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Making the Most of Second Chances

by Kathleen Green/The Dallas Morning News

As teens, Patty and Bill Sutherland were discouraged from dating by their parents. But 20 years later was another story.

Twenty-two stone plaques line the wall of Bill and Patty Sutherland's Tuscany home. An engraved "Grazie" with a Roman numeral for each year of marriage reminds them just how grateful they are to be together.

And as each anniversary rolls by, Bill presents Patty with another plaque. They also make a point to look at the marriage license that hangs next to their bed in Italy. "We turn it over and write a little note and renew for another year," she says. "It's getting pretty full. We now have Post-it Notes on the back."

There was a time when Bill and Patty thought they'd never be together, much less be celebrating 22 years of marriage. They fell head over heels for each other as teenagers at Arlington High School in the early '60s.

"There was a conflict between our parents that was unresolved and unexplained," says Patty, "and so we were the fallout from that."


It was not until September. 19, 1987, that Bill and Patty finally tied the knot in an Arlington home they had admired as teens and dreamed about living in someday.

They are still amazed how life has turned out. And in 1998, Bill and Patty bought an old farmhouse in Italy where they now run Tuscan Women Cook, a weeklong cooking school for vacationers.

"We both got married so young that we'd never had the big adventure," says Patty. "We just said, 'This is our chance. If we don't do this now, it probably isn't going to happen."

Click here to read the entire article  from the Dallas Morning News

Our 2010 Season Began May 23
La Chiusa has proven to be a wise choice, providing luxurious accommodations for us this year. Breakfast has been served daily on the central terrace under the large umbrellas. Massimo and Gianpaulo have provided their extraordinary service on a daily basis.
The wet winter this year has given us beautiful roses, poppies and ginestra. Spring arrived late, but Dania's garden is near perfection, with her delightful "newly retired" gardener introducing several items.
Daria has been serving summer truffles with her ravioli, Bruna is still baking fresh bread in her wood oven; Francesca keeps us all laughing; Navina continues to produce the most incredible pasta; Isa's delicious eggplant is Thursday's highlight; Anna and Ima keep an eye over everyone making pasta; and Vittorio and Flavio continue to produce some of the best wines in Tuscany.
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Guests have joined us this year from New York City to Singapore; from British Columbia to Florida; and from California to Vermont. Friends and neighbors, mothers and daughters, couples and singles - the diversity of our guests and their backgrounds are what we enjoy so much each week.
We still have a few openings for 2010. Some weeks next year are beginning to fill. 


dough fingers

Summer 2010. Tuscan Women Cook, LLC

Thank you all for your overwhelming approval of our newsletters. We love sharing Tuscany with everyone, and it appears you appreciate receiving the information.  Apparently, our photo of Flavio Andreucci was a big hit, especially with our female friends.
We know you will enjoy our story of Daria Cappelli and her rapidly becoming famous restaurant Osteria La Porta
Follow photos of each week's classes on our Facebook page. We are posting daily updates and photos. Remember to "become a friend" of Tuscan Women Cook on Facebook.
Our 2010 classes are nearly filled, but we do have a few spaces open should you find time to come join us in Tuscany. It is never too late to start planning for 2011 classes.

We hope you can join us in Tuscany one day in the future. 

Osteria La Porta

D We are always excited to introduce our guests to the Osteria La Porta. It's not only because the food is absolutely amazing, but we love our friends to meet the charming and talented Daria Cappelli, who owns and operates this local treasure. Daria turns a dining experience into a chance to enjoy much more than a great meal-it becomes an evening of being embraced by the full spirit of authentic Tuscan hospitality-its rustic beauty, rich flavors, and boundless generosity.


We stumbled upon Osteria La Porta years ago and it immediately won us over. It's located in the nearby village of Montichiello, that's similar to our town of Montefollonico-meaning it's small and not at all busy or touristy. The osteria is set by the old village gate, in a perfect spot with a dining terrace that overlooks a stunning panorama. Inside it's a cozy setup, with three small rooms on different levels and a dumb waiter in the corner connecting the floors. I always think, "That dumb waiter gets fantastic views!"

Daria began this operation in 1997. Its success is a true heroine's story. She grew up in Montichiello, then moved to Florence for university, got a great job in an import/export company, met and married the love of her life and had two children. Sadly, her husband died when her daughters were young and she also lost her job. At that point Daria moved back to Montichiello where her parents could help her raise her daughters, and she could figure out her next move. Without any restaurant experience, she decided to turn a building her father owned into a wine bar, running it by day and commuting in the evenings to Arezzo for classes to become a certified sommelier. After much hard work, the wine bar grew into an osteria, locals and tourists became fans, and writers from the New York Times and other publications sang its praises.


