Walk in the footsteps of Catherine de Medici and Renaissance genius Artists…
Join us in Italy and in France then to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the magnificent Renaissance era!
In 1519, Catherine De Medici was born in Firenze, Leonardo Da Vinci died in Amboise, and the Royal Chateau of Chambord Loire Valley started to be built. At this occasion, Cooking Vacations Italy & Lifestyle Vacations France joins their expertise to create an authentic Renaissance culinary and cultural program highlighting Florence, Tuscany and the Loire Valley region.
Cooking Vacations Italy and Lifestyle Vacations France have joined their expertise to design this original culinary and cultural tour celebrating the glorious Renaissance era and lifestyle from the 16th century to now.
You will be cooking, enjoying the finest food and wine, touring, visiting and walking in the footsteps of Renaissance genius who pioneered heritage, arts and letters, music, gardens, science and technological revolutions, architecture, craftsmanship, and of course gastronomy and art of living in its widest possible sense.
This unique VIP Renaissance tour is personally escorted by Lauren Birmingham-Piscitelli of Cooking Vacations Italy, and by Corinne Preteur of Lifestyle Vacations France.
Travel with us through the Renaissance era when Italy and France were experiencing an explosion of new ideas; when Catherine de Medici married King Henry II of France, and how she transported her Italian cooking style, chefs and ingredients to the French Court.
Discover the era of the Renaissance, a time of liberation in cooking, art, dress and table art thanks to Queen Catherine. She invented la vita di tavola, where she expressed her passion in Italian hospitality with lavish dinner parties, table decorating and brought sorbetto, orange duck and onion soup to the French Court.
Walk in the footsteps of De Medici's in Florence, visit their palazzo, villas and amazing gardens… Discover Leonardo Da Vinci's last residence in Amboise, as well as the Loire Valley royal chateaux such as Chambord, Amboise, Chenonceau, and Blois where Queen Catherine de Medici lived and died.
The Renaissance intellectual and artistic movement started in the Quattrocento in Italy, and Florence was its birthplace. A magical time with an artistic explosion of new food trends thanks to the sea traders who were coming from the East carrying exotic spices, coffee, as well as velvety and silk fabrics. We can certainly give thanks to Catherine De Medici and other Italian women who turned the page on freedom for their female compatriots. Food, art, music and literature soared during the Renaissance. It was a time of expression that followed the Dark Ages. Italian artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Giorgio Vasari, Raphael Sanzio and Leonardo Da Vinci were dedicating their lives creating works of art such as: the statue of David, Botticelli's Birth of Venus and La Primavera, Giorgio Vasari's Last Judgement, Titan's Venus of Urbino, Brunelleschi's Dome, Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, and Fra Angelico's San Marco frescoes.
From the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 17th century, the Court of France was mainly based in the Loire Valley, moving from towns to chateaux, and offering the region a rich political and cultural history and heritage, especially under the reigns of Charles VIII and Francis I. Italian artisans, garden planners, architects, artists were hired to transform the towns and the Loire Valley countryside and to build elegant chateaux, manors, private mansions and churches. It totally revolutionized the art of living, the way of building, and made the Loire Valley the cradle of the Renaissance with outstanding chateaux such as Chenonceau, Blois, Chambord, Amboise… We owe this to men like Leonardo da Vinci and Benvenuto Cellini. As the epicenter of political life from Charles VII (1422-1461) to Henri II (1547-1559), and Francis I then (1494-1547) the Loire Valley was also an intellectual haven where humanism and reform bloomed. Scholars who attended the University of Orleans include John Calvin, Erasmus, Guillaume Bude (founder of the College de France), François Rabelais and later Theodore de Beze. At the University of Bourges, Milanese jurist Alciato revolutionized the teaching and practice of law…
Florence (3 nights) - Check into your 4-star hotel in the heart of Florence, the City of Art & History.
Elegant bedrooms with private en suite baths, modern amenities including comfortable beds, security boxes, air conditioner and TV in the room. Traditional décor is subtly blended with a touch of modern color in larger size rooms for your stay. A professional concierge is at your service, daily breakfast is included with WiFi too. When you are not relaxing in your room looking out onto the rooftops of Florence, you can step out your door and find everything from designer shops, artisan boutiques, bookstores, restaurants, and of course, the Uffizi, Accademia and all Florentine museums and landmarks large and small.
