Tuscany: La Cucina al Focolare

Florence, the Tuscan Hills and Modena

Welcome to the kitchen of La Cucina al Focolare, Cooking by the Fireside. Roll up your sleeves and approach the hearth, the heart of the kitchen and of our journey into la bella vita. Chef Piero and Carla bring Tuscan culture to life with stories and recipes. Bernardo Conticelli, our resident wine expert, will teach us about local wine culture and how to sip and swirl like a pro. We’ll take walks through the countryside, shop local markets and visit the best restaurants. Everywhere, we are welcomed as friends.

The basics of Tuscan cooking are wheat, legumes, olives, vines and wild game. Under the hands of skilled artisans and home cooks, they’re molded into hearty breads, delicate soups and pasta dishes. Meats are still roasted in wood-fired ovens. There is always a base of extra-virgin olive oil and world-class wine. The roads are lined with Cyprus trees, and we see a sweeping view of the Arno valley from our villa in the hills. We’ve been returning to this kitchen for 26 years. Upon arrival, we light the fire, gather ‘round the hearth, cook, eat and toast to the best wines in Italy. Immediately, there is a deep sense of home.

*This destination is also available for private groups, a memorable gathering of friends or family. Even for teams. Our kitchen is big! Cooking brings everyone together. 

Here’s where our special partnership with Zingerman’s Food Tours comes alive. We design a collaborative program that highlights our like-minded approach.

The price reflected is the price per person regardless of single or double. Please contact kristie@zingermansfoodtours.com for registration. 

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Inspiration: Olive trees giving fruit. Sophisticated country life. Wood fired ovens and fireplaces. Vino. Cypress lined dirt driveways. Dreamy vistas. Florentine art. Italian language. Bruschetta. Pomodorini. Biscotti. Vin Santo. Sangiovese.


October 2 – 11, 2023 ~ sold out


Double: $9,200 per person

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From my journal…

La Cucina al Focolare was the first true program tethered together from a friend of a friend. I went to Florence to study mosaico. I ended up studying cooking. “Who do you know?” I asked my friend Ilio. You should call my friend Marco, he said. So I did. The story began with me cooking in the kitchen of a restored 15th Century Villa with Gianni, Marco’s brother. I learned the basics and before long I was tossing pasta in their sauces over the stove, pans in both hands. I thought, this is fantastic. I wanted to make a connection with the land and its people and I did. Why don’t I try to make this possible for others? I made a presentation to the owners of the villa and voilà… Cooking by the Fireside was born.

Earthy, genuine, and full of heart, the kitchen is alive with stories, history and Renaissance flavors that still exist today. Hands-on technique, repeated over and over and over again. That’s tradition and connection from the root.


Local Flavors by John Lehndorff [Boulder Weekly]

5280 Magazine: “Eat, Drink, Be Merry”

SB Digs: “Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures”

Elephant Journal: “A Virtual Tour of Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures. #walkthetalk”

The Boulder Weekly: “The Transformative Power of Travel and Food”

Monica Pedersen’s Make It Beautiful: Designs and Ideas for Entertaining at Home

Boulder Daily Camera: “Peggy Markel Marks 20 Years of Creating Authentic Travel”

I Want Her Job: “Interview with Peggy Markel”

The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, Illustrated by Peggy Markel

The Wall Street Journal: “Top 10 Culinary Guides”

Eat Drink Etc.: “Peggy Markel’s Culinary Tours”

Zingerman’s Roadhouse: “A Toast to Uncle Joe”

Fine Living: “Learn to Cook in Paradise”

Food & Wine Magazine: “Tuscan Cooking School Pioneers”

Women’s Magazine: “Profile: Raging at the sky”

Denver Westword: “Slowing Down”

Travel Agent Magazine: “An Appetite for Travel”

The Sustainable Kitchen

Food & Wine Magazine: “Tuscan Lessons”

The New York Times: “Giuliani? Forget it. Give Me Tuscany!”

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