April 24, 2022

The Best in Tuscany – Airbnbs, food, wine and activities

Enjoy the best places I’ve found to stay, things to eat and drink, plus what to do in Tuscany, Italy! If you’re looking for a guide to Florence specifically, check out my guide!

The best places to stay in Tuscany

I’ve stayed in a couple different Airbnbs within Tuscany!

18th century farmhouse on an organic farm in Barberino Val D’elsa – sleeps 2

When we arrived, the owner (Federica) gave us a quick tour of her lovely place, including the grounds and terrace. She told us there are basically unlimited places around the property to explore, hike and take in the scenery! We enjoyed exploring, finding art installations, tons of wildflowers and endless beauty.

Since this property is located in the Chianti region of Tuscany, you will not tire of the gorgeous views and expanse to explore. The apartment consists of a full kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom. I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful light that would spill into the cozy space.

The apartment opens onto a courtyard straight out of your favorite rustic home and gardens publication. We obviously spent any meals we had at the property on the terrace looking out onto the woods, olive groves and vineyards!

Selvabella in Chianti B&B // Guest Suite – sleeps 3 // Guest House – sleep 4

Selvabella is a farmhouse sitting among vineyards and olive groves in the heart of Tuscany, halfway between Greve and Panzano in Chianti. Immerse yourself in nature in their beautiful gardens and property, while still being able to explore Tuscany easily.

When my mom and I stayed on the property, we were in the Guest suite, but Walter and I have plans to stay in the Guest house this June for a Tuscan getaway! I loved the mixture of rustic and eclectic decor in the space.

The best private cooking class in Tuscany

Marta and Bernardo host cooking classes in their main house! My mom and I really enjoyed getting to know them while they taught us classic Tuscan recipes. It is crazy to think this class is the very first time I made fresh pasta! We made pici, basically a chubbier hand rolled spaghetti, which originates nearby in the Tuscan province of Siena. It went beautifully with a simply delicious tomato-based sauce.

We also had liver crostini, beef cheek in Chianti Classico sauce with crispy taters and for dessert a caramel, chocolate ganache and sea salt “pie” in a chocolate shortbread cookie crust!

You can enjoy homemade breakfast in the main house as well (or outside on the patio, weather permitting) upon request! Marta and Bernardo really made us feel right at home. Marta also has a pottery studio where she creates wonderful pieces (you’re probably eating off of them during breakfast there). Be sure to ask her to give you a tour!

The best activities and restaurants in Tuscany

Note: I prefer to stay in places with a kitchen so we can prepare coffee and an easy breakfast in the mornings, then start the day! It saves a bit of money and also makes it feel like you’re actually living wherever you are staying.

Also, be sure to make reservations as often as possible when you do go out for meals or wine tastings!

Palazzo Pretorio (it seems this place is now permanently closed)

Our order: a huge bowl of mussels, clams and other shellfish with bread to sop up the delicious juice at the bottom. To follow, a dish with half calzone filled with ricotta & prosciutto and half pizza topped with mozzarella, sausage & mushrooms. We also got one of the pizza specials of the night – a margherita pizza with an egg and bacon. And of course glasses of the house red wine — ALWAYS order the house wine in Italy.

Note: House wine in Italy rarely disappoints! This is another great way to save some money, especially at lunch!

Ristoro di Lamole

This was one of our favorite complete meals of our Tuscany trip. From the view to the service, to the inventive Tuscan dishes –– it was perfection! I am certain that anything you order here, will be supreme!

Warm red onion pudding with fresh truffle // Black Venus risotto with fresh veggies // Ricotta & pear ravioli

Roasted Tuscan chicken stuffed with dried prunes atop mashed potatoes // Daily Special: artichoke salad with burrata

The best group cooking class in Tuscany

Meet Lorenzo & Luca! They bring together the perfect dichotomy of Italian cuisine. Lorenzo coming from Milan, with Emilian and Tuscan parents & Luca born in Livorno, with southern Italian parents, more specifically Amalfi and Sicily! My mom and I enjoyed their cooking class at their wonderful farmhouse situated just 15km from Florence. If you are looking for a an authentic cooking while you are in Tuscany, theirs’ is a MUST! You get to recreate traditional recipes that have been handed down to them from their grandmothers, used for generations.

This class is in a group setting and is one of the most popular experiences on Airbnb. We got to make (and enjoy) Spaghetti alla chitarra prepared with a creamy cauliflower sauce // Ravioli filled with ricotta, pepper and pecorino in a sage butter sauce // lavender panna cotta

Since this in person cooking class, I have enjoyed a few online experiences with Luca & Lorenzo during the pandemic! Walter and I also got to visit them a few months ago to share a meal with them.