Loire Valley (3 nights) - Welcome to Le Clos Pasquier**** boutique-hotel in Blois.
Welcome to Claire and Laurent's haven of peace, a 16th century manor serving Catherine de Medici as a hunting lodge in Blois. It's today a gorgeous boutique-hotel offering 5 beautifully rooms with en-suite bathrooms furnished with stylish antiques and decorated with an exquisite taste and elegance. Daily continental home-made breakfasts include tea, coffee or hot chocolate, freshly squeezed orange juice, crispy baguette, croissants, home-made cake, home-made jam, butter, yogurt, etc.
In Florence, program includes a market cooking class, and a gourmet walking tour as well.
Join Chef Mariangela in Piazza Sant'Ambrogio for experiencing the local market before partaking a hands-on cooking class which is private. You will learn how to prepare and cook a 3-course menu featuring the Renaissance and Florentine cuisine, that you will taste accompanied by wine afterwards. You will discover Florence through a cultural and gourmet tour guided by Lucca. You will taste your way through the City of Art, sampling all of the famous foods, while visiting historic shops and landmarks.
In the Loire Valley-France, you will enjoy the finest French cuisine accompanied by the best organic wines in traditional and Michelin-star restaurants.
In Florence you will discover the amazing Galleria degli Uffizi through a private tour guided by Lucca. On you own, we suggest to visit Palazzo Vecchio, Pitti Palazzo, Villa Castello (today known as the premises of the Accademia della Crusca - literary academy established in Florence in the 16th century to preserve the Italian language, Boboli Gardens, one of the most grandiose and elegant gardens in Italy, with natural architectural styles, etc. Oltrarno (which is the Left Bank of the Arno river) can be another option to consider, far away from the crowds of tourists. Oltrarno features an unspoiled atmosphere of the medieval city with a myriad of craft shops using all kind of materials. Craftsmanship is the Italians' true genius, the conscious transmission of the beauty and wisdom that flourishes in the imagination and intelligence.
For your free time or at lunch time, the colorful San Lorenzo quarter is a great with its market for leather items and other things, and the restaurants in the old market…
In the Loire Valley, France you will explore Blois, Amboise, Chenonceau and Chambord and visit the royal chateaux where Catherine de Medici lived, the Clos Lucé which was Leonardo Da Vinci's last residence, invited by King Francis I. From villages to chateaux, you will discover the beauty and scenic landscape of the Loire Valley region, listed at the UNESCO world heritage.
Day 1 (Monday): Welcome to Florence!
Group transfer from Florence airport to your hotel. Check in.
Quiet walk through Florence historic quarter around the Ponte Vecchio.
Welcome aperitivo where you will meet other participants and go over the week's itinerary.
Chef's Tasting dinner featuring antipasto, fresh pasta and sauce, main course, dessert and a toast of local red or white wine included.
Day 2 (Tuesday): Market Cooking Class - Guided visit to Galleria Di Uffizi, highlighting the Florentine Masters of the Renaissance
At 10:30am, join Chef Mariangela to experience the food market and shopping tour. You'll make tasty stops, speak with producers and sample, all while learning how to shop like a local. Cooking class which is steps to the market lasts about 2 hours, the right time to prepare a three-course menu celebrating the Florentine and Renaissance cuisine. Tasting lunch accompanied by local wine, water, tea or coffee follows.
In the afternoon, meet our professional English-speaking guide on Piazza Della Signoria in front of the statue of David. Enjoy a private guided tour to Galleria de Uffizi. This is one of the most important Italian museums and one of the largest and best known in the world holding a collection of priceless works especially from the period of the Italian Renaissance.
Late afternoon resting time.
Dinner on your own. Overnight.
Day 3 (Wednesday): Morning Florence food lover's tour – Afternoon free at leisure with suggested visits.
At 9:30am, meet your guide at your hotel. Experience a delicious tour of Florence while indulging in its history and culture. Taste your way through Florence, sampling all of the famous foods, while visiting historic markets and shops and landmarks. The guide's interest in Slow Food and local culinary traditions, along with his passion for art history makes him the perfect food and history guide for your tour.
