Autumn in Tuscany

Autumn in Tuscany

2–12 November 2018

The scents of Tuscany are vivid in the autumn air. The sweet smell of roasting chestnuts, the acrid smoke of wood fires, the grassy aromas of new olive oil, the mouldy scent of wet leaves, the musky odour of truffles and the heady perfume of new wine in the cellar. Reawaken your sense of smell as you meet the farmers and producers enthusiastic to introduce you to their traditional food and wine. You stay on an olive oil estate, pick olives and visit olive presses. After your olive oil class with a professional taster, you’ll be on the way to becoming an expert. You’ll hunt for truffles, spend a day in the chestnut forests of the Garfagnana and taste wine at some little-known vineyards in Chianti. It will be a season to remember. (Really small group: 8–10 people)

Itinerary at a glance

Day 1 — Arrival and welcome dinner

Day 2 — Hunt for white truffles and truffle lunch at truffle hunter’s home

Day 3 — White truffle fair, Brunelleschi castle, olive oil tasting

Day 4 — Vineyard visits and wine tastings in Chianti

Day 5 — Olive oil course at home of professional oil taster

Day 6 — Circle Pisan Mountains visiting a potter and the Certosa di Calci

Day 7 — Pick olives and press extra virgin olive oil on organic olive estate, olive oil lunch on estate

Day 8 — Forage for edible wild plants, cooking lesson with wild plants and new olive oil, tour of Lucca at sunset

Day 9 — Make olive oil gelato, sightseeing and shopping in Lucca, operatic cooking lesson

Day 10 — Chestnut day in the Garfagnana: chestnut drying hut, chestnut festival, farewell dinner

Day 11 — Departure

Highlights of Tour

Gastronomic Experiences

  • Olives and olive oil
    • Stay at organic olive oil estate
    • Pick olives on the estate
    • Visit traditional and modern olive presses and learn which is best and why
    • Class with professional olive oil taster — learn to use your nose to assess olive oil
    • Cooking lesson with olive oil
    • Learn to make olive oil gelato with owner of gelateria rated third best in Italy by food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso
  • White truffles
    • Hunt with a truffle hunter and his hound
    • Learn how the hunter trains his dogs
    • Learn to use your eyes, fingers and nose to tell a real white truffle from an impostor
    • Lunch with lots of truffles at truffle hunter’s home
    • White truffle festival
  • Wine
    • Visit vineyards in Lamole, a little known corner of Chianti
    • Dry-stone walling — one vineyard owner’s theory of how to produce the best wine in Lamole
  • Wild edible plants
    • Forage with chef on olive estate
    • Cooking lesson using wild plants and new olive oil in typical dishes of Lucca
  • Chestnuts — tree of bread
    • Visit a chestnut-drying hut with the owner and learn how chestnuts become flour and the staff of life for the mountain people of the Garfagnana
    • Visit a working 18th-century water mill that grinds farro, corn and chestnuts
    • Feast at a chestnut festival in the streets of a mediaeval village
  • Every day you eat in homes and family restaurants

Architecture, art, music & sightseeing

  • Brunelleschi Castle: guided tour of Renaissance castle designed by the architect of the dome of Florence’s cathedral
  • Pieve Santa Maria, Vicopisano: 12th century church with magnificent wooden altarpiece of the Deposition from the Cross
  • Certosa di Calci: guided tour of the former Carthusian monastery in all its over-the-top splendour
  • Free afternoon in the beautiful walled city of Lucca
  • Private concert and cooking lesson with opera singers
  • Optional visit to Parco Nottolini and its neo-classical canals which collect water for the fountains of Lucca

Cerreto Guidi – Vinci

Day 1: Friday

Pick up at meeting points: Pisa airport and railway station, Florence Santa Maria Novella station. One pick up at each place to coincide as nearly as possible with everyone’s arrival times, but no later than 3 pm. Transfer to Agriturismo Rozzalupi, between the towns of Cerreto Guidi and Vinci (where the great Leonardo was born). Already the scents of autumn tickle your nose. Welcome dinner at Rozzalupi.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: dinner

