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Veggie Cooking Vacations and Wine Tasting in Italy

While famous for its pork meat production, Umbria is also a wonderful place to discover the green heart of Italy. This tour will focus on Umbrias culinary diversity and meatless dishes traditionally a large part of cucina povera or peasant cooking. Homemade pasta (both with and without eggs) will be highlighted, as well as polenta, fresh soups, local lentils and farro, and several types of gnocchi. Learn a few of the Palazzo Fiumi - LaPlacas specialty pestos and more in hands-on classes. Prepare gourmet dishes with delicious flavors that you never expected to get from nutritious vegetables.


  • Organic farm visit
  • Fascinating guided tours
  • Hands-on cooking classes
  • Winery visit and wine tasting in Torgiano
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Daily breakfast


8 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: English
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Your accommodation will be in Palazzo Fiumi - LaPlaca. A variety of options for shared and private rooms are available and, if desired, additional private rooms are available in the towns hotel, a few blocks away. The rooms are all beautifully furnished with many antiques and have white washed beamed ceilings, rustic stone walls, wireless internet, and air conditioning. Most of the cooking lessons will be held in the palazzos wonderful kitchen with dining in the spacious rooms of the piano terra. The ground floor (or piano terra) of Palazzo Fiumi - LaPlaca is an awesome place to host an event, party, reception, or conference.

The space (made up of 5 rooms) was formerly a frantoio (olive mill), stable, and cantina (wine cellar). It is now beautifully restored and offers, while decidedly medieval in aspect but with a mixture of antique and modern furniture, a very comfortable space to entertain. There is a lovely terrace with a beautiful pergola covered in grapes and a view out over the Spoleto Valley toward Assisi and Mount Subasio. It is the perfect space for a special event. Palazzo Fiumi - LaPlaca has been owned by the count Guiseppe Fiumi, whose family owned most of the surrounding olive groves. When you visit the palazzo, you will see evidence of the palazzos former life: the remains of a mulino (olive mill), presses, and a stable on the ground floor. There are several rooms for your selection.

Assisi - two bedroom apartment

The largest apartment in the palazzo is called Assisi because of the wonderful view over the valley toward the town of Assisi. The view really captivates the guests. The spacious main room, with Mission style furnishings that are set off beautifully by the stone walls, has a living room area with leather sofa and a dining area. The table seats six people. The galley kitchen has a marble counter top, cooktop, oven, large fridge, and everything you need to prepare meals.

There are two bedrooms in the apartment, each furnished with local antiques; one with a queen size bed and the other, with a skylight, has the flexibility of having either a king size bed or it can easily be separated for twin beds. The comfortable bathroom, with a stone wall and antique tiled floor, has a tub and shower hook up. Also, there is a balcony off the apartment for your enjoyment.

Azzurro - bed and breakfast, bedroom with twin beds

This wonderful bedroom on the piano nobile (main floor) of the palazzo is beautifully furnished with antiques and two comfortable single beds. The room has tall ceilings and a window that looks out over the valley toward Assisi. There is a private bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower.

Crispolto - two bedroom apartment

This large apartment is called Crispolto after Bettonas patron saint. From the apartment windows, you can enjoy the view over the rooftops of the historic center to the spire of the church of San Crispolto. The spacious main room has a living room area and dining area with a table that seats six. The spacious galley kitchen has a marble counter top, cooktop, oven, large fridge, and everything you need to enjoy preparing delicious meals. The two comfortable bedrooms are furnished with antiques; one has a queen size bed and the other twin beds. The comfortable bathroom, with an antique tiled floor (salvaged from another part of the palazzo), has a large stall shower.

Giallo - bed and breakfast, bedroom with queen bed

This wonderful bedroom on the piano nobile (main floor) of the palazzo is beautifully furnished with antiques and a comfortable queen size bed. There is a private bath with toilet, sink, and shower.

Gufo - one bedroom - sleeping loft

The apartment has a cathedral ceiling with wooden beams (salvaged from another part of the house) and a spiral staircase leading to the sleeping loft with a comfortable queen size bed. From the apartment windows, you can enjoy the view of the surrounding hills and over into the Spoleto Valley. The spacious main room, again with Mission style furnishings, has a comfortable combination living / dining room with a Stickley table and chairs.

The kitchen has a marble counter top, cooktop, stove, fridge, and everything you need to enjoy preparing local food. The comfortable bathroom, with a shower, has a marble sink, and antique floor tiles (again, salvaged from another part of the palazzo). This truly is a delightful apartment to stay in with plenty of light and wonderful views.