Afternoon free at leisure. We suggest:
1/ Visit to Palazzo Vecchio which was La Signoria's headquarters and De Medici's family residence (the sobriety of the façade contrasts with the refinement of the sumptuously decorated apartments).
2/ Visit Saint Stefano and Oltrarno - Stroll the old quarter of San Stefano visiting the church and its courtyard or slip into a cozy caffè and soak up the Florentine culture.
3/ Shopping in our favorite Renaissance boutiques - Walk along cobblestone paths to Florence's most coveted Renaissance tiny boutiques including paper, leather and perfume.
Dinner in one of our favorite trattoria to enjoy an antipasto, fresh pasta and sauce, main course and dessert with wine included. Overnight.
Day 4 (Thursday): Transfer to France (Paris & Loire Valley)
After breakfast, check-out and transfer to Florence airport.
Morning flight to Paris CDG airport.
Transfer to the Loire Valley by private van (it takes approximatively 3 hours). Coffee or tea break in Orleans followed by a guided walking tour of Orleans' historic quarter.
Check in at Le Clos Pasquier boutique-hotel and relax.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant in Blois.
Day 5 (Friday): Amboise & Chenonceau full-day tour & visits
After breakfast, transfer to Amboise. Morning 2-hour guided visit to Le Clos Lucé which was Francis I childhood residence and where Leonardo Da Vinci lived from 1516 to 1519.
Lunch break in an elegant Salon de Thé, next to the Clos Lucé.
Afternoon guided tour to the royal Chateau of Chenonceau whose unique architecture reflects in the water… Sits over the river Cher, this chateau is also called the “Ladies Chateau" as it owes a large part of its charm to women. It was built in 1513 by Katherine Briçonnet, then made even more attractive by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, and saved from the rigors of the French Revolution by Madame Dupin. The chateau is surrounded by very pretty formal gardens and to reach the chateau and gardens you walk up a gorgeous tree-shaded road. A must!
Dinner in a Michelin-star restaurant nearby (round-trip transfer by private car or van).
Day 6 (Saturday): Chambord & Blois full-day tour and visits
After breakfast, transfer to Transfer to Chambord.
Morning guided tour to the Chateau of Chambord which construction has been ordered by King Francis I as his “hunting lodge". It is one of the most unique Renaissance constructions to be seen and visited, nestled in a 13.344 acres walled park and forest. It features 440 rooms, 282 chemneys, 15 staircases… 1800 workers built Chambord within 40 years.
Gourmet lunch nearby Chambord in one of France's top-ranked Michelin restaurant.
ransfer to Blois by private van (it takes approximatively 15mn).
Guided tour to the royal Chateau of Blois which features three architectural styles including the exceptional Renaissance wing with its ceremonial lavish polygonal stone staircase. At the 16th century, despite the Court of France was itinerant, Queen Catherine de Medici mainly lived in Blois where she raised her ten children. She died in Blois in 1589. We also leave you the choice to walk through Blois historic quarter instead. You will find elegant artists & designers boutiques and souvenirs shops.
Transfer to Amboise.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant steps to your hotel. Overnight.
Day 7 (Sunday): Transfer to Paris CDG airport..
After breakfast, check-out and transfer to Paris airport.
End of the tour.
US$ 4,695 per person (DBL occupancy)
Single occupancy supplement: $950.
All taxes and VAT included.
- Florence & Paris airports transfers by private van,
- 4 full-day transportation by private van in the Loire Valley,
- 6-night boutique-hotels**** accommodation,
- Breakfasts, luncheons and dinners in traditional, gourmet & Michelin-star restaurants (wine included),
- Market cooking class in Florence,
- Gourmet & cultural walking guided Tour in Florence,
- Guided visit to Galleria di Uffizi in Florence,
- Guided tours to cultural sites, museums and chateaux in the Loire Valley (entrance tickets included).
Not included: airfare from your country, airfare from Florence to Paris, one dinner in Florence, personal expenses, personal insurance.
October 4-10 (6 SPOTS LEFT)
This original Renaissance VIP tour is confirmed with 4 people, and it's limited to 6 participants.
Private tour for a group of 4 people, upon request. Please contact us.