Tastes & Textiles 1

Tastes & Textiles 1

taste-and-textures 10–19 June 2017 | 26 May–4 June 2018

This small-group tour takes you to visit the last of what was once a thriving tradition in the region around Lucca, in northwestern Tuscany, producing textiles ranging from rich silks for the church and aristocracy to the hand-spun hemp of farming families. You meet and learn with the artisans who are carrying on the methods of spinning, dyeing and weaving handed down the generations. They invite you into their homes to share meals with them and teach you to cook their traditional dishes, a cuisine with its roots in the farms of the textile artisans. Very small group (only 8–10 guests). You may also be interested in Tastes & Textiles 2: http://www.sapori-e-saperi.com/small_group_tours/tastes-textiles-2/.

To find out more, click on the tabs immediately below.

Itinerary at a glance

Day 1 — Arrival and welcome dinner

Day 2 — Visit cheesemaker, wool dyeing demonstration

Day 3 — Bake bread with village baker, spinning lesson, sightseeing in Barga, pizza party

Day 4 — Visit Niemack textile collection, silk tour (optional extra) & yarn shopping in Lucca

Day 5 — Visit 80-year-old handloom weaver, cooking lesson

Day 6 — Visit younger handloom weaver, water mill, sightseeing at Barga, dinner in 17th-century villa

Day 7 — Visit ethnographic museum, tour of spinning & weaving mill

Day 8 — Visit silkworm breeder, tour Renaissance villa, lunch at cheesemaker’s, watch preparation of street carpets for Corpus Domini

Day 9 — Festival of street carpets created from dyed sawdust, make broom with broomcorn, farewell dinner

Day 10 — Departure

Highlights of Tour

Textile Experiences

  • Share Stefania Maffei’s enthusiasm for silk, feed the silkworms and learn about the history of silk in Lucca
  • Visit Ermanna Rocchiccioli to see her weavings dating back 50 years
  • Hands-on broom-making workshop using broomcorn
  • Visit Monica Ferrucci’s cashmere goats
  • Tour 17th-century villa with original silk bed dressings
  • Visit Marina Donati’s studio where she demonstrates traditional floor-loom weaving
  • Private tour through the streets of Lucca visiting landmarks from its silk history (optional extra)
  • Hands-on lesson with village women spinning antique hemp with distaff and drop spindle
  • Visit carding, spinning & weaving mill run by one man and his cat
  • Private tour of Laboratorio Maria Niemack with its collection of traditional local textiles and dress
  • Watch Ombretta Cavani dyeing her own sheep wool with natural vegetable dyes
  • Attend magical street carpet festival (not quite textiles, but technique of building up a picture using coloured sawdust will ring a bell with screen printers)
  • Shopping opportunities: yarn, woven & knitted products

Gastronomic Experiences

  • Watch Gemma Cavani, Ombretta’s mother, make cheese from the milk of her flock of native Garfagnina sheep which she hopes to save from extinction
  • Eat at Andrea’s parallel gastronomic universe
  • Cooking lesson making ravioli filled with ricotta and nettles
  • Dine in a tiny restaurant with only two tables
  • Learn to make Garfagnana potato bread and bake it in a wood-fired oven
  • Tasting lunch of Monica Ferrucci’s French-style goat cheese
  • Help Francesca make pizza for a party with her friends
  • Dine on porcelain dinner service in private 17th-century villa
  • Visit 18th-century water mill that grinds farro and corn
  • Other meals in homes and family restaurants

City Sightseeing

Lucca, Barga, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Camaiore

Other Activities

  • Visit ethnographic museum with weird and wonderful objects to keep you guessing
  • Optional walks

 

Day 1: Saturday

Transfer from Pisa airport, Pisa Centrale or Lucca train station to Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana. Our host Luigi welcomes us to his former Franciscan monastery (see accommodation tab) and prepares a special dinner for us.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: dinner

Day 2: Sunday

The Cavani family at Cerasa farm is trying to save the traditional Garfagnina breed of sheep by making pecorino cheese from their milk, selling their meat and using their wool. Mamma Gemma shows us how she makes pecorino, and we find out why ricotta isn’t cheese. We go out to see the sheep grazing on the mountain pasture and the centuries-old chestnut trees, of which the Cavani’s are also custodians. Gemma and her daughter Ombretta prepare our lunch which includes Papa Mario’s salumi (home-cured pork). Ombretta is in charge of wool. During a dyeing workshop, she tells us about the problems she has encountered trying to have the wool of this antique breed processed in a country focused on merino. Free time to relax at Ai Frati, set in gardens with fruit trees and a swimming pool and surrounded by chestnut woods threaded with trails. Dinner in the bandits’ village of Sillico (no brigands have been seen recently).

