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All reviews chef paola mediterranean cooking the kitchen the entire staff hot tub cooking class bucket list cooking experience at home cooking course olive oil great teacher whole experience wonderful experience pasta learned how wonderful week
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Reviewed June 4, 2014

Casa Ombuto exceeded our expectations. Tuscookany plans the week perfectly, to allow ample time to cook (we really worked!) yet plenty of time to relax and enjoy the breathtaking surroundings of Poppi, Italy. Paola, the chef, works with you to create several dishes each day! She is great! The cooking class is limited in number (we had nine) so one receives a lot of attention. The facilities are beautiful and you share the villa with others. "It's yours!", they say! Don't miss this trip!

Date of stay: May 2014
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Betty R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2014

To paraphrase Chef Paola - if you want a recipe and instructions for a dish, look on the internet; if you want to learn how to apply Tuscan passion to fresh, local ingredients and traditional cooking methods, then go on a course at Tuscookany.

The kitchen is amazingly well-equipped and Chef Paola is supported by a great team who made us all feel so welcome and looked after us to the highest standards. Paola's passion and enthusiasm and humour are infectious and whatever standard of cook you are, you will definitely learn new insights and a different way of thinking about cooking.

Learning about food extends beyond the four half-day cooking lessons. The excursion day took us to the local producers listed by Inin in a separate review. There is also a free day to recover and choose your own activities for sightseeing or just enjoying the beautiful grounds and well-kept gardens of Casa Ombuto.

I travelled alone and without a car. Our host, Alex, could not have been more helpful, driving me to and from the local town, Poppi, to catch buses/trains. The house and setting are beautiful and rooms are comfortable with lovely bathrooms. There is plenty to do at the villa during the free mornings - walks with incredible views across the valley, sitting by the pool, just enjoying the peace and beauty of the area on one of the terraces. A great place to recharge your batteries.

I found it easy and cheap to get to Poppi by bus (shuttle bus from Florence airport to Florence train station SMN E10 return, then go around the corner from SMN to the Sitabus station and take the bus towards Bibbiena, which goes direct to Poppi E10 return, takes two hours driving through the most beautiful countryside. I found this route more straightforward than the train which requires a change at Arezzo.)

Date of stay: April 2014
  • Trip type: Traveled solo
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1  Thank CMAOxford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 5, 2014

We just returned from a 1 week Italian cooking vacation at Casa Ombuto and it was truly an amazing experience. There were just so many good things: the villa was situated in beautiful Tuscany, just the drive there was amazing. Our accomodations were great, very comfy and "family like". The villa manager and staff were awesome, always so helpful in taking care of our every need. And Chef Paola totally made cooking so fun. She shared with us her knowledge, her passion for cooking and Italian food, all of those were transferred to the delicious meals that we had all week long at the villa, some of which we even helped to prepare :-) The one-day excursive was fun and interesting. We managed to pack in a visit to a Renaissance villa with a vineyard, a cheese factory, a textile plant, and lunch with a warm and hospitable family in the olive oil business. All in all, this cooking vacation is a great experience and a once-in-a-lifetime must do!!!

Room tip: Choose the room with a bathtub if that's what's important to you, Specify up front as they are limited.
Date of stay: April 2014
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
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2  Thank IninL98
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2014

My time at Casa Ombuto was absolutely delightful! I felt like I was entering a dream when I pulled up to the gates. The grounds were beautiful. The rooms were cozy and clean. Paola (the chef) and all of her helpers were wonderful to work with. I learned so much about the art of cooking - how to pick out ingredients, watch food cook and respond to it, and most importantly, how to fix mistakes! The rest of the staff was great. Very attentive to all the guests needs. I highly recommend Casa Ombuto if you are looking to enjoy Italy, learn how to cook, and spend time with incredible people from around the world.

Date of stay: April 2014
  • Trip type: Traveled solo
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1  Thank SDShelly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2014

Abundant, delightful, enchanting, stunning and delicious are just a few of many words I could use to describe Casa Ombuto. Our week in September 2013 was not only the highlight of our 8 week world adventure; it’s a top 5 highlight of my life so far.

From the moment I first stumbled upon Casa Ombuto on the web, I had a good feeling about it… My research into finding the perfect cooking school was extensive but time and time again I came back to Casa Ombuto and Tuscookany.

I thought organising the vacation from so far away with a different native tongue would have been tricky… it wasn’t. The communication, booking and confirmation all ran smoothly and all the staff involved in that early administrative experience were wonderful and informative.

I will never forget the moment we arrived at Casa Ombuto, I’m a talker and I was rendered absolutely speechless, the setting was breath-takingly gorgeous. As Sheena showed us around in those first few minutes my husband and I just started giggling like children, it was like stepping into the pages of your favourite storybook from childhood…. And then we met Paola… the larger than life, gregarious, sublime totally Tuscan cooking teacher for the week. She welcomed us with warmth and enthusiasm that just grew as the week went on.

It was this good… 5 stars…before we even set foot in the kitchen!

As for cooking school it was beyond my expectations and imagination. The atmosphere in the kitchen was fun and relaxed as we worked, learned and laughed together. Our class was a fabulous mix of amateur cooks from New Zealand, Mexico, the United States and Australia, a group of people who arrived as strangers and left as friends.

I thought I was a pretty good cook but under Paola’s watchful eye I walked out a much much better one. The number of dishes we worked on was impressive, everyday we worked with a different protein and learn different techniques and we learnt and then practised pasta every lesson. We worked pretty hard in the kitchen but it never ever felt hard work. The lessons were structured to expose all the students to a wide range of dishes and techniques but always focusing on fresh Tuscan ingredients, and always delivered with joy and enthusiasm by the fabulous Paola.

The other kitchen and general staff were also magnificent and special mention to the property manager, Sheena, she was available to use for every need and want at any hour of the day.

The other “half’ of the kitchen experience was the dining experience, At Casa Ombuto I think I ate 10-12 of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in my life, and being part of the team who created those meals was fantastic. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were wonderfully languid occasions with plenty of time to get to know each other and enjoy the experience together.

Although we achieved much during our week we were never rushed or felt hurried, it was like being suspended in a special universe where you had all the time in the world to enjoy each meal, go for a walk or stop to smell the herb garden. We had time to enjoy the pool, the hot tub and a wonderful morning massage as well.

The excursions and free time allowed us to visit and get to know the local area and our day trips to Sienna and Arezzo were wonderful. The highlight of the day trips for us was with our new friends and classmates from Orlando, we decided to visit Cortona and it is a “must do” if you have a car..

Before the trip I was mildly concerned about how much my husband would enjoy the experience since he was attending as a non-cook. I need not have worried, he had one of the best weeks of his life, he felt as part of the group as I did and was included in all the activities … including hanging out in the kitchen whenever the mood took him.

The staff invited us to treat Casa Ombuto as our home away from home but it was so much more… it was a delicious paradise, a slice of heaven and privilege worth every cent.

Date of stay: September 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Natasha H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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