Creative, Passionate Chef Teaches Tuscan Cuisine At Lorenza De Medici’s Cooking School in Tuscany

When Lorenza De Medici,  famous author and cookbook writer, founded  the Badia a Coltibuono cooking school over 20 years ago in the Chianti region, she provided an idyllic setting for visitors to learn the secrets of authentic regional Italian cuisine. Highly-trained Tuscan chef Andrea Gagnesi is carrying on her original idea while adding modern techniques and recipes to his teachings.

I was fortunate enough to visit the school when I visited Italy last September and witness an actual class. Chef Andrea’s English is excellent and the group of tourist/students were captivated and enthusiastic.

The rustic kitchen in this 1000-year-old abbey is amazing.  Add to that ambiance the juxtaposition of the freshest possible display of simple-but-exquisite ingredients (like fresh sheep milk ricotta, beautiful garden vegetables, and the abbey’s own organic e.v.o.o) and you have magic.

On the particular day I visited, Chef Andrea created a number of courses.

Among these were freshly made Paccheri (a rustically cut pasta) with a sauce made from uncooked tomatoes and fresh herbs, individual servings of eggplant parmesan, and an aromatic Panzanella (a Florentine summer salad of bread and tomatoes).  The dessert was individually baked crostate (tortes) with extra virgin olive oil dough instead of the usual butter dough (pasta frolla).

My fellow traveler Ginny and I were lucky enough to sample all the courses among the general ooohs and aaahs of the students.

The cooking courses are held from March to November, and offer a splendid chance to immerse oneself in the unique lifestyle and hospitality of a 1000 year old abbey while savoring the fantastic tastes and sights that this beautiful region offers.

The lessons are taught by Tuscan Chef Andrea Gagnesi who has a perfect command of English , a natural easy going style and a hand’s on approach, Andrea ensures that guests bring home authentic Italian recipes and menus to be used year round for all occasions.

Cooking School:

Chef Gagnesi’s Blog (With Recipes):

First Time Ever: Sky Section of Siena’s Duomo Open to Public

From now until October 27, 2013, the “Sky” section of the beautiful Duomo of Siena will be accessible to tourists.

Finally, after centuries of renovations, visitors will be lead by a guide through hidden walkways, indoor and outdoor balconies and spiral staircases to view the famous ceiling.

Duomo of Siena on view for the first time ever.

See the “Starry Skies” of Siena

This is the first opportunity to view the starry sky frescoes on the vaults of the structure – also known as Porta del Cielo (Door of Heaven).

This is worth a trip to Tuscany!

Click here for complete story at Dream of Italy:

Gelato University in Italy for International Students

Whether you are a passionate home-based gelato enthusiast or a professional pastry chef, these courses are designed to maximize your gelato-making talent.

Learn to make gelato

Eat your way through school by starting with dessert!

Learn from gelato masters  in Italy (classes are available in English) at courses that vary from one day to four weeks. You can study at the Gelato University in Italy (near Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region of central Italy), you can attend courses in a variety of countries or even online.

Carpigiani Gelato University is an international center of learning dedicated to training entrepreneurs who want to enter the gelato business or who already work with gelato and want to improve their abilities. Around 12,000 courses every year are donein our gelato school by top chefs.


Started by the manufacturers of the well-known Carpigiano professional gelato machines, university representatives state:

Indeed, our main goals are developing the art and science of gelato production, the comprehensive training of gelato entrepreneurs, and the promotion of Italian gelato as a natural and flavorful food suitable for all cultures.

For more information:

Rome Celebrates 2,766th Birthday

RomaCompleannoGladiators, Fireworks, a new Pope and much, much more are in store for this year’s birthday celebration in Rome.  Naturally, museum exhibits abound, especially at the Vatican.

Don’t miss this celebration.  And if you can’t make it this year, why not plan for 2014?

For full story, click here.


Florence, Italy Gelato Festival May 2013

Festivities | 17 May 2013 from 12:00 a.m. to 26 May 2013 23:45 p.m. Florence (FI)

In May 2013, the“Italian Gelato Tour,” road show involving the best ice cream makers and industry leaders from Italy and abroad, aims to promote this amazing, traditional Italian frozen dessert.  Gelato was invented during the Renaissance by the versatile artist Bernardo Buontalenti.

