AUTHENTIC SOUTHERN TUSCANY
We had a really wonderful trip. Palazzo Bandino was the second major highlight of the trip, and hands-down our favorite week of the vacation. We were treated like kings and queens in every way--coffee any time for the asking, fabulous meals where our every desire was remembered from one day to the next and anticipated, lovely people on staff, well-planned outings to complement cooking school. My daughter and I enjoyed the cooking classes very much. Chef Luciano and his translators were informative and helped us understand Tuscan cooking traditions and culture as much as recipes and preparation. The accommodations were nice although the showers are very small. Gabriel and Marta were a treasure; my daughter was almost in tears over leaving Marta behind. The scenery is gorgeous, and the setting was very peaceful. And again--the FOOD! Unbeatable. We also enjoyed the wine tasting; PB has some very good ones. A great place to sight see, relax, breathe deeply, and eat well.
Hope all that is helpful. Thanks again for everything! If I have missed anything, I will ask my husband to fill the gap.
We made it back safe and sound. I was very impressed with how smoothly everything went on our 3 day adventure to Tuscany. The car rental, the cooking classes, scheduled tours and check out all exceeded our expectations. Marta and her Father were also great in planning our 3 days of tours and cooking classes. Manuel and Luciano were awesome during our cooking classes which were very fun and educational. I wish we had stayed in the countryside longer, it was the most relaxing part of our two week stay in Italy. One thing we really enjoyed was the BBQ we were invited to by Marta at the Palazzo Bandino. I thought it was very nice of her to invite us as her guests and have a very large meal with the others staying at the Palazzo Bandino. The wine tour at the Altesino winery was also very exciting, where, of course, I had some wine shipped home. It is so beautiful and relaxing without the hustle and bustle of the big cities that the next time we go back to Italy we would like to spend our entire trip in Tuscany. Thanks again for being so helpful and planning such a smooth 3 days for us. I am so glad I stumbled across your website and plan to recommend your company to others.
Thanks again for a memorable trip!!
Loretta and Will P.
Palazzo Bandino was fantastic! The property is gorgeous and our accommodations were beyond our expectations. The cooking classes were intense and full of great information, but lots of fun as well (kudos to Luciano and Emanuel!) But, what makes this trip truly special is the combination of serenity, great Tuscan food/cooking and new friends at the estate, along with the personally-escorted wonderful side trips. Gabriele and Marta are the perfect hosts! They showed us the REAL Italy, and led us through an exploration of the most breathtaking little towns and countryside and the discovery of little treasures everywhere. And, Marta is the gifted coordinator of it all, never too busy to assist with every little need or detail. This was the best vacation we've ever taken (and we've been taking vacations for a long time…) We have already recommended Palazzo Bandino to everyone we know with an interest in experiencing the true heart and soul of Italy.
I would also like to commend you for your all day Coliseum and Catacombs tour in Rome. Our tour guide, Eva, was intelligent, knowledgeable and delightful. At first, I thought the tour was too expensive, but we accomplished in one day what would have taken two days on our own. The added plus was Eva's explanations, stories and entertaining tidbits of history. The tour was well worth every single dollar!
Obviously, InItaly.com has terrific taste – only the best will do! We will be calling upon you again to help plan our next trip to Italy. Thank you for your great suggestions!
Susan and Carlton S.
I have traveled over one million miles all over the world. This was the best week ever. Everyone was so friendly, helpful, accommodating. The food and wine were excellent (too much). And the accommodations were excellent -- clean and spacious. Reminded me of how my (Italian) mother used to welcome people into our house. Marta was a gracious host, making sure everything was perfect. Gabriele was a great tour guide with lots of stories. Emanuele was always helpful and friendly. Tamara and Filippo made sure we had all our favorite food and drink even before we asked for it. And then of course, there was Chef Luciano. He taught us a lot and entertained us every day. I will be back next year, this time with my whole family. Thanks so much!
Personal attention. Excellent facilities. Friendly people. You made it a home away from home!
The cooking program was very educational, on both Tuscan culture and cooking styles. Also a lot of fun! The personal service in all respects was outstanding! All the staff are experts in cuisine, wine, history -- all the things we wanted to learn. An outstanding experience! We will be back!
Mary, Lily & Ray M.