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Monday

Today we go to the mountain village of Petrognola to learn to make traditional Garfagnana potato bread with the village baker, Paolo Magazzini. While our bread rises, we’ll see the colossal farro-polishing machine. Farro (emmer) is an even more primitive wheat than spelt and is still grown today on terraces around the village. While our loaves bake in the wood-fired oven, Teresa Bertei demonstrates spinning hemp with a distaff and drop spindle and will be delighted if you’d like to have a go. Lunch, cooked by Paolo’s wife, will be the bread we baked with typical dishes made with farro and washed down with excellent craft beers made with farro by an inhabitant of the village (wine and water also available). Supper at Ai Frati.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Tuesday

In the morning we have a private tour of the Laboratorio Maria Niemack in Lucca. Niemack made a definitive collection of traditional local textiles and dress, handsome and simple fabrics made of wool, cotton and locally grown hemp; the collection includes a variety of traditional floor looms. You’re free to spend the rest of the day sightseeing and shopping in Lucca. There’s an especially good yarn shop and three shops with scarves and clothing woven on the premises. Lucca’s wealth in the Renaissance was founded on silk and banking. The last of the silk trade disappeared before the Second World War (the banks are still here). Those who want to learn more about the history of silk in Lucca can have a guided tour with Antonella (optional extra, please book when you arrive). Dinner in a former laundry and dyeing establishment.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, dinner

Day 5: Wednesday

A lazy morning to sleep in after our exciting day in Lucca. Late morning we’ll visit Ermanna Rocchiccioli. Now in her 80s, she has a fine collection of pieces from her long life as a weaver. Sightseeing and lunch in Castelnuovo at Andrea Bertucci’s parallel gastronomic universe the Vecchio Mulino. This afternoon Gabriella arrives to give us a cooking lesson in which we’ll make ravioli with Gemma’s ricotta and nettles we pick ourselves. We’ll also learn several classic Tuscan recipes for using up stale bread. Dinner eating what we cooked.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Thursday

We visit Marina Donati whose weaving prowess has helped preserve the traditional patterns of the Garfagnana. On our way to Barga we stop at a working water mill just like the one where Paolo has his farro ground. Next we drop in to see Francesca Buonagurelli, my friend and beekeeper, who gives us lunch under the spreading cherry tree in her garden. We’ve brought some of Gemma’s pecorino so you can decide whether you like it better with acacia or chestnut honey. Sightseeing in Barga with its sublime romanesque cathedral followed by dinner on antique porcelain in a seventeenth-century villa.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Friday

This morning we head to San Pellegrino in Alpe, high in the Apennines, to its ethnographic museum, full of weird and wonderful objects that will provoke many a game of Twenty Questions. Lunch in the village, after which we follow the crest of the Apennines to Cutigliano and Silio Giannini’s filandra, a carding, spinning and weaving mill where you’ll find yourself knee-deep in boxes and sacks of wool and machines of an uncertain age that surely should have broken down 60 years ago. We end up in his office shop where there are bargains to be had. In the late afternoon we meander down the Lima Valley through Bagni di Lucca (the ‘baths of Lucca’), known for its thermal springs and illustrious nineteenth-century visitors Byron, Shelley and the Brownings. Time to pack before dinner at a restaurant with only two tables.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Saturday

We say farewell to Luigi and depart from Ai Frati. Our next stop is Villa Torrigiani where our private tour takes us behind its extravagant baroque façade to an interior where original silk bedclothes mingle with granddad’s needlepoint. Cheesemaker Monica Ferrucci has prepared lunch for us at her agriturismo, where besides tasting her delicious cheeses, we can visit her cashmere goats. Knitted and woven items will be on sale. We can’t dally too long since Stefania’s ravenous silkworms await us to give them their perpetual lunch. Stefania illuminates the complicated process of turning the cocoons into fabric. Our driver transports us to Villa Lombardi, Camaiore, our home for the last two days of the tour. We’ve come to Camaiore because on the eve of Corpus Domini the whole town gets involved in creating carpets of coloured sawdust down the middle of the main streets, using a process not unlike screen printing. Since they start after dinner, first we dine on a glass terrace suspended above a mill stream.

