To say it was a wild ride from Lake Como to our hotel in the Tuscan countryside would be an understatement. Our hotel was located in Sinalunga, a small charming town outside of Siena. To get there, we whipped around what seemed like every hairpin turn in Italy, taking us up one spiraling road and down another. The best part of the rollercoaster-like-drive was being able to admire the green pastures, rolling hills, and beautiful villas that popped in and out of view along the way.
We stayed at Locanda dell’Amorosa, an enchanting medieval hamlet with a picturesque Tuscan backdrop that allowed us to enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings. In addition to our cooking class, we explored Montepulciano and visited Barone Ricasoli winery in Chianti. Being able to taste the wine and olive oil on the very grounds where these fine Italian goods were produced made me appreciate the bold flavors even more.
In Italy, like in many countries, the cuisine is regional. Dishes that are indigenous to northerners might not be found in the central or southern regions. Our trip to the Siena province in Tuscany introduced us to the pici noodle, a pasta that originated in this area. Pici is a fatter hand rolled spaghetti noodle, making it slightly chewy and reminiscent of a cavatelli noodle. Since pici might not be available at our next stop, we made sure to get our fill before we left. Le Coccole, our hotel’s impressive gourmet restaurant, prepared a pici pasta dish with spicy marinara sauce that was so fresh and amazing.