When I wake up in the morning, the first thing that I do is to open my kitchen window. I inhale the fresh air, it wakes me up more than the steaming cup of coffee that will shortly follow. I turn left to see if my dad and my sister left for work. I usually spy mum in the distance, already bringing logs of wood inside or feeding Wolfi the cat. Then I look down and check on my grandma. She is a morning person, so usually her door and windows are open and she’s already clattering in the kitchen or taking care of her flowers in the garden, weather permitting. After this brief family inspection, I check on the countryside: colours and shades, mist or rain, heavy clouds or soft whipped cream in the sky, the smell of a sudden downpour or the tender green whiff of grass growing.
Everything happens within seconds, it is a form of meditation, it keeps me rooted in what is most important for me and gives me a sense of when and where I am. When timid buds begin to appear in the high branches of the acacia in front of my kitchen, it means that something is brewing, underneath the frozen soil, the damp fields and the brownish woods.
Even though I am still holding on to the citrus fruit and the cold weather, enjoying my slower months and cosy soups at night, I can feel the new season coming along with new cooking classes and the spring edition of our Three Acres Creative Gathering.
When we met in October for the first Autumn edition of the Three Acres Creative Gathering, just spending time with friends and like minded people helped me discover my perfect dimension, made of honest relationships with real people, real gestures and a deeper contact with Nature. We spent three days together as a group of friends, we took our time to explore what really matters to us, being it a good photo, a fragrant loaf of bread, a well executed menu or a piece of writing where you poured your heart in. Other friends joined us, everyone bringing his own expertise and passion, making it a time to remember.
I am therefore excited to see what this edition will bring.
There will be time to chat, experiment, cook and eat together, head to the market to discover local seasonal ingredients, knead a good loaf of sourdough bread and light up the wood burning oven to bake bread and pizza. We will learn to set up a beautiful table with flowers and to make our own natural cosmetics, we will talk about inspiration and creativity, photography and writing, we will create new bonds and discover medieval hilltop villages here in Tuscany, all in a friendly and curious atmosphere.
So join us for a creative gathering which will celebrate the seasonal food and the pleasure of getting together in a quiet location in the Tuscan countryside.
2017, April 20th – 23rd
Siena countryside, Tuscany
Nearest airport: Florence or Pisa
You can also arrive in Rome and take a train to Florence.
Max 6 participants
Contact us for more info or to book your spot!
Book your flights as soon as possible as the 25th of April is national holiday in Italy, so everyone will be traveling during the long weekend.
What we will be up to
You will stay at a lovely but basic agriturismo in the Sienese countryside on the outskirts of a tiny village with only a few houses. We will pick you up every day and when we are at Juls’ Kitchen we will walk there and enjoy the fresh air. Juls’ Kitchen is situated in that tiny village and is the cookery studio of Giulia Scarpaleggia who has been teaching Tuscan cookery courses and food expeditions there for over five years. The studio is cosy and features a large open plan kitchen where will will cook and eat and drink copious amounts of tea. We have a lovely big garden there with wonderful countryside views, olive trees and the company of a Maremma Sheep dog and a black cat.
We will light up the wood burning oven to make pizza, focaccia and bread, we will enjoy a spread of local vegetables and charcuterie to taste the real flavour of the countryside, we will walk under century old oaks to channel nature’s force and inspiration.
Inspired by the ‘Three Acres and a Cow’ philosophy we will visit a local family run farm. After the farm we will head to Siena for a walk and dinner in one of the most well preserved medieval towns of Tuscany. There will be plenty opportunities for each student to practice the techniques learned during the weekend.
