Let's discover the Lucca region together!


Lucca never fell. Protected by mountains to the East and blessed with wide access to the western coast, this city state and its territories were never subjugated by outside rulers. Through the centuries, the Lucchesi held their fort against outside attacks, weaving a rich and unique cultural identity.

In this stunning landscape, the severe Apuane Alps with their marble caves guard slopes of hilly, busy olive groves, eventually devolving into a coastline of charming towns and lively beaches. The area is dotted with hill towns, seemingly impenetrable until their affable people let you in and you understand what it is that they fought so hard to preserve. Each town had its nobles and each noble family had a summer residence, interspersed between the hills and towns are hundreds of villas and palazzos, each more beautiful than the next and all complete with gardens built to upstage neighbors and amaze guests.

A hallway in Palazzo Boccella

A hallway in Palazzo Boccella

The varying character of the land and the desire of its wealthy inhabitants to outdo each other forged a distinctive food culture that imaginatively relies on pristine ingredients. From the olive oil to the wine and cheese, going through chestnut and chickpea flour, local breeds and unusual pastas all the way to indigenous fishes and shells, the gastronomic landscape of Lucca is unique and inimitable. 

Some portion of my family-most recently my youngest sister-have lived in this area for decades. Through them, I have discovered hidden gardens and private docks, roadside produce stands and locals only restaurants and have gotten to know the secrets of generations of local families.

For 8 days during the early or late summer, a local foundation will generously open the door of a newly restored villa-complete with a professional teaching kitchen-to allow my sister and I to host a small group of 12 and guide their immersion into the local food, life and culture.

Throughout the stay there will be 6 to 7 morning lessons in the airy kitchen, to learn how to cook to the tune of what the soil of Lucchesia has to offer and become familiar with both its coastal and inland cuisines.

After lunches in the walled garden to enjoy the fruits of our labors, we will be chasing the sun while visiting producers, markets and restaurants, we will explore gardens with princesses, enjoy aperitivi by the swimming pool at sunset and explore the history, life and nature of Lucchesia. 

Pecorino cheese

Pecorino cheese



Buccellato di Lucca

Buccellato di Lucca


2018 dates will be announced soon

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LOCATION: Palazzo Boccella, Pieve San Gennaro, Lucca

ROOMS: Single or double rooms with private baths

AMENITIES: Swimming pool, fruit garden, herb garden, wireless connection, laundry service

DAILY ACTIVITIES: Yoga, breakfast in the garden, optional market visit, cooking class, rest time, afternoon excursions (see below for details)

NOTES: Cooking classes will be based on market availability and reflect the many aspects of the region's cooking, as well as the inspiration that Viola draws from the ingredients. As we explore, we could be sidetracked by interesting experiences we had not considered before, therefore please consider the itinerary before with some flexibility.


Day 1

Arrival in Florence or Pisa airports, transfer to Palazzo Boccella, tour of the premises, light lunch and rest, tour of the town with sunset aperitivo, restorative welcome dinner cooked by Viola

Day 2 

Daily activities, excursion to the city of Lucca with bicycle tour of the walls and visits to local food shops. Shopping optional but hight advised. Typical dinner of pizza and cecina.

Day 3 

Daily activities, excursion to city of Pisa with Sunday dinner in a private home.

Day 4

Daily activities, excursion to local dairy producing pecorino with tastings. Dinner in country restaurant. 

Day 5

Daily activities, excursion to Pietrasanta including exploring the town's Roman roots and its place as a haven for contemporary art. Shopping optional but highly advised. Aperitivo and dinner in one of the town Michelin guide recognized restaurants.

Day 6

Daily activities, excursion to Villa Torrigiani with private tour of the villa and garden guided by the owner, Princess Vittoria Colonna di Stigliano. Aperitivo in the princess's private loge. Dinner at local restaurant. 

Day 7 

Daily activities, excursion to winery and/or local working farm. Dinner in the area.

Day 8 

Daily activities with visit to fish market, excursion to the seaside towns of Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio including bicycle tour of the boulevards, optional visits to the town's galleries and museums and visits to food shops. Shopping optional but highly advised. Sunset aperitivo on a private terrace followed by fish dinner.

Day 9

Breakfast and transfer to Florence or Pisa airport for those who are leaving. Those traveling on with us to Maremma, will drive along the Tuscan coast with Viola, stopping in local towns along the way, exploring markets and shops.

( itinerary subject to change )