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Villa Cooking School

Guest Chefs

John Greeley

John's talents are not only reserved for the kitchen: he is also a successful painter. Palettes and pans, colours and flavours, and every ingredient, every suggestion is the cue for an exuberant creativity. His interest in the culinary arts developed when, as a young man, he began to work the summer season in restaurants on Nantucket Island, and then in New England. His enthusiasm for painting led him to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York, followed by the College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, where he took his degree in 1995.

In the meantime, he carried on cooking: first in the famous "45 South" restaurant, in the centre of Savannah, and then, after taking his degree and his BFA he returned to New York City where he wound up in a larger-than-life place: the renowned "21", which looks like a private club but is glad to open its doors to everyone.

And it is here that John is currently Chef de Cuisine in his own right: because the 21 is not just a restaurant, it is also an atmosphere.

He has also had to shoot a scooter in the Trevi Fountain for an advertising campaign.

Domenico Di Raffaele

After obtaining a degree at the Technical Institute for hotel activities, Mimmo Di Raffaele had important work experience in the sector that has marked his professional career. He first worked in Cortina d'Ampezzo, then in Switzerland, and at the Cala di Volpe Hotel in Porto Cervo.

He then offered his collaboration for designer Nicola Trussardi with whom he opened the "Marino alla Scala" restaurant in Milan. He made the acquaintance of chef Enrico Derflingher, the 'personal chef of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain', with whom he collaborated as a sous-chef at the Eden Hotel in Rome. Before touching down at the Caruso Hotel in Ravello, he worked as executive chef for Radisson Sas "Es Hotel, Rome".

Mimmo Di Raffaele's philosophy has always hinged on genuine cuisine, where essence is more important than form; aiming at the enhancement of the territory with the use of innovative techniques that lead down the paths of memory and time.

Chef Renato Piccolotto

Renato Piccolotto started his career in 1971 as a "commis de cuisine" at the Villa Cipriani in Asolo, where he had the opportunity of being trained by the famous Giuseppe Cipriani.

From 1970, Piccolotto has been working at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice. He first worked under the management of Giuseppe Cipriani, and then under the management of Natale Rusconi, General Manager of the Cipriani since 1977. During various seasons, Renato Piccolotto worked in several restaurants and hotel abroad, for example in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Chef Piccolotto is also the master mind behind the Cipriani Cooking School, which was founded in 1979 at the Cipriani, with the participation of famous gastronomic personalities, of the cooking world, from Julia Child, to Marcella Hazan, from Anne Willan to Simone Beck, from Gregory Usher to Michael James, and finally to the great James Beard!

After having been "Sous-chef" for a few years, Piccolotto was promoted as the Cipriani's Chef de Cuisine in 1990. In this position, he keeps on promoting the great cooking tradition invented and created by Giuseppe Cipriani.

He has been awarded the "Piatto d'Oro" by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, who recently named the Cipriani Restaurant as one of the five best Restaurants in Italy (1995).

Renato Piccolotto took part in many food festivals organised between 1980 and 2002 by Natale Rusconi in France, England, Switzerland, America, France, Montecarlo, Japan, Brazil, Venezuela, Moscow and Mauritius.

History of the Villa

The 15th Century
Villa San Michele is named after the church of St Michael the Archangel. The original building was a monastery, founded in the early years of the 15th century for the Franciscan monks. The land on which it stood had been donated by a Florentine family, the Davanzatis, who also contributed to the monastery's upkeep by gifts of woodlands, further buildings and money.

The present building, with its facade attributed to Michelangelo and its imposing loggia, dates from 1600 when it was enlarged and completely renovated by Giovanni di Bartolommeo Davanzati.

The monastery remained the property of the Franciscans until 1808 when the monastic orders were dissolved by Napoleon and, in 1817, it returned to secular use. By this time, many of its most treasured possessions had been dispersed throughout Florence's churches and art galleries. The triptych in the Academia attributed to Niccolo di Piero Gerini and another above the high altar in the church of Santa Trinita both originally stood in this hilltop sanctuary.

The 20th Century
In 1900 the Villa was acquired by Henry White Cannon from New York, who landscaped the gardens, erected large greenhouses and restored the building after the fashion of the Victorians, by adding wrought iron gates and by applying a rust-coloured patina to the walls. He also converted the courtyard into a winter garden by covering it with a roof of glass and iron.

World War II
During World War II, the Villa was badly damaged and, in 1950, it was bought by Monsieur Lucien Tessier as a private residence.

He set about restoring the 20 first floor rooms, while living on the second floor, but the cost involved was substantial and, to finance it, he turned the villa in to a hotel for those wanting to visit the nearby art treasures of Florence and the surrounding countryside.


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Your Chef

Attilio di Fabrizio
Attilio di Fabrizio

Attilio de Fabrizio was born in 1952 in Abruzzi, and attended the Villa Santa Maria cookery school, where many of the best chefs in Italy trained. He spent several years of apprenticeship in Italy, France, Great Britain and Switzerland, developing his culinary skills, before joining the world-famous Hotel Cipriani in Venice.