Accommodation: Villa Lombardi, Camaiore | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Sunday

Despite the delicious breakfast at Villa Lombardi, it’s tempting to rush out early to see the finished street carpets and religious procession. Late morning we’ll go to Elena Giannini’s farm. She uses her sales of eucalyptus leaves to European flower markets to subsidise her passion for preserving the traditional crops of the north Tuscan coastal plain, among them cotton, rice, peanuts and broomcorn. After lunch prepared by her family, her octogenarian father teaches us how to make hand-brushes from broomcorn and dusters from marsh grasses. Farewell dinner at Gabriella’s home near the sea, where she prepares the best seafood meal you’re ever likely to eat.

Accommodation: Villa Lombardi, Camaiore | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Monday

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

Agriturismo ‘Ai Frati’, Pieve Fosciana

A 14th-century monastery in an idyllic mountainside setting. Each ample apartment is composed of three monk’s cells. Despite its tranquil hidden location, Napoleon’s troops found it and destroyed its chapel, but left the cloisters and their frescoes for us to admire. Swimming pool and magnificent views.

cheese-tour

Villa Lombardi, Camaiore

A family villa that has been restored preserving its historic features. Maria Grazia Lombardi is the perfect hostess and serves mouthwatering breakfasts.

www.villalombardi.it

Villa-Lombardi-47

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: 2760 Euros

Single Supplement: NONE

Includes

Friendly knowledgeable English-speaking guide throughout your stay

9 nights welcoming, relaxing accommodation, en suite bathrooms

Local ground transportation for 10 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, 9 dinners

Guided visits with artisans, lessons, museum and villa 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

Pisa airport, Pisa Centrale train station, Lucca train station

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.

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

Tour takes place in the mountains. You must be fit enough to walk on steep cobbled streets and rough farm tracks. 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, steep cobbled streets and optional walks.

Weather in June

12–24°C/54–75˚F, precipitation 43 mm/1.7 in

 

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

We have so many great memories of the tour – it was a huge privilege to be able to have such a personal glimpse into the lives of real people, and we so enjoyed focusing on a small piece of Italy at a relaxed pace. It was exactly the kind of experience we were hoping for – thank you so very much!

Penny & Jon Stewart, Canada, Tastes & Textiles, May 2016

Because of you, I had the trip that I had always wanted to make to Italy. I am thanking you for all the research, hard work and patience. I urge anyone who is able to travel to go with you. I believe that your tour was the best I have ever been on.

Diana McClure, USA, Tastes & Textiles, May 2015

I was so impressed with your knowledge of the locals and local sites to visit. It was a very impressive selection and the mountain vistas are with me every day still.

Gail Grasso, USA, Tastes & Textiles, May 2015

The tour was great. The food was amazing and I really enjoyed the meals, including the four courses, the wine and the great company and conversation. Very civilized. I also enjoyed wandering around the chestnut grove and their history, as well as the history of the region. Ai Frati was a wonderful place to start the tour, so restful.

Robin Nixon, Canada, Tastes & Textiles, May 2016

As we travel on our own after your tour, I have come to realize what value you added by sourcing some of the best cuisine. It’s very hard to do this on our own, and I have been disappointed in our attempts to find authentic Piemontese food, for example.

Marilyn Geary, USA, Tastes & Textiles, May 2015

I joined the course with Heather last May as a break from home, my husband was very ill. It was the most wonderful week! We had the privilege to meet many people in their own homes and experience their passion and enthusiasm for their cheese, textiles, bread, life. The small group allowed us to be flexible and experience things a larger group would not be able to — hands on cooking, dinner in a family home. The people on the course had an interest in textiles, weaving, dyeing, woodworking making looms and spindles, as well as other varied interests. Spending a week with this group, I have met people from Canada and Vienna as well as the UK. I am currently booking my next course for next spring.

Jenny Phillips, England, May 2013, Tastes & Textiles

This is a tour for those who want to get below the surface. You will meet extraordinary people, share meals with them in their homes and watch as they keep ancient traditions alive. Heather’s knowledge comes from her love for the Garfagnana and its people and it is infectious.

