Give the ‘Gift of Tuscany’

Give someone you love--or yourself!--an eight-day tour of gorgeous Tuscany. SimpleItaly is hosting an April 5-12, 2014, visit to this legendary Italian region.

Think fast – what gift could someone give you that would potentially be life-changing? It likely wouldn’t be a new sweater, bottle of perfume, or snowflake-themed scarf. A gift that features an experience, rather than just another item you barely have room to stash, would make the holidays last long after the Christmas lights have faded.

Granted not everyone’s blessed with a budget like this, but why not consider giving the gift of travel to someone special on your last-minute holiday shopping list – or to yourself? My fellow Italophiles and former Florence, Italy, residents Sharon and Walter Sanders are leading a fully escorted eight-day tour of Tuscany through their lifestyle company they call SimpleItaly: Celebrating Your Inner Italian. For $2,495 per person based on double occupancy (not including airfare), you or someone you love will experience the trip of a lifetime.

From April 5-12, 2014, this “SimpleItaly Adventure in Tuscany Tour: A Celebration of the Senses” will be based in Villa Pipistrelli, a luxurious 17th-Century villa that looks straight out of your Italian dreams. Imagine calling this converted farmhouse near the famed Tuscan town of Siena home for several days next spring. And by design, Italian cuisine is a central focus of this incredible trip. Sharon is a celebrated food writer, editor and author whose Cooking Up an Italian Lifebook is one of my all-time favorites.

Using their extensive Italian contacts, former Chicagoland residents Sharon and Walter – Americans who actually got married in the historic Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence! – have put together an awesome itinerary. Among its features:

  • 7 nights accommodation at Villa Pipistrelli
  • Transfers to and from the Florence Airport
  • Ground transportation to all scheduled activities
  • All breakfasts; seven dinners and fine lunches with wine (certamente … you’ll be in Italy!)
  • Casual learning sessions with English-speaking local artisans, guest experts and authors
  • Olive oil samplings and wine tastings
  • Pecorino cheese-making demo and tasting
  • Foraging in the local woods and tasting edible wild greens
  • Pasta- and pizza-making classes
  • Sessions with Tuscany-based authors Jennifer Criswell and Dario Castagno
  • Tour of UNESCO World Heritage city of Siena—including its lively outdoor market
  • Visit to Arezzo Antiques Fair
  • Free time to explore the gorgeous Tuscan countryside

Many folks put travel near the top of their lists of New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve wanted to explore Italy but haven’t had a travel companion, perhaps this is the trip for you. Only a handful of spaces are still left … but this visit to bella Italia promises to be one you’ll never forget.

Buon Natale (Merry Christmas)!



About Maureen Jenkins

Maureen Jenkins is a food/travel writer and communications professional who's visited nearly 35 countries and territories, lived in Florence, Italy, and recently spent a year living in a charming village near Paris, France. The self-proclaimed 'urban travel girl' talks travel, food and wine – abroad and in Chicago – in "TCW Travel Connection.” Read more of her thoughts on living globally at