Day 2: Saturday

Edible truffles can be found all year in Tuscany, but this is the season of the most prized of all: the white truffle. Some people claim the truffle is all scent and no taste. You’ll get to judge for yourself at your truffle-loaded lunch. First, we meet Riccardo and his truffle hound in a private truffle wood. He explains the life cycle of this curious underground fungus and how he trains his dogs, whose noses are better than the best of ours. Since this is a real truffle hunt, Riccardo hasn’t buried any ahead of time, and when the hound starts sniffing and digging frantically, you’ll experience the thrill and suspense of not knowing what the result will be. Will there be a truffle or is it a false alarm? Don’t worry about your lunch; Riccardo scours the truffle territory every weekend and has lots at home for our four-course lunch cooked by him and his wife. Light supper at Rozzalupi.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Sunday

This morning we visit a truffle fair where you watch truffle buyers interminably brushing, inspecting and sniffing the specimens without a single telltale flicker of emotion. Since you will have learned from Riccardo how to assess a truffle using all your senses, you can join the professionals and buy or reject the truffles for sale. Grazing on free samples at the food stalls provides an economical and varied lunch. Now we follow the banks of the Arno River to Vicopisano, a strategic point in Pisa’s defences against the Florentines. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough and in 1406 Pisa fell to the Florentines, who sent in their star architect-engineer Brunelleschi, architect of the dome of Florence’s cathedral, to design a new fortress. The theatrical Giovanni gives us a tour from the dungeons to the top of the tower. After stopping at the parish church to see a remarkable 12th-century altarpiece, we get our first lesson in how to taste olive oil, followed by dinner at the locals’ favourite restaurant.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: breakfast, dinner

Day 4: Monday

More nose-work today as we visit two vineyards in a little known area of Chianti. Lamole used to produce the top vintages of Chianti, but who has heard of it today? We visit a winemaker who believes he’s discovered the secret of its decline. A hint: he’s obsessed with dry-stone walling. At another vineyard we compare theories over lunch and a wine tasting. Dinner at a traditional restaurant at Cerreto Guidi whose speciality is bistecca fiorentina grilled over coals.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Tuesday

Today you really have to use your nose. We have a full-day course about olive oil with Elisabetta, a professional olive oil judge. From the olive grove to the oil in the bottle, you learn about its history, its value as a food, the differences between extra virgin, virgin and the rest. You use your nose to identify defects and the typical characteristics of Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil. You learn how to buy and store oil at home. Elisabetta helps you prepare some simple recipes from different regions of Italy to pair with the local oil of each. Becoming an expert taster takes a lot of practice, but at the end of the day you’ll have the basics. Our last dinner at Rozzalupi before we pack up and move to Lucca.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Cerreto Guidi to Lucca

Day 6: Wednesday

We bid farewell to our hosts Francesca and Marco and set off to circle the Pisan Mountains. In fact, they’re not much more than a few high hills, but they successfully kept arch-enemies Pisa and Lucca apart for most of their history. Our first stop is at a potter, the only one remaining in a town that used to be chock full of them. Guido Nesti helps you get the hang of turning a pot on his wheel. We lunch at a little restaurant overlooking the Pisan plain, followed by a tour of the Certosa di Calci, a former Carthusian monastery, paved in marble and dripping with gold leaf. On around the mountains until, nearly closing the circle, we arrive at Agriturismo Alle Camelie, where we’re welcomed by owners Claudio and Eleonora. Dinner cooked by Elena Pardini, whose exquisitely simple dishes epitomise Tuscan cuisine.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito (Lucca) | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Thursday

Olive oil is fast food. In ideal circumstances the olive gets from the tree to the oil drum in a single day. Alle Camelie is an organic estate which produces one of the best olive oils of Lucca. Since it has its own press, we help pick olives and see them pressed on the same day. Our lunch on the estate shows off the owners’ commitment to Slow Food produce and cooking. After lunch we visit the traditional press in the village. It’s picturesque, but is it as good as the modern one? Dinner at a pizzeria in the hills.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Friday