As food and wine lovers, and students of Italian, art, culture and language, this was the perfect one-week trip to celebrate our 50th birthdays. We enjoyed the mix of touring and cooking. Marta, Gabriele, Filippo and of course Luciano went beyond everyday service to make this experience absolutely special and unforgettable for us and our whole group. Cooking with Luciano was passionate and practical!
Teresa H. and Andria C.
This is Stan and my wife Judi and I just returned from Florence and Chiusi where we took a cooking school at Palazzo Bandino. We traveled with David and Linda G. and had an incredible journey. The accommodations both in Florence and in Chiusi were extraordinary. Both the location and the people were out of this world. Kristin in your office was a Godsend. Except for one bad rental auto and a free phone that never worked everything was perfect!!! Thank you for making this trip very special. We will tell all our friends that initaly RULES.
Thank you for your wonderful hospitality! Our stay at Palazzo Bandino will remain a fond memory long after we've left. You are a most gracious hostess for the entire Valeriani family. We are grateful to your father Gabriele for restoring this beautiful, special place.
The staff was delightful, very helpful and prepared to do anything to make our stay as enjoyable as possible. We particularly enjoyed the cooking class & the recipes we prepared. We know we will prepare many of them when we return to our home - and that is what we hoped to accomplish! The tours were well thought out because they gave us a "flavour" for this part of Tuscany - Pienza, the olive mill, Brunello wine tasting, spa, medieval hill towns, but most of all, it was a pleasure to stay at Palazzo Bandino! We had a chance to speak with Marta, Gabriele, Sonia, Maria and the rest of the staff. It is important to Buck and me that we know better & understand how people in other countries live and work. Because we could stay with you we were able to accomplish this instead of just moving from place to place.
If there would be any criticism, it would be in the amount of food served. One suggestion might be to offer people a lighter lunch as an option - maybe just an antipasto with cold cuts, etc. and bread. That way appetites could be saved for a larger dinner, including the delicious pasta course!
Another suggestion - why not add a guest book up by the front desk for cooking class attendance? Visitors could write their names, where they came from & any comments they'd choose to make. I'm sure it would make for interesting reading!!
All in all - our experience at Palazzo Bandino was WONDERFUL!!
Buck & Ein
We had a wonderful experience. We met new friends, truly special people, and reunited with two of our oldest friends. We cooked, drank great wine, ate fantastic food and laughed so much. The staff of Palazzo Bandino was and is exceptional. They are all "real people" who care about their guests. We all felt like Palazzo Bandino was our home. We did not want to leave, thanks to everyone: Gabriele, Marta, Sonya, Emanuele, Tamara, Marco, Katrina and of course our maestro Luciano.
Frank & Julie M.
Perfect combination of cooking, sightseeing and relaxing. The daily trips were never too long and our classes with Luciano were very informative. The food and wine were excellent and never ending. Great hospitality from the entire staff. We thoroughly have enjoyed our stay in the Italian countryside.
Jakub G. & Jan M.
Of course the wonderful food and touring of the lovely hillside towns was wonderful but the best part was the delightful and accommodating staff (Sonia, Marco, Emanuela), owners (Marta and Gabriele), and chef (Luciano). The size of the group was perfect, too, for sightseeing, cooking and eating together. It was such fun spending time and getting to know people from other areas. A most memorable trip!
A pleasant, well-paced immersion into Authentic Italy with all its freshness, quality, simplicity and beauty. Cooking classes were delightful! The day trips to villages scattered throughout the Tuscan valley were wonderful. All this was topped off by the caring staff and stately charm of Palazzo Bandino. Highly recommended. A place you'll want to return to.
Excellent as a first trip to Italy. Gabriele and his daughter Marta were superb hosts. They and their staff (Marco, Sonia, Emanuela) could not have done anything more to make our stay any better. Chef Luciano Benocci made each lesson informative and memorable. A wonderful balance of cooking classes and touring!
Janet & John S.
The food was everything I anticipated. The hosts were exceptional at making sure I was comfortable. Chef Luciano was educational and entertaining, took the time to explain why he did the things he did. I loved all the side trips to the small towns around Palazzo Bandino. We were a group of 8 participants, just the right size.
A most enjoyable experience – a chance to sample so many things. From the cooking lessons to the daily excursions; from the wonderful visits to the helpful staff – this is a most delightful way to enjoy life.
Excellent experience. I enjoyed all the people working at Palazzo Bandino – Marta made us feel at home – Sonia and Emanuela were exceptionally good at their job – Luciano was a treat – he knew his cooking and he was so much fun. All our excursions were great. Thanks!
