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Welcome to tuscan epicure. 

This is the internet home to Etruscan Places' one week food tour and cooking workshop in Tuscany, Italy.  This culinary tour is held only once yearly, to coincide with the local San Giovanni d'Asso festival of the white truffle .  Here is a PDF brochure with even more info!


Maddine Insalaco and Joe Vinson of Etruscan Places are pleased to offer a private Italian food tour and cooking workshop of Tuscany’s Montalcino, Val D’Orcia area in the province of Siena during November 4 - 11 of 2018.  Our last food workshop was a complete success including short courses on olive oil and truffle connoisseurship.  Here is a wine list from our last class for your review.        


November in Tuscany is the most important month of the year from a gastronomic point of view.  It is a time when the efforts of man and nature come to fruition.  The new wine, the “Novello” is uncorked, olives are pressed, chestnuts drop from the trees, mushrooms proliferate, and, if the summer rains have fallen at the right time, the white truffle sends its earthy aroma forth for discovery.  Tuscan cuisine tends to be hearty and the more typical dishes are best enjoyed in the colder months.


It is our intention to offer the food workshop participants a medley of sensations of the highest quality through a combined experience of cooking demonstrations and theme based touring.  There will be six half day trips which will focus on one particular aspect of local gastronomy which will include but not be limited to: wine tastings and wineries, olive oil press, pecorino cheese, beef or pork production, and a white truffle hunt.  Three half day cooking class sessions will be organized by Maddine Insalaco of Etruscan Places in Buonconvento.  Lunches and dinners will be offered in different locations to provide the widest range of culinary exposure to participants as possible.  Since the annual truffle festival will be taking place in a near-by village during that weekend of November we will have our final dinner at the festival restaurant offering a truffle based fare.


We have planned three half days as free sessions during which trips for more general touring (Pienza, San Quirico D’Orcia, Siena , The Abbeys of St. Antimo or Monte Oliveto Maggiore, etc.), or relaxation (the thermal baths and spa of  Bagno Vignoni) can be arranged.



Participants will be lodged at a beautiful estate of a boutique producer of both Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino wines. Accommodations will be in rooms with bath in separate apartments furnished in an “elegant country” style.  The main villa and apartment annexes, nestled among surrounding gardens and trees, seem isolated but are in fact very accessible and minutes away from both Montalcino and Buonconvento. Enrollment is limited to 10 participants.


Upon registration participants will receive an information package that will include a packing list, map and directions for car travel, train schedules from Florence and Rome to Buonconvento, and hotel recommendations for other Italian destinations.


The only pre-requisites for this course are love of food and reasonable physical fitness. The truffle hunt involves 2-3 hours walking and the cooking classes will be held on the fourth floor of a historic building with no elevator.




Maddine and Joe are artists and have been running landscape painting workshops in Italy since 1995. They divide their life between homes in New York and Tuscany. In the course of this time the food component of the painting programs have assumed a greater role, sufficient to justify the introduction of a separate food course.  Maddine was exposed to Italian cuisine at an early age through her Sicilian grandfather Bernardo Insalaco.  Between the painting courses and a former career as a United Nations official in Rome she has spent over twenty five years in Italy, long enough to absorb a few of the tricks of the culinary trade.


Buon Appetito!