Past Tuscany Tour August 4-8, 2018 – SOLD OUT

Have you ever imagined visiting Tuscany, Italy and enjoying all of its history, culture, food and wine? Join us this summer for an unforgettable culinary tour in Tuscany for 4 nights/5 days August 4-8, 2018.  Stay in an historic Tuscan villa just 15 miles south of Florence and let us introduce you to Italian cooking, local markets, and a chianti winery. On the final night, you will enjoy a five-course formal Tuscan dinner from Chefs Freeman Gunnell, Matthew Dunaj and Gavin Russell. During your stay, you can swim in the villa’s pool, visit local Tuscan villages, or tour Florence.



Your stay will include breakfast and dinner daily and each room has a private bath.  We recommend guests rent a car so you can explore nearby tuscan towns during the day, or if you prefer to spend time relaxing by the pool or enjoying the property, our villa owner, Nicola Carafa will arrange transportation to and from Florence, Italy for you.

Florence, Italy – a world class city rich with culture, art, history, beauty, food, wine and stunning architecture.


About the property: 

The stunning Tuscan Villa – Podere Le Rondini – is a 5-time consecutive award winner of the most prestigious “Certificates of Excellence” in tourism and agritourism (tourism on a wine farm).  Situated between Florence and Sienna in the heart of the Chianti Wine Region of Tuscany, this beautiful villa is surrounded by rolling hills, olive trees and vineyards producing private label olive oil and wines.

They have received 195 five-star reviews on trip advisor!

Click here to see more about the property.

Proposed Agenda:

Aug. 4th, 2018

Check in anytime after 1:30pm, enjoy traditional simple Italian dinner at the villa

Aug. 5th, 2018

Breakfast provided, local market tour with 3 chefs and villa owner, late afternoon cooking class where guests prepare dinner together under the direction of our 3 chefs

Aug. 6th, 2018

Breakfast provided, day time free and Chianti Wine Tasting Tour at a famous nearby winery with simple dinner

Aug. 7th, 2018

Breakfast provided, daytime free, evening 5-course Formal Tuscan Feast

Aug. 8th, 2018

Breakfast provided, check out by 10:30am


Immerse yourself in one of the most spectacular culinary capitals of the world!  The villa is located in the hills of Tuscany in the heart of the Chianti wine region, next to an olive oil farm.



Imagine touring the local farmer’s markets and speciality food shops with 3 professional chefs.  You’ll enjoy selecting the freshest ingredients for the cooking class and tasting new flavors in the dishes you create!


Your food and wine tour concludes with an unforgettable 5-course formal Tuscan feast under the stars prepared by our 3 professional chefs and features local, fresh ingredients as well as locally sourced wines.

About the Chefs:

Chef Freeman E. Gunnell III: 

Chef Gunnell’s is the proprietor of Cornwall Bakery, Grosse Pointe, MI.  His culinary education has been under the direction of renowned chefs including Jimmy Schmidt, Wolfgang Puck, and Madeleine Kamman. A graduate of the School for American Chefs, Beringer Vineyards at Napa Valley, California as well as Cuisine Regionale of France from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, France. His well-rounded career includes working as chef de cuisine and as a pastry chef in gourmet restaurants as well as corporate and private settings. Awarded the prestigious IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) pastry award to study at Ecole Lenotre in Paris, France and three-time recipient of the IDDBA Scholarships (International Dairy-Deli Bakery Association), 2007- 2009. He graduated Schoolcraft College with high honors in the Culinary Arts, Pastry and Baking Programs.  He has an extensive 20 year culinary history working in fine dining and gaining experience in breads and pastries working for the Whole Foods Bakehouse in Chicago and at Holiday Market in Royal Oak, MI.  Freeman enjoys traveling, skiing, cycling, gardening and spending time with family in his free time.

Chef Matt Dunaj, CEC:

Chef Dunaj’s cooking career started in 1984. He attended the Culinary Institute of America from 1988 to 1990 and graduated with honors.  Upon graduation, he worked under Chef Milos Cihelka CMC at the Golden Mushroom and Chef Jimmy Schmidt at The Detroit Rattlesnake Club.  In 1994, he embarked on a career with the Michigan Department of Corrections, became a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation in 2006 and was the ACF Chapter Chef of the Year in 2007.  Chef Dunaj holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from 2013 and has an extensive teaching career in Culinary Arts since 2014. 