The staff at Palazzo Bandino was sincere & earnest in their love of the community. I felt as if we were sharing in their lives, & were lucky enough to participate in the real culture of Tuscany. Excellent food + excellent wine. Our guide Fabio is wonderful. We made friends that will last a lifetime. Patrick was an excellent wine steward. Every minute was super. They really went out of their way to make us happy!
Absolutely fabulous. Fabio was fantastic. Luciano was magnifico. Enrica just the sweetest. Patrick was wonderful. Everything we needed or even imagined we might need was seen to and exceeded. It's been just the best trip, we've made some great friends and have memories that will last a life time. Wine – food – laughter, it couldn't have been better.
After 12 days in Rome / Florence / Venice, we were looking to balance our visit by seeing another side of Italy. A relaxed visit to Tuscany, visiting small towns and experiencing afternoon cooking classes with chef Luciano was perfect. The visit to Montepulciano was very special. Great program and super staff combined for a wonderful vacation. Patrick, Alfredo, Fabio…who can forget them.
Loved all the staff. Fabio was wonderful! Never knew cooking could be so much fun. I'm going to be going home and having a different way of thinking and fixing dinners at home. I have really enjoyed the different places that we have seen. Fabio was an excellent tour guide. Luciano the best!!
- The foad was great
- Day trips
- Fabio & Enrica were outstanding
- Very friendly staff
- Cooking lessons
- Great wine
There was so much and so many people at Palazzo Bandino that made this a spectacular experience. Gabriele, Fabio, Patrick, Enrica, and Luciano are very special people. The cooking lessons and the food exceeded my expectations. The trips were the added bonus that let me know this region even better than staying at one place.
Darlene S. P.
Like most: 1) The entire cooking experience with Enrica & Luciano and 2) Fabio, our guide, made each day special. Like least: As a large person, it was difficult to take a shower (getting in and out). The cooking experience was the best ever spent with such a wonderful staff. The camaraderie of the group was special and has led to life long friendships. Thanks to Kristin for suggesting Palazzo Bandino. "All roads lead to Pienza, but all memories lead to Fabio."
Everything was absolutely wonderful! Far better than I ever expected. The people of Palazzo Bandino were the kindest, the most accommodating, I've ever seen. The excursions were unbelievable. They made sure we saw all the sites, shopped all we wanted and ate ourselves "to death." The other five "ladies" were more fun to be with. By the way - I learned a lot of cooking!
I liked that the days were split into cooking and touring. The staff was very congenial and helpful. We learned to cook several dishes and also saw a lot of Tuscan countryside and small cities. One of the highlights was the trip to the olive mill. I have visited vineyards before but never an olive mill. Very unique. Fabio is a very good driver/guide and Enrica is also a very good guide.
Everyone and everything was wonderful. The dishes were simple to prepare but a masterpiece to eat. We had lots of hands-on work which makes me confident to go home to prepare the dishes. The side trips were memorable but the most outstanding was the olive mill. Can't say enough good things about our host and hostess. Thanks!
The cooking classes were excellent. The tours were wonderful. As an American I would prefer dinner earlier in the evening - no later than 7 - as the meals were hearty. The rooms were lovely - showers hot. Great! The hosts/owner did everything to make the stay comfortable and an excellent memory. The team staff are like family - wonderful. Fabio, Enrica, Gabriele and Luciano made the experience even more special. Tuscany is a life and culture to grasp and take in: the olive mill, the wine education and the simplest yet delicious recipes are all memories to take home and treasure.
- People extremely kind/accommodating/quite charming!
- Quite a bit of food - guests need heads-up on amount of food to pace!
- Let guests know during low season much of the towns are closed up
- Gathering around and cooking and trying to emulate what Lucaino did! Quite memorable
- Couldn't have been more fun with the lovely "ladies"
Mary Beth V.
This was a wonderful trip! The only complaints: we very rarely had a moment to relax, we were on the go from breakfast at 8:30 to dinner at 9:30; and trying to figure out how to find a tiny village in a foreign country was challenging. I think the most memorable moment was the trip to the olive mill. I very much enjoyed the 5 other women I joined at Palazzo Bandino. The country has view after view and the Tuscan people are friendly and helpful.
