Having extensively travelled through Europe, I love the entire continent’s sublime culture, rich history and fabulous food. If I had to pick just one country, however, Italy is my favourite. After all, I honeymooned there!
I recently revisited Italy after 5 years, staying in the lovely region of Tuscany for a week. One of my most memorable experiences was visiting the monastery-turned-winery-turned-hotel “Badia Coltibuono” in Gaiole in Chianti. Read on to know why you must include this place in any itinerary of Tuscany or Florence.
- ITALIAN COOKING CLASS WITH RENOWNED CHEF BENEDETTA VITALI:
How often can you attend a cooking class with a Netflix-star chef?! Badia Coltibuono’s Italian cooking school has been put on the world map by its current manager, Benedetta Vitali, who was featured in the popular Netflix show “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”. As a result, people pour in from around the world to take her exclusive cooking lessons.
Benedetta conducts an in-depth class over 5 hours, teaching a four course Italian meal from scratch. The interactive nature of the class makes it thoroughly enjoyable- you will knead the dough, cut the ravioli, chop the veggies while being elbow-deep in organic, home-grown ingredients. Your efforts are rewarded with delicious lunch, complemented by the fabulous repertoire of Badia Coltibuono wines.
I signed up for this class along with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew, and we loved the entire experience. We made fried zucchini flowers for appetisers; focaccia bread, ravioli pasta in tomato sauce, vegetables au gratin for the first course; and biscotti for dessert. The second course of pork was cooked by the in-house chefs. At the end of the class we received a diploma and a recipe book.
The cooking lesson is a pricey undertaking at 150 euros per head, but it is worth every penny if you are an ardent cook. You can choose to skip the cooking lesson and enjoy the delicious food at 50 euros per head.
Book a cooking lesson at Badia here.
- WINE TOUR AND TASTING OF POPULAR CHIANTI WINES:
The ‘wine tour and tasting’ is a guided tour of this stunningly beautiful 11th century property, and a tasting session of the signature wines of this brand. We signed up for the two-bottle tasting but you can sample more bottles for a higher entrance fee. While the tasting is nice, the tour is simply fabulous.
Our guide, Carinne, explained the fascinating history of Badia Coltibuono and answered all our rookie questions. Badia originated as a monastery in the 11th century, where the monks began producing their own wine. The production of wine was privatized when Napoleon invaded this area. Its current owners took control of the property in 1846, maintaining its original form. The lush landscaped gardens, beautiful swimming pool, unbeatable old-world charm and fabulous restaurant, definitely merit a visit.
An Italian choir was in residence when we toured the property. Their soothing religious music and beautiful voices enriched the atmosphere and transported us back in time!
Book a wine tour and tasting here
Cost: Start at 10 euros per head and varies according to the number of wines tasted
- FASCINATING HISTORY:
Apart from its interesting origins as a monastery converted to a vineyard and hotel, the Badia Coltibuono grounds also boast the archeological remains of the Etruscan village of Cetamura. The vineyard was moved to a different region in the 1960s but the wine is preserved in Badia, owing to its location on a hill top and the wonderful weather.
The owner family’s private wine library
Having remained in the same family for over 170 years, its rich history and culture are preserved well. The family’s private wine library is particularly fascinating, with the oldest bottle dating back to 1937.
- WONDERFUL GIFT SHOP:
Gift shops don’t usually feature in tourist guides, but this particular one really stands out. Badia Coltibuono produces its own olives, cheese, wine as well as myriad other articles that are sourced locally. If you’re looking to buy presents, nothing beats the options you get here- Italian hand-painted ceramics of all sizes, handmade soaps, extra virgin olive oil, leather goods, Italian chocolates– you name it, they have it!
- COMFORTABLE AND MEMORABLE STAY:
We stayed at “Il Cortile Di Pratolino” villa, located 15 minutes away from Badia Coltibuono. However, if you prefer a fully staffed hotel experience or you want a short stay, Badia is a wonderful option. You will be hard pressed to find its beautiful ambiance elsewhere. The restaurant and other amenities further add to its charm. It’s also well connected to big towns like Florence, Siena and Arezzo. The hotel has 8 double rooms and 5 apartments.
Book a stay at Badia Coltibuono on booking.com here.
Despite not staying at Badia Coltibuono, I fell in love with it and plan to return whenever possible. If you are planning a trip to Florence or Tuscany in Italy, you must include a day’s excursion here. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Location: Badia a Coltibuono
53013, Gaiole in Chianti (SI)
Siena, Tuscany, Italy
This blog is a part of the #WeeklyBlogHop hosted by Alpana of www.mothersgurukul.com and Neha Sharma of www.growingwithnemit.com. I would like to thank Shubhra of www.natkhatz.com for introducing me to this blog hop and would further like to invite Yogeeta of www.vrag.in to share her take on the prompts.
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