Janette Gross, USA, May 2011, Tastes & Textiles

Thank you so much for organising such a wonderful tour. We all had a great trip! As much as we have enjoyed everything that we have seen, and done (and eaten), the best part is who we have met and shared stories with.

Joanne Loui, Canada, May 2013, Tastes & Textiles

I want to thank you so much for the wonderful week we had with you. It was so much fun. I’m telling everyone about it.

Marian Sticht, USA, May 2011, Tastes & Textiles

Itinerary at a glance

Day 1 — Arrival and welcome dinner

Day 2 — Visit cheesemaker, wool dyeing demonstration

Day 3 — Bake bread with village baker, spinning lesson, sightseeing in Barga, pizza party

Day 4 — Visit Niemack textile collection, silk tour (optional extra) & yarn shopping in Lucca

Day 5 — Visit 80-year-old handloom weaver, cooking lesson

Day 6 — Visit younger handloom weaver, water mill, sightseeing at Barga, dinner in 17th-century villa

Day 7 — Visit ethnographic museum, tour of spinning & weaving mill

Day 8 — Visit silkworm breeder, tour Renaissance villa, lunch at cheesemaker’s, watch preparation of street carpets for Corpus Domini

Day 9 — Festival of street carpets created from dyed sawdust, make broom with broomcorn, farewell dinner

Day 10 — Departure

Highlights of Tour

Textile Experiences

  • Share Stefania Maffei’s enthusiasm for silk, feed the silkworms and learn about the history of silk in Lucca
  • Visit Ermanna Rocchiccioli to see her weavings dating back 50 years
  • Hands-on broom-making workshop using broomcorn
  • Visit Monica Ferrucci’s cashmere goats
  • Tour 17th-century villa with original silk bed dressings
  • Visit Marina Donati’s studio where she demonstrates traditional floor-loom weaving
  • Private tour through the streets of Lucca visiting landmarks from its silk history (optional extra)
  • Hands-on lesson with village women spinning antique hemp with distaff and drop spindle
  • Visit carding, spinning & weaving mill run by one man and his cat
  • Private tour of Laboratorio Maria Niemack with its collection of traditional local textiles and dress
  • Watch Ombretta Cavani dyeing her own sheep wool with natural vegetable dyes
  • Attend magical street carpet festival (not quite textiles, but technique of building up a picture using coloured sawdust will ring a bell with screen printers)
  • Shopping opportunities: yarn, woven & knitted products

Gastronomic Experiences

  • Watch Gemma Cavani, Ombretta’s mother, make cheese from the milk of her flock of native Garfagnina sheep which she hopes to save from extinction
  • Eat at Andrea’s parallel gastronomic universe
  • Cooking lesson making ravioli filled with ricotta and nettles
  • Dine in a tiny restaurant with only two tables
  • Learn to make Garfagnana potato bread and bake it in a wood-fired oven
  • Tasting lunch of Monica Ferrucci’s French-style goat cheese
  • Help Francesca make pizza for a party with her friends
  • Dine on porcelain dinner service in private 17th-century villa
  • Visit 18th-century water mill that grinds farro and corn
  • Other meals in homes and family restaurants

City Sightseeing

Lucca, Barga, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Camaiore

Other Activities

  • Visit ethnographic museum with weird and wonderful objects to keep you guessing
  • Optional walks

 

Day 1: Saturday

Transfer from Pisa airport, Pisa Centrale or Lucca train station to Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana. Our host Luigi welcomes us to his former Franciscan monastery (see accommodation tab) and prepares a special dinner for us.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: dinner

Day 2: Sunday

The Cavani family at Cerasa farm is trying to save the traditional Garfagnina breed of sheep by making pecorino cheese from their milk, selling their meat and using their wool. Mamma Gemma shows us how she makes pecorino, and we find out why ricotta isn’t cheese. We go out to see the sheep grazing on the mountain pasture and the centuries-old chestnut trees, of which the Cavani’s are also custodians. Gemma and her daughter Ombretta prepare our lunch which includes Papa Mario’s salumi (home-cured pork). Ombretta is in charge of wool. During a dyeing workshop, she tells us about the problems she has encountered trying to have the wool of this antique breed processed in a country focused on merino. Free time to relax at Ai Frati, set in gardens with fruit trees and a swimming pool and surrounded by chestnut woods threaded with trails. Dinner in the bandits’ village of Sillico (no brigands have been seen recently).