This special holidays are designed to give you the best of Italy, including its delighting vegetarian dishes, making this cookery adventure even more special. Some cooking lessons will be held in the palazzos beautiful kitchen and others in the kitchens of local restaurants. In either case, these extraordinary local cooks will share some of the dishes for which they are renowned. There will be no better way to remember your special time in the Italian ambiance than by cooking at home the healthy delicious meals you learnt to cook. The guided tours in Italian beautiful towns will give you the whole picture of what an Italian adventure means: color and taste, tradition, and charming simplicity.


This retreat will take place in Umbria region, Italy. Your accommodation will be in Palazzo Fiumi - LaPlaca, a restored 17th century palazzo in the small hill town of Bettona, situated between Assisi and Perugia.



  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Hiking nearby
  • Mountain walking/trekking
  • Shopping


  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Balcony
  • Dining area
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Kitchen
  • Lounge
  • Special menu request
  • Terrace


  • Tour assistance
  • Tour assistance


During this holiday you will savor traditional Italian food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

A morning with dear friends

Share a morning of raised dough and dolce. Luisella Reale, famous in Bettona for just about everything, teaches you two dolce recipes: torta della nonna and a crostata, Umbrian style made with olive oil. Loretta Bartolini teaches you the classic Umbrian torta al testo (Umbrian flat bread), cooked on a metal plate (a testo) on top of the stove and used traditionally for sandwiches. And, the treat of all treats, the amazing Margherita Sciattella, a 92-year old legend, will share her recipe for the beloved zuccherini di Bettona, a traditional dolce found only in Bettona. A morning filled with local recipes and a chance to meet the real people that make living in Italy so memorable and the reason why Bettona is such a wonderful place to live.

Pasta experience

Bettona is well known throughout Umbria as offering one of the best sagras (town festivals) featuring authentic local dishes. There is no one better to teach you how to make the classic sugo deloca (goose sauce) than Roberto Piergiovanni, the delightful chef from the renowned sagra deloca (goose festival). Roberto will teach you how to make his famous sauce but also the traditional Umbrian umbricelli (fresh eggless pasta). Definitely a delicious treat for all.

Vegetable delicatessen

Your host, Michael LaPlaca, will certainly be in the act sharing some of the Palazzo Fiumi - LaPlacas special recipes like pannacotta with fresh fruit and vin santo, an amazing torta caprese, and other seasonal treats. His pasta workshop will focus on filled pastas and versatile sauces, and one night you will whip up gnocchi for a relaxed dinner at the palazzo.


One lunch

Things to do (optional)

Assisi, birthplace of San Francesco

The birthplace of Italys patron saint, (Saint Francis 1181-1226), Assisi is a spectacular place to visit. While it is the only place you might really come across a crowd in Umbria, it is well worth the visit. The extraordinary basilica of Saint Francis is divided into lower (1228 - 1230) and upper (1239 - 1253) churches. Cumulatively, they contain some of the most glorious frescoes in all of Umbria. Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini, and Pietro Lorenzetti have contributed masterpieces to the glory of the saint whose crypt can be visited below the lower church.

Walking the breadth of the city, the visitor passes through both Roman (the former temple of Minerva and the Forum museum) and medieval (just about everything else) incarnations of the city. Added to which there are shops and restaurants to delight your modern sensibilities. At the opposite end of the city, you will find the beautiful church of Santa Chiara, Assisis other famous saint and founder of the Poor Clares. Just outside the walls, the wonderfully peaceful church of San Damiano is the best place to glimpse a bit of the peacefulness and serenity of St. Francis.

Bettona, the hidden Umbrian gem

While most guide books of Umbria barely mention Bettona, its really because they have not spent any time there and fallen under its spell. While the town is beautiful, perfectly situated close to highways and the cities of Perugia and Assisi, the most wonderful thing about Bettona is its people: the Bettonese.Bettona is Etruscan and has the distinction of being the only Etruscan settlement east of the Tiber. It is also sometimes referred to as the Etruscan balcony for its position on the Spoleto valley with an extraordinary view toward Assisi.

It later became a Roman town, a medieval commune, a ward of the Papal states, and finally, with unification, a free commune. Although there are traces of the Etruscans in part of the walls of the town and evidence of Roman forum, most of the town dates back to after its destruction in 1352. Today, Bettona is known for its circuit of intact walls that incorporate parts of the ancient Etruscan fortifications. The hills surrounding Bettona are still covered with olive trees as they have been for centuries and most families have enough trees to supply them with oil for the entire year.

