Take a deep breath and imagine yourself inhaling salty Mediterranean air and sipping limoncello. Now try to taste the hearty blend of flavors in a seafood and potato stew you made in the home of a professional chef in a small, coastal village. Listen to the clang and stirring sounds of a quaint Tuscan home kitchen while the owner teaches you and your girlfriends to make traditional favorites.

And smell the cappuccino. Oh, the cappuccino.

An Italy culinary tour is the perfect choice for a girlfriend getaway — especially if you love food and wine! Add a glass of local Chianti and your favorite travel companions, and the recipes you carry home and cooking skills you hone are sure to give the scenery and historical stops some stiff competition as trip favorites.

A woman learning from a chef.

These Italian destinations are sure to entice the senses of any food and wine enthusiast, while traveling with a tour company can open doors to local farmhouse kitchens and guide you to trails otherwise unknown to average tourists. It’s also a great way to relinquish the planning and just enjoy the trip. Gather up your girlfriends — it’s time to get the suitcases ready!

A Taste of Tuscany

With cultural and historic high points like Michelangelo’s David, Ponte Vecchio and Piazza Signoria, Florence is a perfect entry point to the feast for the senses that is Tuscany. You and your girlfriends will love this region famed for its gorgeous hill towns and amazing food and wine, and there is no shortage of perfect local experiences — if you know where to find them, that is.

Classic Journeys culinary tour groups stroll through the San Lorenzo market to pick up meats, breads and olives for a country picnic, enjoy a private look at a sheep farm to learn about the cheese-making process and follow up with cooking instruction at a farmhouse cucina.

Group cooking at a table in Tuscany, Italy

Leaving Florence, a sprawling landscape of castles and vineyards awaits, including opportunities for leisurely strolls among the grapes. Local artisans craft terra cotta pots by hand in Chianti and the ultimate hill town of San Gimignano poses for your photos with its 14 medieval towers. Siena brings more sips of local red wine and a lesson in making hand-rolled pasta, while a visit to Cortona immerses you in the olive oil pressing process.

Local Tuscan craftsman and culinary artists enjoy sharing their history and skills passed down through the generations. Your travel company can make these connections for you and help avoid any logistics struggles, leaving more time for relaxing and enjoying the good company and, of course, the wine.

Amalfi, Al Buon Gusto!

Colorful buildings carefully perched on the steep coastal mountains make the Amalfi peninsula especially photogenic. Exquisite villas, each seemingly more beautiful and picturesque than the last, are home to quaint trattorias, lemon farmers, fisherman, coffee shops and boutiques.

Amalfi light up at night.

While here, a few highlights include taking time to slow down and wander the cobblestone streets. Spend a morning in a private kitchen to learn the local traditions and share a meal. Then hike off the extra calories on one of the many stunning hiking trails.

Classic Journeys groups take a hydrofoil transfer to Capri, the island renowned as a sanctuary for the rich and famous. Feel like a local by having an expert point out the best family-run restaurants and lookouts unknown to tourists, including breathtaking views of the entire Gulf of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius towering in the background.

Visit a charming 14th-century cliffside monastery in Positano to take in carefully preserved original frescoes. Then meander down the trail for a private lesson in wood-fired pizza making and wine tasting.

A pizza.

A tour of Pompeii — the town buried in volcanic ash in 79 A.D. — with a personal archeologist guide is sure to fascinate. Excavations have revealed the complete original city, including beautiful villas, streets and shops to explore.

Sounds amazing, right? Get your gal pals together to plan your Italy culinary tour today!

Choosing a Tour For Your Next Adventure

Avid travelers often enjoy the hunt for that truly local feeling, the type of experience you can’t find in any guidebooks. But there are certain experiences even the most resourceful traveler cannot access. Not all travelers know an Italian archaeologist who can personally guide them around the excavation sites in Pompeii, for instance, or a lemon farmer who can give a private tour of his orchard. Tour groups can often provide access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences with long-lasting memories.

It can be challenging to find a tour company striking the balance you’re looking for— that perfect mix of engaging activities, amazing local meals and learning opportunities, but still some free time to explore.

While searching for the right tour, consider the following:

Read traveler reviews on their website and other travel boards.
• Get a feel for potential compatibility with other group members by looking into group size and the company’s target market. Are their travelers mostly families with young kids, older couples, singles?
• Be sure you understand what is and isn’t included in the trip fees to avoid surprises.
• Evaluate the guides and find a group using locals, or at least long-term residents, so you get as much — and accurate! — information about the area as possible.