That is very vague! A whole villa for a private group, do you want lessons every day?
I just need more info as to what you're looking for, as in for how many people, whether you want a private villa or whether a piece of it would be fine (the estate has other apartments and thus some common areas are shared). There are a LOT of options out there, including apartments for large groups but not necessarily having the entire estate to yourself. So essentially you need to find the right size place for however large your group/family might be first.
The cooking class is actually secondary, as nowadays there are chefs who come to wherever you are in Tuscany, no matter where you're located or whether you have a villa or apartment. You just need to have a decent-sized kitchen so that can have the space to do the class with you!
Sorry, Lourdes. I should have given more info. It's for my husband, daughter of 15 years and me. We plan to go in July 2015. Looking for about 4-5 nights so we can take day trips by car to neighbouring areas. I found one in San Gimngnano called Il Casolare di Libbiano. It's a B&B and they offer cooking classes. I'm just waiting to find out their prices and availability.
Is San Gimignano a fairly central location to visit Sienna, Florence, Cortona and maybe Montepulciano? They place looks nice. I like to be near restaurants and shopping and walking around in the day and evening. I love nice scenery which I'm confident will be easy in Tuscany.
Also would you recommend Cinque Terre versus Monte Argentario?
Casolare di Libbiano outside of San Gimignano, know both Berta and Andrea personally and they're lovely people. Everything I've read from past guests has always been really positive, and know they get lots of return guests every year that love to go back to them so you can't go wrong. Hope they do have availability for you.
I know Berta organizes cooking classes so that would be a great place to stay and to do the lessons.
If you end up somewhere else, then like I said before, you can always ask someone to go out to you to do the lesson wherever you are, rather than have choices limited because they do or not offer the classes.
San Gimignano makes a great base, it is pretty central and while small, has a lot of shops and restaurants. Montepulciano and Cortona aren't right around the corner but doable if you'll have your own car. If you only have 4-5 nights, not sure whether I'd really recommend to head to the coast for a day trip... will you have the chance to stay out there a night or two? The coast is lovely, but it would be a drive out and back making for a long day.
That's great that you know them. I have not heard back from them so sent another email. I am really interested in their place so I hope to hear from them soon.
We will have a car and plan to stay at Casolare for 5 nights. Do you know if they take reservations for 5 nights and any idea of the cost?
I should have mentioned we would like to stay at Cinque Terre for about 3 nights. Is it nice there? Would you recommend it over Monte Argentario. We don't mind driving 2-4 hours. We have driven to Florida in the U.S. and that took us 24 hours (with stops and short overnight.
We then plan to go to Sorrento for 4 nights and then Rome overnight and flight home. We plan to fly into Venice initially. Total of 14 nights.
I have been checking google maps for distances and timing to help me with the itinerary I am building on my own. I have been in the travel industry for 25 years and have travelled to many parts of the world. I have been to Italy only a few times...not enough.
It's strange they haven't gotten back to you yet, know Berta is pretty good about replying. Give her another day or two, could be she's behind....
I don't really know info on the prices, but I know she'll give you a good price for staying longer. They do by the night, so 5 days is definitely doable without a problem.
As far as CT goes, was afraid you were planning a day trip, heading back to SG at the end of the day... which would be hurried. CT is definitely very nice, although beach area is limited and in July you'll want that. There are more options around Monte Argentario. Also CT has very limited cover, so if July turns out hot, you'll be sweltering. I normally don't recommend CT in the summer, since it is also very crowded as space is limited, much like Venice.
So I'd be more for recommending Monte Argentario, especially since you'll also be in Sorrento later on... a good mix of two different areas.
You could do a night in CT, so that you still see the five small towns, then the nights in SG (great base for seeing Siena and the Val d'Orcia, as well as Chianti and Florence), then move on down to Monte Argentario that way you move down as you head south...
Also keep in mind that distances here as quite short, compared to the US/other larger countries. But here everything is really packed in or "concentrated", as in there is a lot to see in each area.
You can drive from place to place in one day, but you need to stop and walk around to enjoy each place fully. I'd recommend at least a full day in Siena, another in Florence (although 2 would be better) and another full day just driving around the Val d'Orcia with stops in at least Pienza and Montepulciano. Since you're coming in July, I would at least do the 2-3 days in Monte Argentario to spend time at the beach - most of the sandy beaches are in between cliffs around the whole promontory, you'll find more along the land coastal area.
Remember to slow down and enjoy each experience, Italy requires that of you !
Canada is even bigger than the US ;-) I've gotten used to distances here as being much shorter, but taking as much time to cross, just because you want to stop after every half mile to take pictures!! ;-)