Culinary & Gastronomic experiences to Keep your Wedding Guests Busy (and full!)
Let’s face it. Here in Tuscany there is no shortage of things to keep you busy and fill your stomachs. The problem is that there is just TOO MUCH to see and do. We understand… we live here and it is impossible for us, so packing everything into a couple of days can be maddening. Luckily, we have created this amazing list of possibilities to help you pass the time and fill your bellies and those of your wedding guests.
Winery tour and tasting
It is simply impossible to think of Tuscany and NOT immediately think of the rolling hills covered in vineyards and dotted with the iconic Cypress trees. From these vineyards are born some of the most iconic wines in the world. There are countless varieties produced in the region, but Tuscany boasts a whopping 41 DOC and 11 DOCG wines, which doesn’t even include the newest varietals, called Super Tuscan wines.
The countryside is dotted with wineries of every kind. From winemakers who continue producing their wine as they have for centuries, to new up-and-coming wineries that are pushing the limits of what we thought we knew about wine production. A day spent visiting a couple of wineries and touring their facilities is surely on a bucket list or two and is an activity not to be missed for your wedding guests.
(Planning: There are wineries open and available for tours and tastings almost every day of the year!)
One winery that is walking the fine line between preserving the ancient winemaking ways, while also, pushing the envelope and exploring new and exciting projects is Vallepicciola. Nestled in the Chianti Classico hills, this winery offers something special: a Wine Safari Experience! Hop into their vintage, open-air Jeep and buckle up! You will get a bird’s eye (literally) tour through the winery, followed by a tour of the winemaking operations and finishing up with an extensive wine tasting guided by the knowledgeable staff. Availability is limited, so book early!
(Planning: The Wine Safari runs spring through fall, but make sure you book early, as spots fill up quick!)
When you think of Italy, the amazing regional cuisine has to be the first thought that pops into your mind. You can taste the love and respect for the old ways that goes into every dish you eat. But why stop there? Why not carve out all or part of a day and take a cooking class. This is a fantastic way to connect with friends and family you have not seen in years, while learning the time-honored traditions of Italian cuisine. Some of the more popular classes are (obviously) pasta and bread, but there are countless opportunities out there. Your options are really only limited by your imagination! But make sure you book early, as these classes can fill up weeks in advance!
(Planning: Culinary experiences can take place at any time of the year. Your host will introduce you to the freshest ingredients available at your preferred time.)
Specialty tastings and tours
Still hungry for knowledge… and some more delicious food? Consider attending a specialty tasting of some of your favorite foods. Most tastings are relative short, allow 1-2 hours, which still allow for lots of other activities to be worked into your day. Whether you are interested in olive oil, cheese, charcuterie, gelato or truffles, there are tons of opportunities. Plus, if you are planning on taking a keepsake home with you, what better way than to taste before you buy.
Note: BEFORE you purchase and pack all of your culinary goodies into your suitcase, please check the food importation laws in your countries. This will prevent some very expensive mistakes at the airport! (Trust me on this one).
(Planning: Again, these types of tastings and tours can take place any time of the year! Some items may be seasonal, but all are available preserved, to be enjoyed year round.)
Looking for something that combines hiking through the beautiful Tuscan landscape AND eating homemade delicious cuisine? Then a truffle hunt just might be perfect for you! Generally, you will meet your guide along with his adorably fluffy truffle hunting companion in the morning and sped an hour or so hiking through the woods. Truffle dogs are indispensable in the century old tradition of hunting these precious fungi. Afterwards, you usually can either opt to take your truffles home, or go back and have a several course meal featuring the fresh truffles you JUST harvested. (If you plan on taking truffles home, please check your country’s agricultural laws! Fresh truffles are usually a no-no, but preserved or jarred truffles are usually ok).
(Planning: Truffles can be found almost all the year round in Tuscany, although the type of truffle available will change. From January through March you can find the dark winter truffles. From March to April you can find the tan truffle. From June to November the common black or summer truffle abounds. And for the briefest time, usually beginning in September, you can find the prized and coveted white truffles).
Grape or Olive harvesting
Tuscany would not be the same without the iconic vineyards and olive groves. If you are not afraid of a little dirt and sweat, then participating in the time-honored tradition of harvesting olives or grapes might be right up your alley. A day spent outside in the fall sunshine can be a perfect day for the foodie that really likes to connect with where their food comes from.
(Planning: The grape harvest usually takes place from the end of August through early October. The olive harvest follows quick on the heals of the grapes, from October through early December.)
Let’s face it, not everyone likes wine. But luckily there are some really great breweries that are popping up all over Tuscany. The beer craze is taking a little longer to catch on, but really great beer can be found here without too much trouble. Many of these are small microbreweries that are more than happy to arrange a tour and tasting for interested groups.
(Planning: It is always beer season in Tuscany! You will just need to confirm tap room hours before you head out!)
In conclusion, your activities are limited only by your imagination. Dig in and get your hands dirty (literally). Whether you want to hunt down the raw ingredients (think truffle hunt or harvesting), prepare new culinary masterpieces, (think cooking experience), or simply sit back and enjoy the finished products of this amazing landscape, (think wine tasting or safari), Tuscany can make all of your gastronomic dreams come true.
Make sure to watch for part two of this article featuring more daring endeavors for the adventurers at heart!