Villa Torre Del Tartufo.
In September, 2015, I attended the Tuscookany Cooking School at Villa Torre Del Tartufo in Chiaveretto, Italy. I had not cooked a thing since my husband passed away and felt this school would jumpstart my culinary skills. After driving up an extremely long and bumpy road, I arrived at the most magnificent villa I had ever seen. I wondered why the hell anyone would build a home in such a remote location with an unpaved road, much less turning it into a cooking school. But the beautiful views and welcoming glass of prosecco justified the shock damage to my Smart car.
The classes were taught by Franco Palandra, a jovial and talented chef extraordinaire. That week, under his cooking expertise, his 12 disciples and I produced dishes such as Wild Boar Stew with polenta, Lasagne Funghi Porcini, Pasta E Fagioli and Semifreddo with Zabaione and Vin Santo. Woah...it was good! In the evenings, we gathered around the dining table and indulged in our cooked specialties from the day and washed them down with tons of wine and for dessert, the grand finale, Franco's famous limoncello.
Around the 4th night of this drunken food orgy, I decided to donate an olive tree to the Villa. I had Robert's ashes with me and thought perhaps I could add them to the dirt and my olive tree would grow super big, dwarfing all the other olive trees. The next day, my new friends and I gathered around a little plot in the orchard and a hole was dug for my olive tree. The owners had attached a tag to my tree with Robert's name on it and a photo I had brought. We held hands, said a prayer and I noticed there wasn't a dry eye among us. I thought this the perfect way to share Robert with a country he loved.
It was at this point that I decided perhaps Tuscany could be the place for me to call home. I felt happy and free, and excited to explore all the little hilltop towns and villages. I wanted to become immersed in the architecture, the culture, the food and the wine.
I found the name of a local realtor online and made an appointment to meet the next day.