The terraced olive grove at Alle Camelie provides the ideal habitat for wild edible greens. Owner Claudio Orsi and chef Elena Pardini are expert foragers. They guide us to choose the right ones for our cooking lesson and lunch. In the farm’s kitchen, Elena shows us how to clean our herbs and teaches us some simple dishes which we make for our lunch. We head across the plain for a tour of Lucca and dinner in a restaurant that seats only 21.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Saturday

Olive oil gelato? I had the same doubts until I tasted it. See what you think after your gelato lesson with Mirko Tognetti of Cremeria Opera, the third best gelateria in Italy, according to Gambero Rosso magazine. Lunch at the gelateria and a free afternoon in Lucca. We can’t stay near Lucca, birthplace of Puccini, without hearing his music. Tonight our cooking lesson with baritone Mattia Campetti and his soprano wife Michelle Buscemi is spiced with operatic interludes.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito | Meals: breakfast, dinner

Day 10: Sunday

We spend today in the wild, rugged mountains of the Garfagnana because it’s chestnut season. Dishes made from chestnut flour were the staple food of the Garfagnana until very recently and the new flour is still eagerly awaited every autumn. We walk though the chestnut woods to visit a chestnut-drying hut, where you are introduced to the mysteries of how chestnuts are turned into flour. In the mediaeval village we join the locals at a chestnut festival where you wend your way through the cobbled streets sampling pasta made with chestnut flour, cured pork with chestnut flour bread, chestnut crêpe with ricotta, roast chestnuts, chestnut donuts and chestnut tart. Farewell dinner at Alle Camelie cooked by the inimitable Elena Pardini.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito | Meals: breakfast, dinner

Day 11: Monday

With noses by now finely tuned, you say farewell to your autumn adventure in Tuscany.

After breakfast, transfer to Pisa airport or Pisa or Lucca railway station. One transfer will be provided no earlier than 9.00 am (allow an hour to get to the airport or either station plus check in and boarding time). If you need to travel earlier, a taxi can be arranged at your own expense.

Fattoria Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi – Vinci

Originally the Renaissance hunting lodge of an aristocratic Florentine family, the Fattoria evolved into a typical agricultural hamlet which has been sensitively converted to guest accommodation by the brother of the wife of our truffle hunter (we like to keep it in the family). On-site restaurant, swimming pool, wifi. http://www.fattoriarozzalupi.it/en/index.html

rozzalupi_2

Agriturismo ‘Alle Camelie’, Pieve di Compito (Lucca)

‘Alle Camelie’ has been the country seat of the Orsi family for centuries. The present Orsi, Claudio,  produces olive oil and wine. His father has sensitively converted the old olive drying rooms and press into a comfortable, modern B&B while retaining Tuscan farmhouse features. The estate is entirely organic and most of their power comes from their own solar panels. They are active members of Slow Food. Dining room, swimming pool, wifi. http://www.allecamelie.it/

Accommodation at Alle Camelie

Erica Jarman

Following Heather’s careers as archaeologist, orchestra and artist manager and chef, she Italianised her name to Erica and came to Lucca to pursue her passion for traditional artisan food. Her tours, inspired by her infectious curiosity, open captivating new worlds to her guests.

Erica Jarman portrait square

Price

Per Person: 2990 Euros

Single Supplement: NONE

Includes

Friendly knowledgeable English-speaking guide throughout your stay

10 nights welcoming, relaxing accommodation, en suite bathrooms

Local ground transportation for 11 days (includes one group transfer between meeting point and accommodation and one return after the tour). Please check with us before you book your travel to make sure it fits the tour schedule. Transfers at times other than those provided for the group will be at your own expense.

Daily continental breakfast, 7 lunches, 10 dinners

Guided visits and workshops with artisans, cooking lessons, entrance fees

Does Not Include

Airfares

Travel and cancellation insurance

Wine and drinks other than those served with meals, additional meals

Personal expenses

Meeting Points

Arrival: Pisa airport, Pisa Centrale railway station, Florence Santa Maria Novella railway station (there are low-cost flights to Pisa and Florence airports from international hubs outside Italy; direct trains from Rome). One pick-up at each place between 12.30 and 2.30 pm depending on the various arrival times of members of the group. If in doubt, check with us before booking your travel.

