Planning a trip by yourself gives you the flexibility to see exactly what you want. On the other hand, an organized tour takes the guesswork out of the procedure. Also, tour operators have access to people or places that are beyond the abilities of normal mortals, and frequently know about things that aren't mentioned in the guidebooks.
Or perhaps you want to take some time off from a hectic schedule to perfect a skill you already enjoy or gain a new one - it is one of the most satisfying things you can do with your free time.
Here you will find information on both organized tours and classes of one kind and another.
La Cucina al Focolare: A gastronomic extravaganza held in a beautiful 15th century villa overlooking the Arno.
Mangia Firenze -- A Taste of Italy: Florence, actually. Judy Witts Francini has an encyclopedic knowledge of food and runs her cooking school from an apartment overlooking the Mercato di San Lorenzo -- a wonderful setting to learn mouth-watering dishes of the Tuscan tradition.
The Wine and Culinary Center: Courses geared primarily for food professionals, held at Capezzana, one of the world's oldest estates.
Il Collegio: Leonie Whitton and David Westby bought and renovated a 17th century collegio in the Alpi Apuane near Lucca, where they now run an Artists' and Writers' retreat, and also organise art holidays and cultural and gastronomic tours. Since their arrival Leonie has also written a cookbook with many local specialties, including tonno e fagioli).
The Luchetti Sculpture and Drawing Studio: In addition to doing her own work, Mary Ann Luchetti gives sculpture and drawing lessons to individuals and small groups, in her studio in San Frediano, the artisan's quarter of Florence.
Il Chiostro di Toscana: An arts retreat for people who don't normally get enough opportunity to express their creativity in their lives, which is open for 10 weeks in the spring and has a 10-day Autumn Arts Festival in October/November. In addition to directing it, Michael Mele has discovered facets of Tuscany few are fortunate enough to find.
Etruscan History & Craft in Sorana: Pottery (both ancient and making it), history and art in a very different Easter Week getaway.
Half-Day Drawing Classes: Spend a morning in Palazzo Pitti, and then draw in the Boboli Gardens with an instructor from the Florence Academy of Art.
Grape Adventures: Tuscany boasts many of the finest wineries in the world. William Nesto, MW, has taken time off from his writing to organize an exciting series of daytrips to some of the best, and all sorts of other interesting things too.