Wine Tasting & Lunch at Castello di Ama

Be sure you book a tour of the property, complete with art installations and of course wine and olive oil tastings. There is more info on tours and tastings here. We enjoyed learning the history of the property and the Castle (the actual Castle building doesn’t exist anymore on the property) as well as finding out more about each art installation. The wine and olive oil tasting was spectacular.

After our tasting we headed upstairs to the restaurant on property for lunch on the patio overlooking the hillside.

We enjoyed pasta, meatballs and wild boar (a classic dish from the area). A man that sat next to us on our plane to Italy said we must try the wild boar and it was delicious! Dessert was a citrus cheesecake with blackberries + a couple small scoops of coffee ice cream on the side.

Visit Volpaia

The first documents mentioning Volpaia date back to 1172! Today, the entire village is still intimately involved in the wine and olive production.

“The vats and cellars, the vinsantaia and bottling, the orciaia and the mill – while very modern – are still housed in the basement, in palaces, in deconsecrated churches and in the buildings of the village, joined together by a surprising “wine pipeline” underground.”

While visiting, take a tour of the intricate locations that make up the production in the village. We enjoyed learning about the process and tasting the fruits of their labor!

After our tour and tasting with our guide Marco, we enjoyed lunch on Osteria Volpaia’s beautiful patio. The chef is Colombian, so a lot of the dishes are a fusion of cuisines. They were all presented with gorgeous presentation and were beyond delicious. Their menu changes several times a year depending on the season and the availability of fresh and local raw materials, which mostly come from their organic gardens.

Explore Olena

Olena was within walking distance of our place. At the time, we thought it was an abandoned town, but did notice some signs of people still living there. I recently got more curious and looked up a bit more information about the village. Olena was an agricultural village in the municipality of Barberino Val d’Elsa, sharecropping until the 1950s. The farms in the area were bought in 1956 by Paolo De Marchi’s father, just in time to witness the end of the sharecropping. Paolo was quoted saying, “120 people lived and worked here. In 1965 there were only 14 left” in an article I found on the subject. Now Paolo continues to produce wine under the label Isole e Olena, which I am already trying to plan into our upcoming Tuscany try!

Wine Tasting in Panzano at Accademia del Buon Gusto

Panzano might sound familiar to you because Dario Cecchini’s butcher shop (macelleria), featured on Chef’s Table on Netflix, is located there! I have yet to visit, but Walter and I have a reservation for June, so I will obviously be sharing all of the details on thta soon.

Note: Sadly I found out this wine shop is now closed because Stefano passed away. I still want to share about his shop, because he and his shop are a very well-loved in Chianti. I’m so grateful my mom and I were able to meet him and enjoy his tasting journey.

We were in Panzano because Marta and Bernardo recommended this spot! They told us it is a unique experience and warned us that we would probably be there for 3 hours. We tasted through 20+ wines ranging from Chianti Classico, Reserva, and IGT or Super Tuscan. The tasting is free, but we obviously left with leave with a couple of bottles. Stefano, the owner of the shop, was a wonderfully cooky knowledgeable man who told stories as he poured.

Wine Tasting at Montefioralle

Montefioralle does tastings by appointment only. You can taste through their wines – Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, IGT & Vin Santo. They also offer the option to pair a light snack with the wines, which obviously we opted for! On some days, it is also possible to book a visit that includes the vertical tasting of 5 vintages of their Chianti Classico Riserva. I definitely want to go back for this one!

Depending on the time of year, the tasting can be inside or outdoors surrounded by the gorgeous Chianti countryside and view of the Montefioralle village.

That’s all of my Tuscany tips for now, but there will be more coming this summer!

Planning a trip to Italy? Get inspired by the rest of my Italy content!

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Happy Travels,

Corey

COMMENTS +

  1. […] On our last morning in Maiori, we made breakfast, finished packing and were on our way. One of the guys who worked at the parking lot came up to the Airbnb to grab my luggage and direct us to our ride back to our car. We unpacked the shuttle, repacked our car, paid them and were on our way to Tuscany! Check out the Tuscany travel guide here! […]

  2. […] If you are visiting the Tuscany area for more than a day, here’s my complete guide. […]

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, I love to have a home base in such a food-focused city. Whether I am traveling out of the country, around the US, or exploring the culturally diverse expanse of LA I feel at home while meeting new people, eating new foods, and expanding my outlook!

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