From 1975 - 1983, Attilio di Fabrizio worked in both Northern and Southern America before returning to Italy to become Chef at the renowned restaurant "Enoteca Pinchiorri" in Florence. In 1987 Attilio di Fabrizio was appointed Chef de Cuisine at the Hotel Villa San Michele.

Over the last few years, he has taken part in several gastronomic events, both in and outside Italy, working side by side with such famous chefs as Gaultiero Marchesi, Roger Verge, Paul Bocouse and others.


Villa San Michele

Villa Hotel San Michele
15th Century Villa

Villa San Michele must be one of the most romantic places in the world. This former monastery, nestled on a hilltop surrounded by trees and terraced gardens, overlooks the city of Florence below. Dating from the 15th century its facade is attributed to Michelangelo.

To step inside is to experience the ethereal beauty and solitude of a renaissance building that is as much a part of Italy's culture as the country's greatest cathedrals and galleries. Here, each visitor is a privileged guest, invited to stroll in the Italian gardens, filled with lemon trees and roses, and savour the superb Tuscan cuisine on the alfresco loggia as if in a private home.

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Deluxe Cooking Classes at Villa San Michele Florence

In a very short time, the San Michele Cookery School Villa has become a permanent institution. Known to gourmets from all over the world who have followed us from the start, to the internationally renowned Chefs who are happy to hold their lessons here, and to guests of the Villa who have yet another reason to love our hotel.

The courses are all "hands-on" affairs. You will work, play, taste: but the main thing is that you will be cooking alongside the Chefs, in direct contact with ladles, pans, lids, and ovens. The deliberately restricted number of participants ensures that each guest will have individual attention to obtain maximum benefit from the course.

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pasta class

One Day Class

Short but absolutely complete, this is a full-immersion course in Tuscan gastronomy with our Chef Attilio Di Fabrizio. If you are in Florence for a few days or just passing through, take advantage of this opportunity: all you need do is book one day before.

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Tuscany's Culinary Tradition

Tour Code: MT-FLOR-COOK2

Scheduled Classes : Thursday April 3rd to Thursday October 30th
Private Departures : Daily except Sunday 9am and 2pm
Duration: 10.00am to 12.30 and is followed by lunch together with the Chef
Cost: 170euro€ p/p + VAT

- Monday, a perfect way to pass the time on the day when shops and museums are closed
- Thursday and Saturday, start your holiday weekend with a lesson on Florentine cuisine.

The main themes: the preparation of pastas, risottos and soups, with a particular emphasis on the Tuscan culinary tradition.

The price includes the activities, the portfolio of recipes, the School of Cookery apron, and the lunch served with Tuscan regional wines.

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Secret of Pasta

4 days / 3 nights

Discover the secrets of pasta, an art in itself that Italy has made its own, and how to accompany it with a wide variety of condiments and the tastiest ingredients.

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From 1,914€ pp

A Symphony of Pasta for Three Authors

Tour Code: MT-FLOR-COOK3
Scheduled Dates : 6 times in 2009
Duration:4 days and 3 nights.
Cost: From 1,914€pp

With the participation of : Attilio Di Fabrizio (Executive Chef at the Villa San Michele), Domenico di Raffaele (Chef of the Hotel Caruso, Ravello) and Renato Piccolotto (Chef of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice).

To help you get to know all the varieties of pasta and to learn traditional recipes as well some curious and surprising variations, three masters of haute cuisine will explain some exquisite recipes.

Upon arrival there will be a welcome cocktail reception and dinner with regional wines to allow participants to get to know one another.


Day 1: Attilio Di Fabrizio, the Chef of the Villa San Michele, will interpret and prepare pasta in the most genuine Tuscan manner, assisted by Chef Luca Orini.

Day 2: Chef Domenico Di Raffaele of the Hotel Caruso in Ravello will produce the recipes of the Amalfi Coast, teaching participants how to prepare pasta dishes with a rich Mediterranean aroma.

Day 3: Renato Piccolotto, the Chef of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, will present the pasta dishes typical of the Venetian lagoon, with its touches of land and sea, teaching you how to prepare four delicious dishes.

Departure will be in the afternoon or after breakfast on the following morning, should you wish to pay for an extra night.

Course Dates 2009:

April 16-19
May 14-17
June 25-28
July 23-26
September 10-13
October 1-4

Rates per person*

1.914€ in a superior double room
2.304€ in a double room for single use
1.479€ for a non-participating partner

*price subject to 10% VAT

Package includes:

The price is inclusive of 3 nights (half board), regional wines, 3 cooking lessons, and all materials and necessary ingredients.

Please note:

The courses are reserved for guests staying at Villa San Michele.
The lessons are held in English and Italian; other languages are available upon request.
The courses are for a maximum of 10 participants and the approach is highly personalised.
The lessons are held in the morning (from 10.00 to 12.30) and/or in the afternoon (from 15.30 to 18.30).
Hours not taken up by lessons and all the evenings are free.
At the end of every lesson, the dishes prepared will be served for a meal (lunch or dinner) to be enjoyed in the company of the Chef.
The complete list of the dishes taught during the lessons with recipes will be handed over upon arrival.

Cooking at San Michele Tours

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