The event takes place in some of the most beautiful locations in Florence.

The Italian Gelato Tour is designed by the creators of Firenze Gelato Festival to spread the culture of ice cream all over the country and increase the involvement of all the Italian regions in the values, pleasures, and  traditions of the best-loved frozen dessert in the world. Particular attention will be dedicated to all participants, from professionals to entrepreneurs to amateurs, who want to get closer to the world of gelato.

The Italy Gelato Tour will stop in Florence from May 17 to 26, 2014 with the Firenze Gelato Festival.

One hundred days before the inauguration of Firenze Gelato Festival 2013, the selection of ice cream masters for all stages of the Tour began.

Firenze Gelato Festival 2013 and Italy Gelato Tour 2013 are indeed the perfect settings for any gelato maker: For those who make ice cream with passion, for those for whom gelato is a vocation and for those who have personality, charisma, communication skills and team spirit and want to propose a product that is innovative, creative and of high quality.

For info and contacts:


tel: 055 47891322.


Where it takes place

Piazza Santa Maria Novella, 1 – 50123 – Florence

2013 Very Useful Italy Tips and Updates from Rick Steves


What’s new in Italy for 2013 travelers?  Rick Steves, the ultimate Italy tourist, shares his tips in USA Today.   Rick includes how to avoid long lines in italy, Italy’s best public squares, magical experiences in Florence and Venice, new museum exhibits, a Cinque Terre update,  and much more.

My husband and I are visiting Italy in May.  I found some good tips in this article!


Excitement in Assisi, Italy over “Pope Francis”

As Described in the ItalianNotebook, the citizens of Assisi as well as all the Franciscans are celebrating the new pope and hoping for a visit to this place of peace and international brotherhood.


St. Francis returns from war on his horse

Click here for full story


Italy Introduces Green, Electric Quadricycle to Postal Fleet

Introducing the  Italian Postal Services mini-car with methane, carbon-free distribution, This project is part of  the participation in European environmental projects.MiniCarPostalService

I cannot wait to see these in the historic center of Florence when I’m there in May.  They are so cute!

Click here to read entire article from the Italian Post Headlines:

How to Have a Meal Like a True Italian: Do’s and Dont’s

Italians to do not add Parmigiano to any dishes with seafood (pasta or main course). Tuscan Meals and Drinks – Do’s and Don’ts

  1. ‘Just say no’ to Parmigiano: I must agree with Mario Batali (one of my heroes) when he says that Parmigiano Reggiano is the “Undisputed king of cheese.” Italians sprinkle parmesan onto and into many dishes, from appetizers to main courses.
    Exception to note: Italians to do not add Parmigiano to any dishes with seafood (pasta or main course).It is considered somewhat sacrilegious to add such a strong-flavored ingredient as Parmigiano to the (incredibly) fresh and delicate taste of fish or shell fish.I have actually seen waiters at restaurants in Italy refuse to bring Parmigiano to someone who has ordered seafood pasta!
  2. Names and sequence of courses in a meal:At a restaurant, or at home for special occasions, Italians meals flow in this order: Read more

Valentine’s Day Came From Italy

It is believed that Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Roman times during the reign of Emperor Claudius II in the 3rd century. Believing that single men would be more dedicated to their lives as soldiers, Claudius banned marriages for young men. Valentine (a Roman priest) found this law unjust (and unChristian). The priest continued to marry couples in secret despite the Emperor’s decree. Valentine was ultimately discovered and Claudius condemned him to death.

St. Valentine: (C) 2009 John Sheppard


Legend has it that Valentine actually sent the first Valentine’s Day message: While in prison, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter who visited him regularly. The day he was executed (February 14), Valentine left a letter for her and signed it “From your Valentine” thus giving birth to this famous expression.

Love celebrations in mid-February can be traced back to pagan Roman festivals where naked men sacrificed animals then used the animal skins as whips to spank young maidens and increase their fertility.

This celebration was called “Lupercalia” and was held on Febuary 15.

It is believed that the Roman Empire later converted this festival to a Christian holiday and named it for St. Valentine. After Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, many pagan festivals were converted to Christian holidays.

National Geographic history of Valentine’s Day

History Channel history of Valentine’s Day

History Channel Valentine’s Day History Video

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