If you are flying from outside Europe, we suggest you arrive a couple of days early to recover from jet lag so you can fully enjoy your time with us. We are happy to advise about where to stay and eat and what to do before and after your tour.

Departure: One transfer to Pisa airport or Pisa or Lucca railway station will be provided no earlier than 9.00 am (allow an hour to get to the airport or either station plus check in and boarding time). If you need to travel earlier, a taxi can be arranged at your own expense.

Diet

Most dietary requirements can be accommodated as long as you tell us in advance. There is a space on the Booking Form for this information.

Physical Fitness

You must be fit enough to walk on steep cobbled streets and rough farm tracks. One day is not suitable for people with a fear of heights.

Dress

Informal. Jeans or smart trousers are acceptable everywhere. Raincoat/jacket advisable. Good walking shoes are required for farm visits and steep cobbled streets.

Weather in November

6–15°C/43–59˚F, precipitation 122 mm/4.8 in

The Itinerary is subject to change if necessary due to weather or agricultural conditions or other events outside our control.

I will never taste wine, olive oil and gelato without knowing what perfection there is in artisan production. I came on this tour totally ignorant of the theme. I depart with such a rich amount of knowledge and wonderful experiences.

Barbara Hughes, USA, Autumn in Tuscany, November 2016

These past ten days have just flown by. From truffle hunting with that delightful dog, to tasting olive oils and watching chestnuts roasting, it has all been wonderful, enlightening and especially delicious.

Wendy Newman, Canada, Autumn in Tuscany, November 2016

Thank you, Erica, for not only letting us ‘peek behind the curtain’, but allowing us to walk through and personally meet the artisan wizards! You took us on the path less travelled while we intimately observed what truly makes Italy—its food and its people—so wonderful.

Natalie Herman, Canada, Autumn in Tuscany, November 2016

This tour has delivered everything it promised! We have seen and tasted everything I wanted to see and do and taste. Thank you for showing us these glimpses of rural and artisanal Italy. Thank you for your attention to detail. Thank you!

Sally & Wilfrid Mennell, Canada, Autumn in Tuscany, November 2016

We had the most wonderful time on our tour. I knew I would enjoy myself but I was blown away by how much Bryan enjoyed himself. I have not seen him so relaxed. We all got on so well and loved all the things we did and saw. Just wanted to say thank you for organising such a great tour. I would recommend it to anyone.

Kaye & Bryan Dillon, Australia, October 2010, Truffles, Olive Oil & Chestnuts

We had so much opportunity to learn, not just by observing the producers, but by cooking, tasting and eating and, of course, being involved in all aspects of olive oil production. It was just brilliant to be able to pick, process and bottle our own oil.

Fiona Richmond, UK, November 2005, Olive Oil, Chestnuts & Polenta

Your tour was the highlight of our seven-week absence from home. There were so many highlights that it is difficult to single out one experience above another, but I must say that the contact with the olive trees was very special. Above all it was your preparation and organisation and great communication with us all that will remain with me forever.

Gillian & Max Poole, Australia, October 2008, Slow Food Tour to Lucca & Salone del Gusto

The pleasure hasn’t waned and I have already prepared food differently and made a big veg soup, bruschetta with OUR oil and the mondiola. Went to my local Sainsbury’s last evening and was totally depressed at the range and quality of the veg … My life won’t return to exactly where it was before the trip, truly: I shall experience greater satisfaction and greater frustration!

Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, UK, November 2005, Olive Oil, Chestnuts & Polenta

When people ask what I liked best, I must say that I rave about our trip with you — it was excellent and a real contrast with all the big city tours we did.

Neroli Blakeman, Australia, October 2011, Truffles, Olive Oil & Chestnuts

This is the most relaxing vacation we have ever taken. We even forgot what day it is! What a varied number of experiences. Heather has shown us an Italy we could never have seen on our own.

