Gourmandly designs food and wine tours for hungry and curious travelers. They call Bainbridge Island, WA their home, and this team is obsessed with cultivating a unique and hands-on experience, whether it’s a float plane to Orcas Island or a sailing trip off the coast of Croatia. Trips vary in length and distance, but adventurers will feel closer to the producers, makers, and guides as they become an integral participant to their experience.
When we help guests travel through Tuscany, we help them to explore actively. Hands-on, whole-hearted immersion is what creates some of the greatest experiences and the best understanding of any place. In Tuscany, active immersion is a beautiful thing, full of truffle hunting, wine tasting, landmark exploring, and more. Read on to learn Gourmandly’s top 5 picks for experience-based travel in Italy’s Tuscany region.
Wake early and dress warmly, heading out with your group into the crisp autumn morning. Meet on the grounds of the vineyard villa you’re calling home for a week, and greet your guides for today’s treasure hunt: a local truffle hunter and his adorable dog. While both dogs and pigs are trained to find the elusive black and white truffles that grow throughout Italy, decide you’re happier to have a friendly dog for this search. Head out into the woods — leaves, grass, and moss still damp with dew — and follow the sniffing nose of the white-haired dog. Laugh with new friends as the excitement builds, and think of the truffle-heavy lunch you’re sure to eat once back inside the warm villa. Finally, our hunting dog has found some! White truffles! Help to dig them up, then study them in the early light. Oddly-shaped, yes, but truly rich with flavor.
After relaxing with a cappuccino and pastry for breakfast, join together for a scenic ride through the Tuscan countryside to visit a gorgeous olive tree orchard. Meet the orchard owner who’s fantastically charismatic and enthusiastic as he explains his harvesting process — from picking the olives to pressing them into delicious oil. Get active by helping with the harvest yourself. Breathe in the fresh air as your gloved hands work to drop fresh olives into nets on the ground. The reward for your hard work? An al fresco lunch in the orchard with friends.
Discover Tuscany’s most famous masterpiece — wine! Journey into the small village of Montenero d’Orcia to visit a family-owned vineyard and winery. Meet several generations who have made this land their livelihood, and enjoy a tasting of select wines. Swirl, sip, and savor before joining the owners for a tour of their wine cellar where ancient practices are used to age the wine.
Wash your hands, put on an apron, and step into a traditional Tuscan kitchen for a cooking workshop. Learn about authentic techniques, ingredients, and recipes to make regional favorites like wild game dishes and homemade pasta. Let the aroma of sizzling garlic and pancetta fill the air as you work with your group to create a midday feast. Don’t forget to pull the dessert from the oven: individual fruit tarts called Crostata di Frutta.
Museum and landmark exploring
Discover the artistic and historical treasures of Florence on foot, and learn deeply by listening to a local guide tell you stories of each and every landmark and monument, from the majestic Basilica di Santa Croce to the sculpture-rich Galleria dell’Accademia. Don’t end your cultural exploration with landmarks and museums, but continue on. Wander down the city’s oldest streets to the Ponte Vecchio and San Lorenzo Market, chatting with local artisans and craftspeople until you’re ready to end the day with dinner and local wine.