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Monday

Today we go to the mountain village of Petrognola to learn to make traditional Garfagnana potato bread with the village baker, Paolo Magazzini. While our bread rises, we’ll see the colossal farro-polishing machine. Farro (emmer) is an even more primitive wheat than spelt and is still grown today on terraces around the village. While our loaves bake in the wood-fired oven, Teresa Bertei demonstrates spinning hemp with a distaff and drop spindle and will be delighted if you’d like to have a go. Lunch, cooked by Paolo’s wife, will be the bread we baked with typical dishes made with farro and washed down with excellent craft beers made with farro by an inhabitant of the village (wine and water also available). Supper at Ai Frati.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Tuesday

In the morning we have a private tour of the Laboratorio Maria Niemack in Lucca. Niemack made a definitive collection of traditional local textiles and dress, handsome and simple fabrics made of wool, cotton and locally grown hemp; the collection includes a variety of traditional floor looms. You’re free to spend the rest of the day sightseeing and shopping in Lucca. There’s an especially good yarn shop and three shops with scarves and clothing woven on the premises. Lucca’s wealth in the Renaissance was founded on silk and banking. The last of the silk trade disappeared before the Second World War (the banks are still here). Those who want to learn more about the history of silk in Lucca can have a guided tour with Antonella (optional extra, please book when you arrive). Dinner in a former laundry and dyeing establishment.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, dinner

Day 5: Wednesday

A lazy morning to sleep in after our exciting day in Lucca. Late morning we’ll visit Ermanna Rocchiccioli. Now in her 80s, she has a fine collection of pieces from her long life as a weaver. Sightseeing and lunch in Castelnuovo at Andrea Bertucci’s parallel gastronomic universe the Vecchio Mulino. This afternoon Gabriella arrives to give us a cooking lesson in which we’ll make ravioli with Gemma’s ricotta and nettles we pick ourselves. We’ll also learn several classic Tuscan recipes for using up stale bread. Dinner eating what we cooked.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Thursday

We visit Marina Donati whose weaving prowess has helped preserve the traditional patterns of the Garfagnana. On our way to Barga we stop at a working water mill just like the one where Paolo has his farro ground. Next we drop in to see Francesca Buonagurelli, my friend and beekeeper, who gives us lunch under the spreading cherry tree in her garden. We’ve brought some of Gemma’s pecorino so you can decide whether you like it better with acacia or chestnut honey. Sightseeing in Barga with its sublime romanesque cathedral followed by dinner on antique porcelain in a seventeenth-century villa.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Friday

This morning we head to San Pellegrino in Alpe, high in the Apennines, to its ethnographic museum, full of weird and wonderful objects that will provoke many a game of Twenty Questions. Lunch in the village, after which we follow the crest of the Apennines to Cutigliano and Silio Giannini’s filandra, a carding, spinning and weaving mill where you’ll find yourself knee-deep in boxes and sacks of wool and machines of an uncertain age that surely should have broken down 60 years ago. We end up in his office shop where there are bargains to be had. In the late afternoon we meander down the Lima Valley through Bagni di Lucca (the ‘baths of Lucca’), known for its thermal springs and illustrious nineteenth-century visitors Byron, Shelley and the Brownings. Time to pack before dinner at a restaurant with only two tables.

Accommodation: Ai Frati, Pieve Fosciana | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Saturday

We say farewell to Luigi and depart from Ai Frati. Our next stop is Villa Torrigiani where our private tour takes us behind its extravagant baroque façade to an interior where original silk bedclothes mingle with granddad’s needlepoint. Cheesemaker Monica Ferrucci has prepared lunch for us at her agriturismo, where besides tasting her delicious cheeses, we can visit her cashmere goats. Knitted and woven items will be on sale. We can’t dally too long since Stefania’s ravenous silkworms await us to give them their perpetual lunch. Stefania illuminates the complicated process of turning the cocoons into fabric. Our driver transports us to Villa Lombardi, Camaiore, our home for the last two days of the tour. We’ve come to Camaiore because on the eve of Corpus Domini the whole town gets involved in creating carpets of coloured sawdust down the middle of the main streets, using a process not unlike screen printing. Since they start after dinner, first we dine on a glass terrace suspended above a mill stream.