Bryan & Victoria Poppe, USA, September 2012, Autumn Harvest

Thank you so much for having created such a memorable and unique travel experience. There were so many highlights in this tour, it’s difficult to say which my favourite was. I feel I have seen sides of Tuscany which I would never have discovered if I was travelling by myself. Your local knowledge and connections to the community has made the whole experience much more authentic.

YL, Canada, October 2012, Truffles, Olive Oil & Chestnuts

Itinerary at a glance

Day 1 — Arrival and welcome dinner

Day 2 — Hunt for white truffles and truffle lunch at truffle hunter’s home

Day 3 — White truffle fair, Brunelleschi castle, olive oil tasting

Day 4 — Vineyard visits and wine tastings in Chianti

Day 5 — Olive oil course at home of professional oil taster

Day 6 — Circle Pisan Mountains visiting a potter and the Certosa di Calci

Day 7 — Pick olives and press extra virgin olive oil on organic olive estate, olive oil lunch on estate

Day 8 — Forage for edible wild plants, cooking lesson with wild plants and new olive oil, tour of Lucca at sunset

Day 9 — Make olive oil gelato, sightseeing and shopping in Lucca, operatic cooking lesson

Day 10 — Chestnut day in the Garfagnana: chestnut drying hut, chestnut festival, farewell dinner

Day 11 — Departure

Highlights of Tour

Gastronomic Experiences

  • Olives and olive oil
    • Stay at organic olive oil estate
    • Pick olives on the estate
    • Visit traditional and modern olive presses and learn which is best and why
    • Class with professional olive oil taster — learn to use your nose to assess olive oil
    • Cooking lesson with olive oil
    • Learn to make olive oil gelato with owner of gelateria rated third best in Italy by food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso
  • White truffles
    • Hunt with a truffle hunter and his hound
    • Learn how the hunter trains his dogs
    • Learn to use your eyes, fingers and nose to tell a real white truffle from an impostor
    • Lunch with lots of truffles at truffle hunter’s home
    • White truffle festival
  • Wine
    • Visit vineyards in Lamole, a little known corner of Chianti
    • Dry-stone walling — one vineyard owner’s theory of how to produce the best wine in Lamole
  • Wild edible plants
    • Forage with chef on olive estate
    • Cooking lesson using wild plants and new olive oil in typical dishes of Lucca
  • Chestnuts — tree of bread
    • Visit a chestnut-drying hut with the owner and learn how chestnuts become flour and the staff of life for the mountain people of the Garfagnana
    • Visit a working 18th-century water mill that grinds farro, corn and chestnuts
    • Feast at a chestnut festival in the streets of a mediaeval village
  • Every day you eat in homes and family restaurants

Architecture, art, music & sightseeing

  • Brunelleschi Castle: guided tour of Renaissance castle designed by the architect of the dome of Florence’s cathedral
  • Pieve Santa Maria, Vicopisano: 12th century church with magnificent wooden altarpiece of the Deposition from the Cross
  • Certosa di Calci: guided tour of the former Carthusian monastery in all its over-the-top splendour
  • Free afternoon in the beautiful walled city of Lucca
  • Private concert and cooking lesson with opera singers
  • Optional visit to Parco Nottolini and its neo-classical canals which collect water for the fountains of Lucca

Cerreto Guidi – Vinci

Day 1: Friday

Pick up at meeting points: Pisa airport and railway station, Florence Santa Maria Novella station. One pick up at each place to coincide as nearly as possible with everyone’s arrival times, but no later than 3 pm. Transfer to Agriturismo Rozzalupi, between the towns of Cerreto Guidi and Vinci (where the great Leonardo was born). Already the scents of autumn tickle your nose. Welcome dinner at Rozzalupi.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: dinner

Day 2: Saturday

Edible truffles can be found all year in Tuscany, but this is the season of the most prized of all: the white truffle. Some people claim the truffle is all scent and no taste. You’ll get to judge for yourself at your truffle-loaded lunch. First, we meet Riccardo and his truffle hound in a private truffle wood. He explains the life cycle of this curious underground fungus and how he trains his dogs, whose noses are better than the best of ours. Since this is a real truffle hunt, Riccardo hasn’t buried any ahead of time, and when the hound starts sniffing and digging frantically, you’ll experience the thrill and suspense of not knowing what the result will be. Will there be a truffle or is it a false alarm? Don’t worry about your lunch; Riccardo scours the truffle territory every weekend and has lots at home for our four-course lunch cooked by him and his wife. Light supper at Rozzalupi.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Sunday

