Villa Michaela in Tuscany

The Rhode School of Cuisine is delighted to present the home of our renowned Italian cooking school, Villa Michaela. Situated in the charming village of Vorno and nestled in the lush Tuscan countryside with panoramic views of Monte Zano to the south and the towers of Lucca and the Alpe Alpuane to the north our superb Tuscan villa estate is surrounded by fifty acres of pine forests and olive groves all within its private walled gardens.

The main structure of Villa Michaela dates back to the early 19th Century. Recently featured in a book of elegant Lucchesi villas and formal Italianate gardens, the walled garden of the Villa Michaela estate will delight you with its exquisite Chapel, extensive grapevine pergola, ancient waterfalls, swimming pool and tennis court.

The limonia kitchen, is used for demonstrations, breakfast and informal dining. The villa is decorated to the highest standards. There are 18 bedrooms including the 6 in the spectacular Casa Una. The tasteful renovation includes wonderful antique furniture and the curtains and bedspreads are of specially selected designer fabrics.

Our Italian cooking school courses are held in the limonaia, which has been converted to create a magnificent open-plan demonstration kitchen and dining-room.

Villa Michaela will serve as your “home base” for exploring one of the most beautiful regions of Italy. The wooded foothills and meadows are carpeted with wild flowers in the spring and filled with magnificent colour and fungi in the autumn. Pisa and Florence are less than an hour away.

Our Italian cooking vacations include interesting cultural excursions. Golf, riding, truffle hunting and the nearby amazing coast line are all close by. Explore Lucca’s maze of pedestrian streets within its walls, stopping in unique shops selling food, trinkets and clothing, interspersed among the churches and other medieval buildings with their striped marble Romanesque façades. Visit Florence, where the displays of cheeses, salamis, vegetables, and fruit are works of art in of themselves. You will discover Vinci with a visit to the Home of Leonardo and a private tour of the Taccini Brothers’ studio, well-recognized ceramic artists, as featured in Bon Appetit.

We hope to see you soon for another season at our beautiful Italian cooking school.

Our Cooking Classes are a Perfect Tuscany Experience

In Northern Italy you will find the glorious region of Tuscany, filled with ancient cities rich in art and architecture, all nestled amongst vineyards and olive groves, cypress and lemon trees.

Vorno is a charming traditional village, comprised of rustic old stone farmhouses and majestic villas set in the lush countryside at the foot of Monte Pisano in Northern Tuscany. The wonderful walled city of Lucca lies just six kilometers north, midway between Florence and Pisa.

Tuscany’s best kept secret, Lucca, was founded in 180 B.C. and is still surrounded by the old city walls which were built to keep out invaders from nearby villages. Don’t miss the incredible Piazza dell’anfiteatro, Piazza Napoleone, Torre Guinigi or the amazing shopping.

Florence and Pisa are just “at your doorstep”. Florence is famous for its wealth of art, including perhaps the most famous of all statues, Michelangelo’s “David” and Pisa for its Leaning tower. Sienna, San Gimignano, and Voltera are all within easy distance. Whether you prefer to visit Cathedrals and Museums, wineries and pasta factories or simply have a picnic in the olive groves Tuscany offers so much to do that one visit is never enough.

Tuscany is deservedly famous for its sites, culture and centuries of art and history. But this area above all in Italy is famous for its food. The simplicity of “casalingua” cooking is the basis for all Tuscan cuisine. “To cook like your mother is good, but to cook like your grandmother is better,” is an old Tuscan proverb. And, of course, in Tuscany the food is accompanied by wonderful olive oil and some of the world’s best wines. From Chianti Classico to the stunning Super Tuscans this area produces a range of wine second to none.

Welcome to our cooking school in Italy where you can make the most of your Italian cooking vacations with great Tuscan food, fine wines and excursions to complement our Italian cooking classes.

Your Day
Your day will begin with a breakfast of fruit, pastries, cereal, juice and coffee and depending on your mood you can either dine inside or outside in our beautiful garden. Each day will be a balanced mix of hands on Italian cooking classes, cultural excursions and time to relax and enjoy the beautiful property and surrounding countryside. Each cooking class is followed by lunch or dinner.

Introduction to Wine Tasting in Tuscany
The leisurely and relaxed meals are served to you either “al fresco” in the courtyard or by candlelight in the villa’s elegant dining room. The meals are paired with a proper wine, including some of Tuscany’s most noteworthy. Your dinners will be complemented with Chianti Classicos, Brunellos and other succulent wines from the region of Tuscany.

