Last month I had the very special opportunity to return to Italy with one of my favorite people and talented designer, Sarah Flint, to visit the factories and artisans that make her incredible shoes. After a whirlwind week of meetings in Vigevano, Milan, Bologna and beyond, we were able to spend a few days in the Tuscan countryside, at a private villa arranged by luxury hospitality firm Cuveé.
I’ve been fortunate to experience some special places throughout my travels, but our three days in Tuscany were truly one of my top travel experiences of all time.
Pasta Making Class and Private Chef
Upon arrival we settled into our rooms and freshened up before touring the property with Cuvee’s own wine in hand. 5 bedrooms, half a dozen entertaining spaces and an infinity pool with spectacular views of the vineyards and quaint hamlet of Vertine on a neighboring hilltop – bliss!! Chef Alessio Sedren taught us how to make pasta dough from scratch in the farmhouse’s gorgeous kitchen (see the tutorial here!) before shooing us away so he could prepare a 4 course dinner of zucchini flower flan, agnolotti, a gorgeous roast chicken and the mille feuille with chantilly cream. We ended the night with limoncello made with lemons grown in the farmhouse’s organic garden.
Breakfast on the Terrace
We started the day gathering eggs from the resident chickens for breakfast. Nothing better than a Frenchwoman (Clemence) making an American breakfast (pancakes, bacon and eggs) at our Italian Farmhouse! After a week of factory visits we were thrilled for a few hours of downtime to linger over our pancakes and lounge by the pool.
Wine Tasting at Il Cellese
Though many restaurants and businesses were still closed, the property manager Francesco called in a few favors from his friends and organized special outings for our small group. On Saturday afternoon we made the 1 hour trip through Chianti to Il Cellese. The owner, Sergio Sardelli, of the gave us a tour of the fermentation rooms and cellar before we sat down to a private meal prepared by his talented cousin who opened the kitchen just for us! Of all the wines we tasted San Bruno (a supertuscan) was my favorite, named for his grandfather who planted the winery’s first vines in the 60s.
Nicoletta Penco’s Ceramic Studio
Clemence and Mattia brought croissants back to the farmhouse that they had procured on their run which we enjoyed before setting off to a neighboring village to visit Nicoletta Penco’s ceramic studio, where she paint traditional Tuscan Pottery by hand. We each ended up bringing a few pieces home and you can commission full plates in custom colors., sizes, and patterns as well!
After gazing at the charming town of Vertine for two days we took out the Defender to tour this tiny town. (Population 22!) Vines cover the arched entrance to the walled village with snap dragons popping out between the stones. A church, a small square, and handful of homes make up the town but each has a spectacular view of Chianti. We continued on, enjoying a Sunday drive through the vineyards stopped several times for photos and take in the views along the way.
A Wood Fired Pizza Party
On our final night, Francesco tough us how to make pizza dough from scratch then invited each of us to create our own pies, selecting from over 20 toppings. (Let’s just say the truffle was the first to go!). Paolo manned the 600 degree oven crisping each pizza to perfection, and Francesco surprised us with molten chocolate cakes for dessert.
Why did we ever leave?!