Passion Points: Food/Wine
You Asked: I am traveling to Italy and would like to stay at a fantastic hotel that also has a great cooking school. I am open to traveling to any region. What would you recommend?
Very few of Italy’s top-rated hotels have their own cooking schools (the Villa San Michele being an exception). Most of the hotels that have in-house cooking schools are privately owned castellos and villas in the countryside. There are really two options: you can choose to stay in the countryside at one of these privately run properties or you can be based at a five-star city hotel, like the Four Seasons Florence, the Bauer Il Palazzo in Venice or the Hotel de Russie, in Rome, and take a half-day or day-class at a local school.
Here are our top four choices for smaller properties throughout Italy that offer lovely accommodations and excellent, in-house cooking classes:
- La Posta Vecchia, near Rome
Gorgeous small historic hotel located 25 miles northwest of Rome. The 17th-century villa that J. Paul Getty called his “serene and heavenly home” has just nineteen rooms and each is different, but all bear museum-quality touches. Built just above a black sand beach and ringed by lovingly landscaped formal gardens, the villa retains much of the art and furniture that Getty amassed for it.
- Castello di Vicarello, Maremma-Tuscany
Located in Tuscany’s coastal Maremma area, the remote Castello di Vicarello is a privately owned gem. The gracious hosts are the Baccheschi family (a stylish husband-and-wife team and their teenage sons) and their touch is seen throughout the property, from the six individually decorated rooms to the delicious local cuisine served on the property. Aurora is an accomplished cook (she is currently at work on a cookbook) and loves to share the secrets of Tuscany and this undiscovered region in particular. There are two pools on poperty.
Read a member postcard about a recent stay at the Castello di Vicarello.
- Villa Mangiacane, Tuscany (just outside Florence)
This villa is set just seven miles outside for Florence, making it a greta place for travelers who want to do town & country. The property was originally owned by the Machiaveli family and the old building, which houses some of the individually designed suites and has gorgeous restored frescoes decorating its central terrace. The hotel has a nice spa, lovely pool area and a first-rate restaurant. The surrounding 740 acres have olive groves, vineyards and fruit orchards, so the hotel produces much of its own wine and olive oil.
- Castello Banfi Il Borgo, Montalcino-Tuscany
This beautiful boutique hotel at the vineyard estate in Montalcino, Tuscany, has 14 luxurious rooms and suites that are nestled into the homes that were built alongside the medieval fortress in the 17th and 18th century. The exclusive borgo also has fourteen luxury villas which were added in 2007. The estate is enormous with some 7000 acres of vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards. The Castello is an hour’s drive from Siena and 2-1/2 from Florence. Note: This property will be closed through February 2010.
Read a member postcard about a stay at Castello Banfi Il Borgo.
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