Your introduction to wine tasting in Tuscany will include some of the revolutionary Super Tuscans, such as Sassicaia, Tignanello, Castello dei Rampolia and Ornellaia. During the wine tasting you will hear the story of the Gallo Nero, which defines the Chianti region. You will learn of the different varieties that create this region, including sangiovese which has survived the Super Tuscan revolution of the late 1970s when a small group of Tuscan wine makers began to experiment with the new French grape varieties and new methods. The wine makers replaced their massive old casks with new barriques of French oak, while planting trendy international varieties alongside sangiovese, the ancestral source of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. ‘Super Tuscans’ have reached heights of prestige, as affirmed by triumphant recent tastings in New York and London. – The New York Times

Your Italian Cooking Classes
The Italian cooking classes are set up in an intimate, hands-on manner, so that complete novices can sit along side professional chefs, yet both be educated and amused. Our chef will patiently teach you the skills and techniques required to prepare beautiful Italian cuisine in a relaxed and enjoyable environment. Our chef’s warm personality will make you feel comfortable and fully capable of producing some of Italy’s most famous dishes.

Our chef will help you unravel the mystery of selecting the finest, freshest ingredients available. You will learn to differentiate between various olive oils and balsamic vinegars and use them appropriately. With this knowledge of ingredients, you will make full Italian meals: antipasti, soups, assorted primi piatti of pasta, risotto, pizza, secondi piatti of meat, poultry, and fish, various vegetable contorni, and many delicious dolci including Tiramisu and biscotti. You will recreate the flavours and aromas of traditional Tuscan cuisine with pizzas, breads and roasted meats cooked in our wood-burning oven. New “traditional” techniques adapt these recipes for the modern home kitchen and barbecues.

As well as some of the more complicated dishes there are several simple and delicious recipes all complied in the recipe manual each student receives at the beginning of the week. The manual also contains a wealth of information such as a glossary of Italian cooking terms, conversion tables and a list of the Italian recipes you will prepare, cook and eat during your week of cooking classes.

Our staff all speak English and will make sure you are entertained or completely relaxed depending on your mood. They have a genuine interest in making this a special experience for you. They understand that this is first and foremost a holiday. The theme is Italian cuisine, and it’s offered in abundance, but never at the expense of enjoyment.

At the end of the week you’ll receive your very own Rhode School of Cuisine Certificate, certifying your participation and completion of one of our Italian cooking classes.

Here are our Italy Course Dates and Pricing for 2015 and 2016

At present our Italy schedule includes the following weeks.  If these dates don’t meet your requirements, please contact us.

– FEBRUARY 28th TO MARCH 5th 2016

– MARCH 5th TO FEBRUARY 12th 2016

– MARCH 19th TO MARCH 26th 2016

– MARCH 26th TO MARCH 2nd 2016

– APRIL 2nd TO APRIL 9th 2016

– APRIL 9th TO APRIL 16th 2016

– APRIL 16th TO APRIL 23rd 2016

– APRIL 23rd to APRIL 30th 2016

– OCTOBER 1st to OCTOBER 8th 2016

– OCTOBER 8th to OCTOBER 15th 2016

– OCTOBER 15th to OCTOBER 22nd 2016

– OCTOBER 22nd TO OCTOBER 29th 2016

– OCTOBER 29th to NOVEMBER 5th 2016

– NOVEMBER 5th to NOV 12th 2016

All of our week-long courses start at € 2680 including room and board.

Excursions and Activities During Your Cooking Holiday

As part of the Rhode School of Cuisine experience, we offer a variety of excursions to guests on our cooking holidays in Italy. Because of the size of the Italian School, flexibility on some of the set excursions may be limited. But if the group agrees at the start of the week on an excursion or activity they would like to do instead of one of the planned excursions, we will do our best to accommodate the group’s choice.

Some of the possible excursions on your cooking vacations in Tuscany are listed below:

  • Visits to selected restaurants and food markets
  • A visit to the beautiful city of Sienna and Marble Duomo
  • A guided tour of the villa, vineyard and olive groves
  • Visit the 11th century Tuscan vineyard of Castello Banfi
  • A lecture and tasting of local Tuscan and Chianti wines
  • A visit to the beautiful city of Florence and Uffizi museum
  • A day trip to the beautiful city of Pisa
  • A visit to the Cinque Terre and its cliff top villages
  • A visit to the local olive oil press factory
  • Visit the white wine shops in medieval San Gimignano
  • A visit to several historical Roman towns in the area
  • Visit the castle and fortress enclosure of Lerici
  • A visit to the town where Puccini spent his later years
  • Guided tour of Lucca and shopping along Via Fillungo

Close to our villa there are some good hiking and jogging tracks that wind up the Monte Pisano. The villa also has several mountain bikes that can be used to explore these tracks and the surrounding area. The nearby village of Vorno has stables where horse back riding can be arranged if you wish to explore the area at a more leisurely pace. Conveniently located nearby are two excellent golf courses for the more active sports person: one in Versilia and the other in Montecatini.

* Please note that while the price of your luxury cooking vacation includes all food and wine consumed on the premises, it does not include entrance fees to various museums and sites and the cost of lunches or visits to selected restaurants.

Rhode School of Cuisine
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