The Location

Tuscany and Umbria are 2 central regions of Italy. While Tuscany has a western coastline, Umbria is land-locked.

The southern corner of Tuscany touches the western border of Umbria and the northern point of Lazio or Latium, and it takes about 90 mins to travel to our “Base Camp” by car from either Rome or Florence, or Perugia, the 3 closest cities with airports.

People from abroad often consider “Tuscany “ to be just the area between Siena and Florence, where Chianti wine originated, but Tuscany is much more than that, having 9 provinces, and we are going to be placed in the province of Siena. Umbria, a part of the program, also considered the “New Tuscany” is also known as the “Green Heart of Italy”, and we are near the most beautiful of its larger towns, Orvieto.

The historical name which has come down to us, and which embraces both regions, as far as the river Tiber in the East, is TUSCIA (the land of the ETRUSCHI or the Etruscans) – hence today we have Tuscany derived from that.

The geological landscape here is of volcanic origin, and 2 extinct volcanoes dominate the landscape – Mount Cetona (3.766feet or 1.148 m), and Mount Amiata (5.702 feet or 1.738 m). The conformation of the landscape means that there are still active thermal springs and spa towns in the area, as well as uplifted layers of clays and marnes providing heavy clay soils where wines are successfully cultivated and Montepulciano has been producing wine since well before Montalcino, with evidence of this in the tufa rock grottoes beneath the town which have a constant temperature ideal for storing and ageing wine and other produce. The basis of the red wine here is a varietal of the sangiovese stock known as the PRUGNOLO GENTILE.

 The area has given hospitality from as far back as the cavemen from the paleolithic era , with visitable traces of dwelling sites from 4000 – 5000 years ago, dominating the valleys where swamps provided bountiful game to hunt, and traces of the Etruscan culture of 2800 years ago are evident in various locations, and of course Roman occupation followed from around the 2nd century B.C.E. In more recent times, just 500-odd years ago, the regions were rivals, with the Medici-driven Grand Duchy of Tuscany rivalling the Papal State for control over Central Italy and the movements of the various northern invaders towards former-won territories they wanted to regain control over.

In more recent history, WWII saw the Albert or Trasimene Line running through this area as part of Field Marshal Albert Kesselring’s retreating line of defence against the advancing Allied Armies, in 1944.

See Rates & Dates

Interested in booking your Tuscan Cooking Vacation with us? Visit the following link to learn more pricing and a list of available upcoming dates.