A classic cake – Mantovana

The Mantovana cake is a classic! Very good for breakfast, it is also a lovely dessert that goes very well with Tuscan Vin Santo. Either way I am sure you’ll love it.

Stella chef at Misenplace has kindly shared this recipe with me last year and I’ve tried immediately. As i really don’t like almonds, I’ve tried to use pine-nuts instead and the result was very good. Decide according to your taste or use both almonds and pine-nuts.


  • 200g sugar (I always use the brown sugar)
  • 150g flour “00”
  • 50g potato flour
  • 100g melted butter
  • 50g of pine-nuts or chopped almonds
  • 5 eggs
  • 16g baking powder
  • grated lemon rind (half lemon)

Preheat the oven at 180°. Grease/flour a cake tin 25 cm.

Set the yolks and whites apart. Melt the butter in a saucepan

Beat the yolks well with sugar, add flour and potato flour, then add the melted butter, the baking powder and the lemon rind. Continue to stir and mix well.

In another bowl, beat the eggs whites until firm peaks form. Add the whites slowly to the mixture.

Slowly pour in the mixture into the cake tin, add the pine-nuts or chopped almonds on the surface and cook for approximately 40 minutes at 180°.

Buon appetito!

Mantovana di Misenplace


Grilled Pecorino with red chicory and lard

Chef Angela OlmiToday I would like to share with you the last recipe from the  “Pecorino che Passione” cooking class held by Angela Olmi chef at Osteria da Gagliano in collaboration with Stella Severini of Misenplace.

This is a very easy and quick recipe, it can be served as a starter or as a main course.

Now that you have all the recipes try to prepare the whole meal  of “Pecorino che Passione”, your family and friends will be amazed!

Grilled Pecorino with red chicory and lard


Ingredients: (4 servings)

  • 4 slices of Semi-seasoned Pecorino cheese (2 cm thick with the skin on). We used the Red from Pienza bought at Il Granaio di Gabriello.
  • 1 red chicory (radicchio rosso)
  • 8 slices of Lard (Lardo di Colonnata o Cinta are our favorites)
  • a pinch of salt
  • black pepper
  • Extra virgin Olive Oil

Cut the red chicory and season with salt and extra virgin olive oil, place some chicory on each plate.

Meanwhile, oil a non-stick pan or grill and heat it over high heat. Place the Pecorino in the grill and cook until browned and crunchy on both sides. Place the Pecorino over the red chicory and then add two slices of lard on the pecorino, season with black pepper and serve.

Buon Appetito!

Pecorino grigliato

Iwan Thomas on Villa Il Maggio

“I thought a long weekend in Tuscany would be the perfect place to prepare for the London Marathon.”

This is what Iwan Thomas wrote on the Mail on Sunday about his trip to Villa Il Maggio in Sarteano last spring.

“With good weather almost guaranteed and a short flight time from the UK, no wonder thousands of Britons head to this part of Italy every year. We flew to Florence, and from there it was a 90-minute drive to our 18th Century farmhouse, Il Maggio, near the delightful city of Siena. Another of the attractions of this stay was the chance to have a cookery lesson – I was runner-up on the BBC’s Celebrity MasterChef several years ago, and I’m really passionate about food.”


“Il Maggio was very impressive, with attractive limestone floors, terracotta tiles and original beams. There was underfloor heating throughout the house too, which I particularly liked.”

“The property had its own spa area, including a Jacuzzi, while outside were lovely gardens, and – this was a nice touch – a small outhouse containing a traditional pizza oven.”


“After a relaxing first day, we headed to the local village for our cookery lesson. We were shown how to make ravioli and other types of pasta (actually, I learned how to make pasta during my stint on MasterChef, but it was great to have a refresher course).”

pici4Pici lesson

The village Iwan is talking about is Sarteano, located south of Siena. Stella Severini chef at Misenplace hosts a cooking class to teach Iwan how to make PICI a typical Tuscan handmade pasta, and she did a great job as Iwan made a very long PICIO. To learn how to make pici see our Pici all’aglione recipe. 

“Afterwards, we went to do some food-tasting, and later that evening we went out for dinner. It’s a good job I have a big appetite.”

Iwan at Il Granaio

Iwan had the food tasting at Il Granaio di Gabriello a lovely shop in Sarteano. Andrea and Marina were great hosts and shared their knowledge of local produce with Iwan who really enjoyed the local bear Olmaia brewed in the UNESCO heritage site of Val d’Orcia. More info about this lovely shop on our post: Il Granaio. 

