“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).”
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 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