Italian organic oil
Italian organic oil

Gregg Wallace Food Holidays

Gregg Wallace’s Food Secrets of Tuscany

8 days From £2,749

30 September 2019

Who would have thought that in a region as well-known and beloved as Tuscany, there could be an area almost entirely unfamiliar to international visitors, yet beautifully scenic, dotted with medieval towns and home to unique, rustic ingredients and culinary traditions little changed in centuries.

This is the territory of Lunigiana. Basing ourselves in historic Aulla, we sample a kaleidoscope of secret tastes, from chestnut bread to ‘peasant pasta’, and from cured lard to freshly pressed olive oil. This is a hands-on tour, with bread-baking, a cookery class and a walk in the mountains with a shepherdess and her sheep amongst the memorable experiences – and, of course, a host of lunches and dinners at the region’s finest restaurants are included.

What's included?

  •  Flights
  •  Accommodation
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Local transport
  •  Expert guide
  •  Appearance from Gregg Wallace
  •  All tastings in the itinerary
  •  Cookery class

Book Now £2,749

Deposit: £500 Single supplement: £159

Tour highlights:

  • A picnic lunch with the locals in the chestnut woods of Regnano
  • Watch traditional panigaccio bread – and the terracotta dishes in which it is baked – being made, and taste it fresh
  • Visit the Olio Moro olive grove, see oil being pressed and participate in a tasting
  • A cookery class at a mountain agriturismo hosted by local cooks
  • Follow a shepherdess and her sheep high in the mountains and taste the renowned Zeri lamb
  • Dinners at five of Lunigiana’s finest restaurants, including Per Bacco and Villa Brignole

Tour details

Dates 30 September 2019 - 7 October 2019
Duration 8 days
Cost £2,749 Deposit: £500 Single supplement: £159 Balance due by 8 July 2019
Activity Level Easy-Going
Tour code G05A19

Book Now or call 01453 823328 if you have any questions

30 September 2019: Itinerary

Fly to Pisa, arriving mid-afternoon and then transfer to the historic town of Aulla, where a welcome drink awaits at our comfortable base for the next five nights, the Hotel Demy. To whet our appetites, we are treated to a pre-dinner talk on the distinctive tastes of this glorious region before setting off for Le Querce, a farm-stay known in Italy as an agriturismo, set in the hills outside Aulla. This rustic restaurant serves up homemade regional favourites with a particular emphasis on game and the unusual Novegigola pasta sauce made with leeks.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Demy Hotel, Aulla

Around an hour from Aulla are the chestnut woods of Regnano. Here we watch traditional chestnut bread (Marocca di Casola) being made and sample some ourselves. We then take a walk through the woods to discover more about this important food source, visiting one of the few remaining chestnut drying huts and then enjoying a splendid picnic prepared by the locals. In the afternoon, we return to Aulla, with some free time to explore the town. Dinner is at our hotel this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Demy Hotel, Aulla

Panigaccio, the traditional bread of Lunigiana (and more specifically that of the town of Podenzana), is round, unleavened and baked in terracotta dishes called testi. The recipe and the cooking method have not changed in two millennia, and these simple, fresh breads make a delicious accompaniment to cured meat and cheese, or a chocolate-smothered sweet treat. This morning we see the baking trays made by hand and the breads prepared, before settling down to a memorable lunch at Da Gambin restaurant, where panigaccio is the star of the show.

Again, a couple of hours are at leisure upon our return to Aulla, before heading out to Locanda Gavarini, by way of some lovely scenery, for dinner. This restaurant has been run by the same family since 1906, with the fourth generation now at the helm, and it serves up typical dishes of the Lunigiana region in a characterful setting.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Demy Hotel, Aulla

On the slopes of the Apuan Alps, just a few miles from Tuscany’s Ligurian Coast, the town of Massa is one of the oldest in Italy – dating back even to the Stone Age. Today, visitors are entranced by a wealth of historic buildings – a dramatic castle and ducal palace, fine churches and elegant villas. There is time to make your own discoveries of Massa this morning, though first we visit a unique shop selling stockfish (dried) and salt cod.