The week spent here was phenomenal. The staff at Palazzo Bandino was exceptional. We were told from the start that if we wanted or needed anything just to ask - "no problem" and that proved to be true. The cooking classes were wonderful - simple yet tasty. The villages and the surrounding Tuscan countryside are so beautiful it makes me cry. This was an unforgettably beautiful week.
This trip was fantastic. The cooking classes and the tours of ancient cities, winery and olive mill were truly a memory that I will keep in my heart. However, Palazzo Bandino, Gabriele, Enrica, Barbara, Anna and Fabio were the most enjoyable and hospitable guides I have ever experienced. Good luck with all your future programs as people only need to hear about this experience to really enjoy the "Tuscan" life! Thank you from my heart!
Alma Joan K.
My experience will always live in my heart forever. The villa and Gabriele were excellent! The staff made this trip very special. They meet your every need, little to big, with a willingness to serve you. Enrica serves with warmth and love. Anna will take care of you and your rooms with utmost care. Fabio fantastico! No other words needed! Luciano made it seem possible that all of us could be chef! His personality magnifico!
The friendliness of the staff and owners from the time I arrived on November 2, 2003 until my week was ending - I have never experienced anything like this. The classes were wonderful and the accommodations much more than I could have ever anticipated. This is the very best experience I have ever had. Everyone on the staff far exceeded any of my expectations.
The staff was extremely helpful and attentive. We felt that the level of teaching was not above the level of any of the participants. Gabriele went out of his way to see that we received the/his heritage of Tuscany, such as to call the Etruscan Museum and successfully ask for the museum to be opened when it should have been closed. Chef Luciano was delightful, full of energy, presenting his lessons most pleasurably. I will put many pictures on a web site and hyperlink to your site to recommend you and this class.
From the first moment to the last, my expectations were surpassed. The entire staff was wonderful. We thank everyone.
The love of the staff was felt to the heart. The passion of Luciano was evident in cooking, presentation, and honesty. Pure Tuscan cooking at its best! Would love to come back and bring friends (wife too!). Thank you for an exciting week. You are all blessed with a great region of Italy. Wonderful food, and a long history of hospitality.
From the moment we set foot into the Palazzo Bandino, we were made to feel most comfortable and at home. The hospitality of the host and his associates has been incredible. Our host was able to arrange a private viewing of an Etruscan Museum for our group. My special thanks to Gabriele, Angela, Enrica, Barbara, Anna and our greatest guide, Fabio!
Everything was wonderful! From the moment we were picked up at the train station, the people were great, with the attention and care they gave to the people in this group. The classes were fun and did meet or exceed what I expected coming in. This has been a great experience - one I would wish on anyone interested in Tuscan cooking. Thank you for sharing your life with us for this week!
The staff were great - very friendly and made me feel at home. Spa treatment was alot of fun. Meeting new friends from Italy and other parts of the US. Visiting the villages and shopping. I never cook - this was fun! Having dinner at the olive mill was great - food was good, seeing the process was amazing. Great fun and a beautiful, relaxing and friendly place.
It was the best. Loved the cooking experience, but the trips to all the small villages were so important to me to see how this beautiful area lives. Thank you, thank you, for a wonderful time with my four daughters. Thank you for Fabio!!
What I did not like was the last day because it was so perfect I wanted to start over on the first day. The chef made learning fun and the staff was very personable and attended to all our needs. Now I want to become a "Tuscan expert" so I can come back soon! There is no trip as well organized and as personal as this trip. It will ruin you for other tours.
I had a marvelous time. I loved the mixture of cooking and trips to neighboring towns. The trips to the Altesino Winery and the olive oil factory were wonderful. I enjoyed learning about the Tuscan Cuisine and Luciano was knowledgable and eager to share his passion for the foods of the Tuscan table. Most of all the graciousness of Gabriele, Barbara, Erica & Anna were what made the week truly special.
I loved the entire week. I thought the outings to the Winery & Olive factory were excellent - well planned, informational and really fun. The day trips to towns and sights were perfect. Luciano our chef was charming and very willing to answer any questions. Gabriele and his staff were outstanding. They went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed. I truly felt welcome. It was a happy beautiful week for me that I will always treasure.
Grazie - No complaints!!!
This was such a wonderful experience. Everyone here at the Palazzo are generous with their knowledge and time. Learning the techniques of Tuscan cooking was exactly what I wanted and I will definitely incorporate into my every day cooking at home. Luciano was so much fun, gave us so much in just a few shorts days.