This morning we visit a truffle fair where you watch truffle buyers interminably brushing, inspecting and sniffing the specimens without a single telltale flicker of emotion. Since you will have learned from Riccardo how to assess a truffle using all your senses, you can join the professionals and buy or reject the truffles for sale. Grazing on free samples at the food stalls provides an economical and varied lunch. Now we follow the banks of the Arno River to Vicopisano, a strategic point in Pisa’s defences against the Florentines. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough and in 1406 Pisa fell to the Florentines, who sent in their star architect-engineer Brunelleschi, architect of the dome of Florence’s cathedral, to design a new fortress. The theatrical Giovanni gives us a tour from the dungeons to the top of the tower. After stopping at the parish church to see a remarkable 12th-century altarpiece, we get our first lesson in how to taste olive oil, followed by dinner at the locals’ favourite restaurant.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: breakfast, dinner

Day 4: Monday

More nose-work today as we visit two vineyards in a little known area of Chianti. Lamole used to produce the top vintages of Chianti, but who has heard of it today? We visit a winemaker who believes he’s discovered the secret of its decline. A hint: he’s obsessed with dry-stone walling. At another vineyard we compare theories over lunch and a wine tasting. Dinner at a traditional restaurant at Cerreto Guidi whose speciality is bistecca fiorentina grilled over coals.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Tuesday

Today you really have to use your nose. We have a full-day course about olive oil with Elisabetta, a professional olive oil judge. From the olive grove to the oil in the bottle, you learn about its history, its value as a food, the differences between extra virgin, virgin and the rest. You use your nose to identify defects and the typical characteristics of Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil. You learn how to buy and store oil at home. Elisabetta helps you prepare some simple recipes from different regions of Italy to pair with the local oil of each. Becoming an expert taster takes a lot of practice, but at the end of the day you’ll have the basics. Our last dinner at Rozzalupi before we pack up and move to Lucca.

Accommodation: Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Cerreto Guidi to Lucca

Day 6: Wednesday

We bid farewell to our hosts Francesca and Marco and set off to circle the Pisan Mountains. In fact, they’re not much more than a few high hills, but they successfully kept arch-enemies Pisa and Lucca apart for most of their history. Our first stop is at a potter, the only one remaining in a town that used to be chock full of them. Guido Nesti helps you get the hang of turning a pot on his wheel. We lunch at a little restaurant overlooking the Pisan plain, followed by a tour of the Certosa di Calci, a former Carthusian monastery, paved in marble and dripping with gold leaf. On around the mountains until, nearly closing the circle, we arrive at Agriturismo Alle Camelie, where we’re welcomed by owners Claudio and Eleonora. Dinner cooked by Elena Pardini, whose exquisitely simple dishes epitomise Tuscan cuisine.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito (Lucca) | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Thursday

Olive oil is fast food. In ideal circumstances the olive gets from the tree to the oil drum in a single day. Alle Camelie is an organic estate which produces one of the best olive oils of Lucca. Since it has its own press, we help pick olives and see them pressed on the same day. Our lunch on the estate shows off the owners’ commitment to Slow Food produce and cooking. After lunch we visit the traditional press in the village. It’s picturesque, but is it as good as the modern one? Dinner at a pizzeria in the hills.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Friday

The terraced olive grove at Alle Camelie provides the ideal habitat for wild edible greens. Owner Claudio Orsi and chef Elena Pardini are expert foragers. They guide us to choose the right ones for our cooking lesson and lunch. In the farm’s kitchen, Elena shows us how to clean our herbs and teaches us some simple dishes which we make for our lunch. We head across the plain for a tour of Lucca and dinner in a restaurant that seats only 21.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Saturday

