Authentic Southern Tuscany:

Learn to Prepare Tuscan Food near Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy

Chianciano, Tuscany, Italy


Special Reduced 2016 Prices for In Italy Online guests only!
1310.-1490. Euro/person
Excursions and transportation to Siena, Pienza,
Montepulciano, Montalcino, and Montefollonico
Oil mill visit and tasting
Brunello winery visit and tasting
Four hands-on cooking lessons
Accommodations in air-conditioned rooms with
private bathrooms
All meals, with unlimited local wine
One 90-minute session at the spa
Transfers to/from Chiusi Rail Station
Beautiful full-color cookbook to take home

This is a magical land, home to the renowned wines of Montalcino and Montepulciano, the delectible pecorino cheeses of Pienza, the exquisite art towns of Siena and San Gimignano. Here in the Sienese Chianti, the landscape is one of rolling hills blanketed with silvery olive groves and brilliant vineyards, dotted with ancient stone farmhouses. But the spaces are a bit more wide open, often glistening with golden wheat and punctuated by a lone black cypress on the crest of the hill. Almost anywhere you are, the horizon is graced by one or more of the area's triangular landmarks: to the north is Montepulciano, to the west is Pienza, and to the south is the lively spa town of Chianciano. Just outside town, tucked in a quiet valley with 360 degrees of pure Tuscan vistas, is the Valeriani family's gracious estate, Palazzo Bandino.

Palazzo Bandino

Mass tourism is relatively unknown in this part of Tuscany, but seasoned travelers love it. You will hear mainly Italian on the cobblestoned streets, and you will not see as many of those big buses parked along the road. The restaurants actually cater to locals, so the food they offer has to be the most authentic, the freshest, the most traditional. During your week at Palazzo Bandino you will sample many of these specialties and learn to make them, using ingredients grown and processed right on the estate.

Open the windows of your private air-conditioned room or apartment and directly below you'll see the farm's vineyard, its olive grove and its vegetable garden (whose fruits you are welcome to pick). Breakfast is served in the spacious ground-floor dining room, where you'll also taste the dishes you've prepared yourself under the guidance of well-known local chef Luciano Benocci. Your days are a combination of hands-on cooking lessons and relaxing excursions to acquaint you with the delights of Authentic Southern Tuscany.

Three-Night Self-Guided Cooking Program

Day One, Sunday
Day  One, Sunday

• Arrive in Chiusi, a stop on all train routes between Rome and Florence, about one hour from each. Group transfer to Palazzo Bandino at 2 pm.
• Settle into your charming room with modern bathroom.
• In the later afternoon, you'll meet your host Gabriele and your fellow adventurers to visit Palazzo Bandino's own wine cellar, where you'll learn a bit about local wines and see how they are bottled.
• Your introduction to authentic southern Tuscany begins with dinner at Palazzo Bandino.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Two, Monday
Day  Two, Monday

• Breakfast.
• You'll have a relaxing start today at Palazzo Bandino, where Gabriele will tell you about the history of his family and their ancestral estate.
• Your first hands-on cooking lesson with chef Benocci concentrates on antipasti, such as bruschetta, crostini, fettunta and other types of canapes, as well as morsette, the delicious almond cookies that Tuscans dip into their vin santo dessert wine.
• Lunch based on what you've cooked, accompanied by tastings of Chianti, Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino and vin santo.
• Afternoon excursion to Pienza, the purest Renaissance town in the world. Entirely rebuilt between 1459 and 1462, it was the brainstorm of Pope Pius II and today is memorable not only for its architectural purity but also for its exquisite food shops. You'll want to stock up on truffle-flavored cheese, wild herbs and other delicacies as you stroll through these pristine 15th-century streets.
• You will have dinner at a local restaurant tonight.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Three, Tuesday
Day  Three, Tuesday

• Breakfast.
• Morning outing to Montalcino, the stately town within a castle that produces one of Italy's most prestigious wines. You'll visit a local winery whose Brunello 1997 was rated the world's #22 wine in 2002 by Wine Spectator. Here you'll taste a fascinating selection of wines and light foods that best accompany them.
• On the way home, you'll stop at a haunting countryside abbey, allegedly built by Charlemagne. If you're lucky you'll hear the monks singing vespers as they have done for hundreds of years.
• Transfer back to Palazzo Bandino for a hands-on cooking lesson featuring the classic southern Tuscan hand-rolled pasta called pici, followed by succulent whole fish baked in a paper crust.
• Dinner based on what you've prepared, accompanied by fine local wines.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Four, Wednesday
Day  Four, Wednesday

