The Food & Wine Lover's Southern Tuscany:

Montepulciano, Siena, Cortona, Montalcino, Wine Tasting, Market Visit, Olive Mill

Chianciano, Tuscany

Price in 2016: only 1095.00 Euro/person!
Excursions and transportation to Siena, Pienza, Cortona and Montepulciano
Winery visit, wine lesson and tasting
Oil mill visit and tasting
Balsamic vinegar lesson and tasting
Local market visit
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

This very special escorted food and wine tour was created expressly for In Italy Online's kind of reader: the independent traveler who wants to delve deep into the lifestyle of the place he's visiting. If you're talking about Tuscany, you know that for centuries la vita toscana has meant the following things: great art, perfectly manicured landscapes, entertaining anecdotes, comfortable stone houses with big fireplaces, foods that are as delicious as they are simple, and great wines to accompany all of the above. During your six days in Siena province, you will experience all of these things like the natives do. That means you'll travel in small groups by mini-van, soak up the entire context surrounding the medieval hilltowns and romanesque abbeys, and venture out into the countryside beloved of Etruscans and Romans alike. You will meet real people and their friends, hearing their stories, learning age-old secrets handed down from generations of grandfathers to the grandchildren who were in turn your new acquaintances' grandfathers. Through these encounters you will meet the real Tuscany - for Tuscany is nothing if not its people, with their dry sense of humor, their colorful cusswords, their innate communion with their land and their plants, their warm hospitality and sincere friendship.

Your home base for six nights will be Palazzo Bandino, an air-conditioned four-star farmhouse outside the spa town of Chianciano Terme. The estate, which includes a vineyard and olive grove, has belonged to the same family for seven generations. Although this is a professionally managed property whose air-conditioned rooms and apartments feature all the amenities such as telephone, satellite television and private bathroom with hair dryer, your host Gabriele prefers to think of you as part of the family. After all, his father was born in this very building, which his great-great-great-great grandfather received as a reward for services above and beyond the call of duty.... But we'll let Gabriele tell you the rest of that story in front of the fireplace, over a glass of vin santo.


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Day One, Saturday
Day One, Saturday

• Arrive in Chiusi, a stop on all train routes between Rome and Florence, about one hour from each. Group transfer to Palazzo Bandino at 3 pm.
• Afternoon on your own to settle in, relax, take a walk on the estate, or meet your fellow adventurers.
• Welcome cocktail, followed by your first traditional Tuscan dinner, prepared using ingredients from the estate and accompanied by fine local wines.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Two, Sunday
Day Two, Sunday

• Breakfast.
• Your host Gabriele will tell you a little about the history of the estate and about the wines of Tuscany. You'll follow this by strolling down the hill to the cantina to see just how those wines are produced.
• The culmination of your introduction to Tuscan wines is a hearty degustation lunch with local salamis, cheese, breads and of course, DOCG wines, served at the Palazzo.
• In the afternoon, your first excursion takes you to Cortona, the quintessential Tuscan hill town, where Frances Mayes renovated the old house that is the true star of Under the Tuscan Sun.
• Dinner tonight is at a typical Tuscan restaurant.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Three, Monday
Day Three, Monday

• Breakfast.
• This morning you're off for a leisurely drive through the beautiful Val D'Orcia to a rustic agriturismo where you will enjoy a full lunch in an ancient setting. In the afternoon, transfer back to Palazzo Bandino for Gabriele's introduction to balsamic vinegar. Dinner tonight is at Palazzo Bandino, and it's based entirely on dishes made with aged balsamic vinegar!
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Four, Tuesday
Day Four, Tuesday

• Breakfast.
• Today is a wonderful day of local gems and hidden treasures. Your morning begins in Bagni Vignone, a tiny town whose entire main square is actually a thermal pool. You'll dip your toes in the warm water of a secret hillside spring.
• Next it's off to Pienza, the only pure Renaissance town in the world, home to some of the best food shops in Italy.
• Our third stop is Montepulciano, home of the renowned nobile wine. After enjoying a delicious degustazione lunch, you'll stroll through the charming streets of this town, which somehow manages to be quite monumental, despite its small size. Then you'll visit a very unique winery whose cellars have been set into the side of the hill itself for centuries, like a very unique enological catacomb.
• Dinner and overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Five, Wednesday
Day Five, Wednesday

• Breakfast.
• The day begins with a visit to 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.
• 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.
• At noontime you'll visit the local frantoio, where farmers bring their olives to be pressed. In November and December you'll actually witness the fruit becoming golden green oil (at other times you'll see an excellent English-language video demonstrating how the process works).
• 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.
• This afternoon you can choose to relax at Palazzo Bandino, or walk back home from the oil mill, across the lovely countryside.
• Homemade dinner using the farm's own products, served with local wines.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Six, Thursday
Day Six, Thursday

• 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.
• You'll all meet again in the late afternoon for your transfer back to Palazzo Bandino for your farewell dinner.
• Overnight at Palazzo Bandino.

Day Seven, Friday
Day Seven, Friday

• Breakfast.
• Group transfer at 10 am to Chiusi, where you'll say your arrivederci until next time.


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Included in the Price

Six nights accommodations at Palazzo Bandino
in an air-conditioned room with private bathroom or an air-conditioned apartment
(based on double occupancy)
Private mini-van transfers for all excursions
Half-day excursion to Cortona
Full-day excursion to Bagni Vignone, Montepulciano and Pienza
Full-day excursion to Siena
Six breakfasts
Six dinners with local wines
Lunch at the frantoio
Two winery visits with degustazione lunches
One 90-minute session at the spa (MUST be reserved when you book the program)
Taxes and VAT

1095.00 Euro

This price is valid if a minimum of 4 people
participate in the program. You may join a date
that has already been confirmed by other guests,
and in that case, this price applies. The program
can also be guaranteed for 2 or 3 people. In that case,
the cost is 1380 Euro/person;  if more people join
subsequently so that at least 4 people are in the
group, the cost will then be adjusted
down to 1095 Euro/person
Please ask us for dates which
have already been confirmed

Single Supplement 230.00 Euro

Guaranteed upgrade to one-bedroom apartment:
115.00 Euro/person per week
May 7-13
May 28-June 3
June 11-17
October 8-14
October 22-28
November 12-18

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

Maximum number of participants: 12
Minimum number of participants: 4


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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.