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Eleven years have passed since Judy and Dennis Barr traveled to Tuscany, but they still fondly remember the camaraderie immediately established with the other Tuscan Women Cook guests, people from all different walks of life.

"And the cooking classes," Judy sighs at the memory. "You know, I just pinched myself as we rolled out the pasta with the nonnas. I looked out over the Tuscan mountains as I rolled out fresh pasta and I just couldn't believe I was here, doing this."

Judy and her husband Dennis had been to Europe but never Italy.  "As we drove to up the curvy road to Montefollonico, I was overwhelmed by the mountainside and this charming village. I knew we were in for something special," remembers Judy.

When they got back, they told everyone they knew about this magical trip. They dominated dinner party conversations for years about Tuscan Women Cook, raving about their experience. "I just kept saying to my kids 'you've just got to book this vacation!' When they made the reservation and called to tell me, I was just thrilled. We always cooked a lot together--I knew they would just love this trip."

Judy serves on the board of her local theater and for the past decade has donated several homemade Italian dinners for fundraising auctions. "I tell all our guests where I got my recipes. I would never have the courage to throw these dinner parties if I hadn't been to Montefollonico with Tuscan Women Cook!" 

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November 2016. Tuscan Women Cook, LLC
Multi-generation family travel is one of the fastest-growing segments of the tourism industry, accounting for over one-third of all leisure trips. A new study by the Family Travel Association (FTA) reports that today's families highly value the educational and emotional benefits of travel.
When family members live across the country, vacation time becomes a welcome opportunity to reconnect with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings.

The question: How do you plan a family trip that appeals to everyone?

Do your adult family members love Italian culture, spectacular scenery, authentic Italian cooking, fine dining and regional wines? Tuscan Women Cook provides all of this and so much more in the spectacular Tuscan town of Montefollonico. Your TWC family home away from home is a 300-year old olive mill converted into a rustic hotel, complete with sumptuous breakfasts prepared from their private organic gardens.

We look forward to hosting your next family reunion.  We guarantee it will be a family vacation to remember.


Brent Barr's parents were Tuscan Women Cook guests eleven years ago ( see sidebar story). They fondly (and persistently!) reminisced over the years about the delicious food, the fun-filled classes, the lovely people and the spectacular Tuscan countryside. Brent's mom is a tremendous cook and brought back great photos and prepared countless new, authentic Italian recipes. After hearing so many stories, and enjoying so many memorable meals, Brent and Cathy booked their own trip this past September and traveled to Italy to see and taste for themselves. "Our expectations were high, as you might imagine," said Brent. "So we are pleased to report that our experience surpassed all expectations. It was as memorable and delicious as our parents recalled. And more!"

This was the Barr's first trip to Italy. They joined Tuscan Women Cook with Jim and Faye Buchheister ( see following story), Cathy's brother and sister-in-law, who were also celebrating their 30th anniversary.

Cathy and Brent always focus on local cuisine with each new journey. "We book food tours in every city we visit," said Cathy. "We love 3-4 hour walking food tours, which is a great way for us to experience a new city." "We went to a four-day wine camp in Napa," added Brent. Their week with Tuscan Women Cook was their first complete culinary vacation.

Every day was filled with new culinary adventures. "It didn't matter whether you were a cook or not--you want to hang out in the kitchens and take the classes. We both like to cook so it was a great shared experience for both of us," said Cathy. Both agreed Tuscan Women Cook is a terrific vacation to take with family members even if some don't love to cook.

"I didn't feel like there was any pressure to master a technique; everything was fresh, simple and easy to do. You could jump in, or just watch--no pressure either way, which works for everyone," adds Brent. "More of this (TWC) kind of trip is definitely in our future."

They were anxious to try the recipes shortly after they got home. "We made the Eggplant Parmesan five days after we got back. It was good, but it will taste even better once the three cases of Italian wine we bought arrive." Laughs Brent, "Then we'll have the inspiration to make fresh pasta too!"

"Our Tuscan Women Cook trip may have been our best trip yet," said Brent. "Everything went off without a hitch. We ate tremendous meals, met great people. It was a good mix, everyone got along, everyone had a love of food and travel. We all embraced this trip as a grand family adventure and truly enjoyed it together."
What was the most memorable romantic memory of your TWC trip that you can share?
"We would probably agree the night we ate in Monticchiello. We walked to the top of the brick entrance and took photos in front of a beautiful sunset."

Want to hear from the experts on how to plan a memorable sibling vacation? Follow Jim and Faye Buchheister's advice: Follow your heart, your stomach and your sibling to Tuscany.
Jim and Faye decided to celebrate their thirtieth year of marriage by booking their Tuscan Women Cook trip with Jim's sister Cathy and her husband Brent. They'd happily traveled together before within the United States and felt ready to venture to Italy and explore their shared passions, including cooking and fine wines. Neither had taken a dedicated culinary vacation before, but agreed that Tuscan Women Cook would be the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.
Jim and Faye enjoy cooking together at home. Jim is the resident "grill master" and Faye has mastered preparing the big, holiday family meals, thanks to enrolling in several local cooking classes. They discovered it was a fun activity to do together with results that would delight the entire family. They learned how to shuck oysters, prepare Thai salmon and master the perfect roast duck. Every member of the family anxiously waited to see what dinner would emerge from the kitchen after one of these delicious classes.
Emboldened by their culinary confidence, and Jim and Cathy's mother's persistent urging, they immersed themselves in Italian cooking every day with Tuscan Women Cook. They proudly report that they can now add fresh pizza dough and fresh pasta to their repertoire. "We love pizza and used to make our pizzas with store-bought dough. Fresh dough is so much better, there really is no comparison," said Jim. 
"We also make our pasta from scratch now. In fact we are making the pasta al forno from our Tuscan Women Cook recipe book for a family dinner party tonight," added Faye. "First thing this morning, I started making the sauce!"

They also agree that their trip to Italy was the best vacation they ever had. Once again, mom was right. "The whole trip was just fabulous. Just as she said it would be. We liked the quaintness of all the hilltop villages and the opportunity to live like a local in Montefollonico. The Italian people are so easy to get along with. Everyone was wonderful," said Faye.

Faye recalled, "On our walks together on the cobblestone streets throughout Italy we people-watched and admired how simple and yet active their lives are."  

Faye wistfully compared Italian families to American family life. "The family is deeply rooted there. Several generations live and work together," recalls Faye. "There is something to be said about that. Here, jobs or school often takes family members to the other side of the country. We are lucky if we see our grown children once a year."

They loved shopping all over Italy, especially in the Siena markets. Their purchases included purses, gifts for the family and specialty foods including cheese.

They also ended up buying an additional suitcase.

"If I knew we were going buy a new suitcase," said Jim regretfully, "I'd have bought a lot more cheese."


All our Tuscan Women Cook guests have one thing in common: They said YES to an Italian adventure filled with priceless experiences. YES to memorable meals. YES to making new friends, and YES to sharpening their culinary skills. Our motto here at Tuscan Women Cook is "just say YES." Need special travel accommodations? Prefer a special kind of pillow on your bed? Would you like us to schedule your afternoon massage appointment? YES, YES and YES! Interested in discovering the best gelato in Pienza with Rhonda? How about finding the best bargains in Italian leather goods in the Siena open markets with Coleen? Oh YES and YES!

Say YES to the trip of a lifetime. Say YES to Tuscan Women Cook. YES!
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