Self-catering apartments and villas are ideal accommodations when traveling with kids in the countryside of Italy. The only downside is that if there is no onsite restaurant available, the meal hassle-factor grows exponentially.
1. Villages are rarely walkable from rural apartments and villas in Tuscany. Even if the accommodations are within walking distance, these are not roads that are kid-friendly, particularly at night. Think no sidewalks, no lights, blind corners, and fast drivers. Not a good combination for a stroll to dinner.
2. Some families love to hit a fabulous Italian market and then cook the world’s best dinner at home. Fair enough, this is indeed enjoyable for those who are great cooks. But even so, do you want to be doing that every night?
3. Some of us (yours truly) are not accomplished in the kitchen and can think of nothing worse than having “the usual” meals while on vacation in Italy (of all places).
4. When you are out sightseeing all day in the countryside and navigating all those winding roads, the last thing you want to do is drive to dinner.
5. Italians eat late and restaurants don’t even think of opening until 7:30p. There is no such thing as a fast dinner in Italy — dinners out means your kids will be up late. This is fine for some nights, but doing it every night is tiresome.
Chef in Tuscany
As a consequence, I was thrilled beyond belief to find Chef in Tuscany during our recent stay at Li Zuti Country Resort. The chef, Graziella, is an absolute joy. More importantly, she is an incredible cook and will come to your apartment and villa to make dinner your family!
My only complaint was that there was so much home-made, delicious food in front of the 3 of us that we couldn’t finish every morsel. We used Graziella on our last night in Italy, so lunch the following day was not an option. Usually one of the benefits of a in-villa chef is that you’ll get two or more meals out of a single session.
Graziella and her assistant will come to your kitchen and they bring everything they need. They’ll cook, serve, and clean up everything. It’s just like a restaurant but far more relaxing because nobody cares if your kids get crazy and you can put them to bed on time.
Dinner Menu and Price
Graziella’s service is insanely reasonable for the quality level. Her lowest priced menu is 28€ per person and includes a starter, first course, second course, side dish, and dessert. She has a kids’ version (5-12) available for 20€ person (kids under 4 are free).
Here is a small sample of popular options off this menu
Starters: mixed crostini, aromatic bruschetta, caprese salad, Tuscan bread salad, Tuscan ham with local melon, cucumber with aged pecorino cheese and black pepper
Second Course: penne with meat sauce, spaghetti with courgettes/pine nuts/saffron, rough cut pasta with butter and fresh thyme, pasta with pesto and baby tomatoes, risotto with seasonal vegetables
Second Course: chicken with garden herbs, pork cooked in milk and seasonal perfume, chicken in red and yellow pepper sauce, Tuscan roast pork with potatoes, pork chops with vin santo sauce
Side Dishes: cannellini beans with baby tomatoes and spring onions, aubergines with wild mint, Florentine-style peas, beans in Tuscan virgin olive oil and black pepper
Dessert: typical Tuscan fruit bread with aniseed, chocolate roll, almond biscuits with vin santo wine, local bread and chocolate cake, tiramisu with orange and dark chocolate
Most of the vegetables and herbs Graziella uses are grown in her home garden. The pasta is made from scratch. She even grows her own olives!
I highly recommend Chef in Tuscany for one or more dinners. Really, it’s like eating in a fabulous restaurant … but better because you are far, far more relaxed with your kids in a setting where they can run around as needed.
Editorial Note: Ciao Bambino is offered free and/or highly discounted accommodations and services when we travel. While I’d love to be Conde Nast Traveler and have a steadfast editorial policy that we pay for everything — this is simply not viable for us. We travel too often for that, not to mention that our specialty is upscale and luxury accommodations.
We don’t and won’t write about things we don’t believe in. In addition, we are always candid about caveats and downsides. I’m taking the time to explain this now (we also include language at the end of any post where the stay or service was comped) because our dinner from Chef in Tuscany was free.
There was nothing about this dinner I didn’t like. I’d tell you if there was, and those that have followed the Ciao Bambino brand for years know that we are all about reliable, high-quality recommendations.
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