Read more about the ‘Three Acres and a Cow’ philosophy in Regula’s blogpost >
Day 1 – Thursday the 20th of April
3pm Check-in at Tenuta Mensanello Agriturismo
5pm Introductions & Aperitifs at Juls’ Kitchen Studio
Welcome Dinner at Juls’ Kitchen with home made pizza baked in the Tuscan wood fired oven
Day 2 – Friday the 21st of April
Breakfast at Tenuta Mensanello
A trip to Colle Val d’Elsa weekly market for second breakfast, Italian coffee ritual & ingredient shopping. Visit to an artisanal butcher shop
Cooking class and lunch at Juls’ Kitchen studio
Session I – Food Photography
Food tour in Siena with some free time to explore the town on your own and perhaps buy some treats to take home
Dinner at a traditional restaurant in Siena
Day 3 – Saturday the 22nd of April
Breakfast at Tenuta Mensanello
Tour of Tenuta Mensanello to discover where they produce their olive oil, wine, beer and charcuterie. (If the weather is good we could walk back to the Studio, it would take about 20 minutes)
Session II – Sourdough bread making introduction with Manuela Conti
Tuscan Lunch with local produce under the olive trees at Juls’ Kitchen
Session III – Lightroom introduction
Walk in San Gimignano by night and dinner in a local Osteria
Gelato at Dondoli in San Gimignano, an artisanal and world renowned gelateria
Day 4 – Sunday the 23rd of April
Breakfast at Tenuta Mensanello
Session IV – DIY Natural Cosmetic workshop with Claudia Scarpaleggia
Session V – Table setting and flower details with Irene from Valdirose
Lunch in the garden (weather permitting) at Juls’ Kitchen
Session VI – A talk on food writing
Goodbye at Juls’ Kitchen at 5pm
The all-inclusive cost is:
1.350€ per person, shared room, your own bed, one roommate
1.500€ per person, single room
*Contact us for payment options*
We have done everything to keep the price as low as possible but as we pay each producer or business and work with beautiful local produce, the price reflects that. We want the small businesses we work with to benefit from this, not be left out of pocket because we are after a freebie. Everyone deserves to get the price they or their product is worth.
The cost includes:
3 nights accommodation at Tenuta Mensanello, a beautiful Agriturismo just 2 km from the Studio **
1 dinner on Thursday at Juls’ Kitchen
1 dinner on Friday in a restaurant in Siena
1 dinner on Saturday in an Osteria in San Gimignano
3 lunches cooked at Juls’ Kitchen
3 Italian breakfasts at your agriturismo
1 cooking class
Drinks and refreshments during the weekend at Juls’ Kitchen
Transport during the weekend
All teachings and excursions
Transport to and from Italy and to the agriturismo
Anything extra you would like to purchase personally
**Option to book an extra night at the agriturismo if you want to travel back on Monday. You are welcome to join us for dinner at a restaurant but each will pay for their own.
You have also the option to stay until Tuesday to take part in the Juls’ Kitchen Fettunta Party in the garden surrounded by olive trees. It is an annual event, a great way to meet fellow food enthusiasts and feast together. Fettunta is another name Tuscans give to bruschetta, a toasted slice of bread doused in good olive oil.
Due to the involved logistics, we offer no cancellations or refunds. Please know you can make it before booking. We strongly encourage you to have travel insurance to cover the retreat in the event of strikes, natural disasters, health problems, and other unforeseen events.
Who can attend?
It is open to everyone, not just photographers and bloggers, but all creative people who want to explore different styles and deepen their visual voice.
Who are we?
Giulia (me!) is the author of 5 cookery books, she has been running Tuscan cooking classes, food excursions and workshops for 5 years from her Tuscan family home and studio Juls’ Kitchen.
She also writes an award winning blog Juls’ Kitchen:
Twitter & Instagram: @Julskitchen
Regula is the author of 2 books on food and drink culture. She photographs and writes for a living. She is also a graphic designer. Her focus lies with reality, this can mean natural light or going on a fishing boat at 4 in the morning to capture the essence of a situation.
Regula also writes a blog which was shortlisted for a Saveur Blog Award:
Twitter & Instagram: @MissFoodwise
Sarka has been a professional photographer for 6 years working with editorial clients in the UK and her homeland Czech Republic. She has been tutoring photography workshops for years and she is your go to girl for the technical part.
Twitter & Instagram: @Sarkababicka