Last Updated on February 15, 2022 by Candy Wafford
A recent stay at Relais Il Falconiere in Cortona, Italy made all of my Under the Tuscan Sun dreams come true. The movie is hands-down one of my favorites. This Cortona hotel lived up to my expectations for a Tuscan dream vacation. Read on for more about my delightful experience here and why I’m still pinching myself.
Relais Il Falconiere – Cortona Hotel
Il Falconiere in Cortona is part of the Relais & Chateaux brand of luxury hotels. The hotel has earned accolades as a top hotel in Italy from prestige publications including Travel & Leisure and Forbes Traveller.
Relais Il Falconiere includes a Michelin-starred restaurant, a winery, and a spa. the house dates back to the 17th century and you can feel the history as you walk among the olive trees. With stunning grounds and draw-dropping views everywhere you turn it’s easy to see why this Cortona hotel has earned so many awards.
This resort in Tuscany has thirty-four rooms and suites. Each is decorated with beautiful Italian furnishings and hand-painted murals. The decor strikes a balance between romantic elegance and comfort. Because we were lucky enough to stay in a suite next to the chapel, it felt like we had our own tucked-away spot in paradise. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful hotel in Cortona.
This Cortona hotel sits in the hills of the scenic Tuscan countryside. But the town of Cortona is only a short ride away. Once there you will find lots of restaurants, shops, and museums.
TIP – Rent a car! I went back and forth on renting a car and ultimately decided against it. And regretted it. Having a car will make it much easier to get back and forth from the town of Cortona and nearby towns.
Relais Il Falconerie Restaurant
Silvia Barachhi’s creative spin on traditional Tuscan dishes has earned her a Michelin star. Whether you’re sitting in the elegant dining room or on the patio looking out over the Italian countryside, dining at Il Falconerie Restaurant is an experience.
The menu has a la carte options as well as various tasting menus based on what’s in season. We enjoyed an incredibly romantic, and delicious, experience!
Il Falconerie Restaurant is open from May to September. Hotel guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can order breakfast from a menu. However, we opted to take advantage of the gorgeous buffet during our stay. It included a variety of charcuterie, yogurt, freshly baked bread, pastries, and small sandwiches. Fresh juice, coffee, and fruit were the perfect start to each day. Visitors to the area can also reserve a table here as well.
Cortona Hotel – Winery at Il Falconerie
The Estate at Il Falconerie includes a winery and several wines. You can schedule a walking tour of the winery followed by a tasting. We tried a few of the wines while there and enjoyed each one. Wines can be purchased to enjoy in the restaurant or to take home.
Spa Hotel Tuscany
The elegant design continues at the spa at Il Falconerie. Tiles in relaxing shades of gray and blue surround the Thesan spa. Handpainted murals add to the zen-like atmosphere where you can sign up for a massage or a number of services. My husband received a massage there and raved about the experience.
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Cooking Classes in Cortona
Culinary travel is my favorite type of travel and the cooking classes offered at Il Falconerie were one of the reasons we went. The package we purchased included three days of cooking classes. And the focus here is to celebrate traditional Tuscan recipes. Details about the cooking classes were vague before our trip and the itinerary wasn’t finalized until we arrived. I knew beforehand that classes would be about three hours long and there would be one lesson off of the property. However, I would have preferred to have had more details before arriving. Make sure you have a flexible schedule.
The draw here is the opportunity to learn from Silvia Baracchi. She is a one-star Michelin chef and the owner of Il Falconiere. Unfortunately, she did not teach the week I was there because of a family emergency. Her executive chef Richard Titi took the reins and did an incredible job. Classes are taught in English.
Cheesemaking in Tuscany
We had so much fun at this class! We met before dinner and drove to a nearby farm, Fattoria Bistecca. This family-run farm makes pecorino, a sheep’s milk cheese from the sheep they raise. First, you’ll visit the barn and learn how the sheep produce the milk. This is a family affair and Illaria leads the demonstration and class along with her father Lapo. An extra in “Under the Tuscan Sun,” Lapo enjoyed sharing his experience on the movie set. He’s a ham and injected a lot of energy and humor into the class.
During the class, you’ll take part in the traditional method for making pecorino. Nothing goes to waste and I marveled that we were able to make three types of cheese from simple sheep’s milk. The hands-on portions of the class are a lot of fun and followed by a light meal. The Italian’s definition of a light meal included more plates of food than I could count, all handmade by Lapo’s wife while we made cheese. Such a fun, warm, and delicious experience!
Pizza Making in Cortona
This cooking class in Tuscany started with a ride to Locanda del Molino. The scenery through this quintessential Tuscan town is stunning. I pinched myself as the pumpkin-colored sun dipped behind the hills. Locanda del Molino is an inn and restaurant owned by the Baracchi family. The setting and menu here are more rustic than Il Falconerie but still charming and lovely. It includes a wood-fired pizza oven and that’s where we began our lesson.
As always, we kicked things off with glasses of wine and a few nibbles. Pizza begins with dough and that’s where we started. We learned how to mix the simple ingredients and shape the dough for an individual pizza. From there we selected from a variety of fresh toppings including Italian sausage, vegetables, and fresh basil. I learned how to use a pizza peel during a cooking demonstration in Naples and that skill came in handy. Next, each pizza is gently placed in the back of the oven which allows the intense heat to create the perfect pillowy crust.
We prepared an Italian dessert I had never heard of – Zuppa Inglese. Similar to tiramisu, this trifle includes layers of a lady finger-like cookie with pastry cream and a generous sprinkle of Alchermes liqueur. The dish is finished with a dusting of cocoa. As a non-coffee drinker, I preferred the sweet flavor of this dessert over the more well-known tiramisu.
Our pizzas were served to us hot from the oven as we enjoyed more wine in the dining room. A fun evening!
Tuscan Meal at a Cortona Hotel
My last class was held in the traditional kitchen located on the property of Il Falconerie. The kitchen was exactly what I pictured when thinking of a Tuscan home. A brick arch spans the space between the kitchen with its large cranberry-colored oven and the table set up for preparing our feast. Chef Richard taught us how to make pici pasta, a Tuscan specialty, pecorino creme brulee with pumpkin sauce, rosemary and truffles, and a large steak crusted with black olive dust. Our group of three students made tiramisu to finish. The couple I cooked with were pescatarian and they prepared tuna steak using the same ingredients. Let the hotel know of any food allergies or preferences before arriving and they can design a menu around them.
All of the classes were relaxed and included the right mix of instruction and participation. And the food is delicious! I’m still dreaming of the pecorino creme brulee.
Weddings at Il Falconerie / Tuscan Hotel
Looking to get married in Tuscany? I can’t imagine a more picturesque place for a wedding than Il Falconerie.
Tips for Visiting Cortona Italy
- Rent a car. Trust me!
- Bring warm clothing – We visited Cortona in October and were surprised by the amount of wind and the cool temperatures that came with it. My thin sweater did not offer enough protection against the biting winds in the city center.
- Plan to see some of the other surrounding towns – Arezzo, Siena, Montepulciano and other a ton of other charming Tuscan towns are nearby. Spend time visiting the entire region to get the most out of your trip.
- Watch mini-bar charges – Your suite at Il Falconerie include a mini-bar stocked with bottled water, soft drinks, beer, wine and a few snacks. When we visited soft drinks were included in our package, but bottled water was not. Check with the front desk when checking in to verify which items are included to avoid a surprise at check-out!