A few years ago I produced a feature about Lorenza and her premier Italian cookery school. She gave us exclusive permission to film the private salons, the historical wine-cellar and the Rennaissance gardens for my TV show „Nathalie‘s Art of Living“. I have also been instructed by the famous cookery teacher herself. I truly was impressed! You can indeed learn the basics of cooking in only five days...
Tuscany – the name alone seems to melt on the tongue! In the heart of the Chianti region, Lorenza de Medici, off-spring of the famous Florentine aristocratic dynasty and renowned author on Italian gastronomy, preaches the „Renaissance of the Italian cuisine“ in her thousand year-old medieval Benedictine abbey 'Badia a Coltibuono'. For the last two centuries Badia a Coltibuono, which literally means Abbey of the Good Harvest, has been the gracious villa and prestigious wine estate of the Stucchi-Prinetti, Lorenza de Medici's family.
Lorenza, is it just a marketing joke or is it really possible to learn good cooking in only one week?
Lorenza de Medici:
Oh yes, it‘s absolutely possible, because what we do is to teach five menus – each day we have a menu which is very simple like Italian cooking is, so people go away with 20 recipes or 25 recipes that they learn very well. So you don‘t know the whole Italian cooking but at least you know 25 good recipes that you can use of course.
raised up in Milano and never really wanted to live in Florence - the city of the legendary Medici Dynasty. "Florence", she says, "is in any way a small town and now there are too many tourists. So I prefer to be in Coltibuono and come here for holidays and for work also, because here it‘s quieter." Then she tells me that she has been a fashion editor for a magazin when she was young. When she married and she had children, she started to write cooking recipes and collected 'old ones' from the Medicis. Then she decided to give cooking classes. They are - until today - very famous, very popular and very elegant.
In your cook books you are writing about the „Rennaissance of the Italian kitchen“. What do you mean by „Rennaissance“?
Lorenza de Medici:
Well, how the Italian cooking was renewed in all these years. Once the food was very very important and very rich and there were lots of spices; now it‘s more herbes. Instead of spices we use more herbes. And we don‘t use so much fat, we use much more olive oil and healthy things. So in that sense it‘s a „Rennaissance“.
And do you have a recipe which is very simple and easy to explain?
Lorenza de Medici:
Oh here is one very very easy. You just take a potato and cut it lengthwise and almost to the end. You don‘t open. And then you slide a bay-leaf in the middle, which is not difficult at all. And it‘s nice. Then you just put it in a baking dish with a little olive oil, in the oven for one hour. Then it‘s done. It‘s very tasty and very simple and elegant, because you serve this around the meet and it shows the green. It couldn‘t be easier and it‘s very healthy also.
For the last fifteen years it was also the setting for her weeklong 'Villa Table' cooking classes. Now it‘s Paolo Pancotti, her successor, who is revealing recipes from the Medici family‘s old cookbooks. Before he became the chef at the prestigious wine estate, he has been working in some of Italy's best restaurants.
The 5 Day “Food and Wine Course” in the Villa's kitchen is held by guide John Meis and by Paolo Pancotti, who continues Lorenza de Medici's culinary philosophy, concentrating on Tuscany's local cuisine. The course is adapted to beginners as well as experienced home cooks. During the week, students will accompany Paolo to markets and food producers in the area to select the ingredients for the day's menu. Groups are limited to 16 persons.
Participants stay in the comfortably furnished guest rooms located along the characteristic fourteenth century corridor of the ancient abbey. Each room enjoys a delightful view and a private bathroom. There is also time to relax in the magnificent frescoed drawing room, read in the extensive library, stroll in the gardens, enjoy the swimming pool, and walk in the vast woods that surround Coltibuono.
LORENZA & THE MEDICI DYNASTY
Lorenza de Medici:
Well, my family comes down from the daughter of the daughter of Lorenzo Magnifico. Her name was Lucrezia and she married another cousin, also a Medici, and that‘s how they started our family. So we come from the family of Lorenzo Magnifico, who was not from the main family. The main one was the family of Cosimo – they started in Florence , they were bankers in Florence , and they rained many many years. And then the last Medici of the main tree was Anna Maria Ludovica, who was the „Principessa Pallatina“. She lived in Düsseldorf and was the last Medici left. Then she went back to Florence and she gave all the goods of the Medici to Florence . So all she had is now in Palazzo Pitti, Uffizzi. All the treasures of the Medici were given from Anna Maria Ludovica.
Nathalie's Lifestyle Tip
Coltibuono's fine products
Extra Virgin Olive Oil' , the ‘Balsamic Vinegar ', the ‘ Wines & Grappa ' and the ‘ Coltibuono Honey '. All are available at the Osteria, located at the entrance of the Estate.
Book-Tip including 150 recipes
„The Renaissance of Italian Cooking“ by Lorenza de Medici.
Pavilion Books Ltd., London. Available in all leading book stores.
Badia a Coltibuono
I - 53013 Gaiole in Chianti (Siena)
T: (++39)0577-74481; F: (++39)0577-749235
If you would like to contact Lorenza de Medici directly, please send an e-mail to
and I will forward your request to Lorenza de Medici personally
* This special feature "Lorenza de Medici" has been one of more than 200 VIP-Portraits, produced by Nathalie Gütermann for her TV-Shows 'Nathalie's Lifestyle' and 'Nathalie's Art of Living' that were broadcasted between 1990 - 2003 in Germany and in 15 countries world-wide. The content has been updated with actual information in 2004 for Nathalies-Lifestyle.com © 1990 - 2004. The reproduction or other use of any text, photographs, etc. needs the prior written permission of the Chief Publisher.