Olive oil gelato? I had the same doubts until I tasted it. See what you think after your gelato lesson with Mirko Tognetti of Cremeria Opera, the third best gelateria in Italy, according to Gambero Rosso magazine. Lunch at the gelateria and a free afternoon in Lucca. We can’t stay near Lucca, birthplace of Puccini, without hearing his music. Tonight our cooking lesson with baritone Mattia Campetti and his soprano wife Michelle Buscemi is spiced with operatic interludes.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito | Meals: breakfast, dinner

Day 10: Sunday

We spend today in the wild, rugged mountains of the Garfagnana because it’s chestnut season. Dishes made from chestnut flour were the staple food of the Garfagnana until very recently and the new flour is still eagerly awaited every autumn. We walk though the chestnut woods to visit a chestnut-drying hut, where you are introduced to the mysteries of how chestnuts are turned into flour. In the mediaeval village we join the locals at a chestnut festival where you wend your way through the cobbled streets sampling pasta made with chestnut flour, cured pork with chestnut flour bread, chestnut crêpe with ricotta, roast chestnuts, chestnut donuts and chestnut tart. Farewell dinner at Alle Camelie cooked by the inimitable Elena Pardini.

Accommodation: Alle Camelie, Pieve di Compito | Meals: breakfast, dinner

Day 11: Monday

With noses by now finely tuned, you say farewell to your autumn adventure in Tuscany.

After breakfast, transfer to Pisa airport or Pisa or Lucca railway station. One transfer will be provided no earlier than 9.00 am (allow an hour to get to the airport or either station plus check in and boarding time). If you need to travel earlier, a taxi can be arranged at your own expense.

Fattoria Rozzalupi, Cerreto Guidi – Vinci

Originally the Renaissance hunting lodge of an aristocratic Florentine family, the Fattoria evolved into a typical agricultural hamlet which has been sensitively converted to guest accommodation by the brother of the wife of our truffle hunter (we like to keep it in the family). On-site restaurant, swimming pool, wifi. http://www.fattoriarozzalupi.it/en/index.html

rozzalupi_2

Agriturismo ‘Alle Camelie’, Pieve di Compito (Lucca)

‘Alle Camelie’ has been the country seat of the Orsi family for centuries. The present Orsi, Claudio,  produces olive oil and wine. His father has sensitively converted the old olive drying rooms and press into a comfortable, modern B&B while retaining Tuscan farmhouse features. The estate is entirely organic and most of their power comes from their own solar panels. They are active members of Slow Food. Dining room, swimming pool, wifi. http://www.allecamelie.it/

Accommodation at Alle Camelie

Erica Jarman

Following Heather’s careers as archaeologist, orchestra and artist manager and chef, she Italianised her name to Erica and came to Lucca to pursue her passion for traditional artisan food. Her tours, inspired by her infectious curiosity, open captivating new worlds to her guests.

Erica Jarman portrait square

Price

Per Person: 2990 Euros

Single Supplement: NONE

Includes

Friendly knowledgeable English-speaking guide throughout your stay

10 nights welcoming, relaxing accommodation, en suite bathrooms

Local ground transportation for 11 days (includes one group transfer between meeting point and accommodation and one return after the tour). Please check with us before you book your travel to make sure it fits the tour schedule. Transfers at times other than those provided for the group will be at your own expense.

Daily continental breakfast, 7 lunches, 10 dinners

Guided visits and workshops with artisans, cooking lessons, entrance fees

Does Not Include

Airfares

Travel and cancellation insurance

Wine and drinks other than those served with meals, additional meals

Personal expenses

Meeting Points

Arrival: Pisa airport, Pisa Centrale railway station, Florence Santa Maria Novella railway station (there are low-cost flights to Pisa and Florence airports from international hubs outside Italy; direct trains from Rome). One pick-up at each place between 12.30 and 2.30 pm depending on the various arrival times of members of the group. If in doubt, check with us before booking your travel.

If you are flying from outside Europe, we suggest you arrive a couple of days early to recover from jet lag so you can fully enjoy your time with us. We are happy to advise about where to stay and eat and what to do before and after your tour.