Accommodation: Villa Lombardi, Camaiore | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Sunday

Despite the delicious breakfast at Villa Lombardi, it’s tempting to rush out early to see the finished street carpets and religious procession. Late morning we’ll go to Elena Giannini’s farm. She uses her sales of eucalyptus leaves to European flower markets to subsidise her passion for preserving the traditional crops of the north Tuscan coastal plain, among them cotton, rice, peanuts and broomcorn. After lunch prepared by her family, her octogenarian father teaches us how to make hand-brushes from broomcorn and dusters from marsh grasses. Farewell dinner at Gabriella’s home near the sea, where she prepares the best seafood meal you’re ever likely to eat.

Accommodation: Villa Lombardi, Camaiore | Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Monday

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

Agriturismo ‘Ai Frati’, Pieve Fosciana

A 14th-century monastery in an idyllic mountainside setting. Each ample apartment is composed of three monk’s cells. Despite its tranquil hidden location, Napoleon’s troops found it and destroyed its chapel, but left the cloisters and their frescoes for us to admire. Swimming pool and magnificent views.

cheese-tour

Villa Lombardi, Camaiore

A family villa that has been restored preserving its historic features. Maria Grazia Lombardi is the perfect hostess and serves mouthwatering breakfasts.

www.villalombardi.it

Villa-Lombardi-47

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: 2760 Euros

Single Supplement: NONE

Includes

Friendly knowledgeable English-speaking guide throughout your stay

9 nights welcoming, relaxing accommodation, en suite bathrooms

Local ground transportation for 10 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, 9 dinners

Guided visits with artisans, lessons, museum and villa 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

Pisa airport, Pisa Centrale train station, Lucca train station

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.

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

Tour takes place in the mountains. You must be fit enough to walk on steep cobbled streets and rough farm tracks. 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, steep cobbled streets and optional walks.

Weather in June

12–24°C/54–75˚F, precipitation 43 mm/1.7 in

 

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

We have so many great memories of the tour – it was a huge privilege to be able to have such a personal glimpse into the lives of real people, and we so enjoyed focusing on a small piece of Italy at a relaxed pace. It was exactly the kind of experience we were hoping for – thank you so very much!

Penny & Jon Stewart, Canada, Tastes & Textiles, May 2016

Because of you, I had the trip that I had always wanted to make to Italy. I am thanking you for all the research, hard work and patience. I urge anyone who is able to travel to go with you. I believe that your tour was the best I have ever been on.

Diana McClure, USA, Tastes & Textiles, May 2015

I was so impressed with your knowledge of the locals and local sites to visit. It was a very impressive selection and the mountain vistas are with me every day still.

Gail Grasso, USA, Tastes & Textiles, May 2015

The tour was great. The food was amazing and I really enjoyed the meals, including the four courses, the wine and the great company and conversation. Very civilized. I also enjoyed wandering around the chestnut grove and their history, as well as the history of the region. Ai Frati was a wonderful place to start the tour, so restful.

Robin Nixon, Canada, Tastes & Textiles, May 2016

As we travel on our own after your tour, I have come to realize what value you added by sourcing some of the best cuisine. It’s very hard to do this on our own, and I have been disappointed in our attempts to find authentic Piemontese food, for example.

Marilyn Geary, USA, Tastes & Textiles, May 2015

I joined the course with Heather last May as a break from home, my husband was very ill. It was the most wonderful week! We had the privilege to meet many people in their own homes and experience their passion and enthusiasm for their cheese, textiles, bread, life. The small group allowed us to be flexible and experience things a larger group would not be able to — hands on cooking, dinner in a family home. The people on the course had an interest in textiles, weaving, dyeing, woodworking making looms and spindles, as well as other varied interests. Spending a week with this group, I have met people from Canada and Vienna as well as the UK. I am currently booking my next course for next spring.

Jenny Phillips, England, May 2013, Tastes & Textiles

This is a tour for those who want to get below the surface. You will meet extraordinary people, share meals with them in their homes and watch as they keep ancient traditions alive. Heather’s knowledge comes from her love for the Garfagnana and its people and it is infectious.

Janette Gross, USA, May 2011, Tastes & Textiles

Thank you so much for organising such a wonderful tour. We all had a great trip! As much as we have enjoyed everything that we have seen, and done (and eaten), the best part is who we have met and shared stories with.

Joanne Loui, Canada, May 2013, Tastes & Textiles

I want to thank you so much for the wonderful week we had with you. It was so much fun. I’m telling everyone about it.

Marian Sticht, USA, May 2011, Tastes & Textiles