A Food Lover’s Journey on Foot. While enjoying walks and farm/vineyard visits throughout Chianti and the Italian countryside, we’ll sightsee in Siena, San Gimignano and timeless Tuscan hill towns; stay in the unique spa town of Bagno Vignoni; and sample authentic regional cuisine. Savory Trails of Tuscany
- Explore Greve, the Chianti wine district’s principal market town
- Savor Chianti-region dishes passed down through the generations
- Discover three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: San Gimignano, Siena and Bagno Vignoni (spa village)
- Taste Chianto Classico and Brunello, and visit wine cellars and vineyards
- Follow in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims who walked the Via Francigena trail to Rome
- Sample specialty sweets in Siena and visit one of its bustling markets
- Hike to one of Italy’s most evocative abbeys, Sant’Antimo
- Indulge in an afternoon of thermal baths or spa treatments in Bagno Vignoni
A foodie’s dream, this experience offers an exploration of the gastronomic delights of three specific areas within Tuscany: Chianti, Colli Senese and the Val d’Orcia. We focus on the Tuscan production of olive oil, wine, preserved meats, honey and specialty sweets while absorbing the rich, historical culture of surrounding towns and cities. Daily hikes through varied landscapes reveal the land’s natural beauty, and our taste buds delight in regional specialties, including the region’s renowned Brunello wine. An afternoon will be devoted to preparing our own Tuscan dinner using fresh ingredients from the organic garden.
DAYS 1 & 2: Greve – Panzano – Volpaia
We explore the shops of Greve, the Chianti wine district’s principal market town (known for its annual wine festival), where you can enjoy an espresso, gelato or glass of wine. From Greve, we’ll walk to the village of Panzano, set dramatically among Chianti vineyards and olive groves. No visit to Panzano is complete without a visit to Dario Cecchini’s butcher shop where the owner sings opera arias while serving customers.
Our daily walks take us to a historic Romanesque church and through vineyards and cypress lanes. We’ll stop to enjoy a lavish picnic en route to the 11th-century wine village of Volpaia, which is surrounded by 18 certified-organic estate vineyards. At the Castello di Volpaia, we’ll enjoy a tasting of wines—from Chianti Classico to Vin Santo.
Before most dinners, we’ll enjoy an aperitivo at our hotel and have informal lessons in Italian. Featured dishes might include peposo (peppery steak) or gnocchi con pesto di rucola e pomodorini (gnocchi with arugula pesto and baby tomatoes).
Overnights in Panzano
DAYS 3 & 4: San Gimignano – Colle di Val d’Elsa – Siena
We’ll walk a few miles on the scenic Via Francigena—the medieval route from France to Rome that was once traveled by Christian pilgrims—to San Gimignano, the “city of towers.” In this UNESCO World Heritage Site, we’ll sip the local white Vernaccia wine with lunch, which might include a variety of fresh bruschetta.
We’ll also explore the historic streets of the town of Colle di Val d’Elsa and take a guided tour of Siena, Tuscany’s loveliest medieval city. We’ll stop to sample Siena’s famous panforte, a traditional Italian dessert resembling fruitcake, and ricciarelli, almond cookies baked here since the 14th century.
Dinner one night will be in a 16th-century olive mill, where the chef works with the freshest seasonal ingredients to create spontaneous dishes such as ravioli alle rape, chitarello al tartufo, filettino di maiale con prugne e Brunello or tonno ai pistacchi. (After just a few Italian lessons, you’ll understand the names of these recipes!)
Overnights in Colle di Val d’Elsa
DAYS 5 & 6: San Quirico – Bagno Vignoni – Montalcino
Using our newly acquired Italian, we stock up on picnic supplies in San Quirico d’Orcia, a walled town in the heart of the scenic Val d’Orcia. During this day’s walk, we pass fortresses and journey on to the medieval spa town of Bagno Vignoni, where the ancient Etruscans and Romans soaked in the thermal mineral waters. We’ll follow in that tradition—either in the natural, outdoor hot springs or in one of the spring-fed indoor pools.
Other highlights include meandering country roads to the Romanesque Abbey of Sant’Antimo and sipping the famous red Brunello wine. We’ll also visit the hilltop village of Montalcino, which offers gorgeous views over the valley. Using our well-practiced Italian, we’ll poke around Montalcino’s wonderful delis and botteghe (specialty food shops) ordering up treats for our afternoon picnic: different shapes of pane toscano (saltless bread), finocchiona (salami with fennel), porchetta (seasoned roast pork), fresh tomatoes, olive spread, eggplant and pepperoni.
One evening for dinner, a sommelier will pair the local specialties—such as risotto carnaroli con zucchine e crema di caprino or pici di pasta fresca fatti a mano all’aglione—with regional wines for an unforgettable feast.
Overnights in Bagno Vignoni
DAY 7: Departure
After breakfast, we transfer to back to Florence.