Chef Gavin Russell:

Having emigrated from South Africa via the United Kingdom, Chef Russell brings over 20 years of experience in top professional kitchens with him to the Qzine Café in downtown Detroit Michigan. Gavin has been a Chef at many restaurants and hotels around the world. Prior to joining the Eurest team at Qzine Café, Gavin was part of the team, which opened Detroit Hour 2013 Restaurant of the Year: Marais in Grosse Pointe, MI.

His career highlights include being nominated to the South African National Culinary Team and being a part of the kitchen team responsible for Nelson Mandela’s birthday and wedding dinner.  Rising through the ranks to executive sous chef at the award winning Tribute in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Working with 3 different James Beard award winning and nominated chefs, has helped Chef Russell push the culinary limits and knowledge. The 6 years spent working in kitchens in Portland, Oregon has instilled a great sense of local, sustainable, farm to table and the use of phenomenal ingredients, all of which are evident in the dishes Chef Russell creates today.

Registration details:

SOLD OUT!  Stay tuned for our next culinary adventure – details coming soon!

Due to the high demand for this tour package and extensive planning, all payments are non-refundable.  Thank you for your understanding.

Your stay will include:

Prices include half board (breakfast and dinner) and each room has a private bath.  Enjoy the panoramic private pool on site, wi-fi, 24 hr front desk services, maps and tourism information provided by villa owner and private parking inside the estate.  Your stay will also include a guided market tour and cooking class, Chianti winery tour and tasting, and a spectacular 5-course Tuscan “pop-up” feast with locally sourced ingredients and wines.

Not included:

Airfare, ground transportation, lunches.

We recommend you consider arriving 1-2 days early to explore Florence or other Tuscan towns and acclimate prior to checking in at the villa for your food and wine tour!

We also recommend you contact David Fishman at Cadillac Travel Group 248-358-5330 or to help you find the BEST pricing on flights and hotel stays before or after your culinary tour / villa stay.


Click here to read the Article in Corp!  Magazine “Husband and Wife Team Connect with Chefs to Put Together a Foodie Trip of a Lifetime.”

Click here to read the Article in The Grosse Pointe News:  “Taking the Show on the Road, Chefs Plan Italy Trip with pop-up dinner.”


How will we get to the villa?

Nicola, the owner of the villa, can arrange transportation from Florence or you can rent a car and drive on your own.  Nicola can also arrange to have your rental car waiting for you at the villa so you can easily explore nearby towns during the day.

Who do you recommend we rent a car of van from?

We recommend you to contact our trusted agency specialized in van and car rental, and mention that you are writing from Podere Le Rondini in Poppiano, Montespertoli, so they will honor our discounted pricing. They can deliver the van/car to our Villa, if you prefer, or they can come to the Florence Airport or the Florence Central Train Station to deliver the car/van to you. The agency website is: Advanced booking is mandatory.

Does the price include lunch?

No, prices include breakfast and dinner only.

How will we get to the market for the market tour? Will we need a car?

We can travel as a group in our rental cars, or be transported by shuttle van to the market tour.

What is the average temperature there?

Temperatures in August:

86 °F (30 °C) 63 °F (17 °C)

How many people will be attending the food and wine tour?

We will take a maximum of 18 guests.

How many people can fit in one room?  Can a family of 4 fit in a room together?

Rooms can be arranged for single, double or triple guests to share.  A family of 4 could have 2 rooms next to one another.

What if I have food allergies or I’m a vegetarian?

Please make us aware of any food allergies or sensitivities that you might have and we will do as much as possible to accommodate your needs.

Are children welcome?

Yes – we welcome children, however we will not be providing a separate children’s menu.  The pool is enclosed, however there is no lifeguard on duty.  The villa offers cots, cribs and high-chairs and has outdoor play equipment (0-5 years old).  Babysitting and childcare services are available for an additional charge.

Can you tell us the name of the villa and year it was built?

The Villa is called “Podere Le Rondini” and was built in the 1800’s.

What types of activities can we do near the villa?

Horseback riding, hot air balloon rides, bike tours, private tours of Florence or local Tuscan Towns, private museum tours, golf course (9 miles away), shopping excursions and truffle hunting can all be arranged privately from the villa. (additional charge for these activities.)

See this link for more details:

How far are the main tourist destinations?

The property is close to these major cities:  Florence is 25 km away; San Gimignano is 24 km away; Siena is 48 km away; Pisa is 63 km away; Lucca is 70 km away; Volterra is 45 km far; Rome is 300 km away; Milan is 310 km away. The famous places where the well-known Chianti Classico Red-Wine is produced – such as Greve, Panzano and Radda – can be easily reached through charming, panoramic roads (about 35 km from the villa).


Please feel free to contact Megan and Freeman Gunnell if you have any questions about your tour or registration details: