Travel Two Ways: Tuscany or Tennessee?

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Sit back and enjoy the view at Blackberry Farm.

One Splurge, One Steal

Two foodie breaks for two budgets.

Castel Monastero nestled in the vineyards and olive groves of Tuscany.
A delectable dish at Blackberry Farm.

Get a true taste of Toscana during a week in Siena, or savor farm-fresh creations on a two-night retreat to Tennessee.

Tuscany—the Splurge

Fly: Set the mood with Lufthansa Airlines’ award-winning wine program and menus from top chefs. Fly round-trip in First Class between Dallas/Fort Worth and Florence with Virtuoso’s upgrade air program.

Stay: Hide away in the hills of Siena at Castel Monastero surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, this walled, eleventh-century hamlet houses 74 elegantly rustic guest rooms, along with Gordon Ramsay’s Contrada restaurant. Virtuoso guests sit down to a complimentary lunch under the vaulted ceilings in La Cantina, the estate’s medieval wine cellar.

Taste: Master traditional pappaal pomodoro (bread-and-tomato porridge) and cantucci (biscotti) during a two-hour class at the Tuscan Retreat Cookery Program, created by Gordon Ramsay. Receive one-on-one guidance in the hotel’s kitchen, then head to the restaurant to feast on your culinary creations. Travel during autumn months to join an expert hunter and his dogs as they comb the area for black and white truffles.

Tennessee—the Steal

Fly: Grab a copy of The Blackberry Farm Cookbook and ease into your Economy Class seat on American Airlines.

Stay: Slip into a Great Smoky Mountains state of mind at the 62-room Blackberry Farm. Its 4,200 bucolic acres produce a bounty of heirloom vegetables and herbs, wildflower honey, fresh eggs, and sheep’s milk cheeses, which proprietor Sam Beall and his kitchen team transform into the farm’s inspired “foothills cuisine.”

Taste: Tour the Blackberry Farm Brewery and learn what goes into making its premium, limited production beers. And since this is the heart of American whiskey country, the farm’s bartender has scheduled a tasting of the region’s finest. Gather produce in the gardens, watch the chefs create a tasty lunch in the demonstration kitchen, then sample the final product with a glass of wine.

Originally appeared in Virtuoso Traveler magazine, October 2013.

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