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A Villa for Cooks in the Tuscan Countryside


The Villa Delia Cooking School in Ripoli di Lari, an ancient Tuscan village between Florence and Pisa, is starting its sixth season. In a restored 17th century villa, the cooking school offers two 10-day sessions per month through November.

Mornings are devoted to hands-on cooking classes. Each afternoon the group takes off for wine and olive oil tastings, visits to outdoor markets and pasta factories, and escorted excursions that include Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano and the Cinque Terre. Guest rooms at the villa have private baths, and guests can use the villa's swimming pool, tennis courts and mountain bikes.

Cost: $4,400 per person, double occupancy, including accommodation, cooking classes, all meals (with wine), escorted excursions, transfers to and from the Pisa airport and taxes. Air fare to Italy is extra.

Contact: Villa Delia Cooking School; telephone (604) 669-3732, Internet

England: Roman History

Explore Roman England with a historian Sept. 14 to 27. The tour includes Salisbury, Oxford, Hexham and York.

The itinerary begins in Salisbury, with excursions to one of the largest Roman villas in England, Stonehenge and then the HMS Victory and the Mary Rose at the Royal Naval Museum.

An excursion to Bath includes a 1st century Roman bathing complex and a tour of the Georgian townscape. After seeing the Maumbury Rings and the Roman villa at Dorchester, members will arrive in the college town of Oxford and the hotel opposite Magdalen College. There will be a walking tour and a visit to the Ashmolean Museum to see fine art and antiquities.

Next is a full-day excursion to Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace. Guests will drive through the Cotswolds en route to Hexham and spend a full day touring Hadrian's Wall, followed by a visit to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. After passing through the Yorkshire Dales, guests will visit the city of York to visit the Yorkshire Museum and Castle Howard.

Cost: $3,990 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, first-class and deluxe accommodations, two meals daily, tours and entrance fees, and all taxes and portage.

Contact: East-West International Tours, 925 Acapulco St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651; tel. (800) 359-6719, Internet

England: More History

Learn about the Battle of Britain on a trip to England Sept. 4 to 12 that coincides with the battle's 60th anniversary. Guests will listen to lectures about World War II as they visit Windsor Castle, Cambridge, the American Cemetery in Maddingly, Portsmouth and London. Tour members also get tickets to the Duxford Flying Legends Air Show. An option to ride in a rare WWII Spitfire is available.

Cost: $2,678 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, hotels, daily breakfast, sightseeing and land transportation.

Contact: Jerren Travel Service, 2 Hidalgo, Irvine, CA 92620; tel. (714) 731-8020.

Japan: Battlefield

In October 1600, the battle of Sekigahara was fought in central Japan, deciding the government of the country for the next 267 years. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of this critical battle, a tour of Japan Oct. 5 to 12 is being offered.

The trip includes a reenactment by 1,000 participants, dressed in samurai battle gear of the period, and a demonstration of the firing of antique matchlock guns.

The Sekigahara tour begins with two days in Tokyo followed by a visit to Nagahama, close to Lake Biwa, where Ieyasu launched his plan to unify Japan under his rule. After an overnight stay, tour participants will visit the site of the battle for the reenactment before arriving in Kyoto for a three-night stay.

Cost: $2,350 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, ground transportation, hotels, breakfast daily and two lunches, guides and all gratuities.

Contact: Pacifico Creative Service Travel; tel. (888) 727-8785 or (212) 850-7450.

Europe: Passion Play

Switzerland, Austria and Germany, featuring the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, are on a tour offered to senior travelers. Hosted by Superior Senior Tours (SST), the tour departs Aug. 22 for 11 days. Another tour, Sept. 12, is also available.

The group will arrive in Lucerne, Switzerland, for three nights that include a city tour and excursions to the Black Forest and Rhine Falls in southern Germany.

Travelers then head to Oberammergau to attend the Passion Play before heading to Austria for a walking tour of Innsbruck and then to Salzburg, where "The Sound of Music" was filmed. The tour continues on to Berchtesgaden and Munich in Bavaria. There's an optional excursion to Rothenburg, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Germany.

Cost: $2,999 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, ground transportation, hotels, daily breakfasts, many meals and entrance fees.

Contact: Superior Senior Tours; tel. (800) 339-7781.

Santa Fe: Indian Market

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