Take a walk down Via dei Velluti in the Oltrarno, peek into the furniture restoration studios, watch the artisans practicing their ancient craft, and soon you'll stumble upon another studio devoted to a time-honored art: cooking. For 55€ per person, for example, "In Tavola," Via dei Velluti 18r (tel. 055-217-672; www.intavola.org), will get you started on your culinary quest by showing you how to prepare an easy Tuscan lunch (3 hr.) or a full 4-course dinner (4 hr.; 76€).
In Tavola has taken to the city what agriturismi have been doing for a few years now in the countryside, especially in Chianti. Another good beginner's course is offered by the Villa Rosa di Boscorotondo, near Panzano. For 95€ per person, Vincenzo Regoli shows you the ins and outs of bruschetta, panzanella, spezzatino del Chianti, handmade pasta, and tiramisù. Villa Bordoni, outside Greve offers professional-level classes covering such subjects as "La Cucina Povera." Your 155€-per-person fee covers dinner in the outstanding restaurant, with wine and a guided wine tasting. See www.chianticookingschool.com.
Most farm resorts and luxury hotels throughout Tuscany and Umbria are affiliated with some sort of cooking class these days -- be sure to inquire when you book.
It's All Tripe
New York has the hot dog. London has pie and mash. Florence has . . . cow's intestine in a sandwich. The city's traditional street food, lampredotto (the cow's fourth stomach) stewed with tomatoes, has made a big comeback over the last decade, including on the menus of some fine-dining establishments. However, the best places to sample it are still the city's trippai, tripe vendors who sell it from takeaway vans around the center, alongside other, more "regular" sandwiches. The most convenient are in Piazza de' Cimatori and on Via de' Macci at the corner of Piazza Sant'Ambrogio. A hearty, nutritious lunch should come to around 4€. Most are open Monday through Saturday, but close in August, when Florentines flee their city.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.