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Arezzo Antique Market

 F  Arezzo antique market

Arezzo is a quietly magnificent Tuscan hill town, less than a one-hour drive NE of Montefollonico.  A magical event happens here on the first Sunday (and preceding Saturday) of every month-Italy's biggest outdoor antique market. It's an amazing sight to see the historical center overflowing as 500 vendors spread out an eclectic mix of treasures-carved armoires, candelabras, giant urns, sculptures, and art.

Thankfully there are also lots of beautiful items for sale that can slip easily into your suitcase-vintage linens, jewelry, faded postcards, lithographs, and paintings. Even if you're not buying anything, this market is wonderful to photograph or simply to stroll through and watch Italian shoppers bargaining.


Patty fell in love with Arezzo's Fiera Antiquaria during one of our first visits to Tuscany and always enjoys hunting through piles of antique linens to find ones embroidered with "S" for Sutherland. Over our 12+ years living here, she has amassed quite a pretty collection of them.  

Arezzo 3 Even when the Fiera Antiquaria is not happening, Arezzo is a lovely place to wander and enjoy the sights, which evoke layers of the town's history. You'll see images of mythical lions that recall the period from the 7th to the 4th century BC, when this hilltop spot was a powerful Etruscan capital. The architecture is mostly medieval, creating an atmosphere of orderly grandeur. A real highlight is the 14th century Basilica of San Francesco, where you'll discover Arezzo's greatest artwork-a stunning Renaissance fresco cycle, The Legend of the True Cross, painted by the master Piero della Francesca.

Also scattered throughout the tranquil pedestrian-only town center are photographs from the Roberto Benigni movie, Life is Beautiful. Many scenes from the Academy Award-winning film were shot in this enchanting place.

arezzo plates

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My wife Karen and I just returned from a week at Tuscan Women Cook.  We went with another couple and I was the only non-cooking enthusiast among us.  Hence, I had some pre-trip reservations.  I have none now.  The daily 3 hour cooking school was taught by local women who are superb cooks. One class was with the top chef at Ristorante Relais La Chiusa.  Other classes were at various locations and the teaching and demonstrations in which everyone had a part to do were serious; the recipes were supplied and the delicious results eaten for lunch.  In addition to the lesson plan, a lot of fun was had.  Bill Sutherland augmented the translator (the cooks are so authentic, they don't speak English) and, as a lifelong foodie, was a font of Italian cooking practicality and lore.  

But the fun just started there.  The Sutherlands have lived in Tuscany both full-time and part-time for many years and filled our afternoons and evenings with delightful and instructive activities that ranged from sightseeing, including a trip to Florence, to wineries and wine tastings with extremely generous pours.  

Our group was interesting with friendly people and we lingered over every meal in conversation with our new acquaintances.

We stayed in La Chiusa with its incredible view and staff that could not do enough for us. Others in our party were at La Costa, both in Montefollonico, with its even better view and great food.

All told, it was a wonderful week and one we recommend highly.


-Rick & Karen Wilson, Pennsylvania

trip advisor


Winter 2011. Tuscan Women Cook, LLC

We are delighted that everyone is enjoying our newsletters as much as we enjoy
sharing stories of the people and places near us in Tuscany.


We know you will enjoy our story of Dania Masotti, chef and co-founder of Hotel and Restaurant La Chiusa-home base for Tuscan Women Cook. Dania is the recipient of a Michelin star, and has been called the finest of all chefs in Tuscany. La Chiusa has been named the best country inn in Tuscany.

You can follow along each week during our cooking season on our Facebook page to view photos of our guests. We offer daily updates of photos during classes.
Remember to "become a friend" of Tuscan Women Cook on Facebook.

Our 2011 classes are rapidly filling, and many weeks are already sold out.  We do have a number of spaces open during prime weeks and we hope you can join us in Tuscany this year.  Remember, it is never too early to start planning for 2012, and our new calendar for 2012 will be posted in February. Click here to view the typical weekly schedule with Tuscan Women Cook.

We hope you share Tuscany with us one day in the future.

DANIA MISOTTI-Tuscany's Shining Star


It's always a delight for us to introduce our guests to Dania Masotti, the chef and co-owner of La Chiusa-the hotel and restaurant that is home base for Tuscan Women Cook. Dania gracefully embodies La Dolce Vita (the sweet life), whether she's welcoming travelers to her dining room, stirring ragu in her kitchen, or in her garden teaching our students about herbs. Patty and I will never forget the first time we met Dania as she appeared in the La Chiusa dining room, dressed head to toe in colorful Pucci, greeting the diners as if they were long lost friends. At first we thought she was a visiting celebrity. After all these years she still amazes us with her constant vivacity, charm, and wonderful cuisine. La Chiusa is her theatre, and she is its shining star.