• Breakfast.
• The rest of the day is free for you to use as you like, perhaps with a visit to Palazzo Bandino's wonderful new spa, Sensi Divini. You are entitled to one 90-minute session, during which all services (except private massage and Raxul) are completely free of charge. They include an inside hot tub with lumbar and spine massage as well as waterfall massage, outside hot tub, Kneipp therapy (alternating hot and cold water jets massage your feet as you walk on a bed of smooth river stones), combined musical therapy and chromotherapy shower (realigns all seven chakra points), Finnish sauna, Turkish hammam, and Raxul (private hammam with personalized settings). If you prefer to skip the spa, you can visit the local Etruscan Museum, where you'll learn about Europe's most mysterious culture, forerunners to the early Romans, or you can stroll through Chianciano's open air market. One of the liveliest in the area, it includes everything from the tiniest espresso pot to the most praised truffles.
• Lunch is at a local restaurant.
• Transfer back to Palazzo Bandino for a cooking lesson featuring secondi piatti, main dishes such as roasts, braised or grilled meats, alongside the thick handmade noodles called pappardelle, perhaps served with traditional sugo alla boscaiola.
• Dinner based on what you've prepared, accompanied by fine local wines.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Five, Thursday
Day  Five, Thursday

• Morning visit to the venerable hilltown of Montepulciano, home of the renowned nobile wine. You'll stroll through the charming streets of this town, which somehow manages to be quite monumental, despite its small size. You'll also pay a visit to the weekly market, and then stop to see a masterpiece Renaissance church that sits alone on a hilltop just outside town.
• Next you'll visit an olive mill (in late October through November you'll actually see the process of an olive becoming pure cold-press first-run extra-virgin oil).
• By now you will welcome a light lunch, served at the frantoio and featuring an array of local specialties made with olio extra vergine d'oliva.
• Transfer back to Palazzo Bandino for an afternoon hands-on cooking lesson featuring fresh vegetable dishes such as artichokes and tomatoes stuffed with herbs and cheese, followed by a luscious Tuscan dessert.
• Dinner based on what you've prepared, accompanied by fine local wines.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Six, Friday
Day  Six, Friday

• Breakfast.
• Full-day excursion to Siena. On the way you'll drive past San Gimignano to see its world-famous skyline, dubbed "The Manhattan of Tuscany." You'll be on your own in Siena, to wander among the medieval streets, visit the exquisite cathedral or the wonderful Town Hall, do some shopping or just relax at a cafe.
• Late-afternoon transfer back to your lodgings.
• Farewell dinner and presentation of your cooking program certificate at Palazzo Bandino.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Seven, Saturday

• Breakfast.
• Transfer to the Chiusi-Chianciano train station.

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View Your Accommodations

More Photos of Palazzo Bandino


Program Includes:

Six nights accommodations at Palazzo Bandino in an air-conditioned
room with private bathroom or an air-conditioned apartment
(based on double occupancy)
All breakfasts
All meals except one lunch
Unlimited local wine at meals
Four cooking lessons
All excursions
One 90-minute session at the spa (MUST be reserved when you book the program)
Transfers to/from Chiusi rail
Beautiful full-color cookbook to take home
Taxes & Services

One group transfer provided from Chiusi station at 3p.m.
One group transfer provided to Chiusi station at 10a.m.


Off Season (March and November)
1310 Euro/person based on double occupancy
1087 Euro/person for a non-cooking companion

Regular Season (April-October)
1490 Euro/person based on double occupancy
1236 Euro/person for a non-cooking companion

This program can also be guaranteed for 2 or 3 people
The cost in Low Season is 1690 Euro/person or 1402
Euro/person for a non-cooking companion;
the cost in High Season is 1935 Euro/person or 1606
Euro/person for a non-cooking companion;
if more people join subsequently so that
at least 4 people are in the group, the cost
will then be adjusted down to 1310
(Low Season) or 1490 (High Season) Euro/person

Non-cooking companions participate in
all activities and meals with the exception
of the cooking lessons themselves

Single Supplement:
230 Euro

Guaranteed upgrade to one-bedroom apartment:
115 Euro/person per week based on availability
March 6-12

April 10-16

May 22-28

June 5-11

June 19-25

September 11-17

October 16-22

November 6-12

Other dates are available on request for a minimum of 4 people

Maximum number of participants: 12

Minimum number of participants: 4


Palazzo Bandino's Promise to You

If you can't join for six days
Click here to read about half-day cooking lessons


Click here to Book Your Tour

Tour operated by Palazzo Bandino

What's the difference between standard olive oil, good extra-virgin olive oil and the very best Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil? Why is the phrase "cold-pressed" actually meaningless? Why is it virtually impossible to find the really great oil in stores outside Italy? Recipes and basic information you need to know about Extra-Virgin Tuscan Olive Oil from Palazzo Bandino.