Perugia, Umbrias wonderful capitol

Perugia is the capital city of the region of Umbria as well as the capital of the largest of Umbrias provinces. It is vibrant and surprisingly young for a pretty much medieval city. Filled with many things to do: museums, churches, restaurants, shopping, concerts, and much more. Encompassing several hilltops, valleys and, for motorists, 5 exits on the road to Siena and the A1 road to Florence. Perugia is an ancient city with many sites dating back to the Etruscan period (the famed Etruscan Arch to name but one) but today is known as the home of several universities, including the University for Foreigners.

Culturally, Perugia is also home to the famous painter Pietro Vannucci, called Perugino (even though he was technically born in Citt della Pieve nearby). One of his masterworks not to be missed are the frescoes of the Sala del Cambio as well as a number of paintings in the National Gallery of Umbria. There is a famous Sandri chocolate shop on the Corso Vanucci that makes the most amazing hot chocolate youll ever have. There are also three really wonderful gelaterias you can choose from.

What's included

  • 6 lunches
  • 7 dinners
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 8 breakfasts
  • Airport transfers
  • Cooking classes
  • Guided tours

What's not included

  • 1 lunch
  • Additional transfers
  • Airfare
  • Optional activities

How to get there

Driving directions from Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO)

Once youve left the airport, follow the signs toward Rome. In about 10 minutes you will see a sign that says Firenze (Florence), which is the direction you want to go. The first exit signs you pass will be 31 but youll soon find yourself at exit 1, Aurelia. You then are looking for signs for the GRA (Grande Raccordo Anulare), which is a ring road around Rome. Once on the GRA, you will be on the lookout for signs for the A1 road to Firenze. You will exit at exit (USCITA) 10, but 8, 9, and 10 all have the same exit. Just keep heading for Firenze / A1 road, get a ticket at the ticket booths, and youre on your way

On the A1 road, drive for about 25 minutes and exit at ORTE. Go to the lane with the picture of someone handing the driver something and your life will be easier. Once out the gate, go to your right and follow the signs for Perugia

Next, you will be heading basically east for about 20 minutes before you see the signs for Perugia. (There is a factory on the left that says einerberger) Follow signs to Perugia / Cesena and you will end up on the E45 road. Stay on the E45 road (be careful because there is a speed camera between Todi and the next exit) for about 40 minutes more and exit at Ponte Nuovo (right after Deruta Nord). (You will notice the sign for Deruta Nord lists Bettona but take the next exit which is a little closer

Come off the exit ramp and go to your right, then go over the bridge, the Ponte Nuovo. (Youre only about 8 kilometers away.) After the bridge, the road will make a sharp right but you need to make a left onto the little street between the bar and the brick church. (Be careful, as there are speed cameras along these roads as well. They are either bright green or orange cylinders alongside the road. Your GPS should tell you which ones are working and which ones are not.) Youll be on this road for a couple kilometers until you come to a T-stop. Turn right toward Bettona. (Almost there.) Follow this a few kilometers. You will pass through Signoria until you see the hill of Bettona with its church towers. The road will bend to the left (at Colle) and you will want to go straight up the hill and, after lots of bends in the road, eventually you will come to the town. Just past the welcome sign you will go straight (do not take a right, which will take you to the back of town) and follow the town wall around to the left until you see the front gate

Once inside the gate, take the road on the left (even if your GPS tells you to go straight) and come up to the main piazza. (Bettona is a one way only.) You will see a large church on the left, the bar and the town museum on the right, the fountain and another church on the other side of the piazza. Go right and pass through the piazza, down the only street you can go. (That doesnt mean try to go the little side streets. The main street is called Corso Marconi. It is the street that leads straight out from the main piazza.) Palazzo Fiumi - LaPlaca is in the next little piazza on the left, Piazza Preziotti at number 4. The buzzer is on the left partially hidden by the olive tree

If you get lost, ask for Michael and someone will tell you where Palazzo Fiumi - LaPlaca is.

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Perugia San Francesco d'Assisi - Umbria International Airport (PEG). A Week in Umbria will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.

Arrival by bus

There is a Sulga bus that will bring you from the airport to Deruta.

Arrival by train

The train station comes right into Fiumicino Airport (FCO). The nearest train station to Bettona is Assisi. The trains will go through Foligno. Some of them will require you to change trains there. Make sure you check this out. The trains station for Assisi is actually in Santa Maria degli Angeli. There are often taxis there or you can call A Week in Umbria from the train station and they will meet you there.

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