Dania grew up in a village outside Florence, with a mamma who was an excellent cook. As a child, she didn't have much interest in the kitchen and set off to Pisa to study law at its prestigious university. Everything changed when Dania married Umberto Luccherini. As a young bride, she turned to her mother for help, asking to be taught the traditional regional dishes she loved in her childhood. Dania turned out to be an excellent student. She still uses her mother's recipes at La Chiusa, transforming classic peasant dishes into elegant renditions that retain their soulful quality in the process. Memorable is her signature Pasta Dania-silky homemade papparadelle with a perfectly balanced tomato sauce. We also love her pollo contadino (simple free range chicken with fresh-grown herbs), bean and farro soup, roast lamb, and stuffed zucchini blossoms-a favorite of ours. Her cooking has been awarded a Michelin star and highly praised in culinary publications all over the world.


Dania grid


Guests enjoy her restaurant's Old World style. Sorbets are served between courses. Mini ottomans are placed next to chairs, so women have a place to perch their purses. The wine cellar offers top local picks (Vino Nobile, Brunello di Montalcino) and other world-renowned wines and vintages.

Dania's signature style is pervasive not only in her cooking, but in every aspect of La Chiusa. She and Umberto came to Montefollonio in 1975, long before the Tuscan tourist boom. Like pioneers, they took on an arduous labor of love, restoring Umberto's family olive mill and farmhouse into the luxurious oasis it is today. La Chiusa sites on a hillside with a breath-taking view of Montepulciano. Dania rolled up her sleeves and dove in, planting beautiful herb and flower gardens. Her design instincts transformed the old buildings into modern guest accommodations, while retaining the property's charming rustic atmosphere. Each guest room is styled with antiques and elegant draperies.

Flower arrangements from Dania's gardens always adorn the La Chiusa dining room, and she hand paints the menus with whimsical floral watercolors. She also carries her artistry into the kitchen, using sauces to paint hearts and her signature on plates, adding a swirly, affectionate touch-as if she's sending guests dishes with kisses.

Those "painted" dishes symbolize something Dania's told me many times-"More than anything, I love being with the people who come to La Chiusa, to share with them this place I love. That is my greatest joy!"


We are so fortunate to have Dania teach some of our cooking classes, and to lodge our Tuscan Women Cook guests at her fabulous Hotel and Ristorante La Chiusa.



We're lucky to live only moments away from one of the most popular destinations in Tuscany, the hilltop town of Montepulciano-an alluring cluster of ivory colored stone churches and buildings set high on a limestone ridge, surrounded by hills of vineyards and olive groves.

Monti 1 

When you get up close to Montepulciano, it seems as though you're entering a Tuscan version of Oz. You enter the walled town through an arched gate, then wind your way steeply uphill, poking into alleys, oohing and ahhing over the stunning Renaissance architecture. Montepulciano was founded by the Etruscans, beloved by the Romans, and in the Middle Ages became an important trading center between the two farming valleys below-the Val di Chiana and the Val d'Orcia. Its heyday came in the early 16th century, when the Medici from Florence called in the best architects of the day to build churches, palazzos, and fortresses that turned Montepulciano into the showpiece it still is today.


When you reach the top, you've arrived at the Piazza Grande, one of the most beautiful spots in all of Italy, with stunning views of the valley below.

monti 2


An added attraction of Montepulciano is that it's home to the internationally praised wine: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This splendid Sangiovese-based red has been produced here since the 8th century and hailed as "the king of all wines." It got its name in the 18th century, when connoisseurs such as Thomas Jefferson declared its flavor so wonderful that it was destined to be served at tables of the nobility. You can sample Vino Nobile at the many wine bars and cellars in Montepulciano, where local Pecorino cheeses and salumi cured meats are also offered. And don't pass up an invitation to go to an underground cantina tunnel, such as the one at the Pulcino wine shop on Strada Statale, where you'll discover Etruscan tombs lining the walls.


With all this beauty packed into such a small place, it's no wonder Montepulciano has been chosen as a place to film so many fantasy-filled movies. A few you may have seen are Midsummer Night's Dream (the 1998 version with Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer), New Moon (the second installment of the Twilight Saga), and that gorgeous scene in Under the Tuscan Sun where Diane Lane watches the town's famous flag throwers.


Montepulciano is also home to Il Sasso, an excellent language school where one can sign up for two-week sessions. We love taking guests here to stop in at Café Politziano-our favorite place for a caffč and extraordinary view of the valley below. 


Our guests always enjoy their visit to Montepulciano during their week with Tuscan Women Cook.

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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

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