My experience at Palazzo Bandino was far beyond anything I imagined. Gabriele and the entire staff was so accommodating and generous to our group. Luciano was patient, knowledgable and skilled in his approach to introductory Tuscan cuisine. His simple recipes and techniques were perfect for me to incorporate into my daily meal preparation at home. My husband cannot wait for me to cook these dishes!!
The host, sponsor, Palazzo Bandino goes that extra mile to create a memorable experience. The staff is beyond wonderful. They truly create a casual elegant atmosphere. The tours are well planned to give a well-balanced introduction to the culinary, cultural and historical flavor of Tuscany.
The cooking lessons greatly exceeded our expectations. It is impossible to describe the experience of learning the art of Tuscan cuisine from Luciano Benocci. What a master; he is beyond description. You just have to come and experience him. You will not be disappointed! Barbara, his right hand, is wonderful. They complement each other beautifully. We cannot wait to return for the advanced class!
Mary and James A.
Experience was wonderful. Wonderful people and staff. Food excellent. Hands-on cooking course excellent. Countryside beautiful. Side trips well-planned. Luciano excellent chef! Gabriele excellent host! Barbara wonderful personality and interpreter. Could not have asked for a finer holiday! Highly recommended!
I had a wonderful experience. The rural character of the Palazzo Bandino site, the excellent food and wine, the side trips to the towns in the area were all excellent. The trip to San Gimignano and Siena was unforgettable. There are no words to describe and thank the hard-working staff. They are an example to every human being how to interact with strangers and make them welcome. To Enrica, Barbara, Dominick, Angela and everybody else, my thanks.
I loved the staff at Palazzo Bandino. The classes were outstanding, the best I have ever attended, as well as the rooms. It would be nice for all the classes to be earlier and more shopping. Great food and company. I will refer you to everyone.
The trip was wonderful! We were catered to in every way! I loved visiting all of the small Tuscan towns and especially staying on the farm to learn about rural Tuscan life. The food was good and plentiful! I am afraid to get on my scale at home! The people at Palazzo Bandino were so giving and took care of our group in the best way possible. Thank you for a wonderful trip!
We left there so well-fed and full - every meal from this point on will seem like a snack. We have had a most wonderful visit. We would never have been able to see as much of the countryside on our own. We appreciate so much all of the staff and marvel at how hard everyone works, and at how attentive they all are. Thank you for an enjoyabel and enlightening trip to Italy!
Josè F. and Valerie H.
Palazzo Bandino and the staff were most excellent, comfortable and accommodating. Loved, loved, loved Chef Luciano and Angela - a memorable pair. Enrica, Barbara, Dominick and Anna - thank you for all your hard work and cappuccinos! Mr. Valeriani is very fortunate to have found all of you. And thank you, Gabriele, for creating an environment of peace, serenity, fun and excitement. A most gracious host and tour guide!
The trip met and exceeded my expectations with respect to attentiveness and enthusiasm of the staff, the facilities, the general hospitality. My hope was to have much more cooking instruction and hands-on experience. While I learned a good bit, the chopping of vegetables was not especially enlightening. I will not hesitate to recommend Palazzo Bandino as long as potential guests accept the limited cooking instruction. Chef Benocci was great!
What an UNBELIEVABLE adventure! A beautiful view from our bedroom window that overlooked the Chianciano hillside was just the beginning...Tuscany and Palazzo Bandino were a dream brought to life. Heaven truly does exist here on earth! The staff at Palazzo Bandino are the best of any I've ever known. We were treated like princesses! The day trips to all of the quaint Tuscan towns were wonderful, and Signor Valeriani was so accommodating. Chef Luciano and Angela were fabulous; I am so excited to learn how to make homemade pasta among so many other things! Thank you for filling my vacation with such wonderful memories...Grazie mille!!
Gabriele and his entire staff are extremely gracious and friendly. They were very accommodating to our every need. Luciano's cooking classes were very informative but most of all alot of fun. The towns we toured were little gems off the main tourist track. We were fortunate to have a very compatible group (there were 7 of us). Note that the day's activities were quite full. Some highlights: lunch at Montefollonico, cappuccinos with Franz, visit to Roman baths, the wine tour at Altesino, learning how to make pici. Overall, a perfectly wonderful week.