"At first my mother cooked, but then it got to be too big a job, so I hired an excellent chef from the Veneto," Daria says. "Moreno has a great passion for our food, and he brings a lighter touch to it." Exquisite homemade pastas-such as the traditional pici (thick spaghetti) with duck ragu are what this place is famous for. Moreno also makes excellent tortini-vegetable tarts that change seasonally-artichokes in spring, eggplant in summer, mushrooms in the fall.
"And I love to serve dishes that we prepare especially for our guests. For example, Americans love the famous Chianina beef that's raised here, so for the Tuscan Women Cook group we prepare beef cheeks braised with wine and black pepper."

One of our favorite personal memories of dining here is when a guest of ours saw a rice torta on Daria's menu-a cake that his Italian grandmother always used to make. When he ordered it and took a bite, he got teary, as vivid memories of his grandmother came back. When Daria heard the story, she generously gave our guest the whole rest of the cake to enjoy during his stay. He took it back to his hotel and enjoyed it every night of his week with us.

This is just one example of how Daria naturally makes personal connections with her guests. She speaks English, German, and French, and finds it easy to talk with whoever walks through her door.

"This is my greatest pleasure," says Daria. "I want everyone who comes here to have something more than just stopping in at a restaurant. I want to share with them not only the food, but also what I know about the Val d'Orcia, so they will surely have something to remember-even if it's just that I help them make a phone call. This way, after a day of work, when I lie in bed at night and I think about the people I've met, the way I've been able to help them, that's what makes me smile," Daria says.
Bagno Vignoni and the Hotel Adler

EThermal springs bubble under our beautiful valley of vineyards and olive groves known as the Val d'Orcia. These springs of mineral rich water have brought bliss to pleasure seekers for thousands of years. When the ancient Romans discovered them, they created places where they could soak, cure their ailments and lift their spirits. They called these places SPAS, short for Salus Per Aqum=Health Through Water. Towns grew around these spas. One of the most enchanting of these towns is nearby us. It's called Bagno Vignoni and is a place we take our guests during the Tuscan Women Cook week.


What you'll find surprising amidst Bagno Vignoni's perfectly preserved architecture from the Middle Ages, is that instead of a central piazza, there's a large thermal pool. Many luminaries came to take the waters right here, including Pope Pius II, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Francis, and Lorenzo the Magnificent. We'll walk in their footsteps and take a break at one of the side canals, so if you wish you can soak your feet-you'll be surprised at the temperature which gets up to 122 degrees!

There are several spa hotels in Bagno Vignoni, including an elegant one that was originally the residence of Pope Pius. Our favorite spa in the area is not at all institutional like the typical Italian spa. It's the 5-Star Hotel Adler Thermae Spa & Wellness Resort, located on the outskirts of Bagno Vignoni. The Adler opened in 2004 and has been hailed as one of the best spas in Europe by many publications, including Travel + Leisure Magazine (which also recommends Tuscan Women Cook!). It's a gorgeous property, comprised of an elegant hotel that blends in with beautifully landscaped grounds, and outdoor thermal pools that are dramatically set into what was once a marble quarry.


The Adler seamlessly blends state-of-the art comfort with the Roman traditions of thermal baths, steam caves, saunas, massages, and adds touches from Oriental medicine. All this combines to give guests lots of options for ways to bliss out. There are a range of excellent treatments and massages (such as anti-aging rituals, deep tissue, reflexology, and Reiki massages), floating salt baths, outdoor yoga, bike riding paths and even special programs for children. The dining options are wonderful, with a menu that incorporates the freshest seasonal ingredients and is complemented by an extensive wine cellar, focusing on the treasured vintages of the area. Add to that the breathtaking views that you'll get everywhere--from your dining table, spacious room, or lawn chair, and...YES, This Is Paradise! The Adler may be the perfect spot for you to stop before or after your Tuscan Women Cook week, to get a relaxing experience of the ancient Roman spa tradition with a new age twist. Their website lists special offers.
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We love what we do, and we love having so many wonderful guests join us each year in Tuscany. Hopefully, you will come (or come back) to be with us again soon.
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Bill & Patty Sutherland
Tuscan Women Cook, LLC

2005-2010 Tuscan Women Cook is a U.S.A registered company based in and operated solely from the United States of America. flag