The Spice Lab

The Spice Lab, Florence: Hours, Address, The Spice Lab Reviews: 5/5

The Spice Lab
5
Monday
08:30 - 16:30
Tuesday
08:30 - 16:30
Wednesday
08:30 - 16:30
Thursday
08:30 - 16:30
Friday
08:30 - 16:30
What people are saying

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Tours and Tickets

The area
Neighbourhood: Florence Historic Center
How to get there
  • Alamanni-Stazione Santa Maria Novella • 6 min walk
Best nearby
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Restaurants
2,608 within 5 kms
Attractions
635 within 5 kms

5.0
83 reviews
Excellent
75
Very good
5
Average
1
Poor
0
Terrible
2

kdosenbach
2 contributions
Lovely afternoon cooking with Melanie
Sep 2015 • Couples
Our three course cooking class with Melanie was delightful. She drove us to her family olive grove which overlooks the rolling hills of Tuscany. In the charming outdoor kitchen, we learned how to prepare an eggplant appetizer, creamy risotto and a decadent no flour chocolate cake - all of which were delicious. Melanie's instructions were clear and encouraging. We look forward to recreating all the dishes at home. She also gave us a tour of the olive grove, pointing out the various fruits and vegetables that grow on the property. The whole experience was quite personal and customized. We felt like instant friends.
Written 5 September 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Tophmaster
Beverly, MA14 contributions
Could not have been better
Jul 2015 • Family
When my family started planning a trip to Tuscany the one thing we were looking to book was a cooking class. After some research and reading through reviews I felt that Melanie and Paolo at the Spice Lab would be the best fit for our group. I could not have been more pleased with my experience. Off the bat our group was a challenge in my mind as we had 12 with a wide range of tastes. Melanie said it would be no problem and it was true. They were even able to come to our villa and pick up most of the group and have one car follow with the rest. Once you get to the olive grove you immediately feel like you have stepped into someone's family and are in for a very special treat. The food was amazing and to my great delight they did an excellent job at including the whole group (again not an easy task). The class was the talk of the trip and my immediate answer when people ask what my favorite part of the trip was. I would 100 percent recommend the Spice Lab to anyone looking for a cooking experience in the Florence area.
Written 3 August 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Evan B
Coral Gables, FL120 contributions
Literally under the Tuscan sun
What a terrific experience. Everything from booking to confirming to meeting to cooking was just easy, breezy and perfect. My wife and I met Paolo at their family's cafe and headed off to their olive grove (where they also grow citrus and herbs and artichokes and favas and more) to cook. We prepared three+ courses (Paolo added meatballs and stuffed squash blossoms to our menu as an impromptu treat), including fresh pasta with pancetta tomato sauce, eggplant involtini with ham and buffalo mozzarella, and a flourless chocolate cake with fresh strawberries. He was a delightful host, and before the class we popped into Melanie's wedding-cake studio to say hello and see some of her beautiful creations.
As other reviewers have noted, the Olive Grove class is on the rustic side, prepared in an outdoor (but impressively functional) kitchen. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to cook with a Tuscan native, in his home, with the most spectacular sights and smells you can imagine. Don't hesitate; book.
Written 30 April 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Janet M
Cincinnati, OH1 contribution
Fantastic Experience!
Jan 2015 • Business
This review is long overdue! In January, a Miami University (Ohio) colleague and I led a study abroad workshop to Italy focused on the chemistry of art and chemistry of food. Melanie and I had corresponded for several months, and she had clearly thought about our group and focus. Our students had a wonderful opportunity to cook with Melanie and Paolo and enjoyed a unique cultural experience, as well. Our students (13 total) were split into two groups - one group cooked a 3-course lunch and the other a 5-course dinner. The day begin with a visit to the family's coffee shop, followed by an informative tour of the neighborhood. Our menus were planned to include several applications of the chemistry of food and cooking and tied in wonderfully with our study abroad tour. All of the dishes were outstanding!

One of our lunch students shared the following. "Florence was undoubtedly my favorite part of the trip because of the many incredible cultural aspects I experienced. Our day with Melanie and Paolo was simply remarkable as I felt I was truly experiencing a new and exciting culture. Food and wine in Italy is highly valued, as it is more than just a meal served with a drink. Behind each dish is an expression of culture, tradition, and family history. During our walk from the family-owned coffee shop to The Spice Lab, Melanie led us through a "real" neighborhood of Florence. As Melanie put it, the “less flashy” side of Florence didn’t have the Duomo, the Dior, and the Prada. Instead, this part of town instead displayed true culture and showed what life in Florence is all about. . . .The amazing day continued to get better and better as we began our cooking class with the two, beyond-talented chefs. Melanie and Paolo were simply fantastic. Not only did I learn how to prepare an incredibly scrumptious meal, I was part of a much larger, unforgettable experience."

The dinner experience was much the same with two additional dishes prepared and enjoyed! All of our students were encouraged by Melanie and Paolo to be involved in the preparation of the meals. They were both so welcoming and encouraging! We also appreciated the opportunity to experience a different aspect of Italian culture from the typical tourist experience.

I highly recommend a visit to The Spice Lab! Melanie and Paolo were wonderful at accommodating our group of college students. I can't thank them enough for such an outstanding experience and learning opportunity! We are looking forward to cooking with them again next year!