Edward & Della D
In selecting the school the number of hands-on lessons - as well as the side trips - was a determining factor. I definitely thought the 4 days of lessons was just right but I did prefer the morning lessons. The variety of the lessons was very good and I was very pleasantly surprised at the delicious dishes we prepared with few ingredients and relatively simple preparation. You've made me a fan of Tuscan cuisine for life! As to the side trips, I enjoyed every one of them and was pleased we were able to see so much. I can't think of anything I would eliminate -and the exceptional congeniality of Franz - and his willingness to "bend over backwards" to so anything to make our stay more enjoyable was key.
I would describe my experience at Palazzo Bandino as wonderful, educational and fun. The perfect blend for a vacation. The staff was key to the success of this trip, your commitment to accommodating our needs was very appreciated. Each day provided a new experience, from the cooking lessons to the sightseeing. I have fallen in love with Tuscany! So many highlights: I loved shopping in the open air market. Making pasta from scratch is something I thought I'd never do - now I can't wait to go home and try it on my own (especially the pici!).
I have just returned from a week in Tuscany and I wanted to comment that the trip could realistically described as the experience of a lifetime. From the moment we were warmly welcomed by our hosts at the Palazzo Bandino until our departure we were genuinely cared for by the staff. The cooking lessons were hands-on and useful. The fact that chef Benocci spoke not a word of English did not matter. The translation only added to the experience. The tours we took were to places we would not have otherwise discovered. Our guide, Frans, was gracious, humorous and could accomplish all things. We were also fortunate that our group of seven immediately clicked as a cohesive unit. We departed with a great experience and new friends. The itinerary you prepared was an excellent balance of cooking and touring. I would recommend it to anyone.
Thank you for facilitating such great memories.
The experience was wonderful. The people working at Palazzo Bandino were professional and equally important, were warm, helpful and made you feel at home and comfortable. The excursions were well thought-out and showed most aspects of Tuscan towns and villages. Luciano, the chef, made the cooking lessons fun as well as a learning experience. The food and wine were wonderful, and of course, the olive oil. Franz was very special and truly helped to make this experience so special.
The hospitality was wonderful. The staff was warm, charming, and very accommodating. The setting at Palazzo Bandino was beautiful and exceeded my expectations. The cooking lessons were fun and informative. The tours were educational and some were very special - wonderful food, friends and setting. Just what the doctor ordered!
Suggestions - add music as background, especially at dinner.
The staff at Palazzo Bandino is wonderful - accommodating in every way. Luciano was more than willing to share his recipes with us. Gabriele was pleased to share his vintage wine with us. Franz was eager to show us around and waited patiently when needed. I would like to return for an advanced course once I have practiced what I have learned. Anna was always working hard to serve us. Enrica helped us learn to cook with her excellent translations. Dominic was just adorable.
The experience was enriching. The hosts and service were very personal and carefully catered to our needs and requests. Our tour guide and chef master were so personable, helpful, and very entertaining. There is nothing that did not meet my expectations at Palazzo Bandino. There are only lots of good memories I can think of. The service had this personal touch. What I also liked the most is the diversity of things we did - cook, relax, sitesee, shop, visit culturally enriching cities and towns. Also, learned a lot about the culture of Tuscany and how to make olives, the wine processing and lots more about gourmet food. Each moment was special. The other guests were great company as well!! Loved this trip!
The experience at Palazzo Bandino was wonderful. The staff was very attentive and helpful - even the weather they arranged for November was spectacular. The mix of touring and cooking was just right, got to see some sights along with learning so many cooking techniques of the region. Chef Luciano was enthusiastic in sharing his knowledge. He was also incredibly patient with someone who only cooks a small bit. Thanks for a great experience all around.
This was the most magnificent vacation we have ever experienced. After traveling the world we found "fantasy island." The fabulous program was enhanced by the attentive staff, and the beautiful country backdrop scenery. Every request and whatever whim was swiftly & pleasantly accommodated. Gold stars to all!!
Phyllis D. & Mindy L.
The hospitality was extraordinary. Visits to places mentioned on the website and information sheet were wonderful - and there were other delightful visits "thrown in" - San Biagio Church, Bagno Vignoni... The whole staff here seemed to enjoy doing absolutely everything to please and help us. The cooking classes were fun, and I found it useful to be doing as well as listening and watching. We enjoyed eating what we cooked, and in addition, there seemed to be a ceaseless flow of fine wines and good food, all served unstintingly.
