Italian Intermezzo Experience
We're just back from our fabulous ITALIAN INTERMEZZO program! Our group completely enjoyed the romantic Villa San Michele, a luxurious Orient-Express hotel overlooking Florence. This former monastery has a façade designed by Michelangelo, magnificent frescoes, terraced gardens, and a surrounding forest of cypress, cedars, and olives. Listed among the Italian National Monuments, the villa has been transformed into a grand hotel.
In our cooking classes, we learned how to make an easy and very tasty Panzanella salad, a hearty Ribollita soup, scrumptious Gnocchi, a luscious Tiramisu, and many more dishes from executive chef Attilio di Fabrizio and chef Luca Orini.
I had a blast performing with Florentine musicians at the cooking school and also at our Catherine de' Medici Renaissance dinner! This dinner was over the top, with its many courses served by Renaissance-costumed waiters, exceptional wine pairings, gorgeous Renaissance music, and Vittorio dal O's introduction to the fresco that graces the room. By the end of the evening we were singing with abandon, "playing" musical wine glasses, and feeling like Renaissance aristocrats.
Our program also included a tour of the gorgeous Chianti countryside and visit to the Campanelle winery. Campanelle is renowned for exceptional wines and also a high-tech wine vault that belongs in a James Bond movie! We finished the afternoon with a family-style Tuscan bar-b-que highlighted by grilled Chianina beef and Campanelle wines. Magnifico!
Another day we visited the Pitti Palace, saw "the David" by Michelangelo, and celebrated over lunch at the renowned Il Latini. We spent the rest of the day roaming, shopping, shopping, and eating way too much gelato!