A lover of everything Italian and someone with plenty of scope to improve her culinary expertise, Catriona Rowntree was excited at the prospect of signing up for a Tuscookany cooking class in a Tuscan villa.
Her destination was the 18th century villa Torre del Tartufo, high in the Tuscan hills, a couple of hours pleasant drive from Rome. The 200 hectare property is surrounded by a truffle estate and groves of hazelnut and oak trees. It is believed to have once been a chapel and has been added to over the years.
It has recently been restored, using Tuscan materials terracotta floors, wood beams and marble bathrooms. There are twelve bedrooms divided into four suites, each with living room, fireplace and small kitchen. A large central area includes kitchen, bar and dining room. Every room has a terrace or balcony with views across the hills.
Catriona loved her room, complete with heated floors and an adorable Juliet balcony. She was also taken by the piazza where meals are served. There is a solar heated pool, sauna and hot tub for complete relaxation.
With such beautiful surroundings, it could be easy to forget that you are actually there to learn, but it was aprons on and knives sharpened for a hands-on lesson with Chef Franco Palandra. Classes are in English, but you can't help picking up bits and pieces of the beautiful local language.