installed in my room in the ‘torre’ (tower) and in awe of the amazing view on the hills from my window, it felt like coming home again. Especially considering that food was next on the program.
Our chauffeur (yes, we had a driver at our disposal) took us through hairpin bends to the other side of the hill to a fabulous old stone residence, where we were welcomed by Sandra. A friendly Italian lady that was about to give a cooking class in homemade Tuscan food.
After a quick introduction she led us to her cute, homely kitchen. We talked over the menu while drinking a glass of white Tuscan wine (Vermentino Toscana San Felice), rolled up our sleeves, and started to work. We were divided in teams to prepare the antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci. I was part of team ‘pasta’ and eager to learn how to make fresh pasta. Well, don’t underestimate that task! It is harder than you think. I even switched to team ‘dolci’ after rolling the pasta dough for half an hour…
Though the end results were much worth the efforts. This was our menu:
Antipasti: Panzanella -salad of soaked bread with tomatoes, onion and basil
Primi: Tagliatella with a sauce of zuchini flower, ricotta (sheep milk) and saffron
Secondi: Involtini (rolls of veal, prosciutto crudo, pecorino and a leaf of sage) and slow cooked canellini beans on the side
Dolci: Mascarpone & chocolate mousse sprinkled with biscotti crumbs
What I love about Italian food is that you can dish up such tasty meals with just a few ingredients. Even if it takes a little more time and effort, a ‘less is more’ concept of fresh food on my plate really agrees with me.
In the meantime sweet Sandra had set the table in her garden, because a true Tuscan meal should be savoured at a long table with good company! The bonus was the splendid view over Florence -you could see a lit up Duomo at sunset. The smell of the dewy grass and pine trees made me not want to leave any time soon…
Stay tuned for the adventures of the following days! If this first day of our trip already got you excited to explore Tuscany, go and have a look at the epicurean offers on JUST AWAY.com
All images © The Digitalistas