This week was the most amazing vacation that I have ever had. Not only were the cooking classes fun and informative, but touring the towns of Tuscany and the experience even more wonderful. The staff was extremely accommodating too and catered to all of our needs. The service surpassed that of the best hotels. A couple of hours of rest or downtime a day would be very relaxing. Also, screens on the windows of the villas would help decrease the bugs.
The people at Palazzo Bandino cannot be praised enough for their devotion, kindness, efficiency and willingness to please. Gabriele, Franz, Luciano, Enrica, Ana, Dom were really wonderful! Accommodations were outstanding, touring, cooking classes, etc. Timing was great for me since I was not looking for a total cooking experience or shopping for all the cheese and wine available in Tuscany. My only disappointment was the spa, which I found impersonal, not in the least pampering and the massage, facial, etc. really second rate. Don't ever change your Palazzo Bandino program. I want to come back!
Luciano is GREAT at teaching - great attitude and very knowledgeable. Staff is excellent at accommodating guest needs. Would like a bit of background/commentary on the places you take us. Gabriele is a gracious host and clearly cares about his guests having a good time. Staff has a great sense of humor and clearly wants us to have a good time also.
It was spectacular to see the small medieval towns of Tuscany. Could have used a little more time in each town. Could have used more free time. Would have liked to have more cooking lessons and to follow through dishes to the end rather than just starting them. Accommodations were terrific and the staff was extremely friendly, accommodating, and went out of their way to make me feel at home and welcome. It is a genuine experience. I felt like I was Italian.
Really enjoyed Palazzo Bandino, glad we had the opportunity to stay here and cook there. Facility very nice and would recommend to others highly (only drawback is small bath). Food wonderful, service and personnel fabulous. Gabriele's hospitality is warm, extensive and attentive. Lorenzo's recipes were out of this world, and his manner delightful - very entertaining! I know we'll be making some of his recipes in the future. We are also very grateful for Angela's thorough and careful translations. Overall one of the great highlights of the trip. Only suggestion for change is to make smaller meals or those large ones alternating with small lunches.
The cooking lessons were great but would have liked to have more. The staff was wonderful - friendly and helpful. The coach trips were very interesting but there wasn't enough time to really digest all of it. The program could be improved by extending it to 8-10 days.
The trip was terrific. It far exceeded our expectations for a cooking school.
1. Beautiful area.
2. Excellent cooking lessons.
3. Variety and availability of numerous day trips.
4. Lovely facilities: pool, etc.
5. Most important, polite, enthusiastic, gracious and totally accommodating staff.
Jessica W. & Tom B.
This was beyond all expectations. We had tremendous fun with the charismatic Chef Benocci, we met great people. The tours were informative, well-paced, and well spread out around the region. The staff and family at Palazzo Bandino gave excellent, friendly service. The special moments were the dinners; camaraderie, great service, superb food and terrific wines. This is not to be missed!
Chris & Margaret O.
The staff always is key to the success of such a program. Palazzo Bandino's staff is superb! Siena was a very pleasant surprise; it was far more beautiful than we could ever have imagined. Overall, the experience was a tremendous value - food, accommodations, tours, staff and service were all first class. The only suggestion would be to provide some additional time to relax at Palazzo Bandino.
Ted & Mary Ann H.
Southern Tuscany is beautiful. Palazzo Bandino was exquisite, the cooking class was perfect, the tours were perfect, the size of the group was perfect and also, Luciano was brilliant! But words cannot begin to describe the people that touched our souls - Gabriele, Franz, Luciano, Erika and Anna - these are what make a great trip to Italy beyond my wildest dreams. Their true and sincere hospitality and giving nature is what this country represents and what I will take with me forever.
What I enjoyed the most was the people and friends of Palazzo Bandino, Franz, Gabriele, Enrica, Luciano, Anna. They showed us so much kindness and generosity of themselves that at times, it left me moved and humbled. Thank you so much for a priceless and moving experience. Special moments: lunch among friends at the olive press, dinners at Palazzo Bandino, where Gabriele would graciously dedicate a bottle of 35-year-old family wine "just for us," the drives in the countryside and Franz bartering in the marketplace for us.
This was the most wonderful trip I have ever taken - not just because of the exceeding beauty of the area but because of the otherworldly kindness of the people who took care of us. They all were fun, funny, genuinely kind, warm and in general, perfect. The cooking class and chef were fantastic. I truly feel that I got more than my money's worth. If anything, I would recommend a slightly less packed schedule. All in all, I would highly recommend this program to anyone.
