One of the most fabulous things to do when traveling in Italy, is to learn how to prepare and cook the amazing local food.
It is so much fun to get off the beaten track, away from the touristy T shirt shops, and go somewhere really beautiful, like a private villa, a winery or a farmhouse, and have a lesson with a local chef.
|Marcello makin fresh pasta at Podere Cunina in Tuscany|
Typically you will learn magical recipes that have been in the chef’s family quite literally for hundreds of years, passed down through the generations.
My very dear friend Silvana Freddi and her husband Piergiorgio own a beautiful Agriturismo in Tuscany, outside of Siena, not far from Montalcino.
|Podere Cunina perched on it’s mountain in Tuscany|
I have written about it before – the lovely Podere Cunina, perched on a mountain, with views that would make you weep.
An Agriturismo is a boutique farm (agricultural – not an animal farm) with apartments or houses for tourists to rent and live in for their vacation. See my post from last year, Where To Stay Under The Tuscan Sun to look at pictures and read about lovely Cunina.
After first reading Frances Mayes “Under The Tuscan Sun“ back in the late 90’s I became obsessed with Frances’ recipes and the idea of spending a day cooking in Tuscany.
Fast forward a few years and I wound up renting an apartment in Tuscany from Silvana every summer, and building one of those wonderful friendships that will last forever.
Silvana’s son Marcello is a master chef who was running a boutique restaurant on Lake Garda, but has since moved to Podere Cunina to work in the family business and teach Tuscan cooking lessons to tourists, both those staying at Cunina and also those who just want to spend a day cooking and eating and drinking the glorious local wine.
|A gorgeous group of Russian tourists spending the day cooking, eating and drinking wine with Marcello at Podere Cunina in Tuscany|
People from all around the world come to stay at Cunina and to learn to cook with Marcello. His recipes are divine, and he is fun, charming and engaging.
Everyone wants to come back and cook with him again!
|making homemade pasta with Marcello at Podere Cunina in Tuscany|
If you have never rolled out fresh, homemade pasta before, it is an experience you won’t forget anytime soon. And no pasta tastes like homemade pasta!
There is much more to Tuscan cooking than just pasta. (although the pasta is spectacular!) There are so many wonderful dishes to experience, so many fantastic recipes to bring home and wow your friends and family with.
Marcello wanted to improve his cooking English and his tourist English, so last December he came out to Phoenix to live with us for a couple of months.
We cooked together every day, and Marcello even filled our freezer with homemade pasta meals and gnocchi before he left.
So I can personally vouch for his amazing cooking!
If you are having a lesson with Marcello and are completely wowed with his cooking English have him do a little Kid Rock for you. We not only taught him how to use words like “whisk” and “sprinkle” and “bring it to a boil”, but we also taught him to rap his way through “Cowboy” – after all you never know when it might come in handy 🙂