A traditional fish lunch (and the chance to sample some almost forgotten dishes) is provided at the homely, family-run Trattoria da Milla. In the afternoon we visit the Olio Moro olive grove to walk around the plantation, see the oil presses, enjoy a professional oil tasting demonstration and, of course, take part. Dinner this evening is taken back in Aulla at Da Pasquino, a classic Lunigiana restaurant specialising in homemade breads, local cheeses and grilled meats.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Demy Hotel, Aulla

This morning we set out into the pristine, beautiful landscape of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park on our way to the Montagna Verde Agriturismo. In this glorious mountain setting, local cooks present a cookery class introducing yet more Lunigianese specialities. With appetites truly sharpened, we settle down for lunch at this ancient farm. On our way back to Aulla, in Fivizzano, we stop off to see how China Clementi, an alcoholic elixir crafted from bitter herbs, has been made since it was first produced in 1884. A short walk away from our hotel is our dinner venue, the highly-rated Per Bacco restaurant, which serves up note-perfect antipasti, risotto, pasta and indulgent desserts, including panna cotta and semifreddo.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Demy Hotel, Aulla

Turning our attention away from food for a few hours, we discover one of the region’s other great contributions to Italian culture – marble. The quarries of Carrara, rich in white and blue-grey marble, have been in constant production since the time of Ancient Rome, and supplied the stone for countless masterpieces of Renaissance sculpture, including Michelangelo’s David. We visit one of the many quarries in the area, then stop to savour a taste of Lardo di Colonnata, pork fat traditionally cured with salt and herbs in local marble – and white as the stone itself.

Following lunch in Colonnata, we take a guided afternoon tour of the Ethnographic Museum of the Lunigiana in the 14th century mills of Villafranca – a fascinating showcase of age-old farming, handicraft and culinary techniques and traditions, encompassing wicker weaving, wood working and hemp cultivation. Our hotel for the final two nights of the tour is the delightful Ca del Moro Resort, set in beautiful woodland and meadowland outside Pontremoli. Dinner is provided at the hotel this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Ca' Del Moro

Nearby Zeri is a region of rugged mountains, picturesque villages and sheep farms – Zeri lamb is highly prized in Italy for its unique provenance and sublime quality. We have a wonderful treat lined up this morning – the opportunity to follow a Zeri shepherdess and her flock into their mountain pastures, and learn what makes this particular breed so special. If she is making cheese, we will try some, and there is also the chance to sample typical mountain dishes (including lamb) during lunch at La Catinella.

We return to the hotel in the afternoon, with a little free time to relax around the pool or take a trip into Pontremoli. In the evening we head out to the elegant Villa Brignole for an unforgettable farewell dinner – the menu is a veritable highlight reel of Lunigianese specialities.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Ca' Del Moro

After a couple of hours at leisure we make our last visit of the tour, to a family home where ancient ovens are used to produce testaroli. These pancake-like disks, made with water, flour and salt, are cut into rhombus shapes and eaten like pasta – particularly delicious as the porous batter absorbs any sauce with which they are served. Testaroli have been made since Roman times, and in more recent centuries became known as the ‘peasant’ alternative to pasta; but these days it is considered a dish in danger of being forgotten. We then proceed to Pisa for our return flight to London, arriving late afternoon.

Meals include: Breakfast

30 September 2019: Additional Info

30 September 2019: Accommodation

Perfectly located for each visit on our busy itinerary, the Demy Hotel is comfortable with well-equipped rooms. Guests can expect air-conditioning, private bathrooms with hair dryers, a television with cable channels and free WiFi throughout.

The Hotel Ca' Del Moro is a 3 star hotel just outside the town of Pontremoli situated in beautiful grounds in the upper Magra valley, ideal for exploring the more remote areas of the region. The rooms are simply furnished but spacious and clean with TV, phone, Wi-Fi, hairdryer and safe available. The hotel has two restaurants offering local as well as more standard Italian cuisine. It also has a small swimming pool, a wellness centre and golf course.

30 September 2019: Enquiries

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