One of the most memorable activities that a family can do during their week-long stay at a Tuscan villa is to participate in a cooking class with a local cook and we can’t recommend a pasta making class enough. Everyone loves pasta, and yet not many people realize how easy and fun it is to make pasta by hand. (also see A perfect week in Tuscany)
After the guests have made their own meal, they really have a much better understanding of the work that goes into creating a meal literally from scratch. We usually try to have a local “cook”, not necessarily a chef, and usually it is a local woman from the area, who has been making pasta by hand for generations in her own family.
No matter who does what part of the pasta making process, it is fun to try to roll the pasta out through the machine, or with a rolling pin, but most of all, to eat and enjoy the fruits of one’s labors is priceless. The taste of the fresh made pasta is incomparable, there really is no similarity to commercial industrial pasta. It is so fresh and soft, it literally melts in your mouth.
Many of our villas have wonderful large marble topped kitchen countertops and tables, perfect for a pasta making class. Guests can gather around the table, and pop back and forth in the class, working on the lesson, or just relaxing with a glass of wine and observing the others doing all the work, and just enjoying the finished product!
It is a great informal way to learn how to make pasta, not a tiring structured “class” in the classical sense of the word. The best part about having these wonderful big kitchens with huge tables is that everyone can be in the same room together, enjoying the pasta making, or just socializing with the others while they are following the class step by step.
Pizza parties are always a big hit at the villas, where old bread ovens still exist and are in use. Sometimes guests literally book the villa for the pizza oven! Guests can either choose to make the pizza dough, or to have the local cook come and make the dough, and then they can just add whatever ingredients they would like to have on their pizza, and sit back and watch it cook, in a few minutes! The oven may take several hours to heat, but the pizzas take only several minutes to cook as pizzas in Tuscany are thin crust, but not to worry, they are delicious!