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Dear Newsletter Reader  

Welcome to the To Tuscany February newsletter.  

In this months edition we are looking at ways to help during the credit crisis and are highlighting some of the great special offers available to you.

Also, have you ever wondered just what happens during a cookery lesson in Italy? This month, I explain what happened when I took part in one.

As always, we welcome your comments, please feel free to email me.

Credit crunch savers:

Save money and travel with friends!
Thats right, by getting together a group of like-minded friends and family and renting one of our larger properties, you can be saving yourself money by taking advantage of our special offers - some offers even include the school holidays during July and August!

All the details of our special offers can be found from our website or click on this 'special offers' link.

Andrea BocelliLa Selva is a beautiful farmhouse property located halfway between Florence and Siena and can sleep up to 15 (yes 15!) people in its 7 bedrooms.  There are 6 bathrooms at the property to ensure there is no queuing in the mornings and a beautiful covered, furnished terrace overlooking the extensive grounds which even include an amphitheatre used by a local amatuer dramatic society on occasions for outdoor performances (the amphitheatre is a distance from the villa and does not affect your privacy). You can walk to a shop, post office and good local restaurant and just 6km away is the town of Montevarchi which has a Co-op hypermarket, a train station for connections to Florence or Siena and the Prada and Gucci outlet shops!

For Saturday arrivals from 2nd May to 10th October there is a 20% reduction bringing the price down to 4858 GB Pounds in total (or 324 GBP per person if 15 are travelling).

We also have special offers at this villa for smaller groups of 8, 10 or 12 people travelling: click here for details.

A Day at Cookery School:

During my travels working with To Tuscany I have been able to meet the owners of some of the cookery schools that we recommend to our guests to use during their holidays.  When my husband - who is a keen cook - was able to join me on one of my visits to our villas, I decided to book us a days lesson.  We booked in to the Marlborhetto Cookery School with Simone in Lecchi - simply because it was close to where we were staying and because Simone promised to show me how to make my favourite dessert from his restaurant menu!
Andy and I were raring to go when we arrived at the restaurant and our menu choice (decided in advance) was only helping to whet our appetites.
Chocolate cakeWe had chosen to learn to make crostini (chicken liver pate on toasted bread); authentic ragu; steak in a Chianti wine sauce and the famous chocolate fondant sponge (the ones where the fondant oozes out when you put your spoon into the sponge!)
We set to work in the kitchen after being given aprons and shown the safety features of working within a professional kitchen - and to my delight, we started with the dessert! Licking the spoons of chocolate before 10.30 in the morning was an added treat. 
Our teacher Simone was great at explaining how to do things and why they should be done in such a way.  He also told us various stories of his family life to confirm my idea that he was a genuinely nice man and as if on cue, the telephone rang - it was a distressed American expatriate who lived locally that had just realised that the extremely large turkey he had bought for his Thanksgiving Day celebrations would not fit in his oven and he had no way of cooking it in time; would he be able to use Simones oven??  The answer was of course yes and Andy and I had our cookery lesson interrupted whilst the enormous turkey was manouvered with difficulty into the oven by two large men and Simone.
We did manage to finish all of our dishes and each was served to us in the restaurant by Simone and his wife with different wines to accompany and compliment them.
We had a delightful day at Malborghetto and I have used the recipes - particularly the Chocolate fondant sponge one - many times since then.

Oh, and the Thanksgiving Turkey? Well that was ready just an hour later than originally planned.

Prices for the cookery day at Malborghetto which includes all ingredients, equipment, a souvenier apron and a certificate and of course eating the food and wine with each course are 85 Euros for up to four people.  Click here for more details

We have recommendations for various cookery schools throughout Tuscany including some that will take children for lessons or for chefs that will come to your villas and conduct the lesson there.  All the details for the Cooking lessons can be found on our website, please click here for details.  Places should be booked in advance wherever possible

We stayed at Hamlet Montebuoni which is a collection of villas and apartments accommodating from two to six people, sharing a swimming pool and a tennis court:  Montebuoni

For other properties near Marlborghetto, please click here
Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding travelling to Italy or anything within our newsletter. We can be reached at
Dympna Docherty