The dinner took place at local Osteria da Galliano where Angela and Giuliano prepared a delicious dinner including spelt with Chianti and pecorino cheese, handmade pasta with rabbit and fennel ragout, wild boar prepared according with an antique Florentine recipe with cacao and Bavarian cream with spices used for Panpepato.

“The next day I had to remind myself that I was here to get in some last-minute London Marathon training, so I headed into the hills close to our villa. The weather was gorgeous and (believe it or not) I was having such a good time that I ended up covering 15 miles – much more than I had originally intended.”

I’m happy to say I finished the London Marathon in four hours, which I was pleased with. That session in the Tuscan hills obviously did the trick.”

The road where Iwan trained while at Il Maggio is a wonderful panoramic road that goes from Sarteano to San Casciano dei Bagni. It is a 16 km road that goes along the side of Mount Cetona and overlooks the Val di Chiana. Some days when there’s fog on the valley the view is even more spectacular as Città della Pieve on the other side of the valley appears as an island crowned by Tower bells. It is the favorite road for locals to run or walk during the week-ends.

As the return flight was late afternoon, Tuscan Views together with Country Tours organized a full day tour with visit of a farm near Siena that breed Cinta Senese (an ancient race of white and black pigs) with tasting and a light lunch. After lunch they went to visit a local winery in the Chianti hills and tasted Chianti Classico and Supertuscans. The tour ended at the Florence’s airport where Iwan said goodbye to Tuscany.

To book your stay at Il Maggio contact Tuscan Views

Read the full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2272753/Iwan-Thomas-The-perfect-way-prepare-London-marathon-A-Tuscan-diet-pasta-hills.html#ixzz2K6yR2dOO

A classic Tuscan recipe: Pici all’aglione

As the weather gets colder and the days shorter I tend to spend more time in the kitchen making all sorts of handmade pastas, pizzas and cakes.

There’s a pasta that my kids love and it’s a must for everyone coming to Tuscany: i Pici.
Pici is a typical southern Tuscany handmade pasta, a thick spaghetto, that goes well with every sauce: ragù, carbonara, seafood, wild boar and so on, today I would like to share a typical sauce made in southern Tuscany “aglione”.

Stella Severini chef of Misenplace has kindly given us this simple and delicious recipe. Stella collaborates a lot with Tuscan Views holding cooking classes and doing chef at home for our guests.

This spring we had the honour of having Iwan Thomas (UK record holder at 400 m) staying at villa Il Maggio and Stella shared the secrets of Pici with him. He turned out to be a “Pici” champion as well, making a very long Picio as you can see in the picture.

Here are the ingredients:
Hand made Pici pasta

  • 500 gr. of type “0” flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 glass of warm water
  • 1 dessert spoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt

Pour the flour in a heap onto the rolling board, add a pinch of salt and make a hollow on top into which you pour the oil, water and egg. Knead the flour for 30 minutes then roll out to a thickness of 1cm.

Add a drizzle of oil and cut the dough into strips of 1cm. Using your hands roll the strips on the rolling board to get a fairly thick spaghetto, the Picio.

Lay the pasta on the rolling board on a fine layer of maize flour.

Pici pasta with aglione sauce


400 gr. of Pici pasta
8 large garlic cloves
  • 1 jar of tomato pulp
  • 1chilli pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

In a frying pan brown the finely chopped garlic in extra virgin olive oil over a low heat. When the garlic is golden add the chilli and then the tomato pulp. Add salt and pepper and after 15 minutes add and toss the Pici already cooked in plenty of salted boiling water.

Buon Appetito!

Cooking Class – Pecorino che Passione!

One of the things we love most about Tuscany is food.

We really enjoy organising cookery classes, and our ‘Chef at Home’ experience at the villas shows guests the secrets of Tuscan food.

Angela Olmi – Chef at Osteria da Gagliano – Sarteano (SI)

Last week, one of our favourite collaborators, Stella Severini of Misenplace organised a cooking class held by Angela Olmi chef at the famous “Osteria da Gagliano” in Sarteano.

Angela showed us how to prepare an entire meal with “Pecorino” cheese from starter to dessert!

I never thought it would be possible but I can tell you it has been a really amazing experience and of course the results were absolutely delicious!

Here is the menu:

We don’t just want you to trust us – we want you to try it for yourselves!

Buon Appetito!