Departure: One transfer to Pisa airport or Pisa or Lucca railway station will be provided no earlier than 9.00 am (allow an hour to get to the airport or either station plus check in and boarding time). If you need to travel earlier, a taxi can be arranged at your own expense.

Diet

Most dietary requirements can be accommodated as long as you tell us in advance. There is a space on the Booking Form for this information.

Physical Fitness

You must be fit enough to walk on steep cobbled streets and rough farm tracks. One day is not suitable for people with a fear of heights.

Dress

Informal. Jeans or smart trousers are acceptable everywhere. Raincoat/jacket advisable. Good walking shoes are required for farm visits and steep cobbled streets.

Weather in November

6–15°C/43–59˚F, precipitation 122 mm/4.8 in

The Itinerary is subject to change if necessary due to weather or agricultural conditions or other events outside our control.

I will never taste wine, olive oil and gelato without knowing what perfection there is in artisan production. I came on this tour totally ignorant of the theme. I depart with such a rich amount of knowledge and wonderful experiences.

Barbara Hughes, USA, Autumn in Tuscany, November 2016

These past ten days have just flown by. From truffle hunting with that delightful dog, to tasting olive oils and watching chestnuts roasting, it has all been wonderful, enlightening and especially delicious.

Wendy Newman, Canada, Autumn in Tuscany, November 2016

Thank you, Erica, for not only letting us ‘peek behind the curtain’, but allowing us to walk through and personally meet the artisan wizards! You took us on the path less travelled while we intimately observed what truly makes Italy—its food and its people—so wonderful.

Natalie Herman, Canada, Autumn in Tuscany, November 2016

This tour has delivered everything it promised! We have seen and tasted everything I wanted to see and do and taste. Thank you for showing us these glimpses of rural and artisanal Italy. Thank you for your attention to detail. Thank you!

Sally & Wilfrid Mennell, Canada, Autumn in Tuscany, November 2016

We had the most wonderful time on our tour. I knew I would enjoy myself but I was blown away by how much Bryan enjoyed himself. I have not seen him so relaxed. We all got on so well and loved all the things we did and saw. Just wanted to say thank you for organising such a great tour. I would recommend it to anyone.

Kaye & Bryan Dillon, Australia, October 2010, Truffles, Olive Oil & Chestnuts

We had so much opportunity to learn, not just by observing the producers, but by cooking, tasting and eating and, of course, being involved in all aspects of olive oil production. It was just brilliant to be able to pick, process and bottle our own oil.

Fiona Richmond, UK, November 2005, Olive Oil, Chestnuts & Polenta

Your tour was the highlight of our seven-week absence from home. There were so many highlights that it is difficult to single out one experience above another, but I must say that the contact with the olive trees was very special. Above all it was your preparation and organisation and great communication with us all that will remain with me forever.

Gillian & Max Poole, Australia, October 2008, Slow Food Tour to Lucca & Salone del Gusto

The pleasure hasn’t waned and I have already prepared food differently and made a big veg soup, bruschetta with OUR oil and the mondiola. Went to my local Sainsbury’s last evening and was totally depressed at the range and quality of the veg … My life won’t return to exactly where it was before the trip, truly: I shall experience greater satisfaction and greater frustration!

Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, UK, November 2005, Olive Oil, Chestnuts & Polenta

When people ask what I liked best, I must say that I rave about our trip with you — it was excellent and a real contrast with all the big city tours we did.

Neroli Blakeman, Australia, October 2011, Truffles, Olive Oil & Chestnuts

This is the most relaxing vacation we have ever taken. We even forgot what day it is! What a varied number of experiences. Heather has shown us an Italy we could never have seen on our own.

Bryan & Victoria Poppe, USA, September 2012, Autumn Harvest

Thank you so much for having created such a memorable and unique travel experience. There were so many highlights in this tour, it’s difficult to say which my favourite was. I feel I have seen sides of Tuscany which I would never have discovered if I was travelling by myself. Your local knowledge and connections to the community has made the whole experience much more authentic.

YL, Canada, October 2012, Truffles, Olive Oil & Chestnuts