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The local "amiatino" cuisine has a boundless wealth. Fortunately, in recent years it has started an activity of discovery, study and enhancement of our products and our traditions. This has important quality seals, oil, chestnuts, mushrooms, truffles, and food and wine events.
Wines and olive oil, chestnuts and mushrooms, honey and truffles, cheeses, buiscuits and cakes, Sienese pork...
Descending from Monte Amiata’s summit towards the valleys, fresh mushrooms are to be found, and a little lower, in certain places, truffles. Reaching the chestnut belt, in autumn a riot of colours sets off the highly prized chestnuts.While today chestnuts are a valuable product, for many centuries they were the sole source of food for the people of the mountain: now there is an association which protects the chestnuts.There are many varieties, but only 3, the Marrone, the Cecio and the Bastarda Rossa can claim IGP Castagna di Monte Amiata status.
The flour obtained by drying the chestnuts in specially constructed buildings and then grinding them, is used to make a wide variety of sweet and savoury local dishes.It is possible to go all along the seven stretches of the “Chestnut Way” as it winds through chestnut woods many centuries old, and old fortified medieval towns. Below the towns the country is full of the olive trees from which the precious oilis made. Standing out above all the rest is the indigenous “Olivastra Seggianese”, which has DOP certification status.Traditional pressing with huge stone millwheels can still be seen at the Camarri Frantoio (press) in Arcidosso, and the very latest machines for pressing at the frantoio “Enolea” in Seggiano.
Characteristic farm houses are interesting to visit, particularly Podere Bugnanese in the country outside Seggiano. Lower still is the wine growing area.Amiata is the centre of an area ideally suited for wine growing:to the north Brunello of Montalcino, and Castello Banfi, one of the most interesting estates in the world; to the east the Vino Nobile of Montepulciano; south the Morellino of Scansanoand the Bianco of Pitigliano;and west, the vines from the Montecucco area which fan out over the mountain’s lower slopes. Superb quality wines with the rich flavours of the Sangiovese grape which is indigenous to the area.The Perazzeta estate, owned by Alessandro who has done a wonderful job, is the one we visit and to which we often refer.
A little higher, again outside Seggiano, there is another great wine producing estate, the Castello di Potentino.Here Charlotte Greene has created the “Sacromonte” (the sacred mountain), an extremely interesting wine made from Sangiovese grapes.It is also fascinating to visit the castle itself. But Amiata also produces great sheep’s cheeses, matured in different ways.To illustrate this we visit the Pinzi Pinzutiestate near Abbadia San Salvatore. A particular type of pig, the Cinta Senese,said to be indigenous, is also reared around here and is responsible for the wonderful quality of meat which is then turned into hams, sausages and salamis, in the pork butchers. We take our guests to the Salumificio Bonelli in Castel del Piano to see how this is done. The vigorous vegetation in the area favours bees and the production of honey. Lastly, baked products such as the savoury biscuits from Roccalbegna DOP.Fabbiano Flamini, who works in Semproniano is undoubtedly the king of cake and sweet making.
In Castel del Piano there is “Corsini Biscotti”, a small scale family business whose products are to be found in the shops all overthe area, and we take our gests there to see and sample what they offer. All this means that here regional dishes are carefully prepared from the freshestlocal ingredients. The numerous restaurants prepare dishes that jealously preserve the old ingredients: soups like Acqua Cotta, zuppa di funghi, il buglione; home made pastas, like tortelli (stuffed with different fillings using unusual combinations of ingredients) pici, tagliatelle, pappardelle and maccheroni. Main courses are prepared from the Cinta senese pigs, Chianina and Maremmana cattle: all are indigenous, tasty and their quality is guaranteed! The salamis are outstanding thanks to the extraordinary tradition of production.Among the cheeses “Ravaggiolo” is particularly noteworthy.
A tour to discover the fine food and wines of Monte Amiata
During your stay we shall try to show you all the varied aspects of food and wine which our region can offer.Apart from experiencing life in the small medieval villages, we shall visit numerous estates which produce local specialties.Obviously the table and menu will be supremely important.We have chosen a series of particularly interesting restaurants and hotels.One of our members is always available to accompany guests.
Dinner with traditional regional dishes, appropriately accompanied by the great wines of Montalcino, Montecucco, Scansano and Montepulciano. At the end of the evening there will be a slide show by Cesare Moroni to introduce Monte Amiata.
After a brief visit to Arcidosso (to the medieval village and the castle of the Aldobrandeschi) and in a oil press (for a tasting of extra-virgin olive oil) we go on to the wine producing area of Montecucco, which one gets to from Monticello Amiata, a splendid medieval village, where we visit the Casa Museum, which records the kind of life experienced by our grandparents’ grandparents. Lunch at Montenero in a traditional restaurant with its splendid terrace overlooking the Val D’Orcia, and a visit to the Museum of Wine where we can see the leaps in wine technology in the last hundred years. Visit to a wine estate, one of the most interesting producers of Montecucco, with its storage space for barrels made out of a fourteenth century cellar. Return to the hotel. Dinner with traditional dishes and a concert given by a folksingers group from Castel del Piano.
