Gastronomy Delights – Fully Escorted Tour
27th October 2017 – 5 Nights
Hotel La Torretta in Montecatini Terme is a family owned and run, 60 bedroomed property originally built in the 1960s, but has been well maintained and modernized. The original hotel was built in the 1920s by the current owner’s grandparents. Four generations are involved in this family business, which is run with passion. It is a four star hotel.
The family patriarch is called Dante, he is in his middle 60s and has a passion for local history as well as good food, olive oil (which he produces) and fine wine. His English is excellent. In fact all the staff in this hotel speak good English.
The hotel has a bar, but as is typical of hotels in Italy it does not sell draught beer. There are steps from the road leading to the hotel and there is a step inside the hotel leading to the lift.
People with severe mobility problems may find this a challenge, however people with non-severe mobility problems will be fine.
Montecatini Terme has a long history as a SPA resort, the present day SPA buildings are quite spectacular they are in the Liberty style, this is a style which blended Art Nouveau with the classical styles and dates to the early 1900s. Until the recent years of austerity, Italian civil servants were given holidays at SPA resorts as part of their package of benefits, furthermore doctors were able to write a prescription for patients to take a SPA holiday, so SPA resorts such as Montecatini Terme prospered. However over the last ten years the resort has needed to target a wider tourist market, hence it has opened to us, although most British people will never have heard of it.
Montecatini Terme has a railway station and is on the line which runs from Florence to Pisa, it’s about midway. Trains in Italy are very inexpensive to use and they operate a very good service. The town has a number of restaurants and bars, it lies on the plain and is nestled by a large hill called Montecatini Alto, this can be reached by a funicular railway. At the top of the hill there are bars, restaurants and of course historical fortifications. The tourist season in Montecatini finishes in early November, but of course this is also a residential town, so although hotels close in November, life continues to go on. In fact they even hold special Christmas events for children in Montecatini Alto. Hoteliers like to close as this provides them with three months for any refurbishment and of course having worked a seven day week for nine months, it also provides a respite for all the staff.
Transfer time from Pisa airport by coach, is about thirty minutes.
The departure date for this tour has been selected as it is ideal for the best truffle hunting. The world’s most renowned white truffles are found in Piedmont, Northern Italy and in Tuscany.
A record of £165,000 was paid for a truffle weighing 1.5kg. Our tour will be visiting San Miniato where we will be meeting a truffle hunter, who will take us into the woods together with his dogs where we will be seeking the finest truffles. I would suggest suitable attire for this as we will be walking in woods and the weather may be wet. After the truffle hunt we will be enjoying a lunch where we will be tasting finest truffles used in the cooking.
Another day out will take us to the medieval city of Montalcino. Everyone associates Tuscany with Chianti, which of course is a very fine wine, we also have Chianti Classico and Riserva, however there are also two other fine wines produced in Tuscany, one being Vernaccia, which is a white wine from the San Gimignano area and the other is Brunello from Montalcino.
We will be visiting the vineyards of Capanna, a leading winegrower who will be giving us a tour and where we will enjoy a wine tasting of these extremely fine wines. Brunello wines can be purchased in Britain and the starting price is around £20.00 a bottle.
Our other day tour will be by rail to Florence, the journey time is around one hour and we will be shown this magnificent city by a local guide. Please be advised that we will not have time to visit any of the museums. If you have customers who would like to visit the museums of Florence I am considering a separate tour of five nights which will be exclusively to visit the museums and walk in the steps of the recent film “Inferno”.
The Gastronomy theme will be continued with a cookery lesson of typical Tuscan fayre accompanied of course with some local wine. Weather dependent this may be at the farmhouse which is owned by Dante and where we can see his olive groves or alternatively we may do this at the hotel. As we will be eating two substantial lunches, the one we will have cooked and the other after the truffle hunt, we have not included evening meals on these days. Customers will be at liberty to eat off the a‘la carte menu at the hotel or be free to explore some of the local restaurants if they are still hungry.
On the three evenings where lunch is not included, a three course evening meal is included at the hotel, this will also include two glasses of local wine per person as well as mineral water. However one of these three evening will be a little different! The main dish served will be the famous Bistecca Fiorentina. This is a 1kg T-bone steak. It is the famous dish of Florence. The meat comes from a white bull which is called the Chianina, this is one of the oldest and largest breeds of cattle in the world. They are raised for their tasty, tender beef. This dinner will be accompanied by a finer Chianti wine as is appropriate.
La Torretta serves an excellent breakfast, which is included each morning. Please note that every room has a fridge but there are no tea or coffee making facilities in the rooms, Italian hotels rarely have this facility. I always take my travel kettle and buy a bottle milk from WH Smith or Boots after I have cleared security at Heathrow airport so that I can enjoy a quiet cup of tea before breakfast.
The weather at the end of October is changeable, not too dissimilar to what we experience in the south of England, it can be fine with warm days and cooler evenings and it can rain. So do advise your customers to be prepared.
This Gastromony Tour will be fully escorted from Heathrow airport by Tony Bassett of Tuscan Secrets who knows the area well and of course the hotel and the hotel owner. He will be on hand to provide any help throughout your customers stay and will escort the group back to Heathrow.
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to call Janet or Jane on: 0800 810 8351
Prices From £1350pp Per Person
27th October 2017 – 5 Nights
Duration: 5 nights at the Hotel La Torretta in Montecatini
Return flights to Pisa from Heathrow and all transfers in Italy
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