Everything was fantastic. Gabriele, Franz, Luciano the chef, and all the staff. I think it is impossible to improve this event.
We enjoyed ourselves tremendously. The setting is stunning and the accommodations were comfortable, extremely clean and historically interesting. The staff were gracious, friendly and exceptionally helpful. We felt not only well cared for but also relaxed and at home. The cooking classes were delightful. Luciano is encouraging, funny, knowledgeable and definitely worth spending time learning from. We hope to have our family return here!
Linda and Emily O.
My girlfriend and I just attended a 6 day cooking class at Palazzo Bandino outside of Chianciano in Tuscany. It was truly a wonderful experience. We cooked about 3 hours a day and the rest of the time we were entertained with wonderful food and wine and taken to all these great walled villages that were not very populated or tourisy. They were wonderful. The only problem was not enough time in each place. The Palazzo Bandino is a charming old farmhouse beautifully redone and very comfortable. I will definitely be going back with my husband. The cooking classes were also very fun. Chef Luciano was a lot of fun. Gabriel and his staff were great. We never had to worry about anything. We were driven to the villages, all the meals were arranged and fabulous. I can't say enough about how great a trip it was. Palazzo Bandino is also a vineyard with wonderful views and fabulous olive oil and great wines. It was a very memorable trip and I can't wait to return!!!
Where do I start or how do I say grazie! grazie! Nothing can compare. Now I know what it means to be Italian. Good food, great wine! Great people. What more could we ask for?
This has been the trip of a lifetime! The staff has been so gracious and accommodating. Our every wish has been their command. The tours we were taken to were exactly the kinds of things we wanted to see. The food has been outstanding and the cooking classes informative and a lot of fun. It seems to me that everyone here has an eye on detail and it's been wonderful! Thanks for a very memorable vacation.
I enjoyed it all. A special moment was the lunch at La Costa. I most enjoyed the tours and the peace and tranquility at Palazzo Bandino. We plan on returning and staying at Palazzo Bandino. The staff was excellent.
Palazzo Bandino was fantastic. The owner and staff couldn't have been more helpful and fun. The food served and rooms were excellent. Trips to surrounding villages were very rewarding (beautiful, bargain shopping, fun, interesting). Meals out were excellent. Our only concerns were that some of the foods/recipes selected required ingredients not readily available in US. We would have liked more of the recipes for food served available in print.
Beau and Jim D.
Palazzo Bandino looks just like the brochure, even better! The staff is friendly and gracious. Luciano the chef was funny, informative and a pleasure to learn basic cooking with. Unbelievable trip! I would recommend it to anyone. Tuscany is beautiful. Thanks to Gabriele, Anna, Giuseppina, Eileen and Mauro.
This was a great trip. The Palazzo Bandino was wonderful, the food and wine were great and the countryside was beautiful. I will definitely come back. Gabriele, Mauro, Eileen, Anna, everyone was great. I would have enjoyed more time in some of the medieval cities. They were lovely.
My sister and I traveled through Italy for 18 days. Our experience at Palazzo Bandino and with our guide Valentina exceeded our expectations. Chef Benocci was an excellent instructor with a great sense of humor. We saw incredible hill towns that would have been a challenge for us to fit into our itinerary, but were made simple through our guided excursions. One of the many highlights was our visit to the olive mill. Our gracious hosts prepared an incredible 5 course meal- true Tuscan style.
Valentina was a truly exceptional coordinator/guide. She would take us anywhere we wanted to go.Palazzo Bandino was an incredible farm house/location. The pool was a real treat! Anna and Pepina were incredibly hard working staff members! This was an incredible and extremely worthwhile experience! Worth the money!
Kathy S., WA
It will be difficult to find enough adjectives to describe the wonderful time we spent in Tuscany at Palazzo Bandino - from our pick up at the train station to a tearful goodbye 6 days later, we were made to feel like family and our cooking classes were great fun and informative. Luciano and Angela are a great team. Our tours with Gabriele and Valentina took us to incredible medieval hilltop villages with their fabulous landscape views. Gabriele's pride in his ancestry & history is very evident, and again we felt we were with family. The others in our group were terrific, we all became fast friends.
All in all we think it was our best vacation. We will always remember it and want to repeat this wonderful experience.
Naomi & Gil E.