The hot springs of San Filippo. Today is the day of the Sienese pig. The first visit is to the stock farm of these pigs. It is specially interesting to see these animals roaming free in the woods. Next, a visit to the medieval town of Abbadia San Salvatore and its eponymous Abbey (the Sienese pigs appear in the frescoes by Nasini). From here we go on to visit a farmhouse, where Barbara will show us the method of making pecorino (sheep’s cheese). Lunch will be in a traditional restaurant. In the afternoon time to relax and take a resuscitating bathe in the hot springs at San Filippo. Return to the hotel and dinner.
Today our tour starts with a visit to a seccatoio (a building of peperino - a granite-like stone - in the chestnut woods where chestnuts are brought to be dried). We then reach the medieval village of Seggiano, clinging to a steep hill, surrounded by olives. After a visit to the village we continue with a visit in a twelfth century Castle. Charlotte, the chatelaine, produces the hightest quality wine and olive oil. After a visit to the old castle, we shall lunch in the Hall of the Devil, or, weather permitting, in the courtyard under the cloister with its wonderful view towards the mountain. In the afternoon a visit to a Frantoio (oilve oil producer). Extremely modern, it nevertheless depends on the philosophy of producing oil advanced by the great Veronelli. Run by Roberto, it aims at producing high quality oils. We shall taste two kinds of oil: the characteristic oil from the Seggiano “olivastre” trees, and a mix from other traditional varieties, learning to appreciate their individual merits. In the late afternoon, return to the hotel, with time to relax before dinner with traditional wines and dishes from Amiata.
Today we shall discover other small medieval villages.We shall start with Castel del Piano where we shall meet Samuele, the master pork-butcher, who will show us the ways of preparing Amiatini “salumi”. We shall visit Santa Fiora, its historic centre, the church with della Robbia painted terra-cottas, the park with the fish pond and the Museum of the Mines. Lunch will be in a characteristic Tuscan restaurant. In the afternoon, a visit a cake factory, one of the most prestigious enterprises on a national level. Return to the hotel for dinner.
The day is dedicated to a visit to the old, historic town of Montalcino. The coach takes us to the Castello di Poggio alle Mura, where we shall first visit the huge cellar and wine shop of Castello Banfi and the nearby GlassMuseum. It is an unforgettable experience to see the headquarters of one of the most renowned producers of Montalcino. It is an impressive place, where one can experience at first hand the real atmosphere of a great estate.The next stage of the journey takes us to Montalcino. The old centre of the town has medieval origins, and from the Rocca (the fort) there are breath-taking views over the Val D’Orcia. Lunch in a traditional restaurant, where we can taste the wines of Montalcino. In the afternoon we head towards Sant’Antimo, the ancient Benedictine Abbey, built partly of alabaster. Return to the hotel for dinner.
The last day is dedicated to produce of the oven. The first visit is to Roccalbegna, the ancient village lying along the gorge of the torrent Albegna and dominated by a fort on a rocky spur. From here we go on to the village of Semproniano, which we visit briefly, for our main goal is a famous bakery. Fabiano, the master-baker carries on a family tradition and will show us how to make bread, tarts and cakes. Lunch at a characteristic restaurant, and then the afternoon is spent at the hot springs of Saturnia where, in one of the largest thermal swimming pools in the world, a reviving bathe can be enjoyed between fountains and sulphureous streams. Return to the hotel programmed for the late afternoon. In the evening after dinner, there will be a dance in honor of the guests.
We shall meet producers of Montecucco and Montalcino wines
This is a gastronomic weekend in which to discover Amiata - a week-end wandering with friends through cellars and estates which specialise in typical produce.
Guests will arrive at the hotel in the late afternoon. After checking in there will be a preview of the tour by your leader and a cocktail to welcome you. Finally, dinner.The chef will have prepared traditional local dishes with Montecucco wines specially selected to enhance them. There will be a careful presentation of each dish and wine served with it. After dinner Cesare Moroni will give us an introduction to the area with slides accompanied by splendid music.
