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FAQ

Are the cooking classes mandatory?

Though we encourage you to participate in these courses, they are not mandatory and you can freely choose which classes you would like to join. We want you to enjoy your vacation here in Tuscany, and use the villa as a home base from which to travel and really experience the beauty of the region.

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Are the cooking classes taught in English?

Yes, they are all taught in English.

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Can I bring my friends/spouse/family?

Yes. We charge per room, and can accommodate rooms ranging from family suites to singles. You and your guests are welcome to access our kitchen for meals, and are free to enjoy the villa and travel to its surrounding destinations. All guests are welcome to join the cooking classes of their choice.

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Can I keep valuables in my room?

The villa is on a gated estate with alarm systems in a very safe area, so you do not need to be concerned with theft, though you are responsible for having a valid passport and we recommend you keep it with you when you leave the villa. Jovial is not responsible for any lost items at the villa.

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Do I need to be proficient at cooking to attend the course? What if my skill level is basic?

No, you definitely don’t need high-level skills to attend this course. The chefs teaching the courses are very personable, and will take the time to guide you through every step of the process. Cooks of every level can enjoy our classes! We will also be providing you with recipes after the classes are over so anyone can enjoy these dishes at home.

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Do you cater to vegetarians?

Coming to the villa is like being with family and we respect all food intolerances and special dietary needs. While not all the meals will be vegetarian, alternate options will be made available.

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How can I get around?

You are responsible for your own transportation. We recommend you rent a car because the villa is located at the top of a steep hill and is about a 15 minute walk to the train station. A car is more convenient for traveling to local towns and for reaching shops. If you choose to travel by train, you may reach Lucca in about 10 minutes from the local station and from the Lucca station, you will be able to travel to all destinations. We will be happy to arrange taxi service a trusted, local company at good rates, but reservations should be made with 24 hours notice or we cannot guarantee availability.

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What are your payment terms?

You are required to pay in full at the time of booking with a credit card. We accept MasterCard, Discover, and Visa.

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What if I am allergic to something?

All of our guests fill out a questionnaire prior to travel, and we take it very seriously so that we can safely accommodate everyone.

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What is the nearest airport?

The nearest airport to Lucca is the Pisa International Airport “Galileo Galilei”, which has a rail station attached and is about 25 minutes from Lucca (operating times are from 5:55 am to 9 pm). There are numerous car rentals available, and you could also go by taxi, which will take roughly 30 minutes.

The other nearest airport is the Florence International Airport “Amerigo Vespucci”. From the airport, you can take a city line bus every thirty minutes to the train station of Santa Maria Novella and then transfer to another line that will take you to Lucca. The total journey will take about 2 ½ hours. Just outside the Florence train station, there is also a bus service to Lucca which takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes, though the quickest option is by taxi.

Jovial can reserve a car to pick you up at the airport. If you are interested in this option, please contact Heidi at heidi@jovialfoods.com for rates and arrangements.

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What is there to do/see in the area?

Lucca, hailed as the “City of 100 Churches,” is full of attractions for everyone. You can start by getting comfortable with the city on foot or by bike with a tour of the 15th Century walls that surround Lucca. From there, you can climb Tower Guinigi for great views, visit some museums or gardens, and pick up something to eat at a gelateria, café, or restaurant like Ristorante All’Olivo or La Buca di San Antonio. Continue on to Piazza San Michele and the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro to see the remnants of ancient Rome, and head down Via Fillungo and Via Santa Lucia for some shopping. Also, don’t forget that on the third Saturday and Sunday of every month, there’s a huge antiques market in Piazza Antelminelli and the streets around the Duomo.

Outside of the city walls, visits to the mountain village of Barga are commonplace, as well as excursions to see the Ponte del Diavolo, or Devil’s Bridge, that has an amusing story and a unique history. Further out, the region of Tuscany provides a perfect opportunity for cycling, as well as hiking in Garfagnana, wine-tasting in the valley’s plentiful vineyards, shopping in Siena, and sight-seeing in Florence. The area is full of stunning landscapes, famous art cities, fascinating museums, great food, and excellent wine, all of which can be accessed easily and inexpensively by train, bus, or car.

Traveling from Lucca to Surrounding Destinations

Destination By Train By Bus By Car
Montecatini Termi Spa 30 MN. 1 HR. 20 MN.
Barga 45 MN. 1 HR. 13 MN 40 MN.
Florence 1 HR. 30 MN. 1 HR. 15 MN. 1 HR.
San Gimignano 2.5 HR. 1 HR. 30 MN.
Rome 4 HR. 3 HR. 15 MN.
  • Travel times are approximate
  • Please keep in mind that this doesn’t include walking times and that it may require transfers.
  • You can look at train timetables and prices here at TrenItalia
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What is your cancellation policy?

In the event you have to cancel your trip, we reserve the right to charge a cancellation fee as follows:

  • Up to 90 days prior to departure date: 10% payable
  • Between 30 and 89 days prior to departure date: 25% payable
  • 29 days or fewer prior to departure date: 50% payable

We recommend purchasing travel insurance.

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What should I bring?

You will be walking a lot in Italy, so we recommend that you bring a comfortable pair of shoes. As you will be at a villa with a pool, you should also bring a bathing suit and towel. Laundry facilities are provided. Electrical service in Italy is supplied at 220-240 volts/50 hertz, so a convertor might be required. We do not have adaptors so you should bring what you need to charge your electronic devices. We strongly recommend that you travel with a cell phone that has coverage in Italy.

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What will the weather be like?

The weather in Lucca at the end of May is typically comfortable, ranging in the upper 70’s during the day and getting down to the 50’s at night. It is also possible to get some rain showers, so you might want to bring an umbrella or other rain gear. The weather in early September is summer weather, with temperatures normally in the low 80′s and 60′s at night. The rooms at the villa are air-conditioned.

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What’s included and not included in the price?

Included: Room, daily breakfast, one linen change and room cleaning mid-week, cooking classes and meals that follow, Welcome Dinner, Farewell Luncheon. The villa kitchen will be stocked each day with fresh fruits, vegetables,eggs, breads, cheeses, wine, pasta and grains and you are welcome to cook your own meals.

Not included: Airfare and transfers, ground transportation, meals and entertainment purchased outside of the villa. Personal orders for meat from the local butcher may be placed in the evening for delivery the next day. Transportation to and from the villa can be arranged at a fee by contacting heidi@jovialfoods.com.

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Where can I find the current dates and prices for the cooking programs?

You can find the link here.

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