Dr. Janet Marshall
Miami University of Ohio
Written 16 February 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

nonamesforme
Duluth, MN338 contributions
Personal and excellent
Jan 2014 • Couples
Melanie seemed prepared to give us her entire day! We made a lovely gnuddi, along with bruschetta and torte, and sat and talked over lunch. Not only did we learn a bit in the kitchen, we heard a bit about life in Italy from a personal view. Memorable! Recommended!
Written 5 February 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Gideon04
Kuwait City, Kuwait1 contribution
Personal and Perfect
Aug 2013 • Couples
It took too long for me to write this review. Melanie & Paolo are awesome hosts and truly make you feel apart of their family. Everything was perfect from the setting in the olive grove, to the amazing 3 course menu (very flexible), to the wine and most certainly the hospitality. My girlfriend and I are beginners but they made us feel like experts by the time we were done. The ingredients could not have been more fresh, STRAIGHT FROM THE GROVE!! If you speak English, don't worry about the language barrier both speak excellent English. If I ever visit Florence again I'll be sure to sign up for another class.

Thank You So much Melanie & Paolo,
Ian and Mackenzie
Written 20 November 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

MichellefromWI
3 contributions
Melanie and her entire family were the highlight of my trip
Nov 2013 • Solo
I have been fortunate enough to have taken cooking classes and market tours around the world (Nice, Lisbon, Seville, Prague, New Delhi, and several in the USA), and I was getting frustrated trying to plan something in Florence. Everything seemed to focus on making pasta/ravioli (I've taught that class), or making gelato, which I have down pat too. When I visited the Spice Lab web site, I was intrigued by a photo of a man who turned out to be Gilberto, Melanie's father in law, holding a rabbit. (It looked refreshingly non-cookie cutter and unabashedly authentic.) I emailed Melanie a brief cooking resume, and told her about my hopes and frustrations, and she planned and executed a truly amazing day for me while my husband attended his conference.

My arrival coincided with porcini season, so Melanie arranged a porcini hunt with Gilberto for me. Gilberto is a Tuscan treasure who's been hunting mushrooms in the hills of Chianti since he was five. After a brief visit to the family's coffee shop and a couple stops at some scenic overlooks, we began our hunt. We found several different kinds of edible mushrooms on the course of a great hike, in a place well off the beaten path. On the way, he also pointed out some WWII foxholes, told me about his own memories of the war, pointed out the foundation of an ancient refuge for women, was generous with his time and knowledge and was entirely delightful.

We stopped at the home of the woman who was Gilberto's mother's midwife and her son, and they stopped cutting and stacking firewood long enough to invite us in for Vin Santo and cookies. I had Vin Santo four times on my stay in Florence, and their homemade version was (by far) the best, though they were humorously over-generous with it.

After we said a (too soon!) goodbye to Gilberto, Melanie's husband Paulo joined us and we went to the family olive grove, where the family was just finishing up on the harvest. I regret that I didn't have more time to talk to Paulo's uncle Piero more about our mutual love of bird dogs and pheasant hunting, but totally understand why he and the extended family were exhausted after days of hand picking that year's harvest.

Paulo and Melanie cooked several dishes with me in the outdoor kitchen at the olive grove. Everything was fresh and simple, and I learned new things in the process. The meal was as delicious as the place was beautiful. My only complaint is that the (8+ hour) day seemed to end too soon!

I can't recommend Spice Lab highly enough. If you give Melanie adequate information about you or your group, she and her family will go out of there way to make it happen for you (when she's not busy making some truly amazing cakes: google "Melanie Secciani cake Florence" to see what I mean). My husband joined me for some other foodie-type outings on our ten-day stay in Florence, but this one was by far and away the best. If you're reading this and on the fence, or worrying that it might be a lot of money to spend, please do yourself a favor and book it if you can. It's worth it, and the memories will last a lifetime.
Written 18 November 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Cheryl R
6 contributions
This was real Tuscan, real food!
Oct 2013
My fiancé and I would give this experience 6 stars if possible! Melanie and Paolo know their stuff. From our buying trip in the central market to the rustic but beautiful olive grove, the day was perfect. They both are knowledgeable and professional not to mention gracious. My guests at my next dinner party will be impressed with our new skills.
Written 1 October 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Ebdmd
North Caldwell, NJ21 contributions
awesome experience
Jul 2013 • Couples
We just returned from our two week trip to italy. My wifes only request was to do a cooking class. I poured over the internet to find a class that would not be your typical class. the spice lab did not disappoint. It was one of the best days of our trip. We met Paolo at the market and began to shop for food. Needless to say this was an experience as we learned that they sell all the parts of the cow including certain anatomical parts both male and female there.Kinda gross. We really wanted to make artichoke ravioli but since artichokes were out of season we decided to make spinach stuffed ravioli with the most amazing mushroom sauce with a special ingredient that grew on the grove. It was a blast making the ravioli from scratch. paolo was very patient and explained everything and it was so much fun. I even got him to let me make a bean dish with canned beans which he said was the first time anyone ever asked to make that and in the end he agreed it was delicious. We also made tiramisu, stuffed zucchini flowers which were better that the ones from our favorite restaurant back home,and steak taglaitta. We used eggs that the chickens laid at the grove. The olive grove is set up on a hill not too far out and is very scenic. We loved spending the day with Paolo. Overall a great experience and we can't wait to make all the dishes we cooked at home.
Written 23 July 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Jackie D
Windsor, Canada160 contributions
Mmm Mmm Good
Oct 2012 • Couples
Melanie and Paolo are wonderful people who provided a unique experience off the tourist track to visit a market and proceed to their family olive grove to do a cooking class. Whe the food was ready, we enjoyed the delicious meal while overlooking the hills of Tuscany.

Melanie provided a menu that was do-able back home while inserting some unique features from the local market.

It was one of the highlights of our trip.
Written 30 October 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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