After breakfast leave for Montalcino. Our first visit will be to one of the most important wine producing estates, Castello Banfi. After a visit to the cellars, where we shall be able to witness an extraordinary blending of technology with tradition, we shall go on to their wine shop at Poggio alle Mura and the GlassMuseum. From there we shall turn towards Montenero and visit the Perazzeta estate vineyards - a truly magical place and the short walk there is well worthwhile. The breathtaking view includes Monte Amiata, the Val D’Orcia with the hills of Montalcino in the background, and the medieval village of Montenero, and the Maremma in the distance. Inspired by his father, Erio, Alessandro’s enormous enthusiasm for wine has breathed new life into the estate, and he is greatly helped by his wife, Rita.Besides the traditional San Giovese grapes we shall find Cabernet and Syrah vines too. Our next visit will be to the really beautiful cellar right in the centre of Montenero where the grapes from the vines around us are pressed and turned into wine. We shall visit the fourteenth century barrel store where we shall begin to understand the estate’s wine making techniques. A visit to the Museum of Montecucco wine will give us an overall view of this wine-growing region. We shall have an appetizer on the Terrazza which looks out over the Val D’Orcia and has what is considered to be one of the most beautiful views in Italy. Lunch awaits us at the “Antica Fattoria del Grottaione”, a typical restaurant made out of the old village cellars and Flavio will delight us with his cooking. We must on no account hurry: here the idea of “Slow Food”, the pleasures of eating, are scrupulously observed. On our way back from Montenero we shall stop briefly in Arcidosso, another medieval village, where we shall visit the Camarri oil press.It is a traditional press with huge millstones and Mirco and Carla will give us a taste of their various oils, and perhaps we may buy some. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon.During dinner we shall sample other DOC wines from Montecucco. After dinner Aurelio Visconti, who has many old recipes which once belonged to the Cistercian monks at the Abbazia San Salvatore, will talk about the aromatic herbs which are found on Monte Amiata and let us taste his liqueurs. This will be followed by dancing to live music.
Today it is Seggiano’s turn. After breakfast guests will set out to visit the old medieval village perched on a hill. After a short walk in the village, our first stop will be at the oil and wine shop called “Enolea”. Here Roberto will give us different oils to taste and suggest the best culinary combinations for them. We shall continue with a visit to the Podere Bugnanese estate.The farm house is built in characteristically Tuscan style and enjoys a breathtaking view.Here Daniela produces fantastic olive oil and very special soaps. A short walk brings us to PotentinoCastle, recently bought and lovingly restored by the Greenes, an English family. It is one of the most memorable spots in the area. A visit here is an unforgettable experience. Charlotte, the current chatelaine, also produces Montecucco wines. Here a different vinification process is used, and the fermentation takes place in huge wooden vats, each holding 5,000 litres. where the vinification and ageing process also take place. Besides tasting the wine, we can also sample her oil and grappa. Lunch will be in the beautiful cloister in the courtyard. Return to the hotel and final departure.
The Tuscan truffle festival at San Giovanni d’Asso takes place during the second and third weekends of November. The Tuscan truffle season lasts roughly from September through December. It is tremendous fun for anyone interested in Tuscan food and folklore. There is a group of stalls selling white truffles, plus food stalls and restaurants selling truffle-flavoured specialities. During the festival, it's a good idea to book your restaurant. If you buy a truffle, make sure you're in a position to use it within three days - next day if possible - because their incredible aromatics disperse into the atmosphere at a rapid rate. San Giovanni d'Asso is located about 80 km southeast of Florence and about 30 km southeast of Siena in the picturesque area known as the Crete Senesi. Crete Senesi means "Siennese clays" and these give the soil of parts of the Val d'Orcia south east of Sienna a distinctive grey colouration
Pick up by minibus at the airport (Rome, Florence, Pisa or Perugia) Transfer to the Hotel in Pienza and Check In. Welcome Cocktail. Dinner at the Restaurant with local dishes based on handmade Pasta, mushrooms, wild boar, Salami, wild berries, extra vergine olive oil …
After Breakfast, departure by bus to Poggio Antico. Guided Tour of the Wine Farm. Brunello di Montalcino Wine Tasting. Transfer to Montalcino. Visit to Montalcino and lunch on your own. Departure by Bus to the Abbey Sant Antimo and sightseeing. Back to the Hotel and dinner.
After Breakfast departure by Bus reaching San Giovanni d’Asso. Visit to the Truffle Museum. Lunch tasting Truffle dishes. Visit to a Truffle Farm. Back to the Hotel and Dinner
After Breakfast. Departure by Minibus to Orvieto or Siena. Half day guided tour of the town. Lunch on your own. Back to the Hotel and Dinner.
After Breakfast departure by Minibus for Pitigliano. Escorted half day tour. Sheep Milk Cheese Tasting. The town is situated on a steep tuff rock, characterised by tuff stone, a hardened type of volcanic magma. Lunch at a local restaurant lead by Alessandro’s Family. Departure for Sovana and visit of its Etruscan’s tombs aged 1000 BC. Back to the Hotel by Minibus. Dinner at the Restaurant.
After Breakfast departure by Minibus to Montepulciano. Half day guided Tour of the town and Nobile di Montepulciano Wine Tasting. Lunch on your own. Transfer by Minibus to Monte Amiata for a half day pasta cooking class lead by Chef Claudia. Farewell Cocktail served in a old Castle. Dinner at the Enoteca da Nazareno with its biggest wine collection of South Tuscany. Back by Minibus to the hotel.
After Breakfast transfer to the Airport (Rome, Florence, Pisa or Perugia
The Price includes: