A week of unforgettable tastes, hands-on experiences and the opportunity to know firsthand the food, wine, history and people of this special part of Italy. You will be hosted in the heart of a medieval town, in a historic four-star hotel located a stone’s throw away from the lively center of Santarcangelo di Romagna, breathtaking town at the border between Tuscany, Romagna, and Marche. It’s a week of sophisticated fun, experiencing everything that makes Italy so special and so enduring.
The maximum participants in the group is 10.
Santarcangelo is ideally situated, so that all activities and excursions are just a short distance away. Prepare yourself for Italian sophistication in a medieval setting. Accommodation is at beautiful Hotel Il Villino, a 17th century villa.
The four-star hotel, described as "Italian sophistication in a medieval setting", is a recently renovated villa surrounded by lovely grounds and just minutes away from the old town historical center of Santarcangelo di Romagna. You’ll quickly become accustomed to meeting up at a favorite café in centro, where the barista will soon learn your name and preferred beverage.
The property was restored and renovated to create a perfect balance between the atmosphere of the past, with the original stonework, barrel-vault ceilings, and wrought-iron balconies, and the luxury and convenience you expect today. The beautiful large garden full of trees, shrubs and flowers, invites you to find a spot and relax.
Twelve rooms have been created from the interior of the old residence. Each one is unique, with its own particular style. There are cozy spaces that have been carefully studied down to the smallest details. Some interiors also include a loft which turns a simple room into an elegant suite.
Weather permitting, you can enjoy breakfast or a glass of wine outdoors in the garden. A pleasant walk through the garden will fill your thoughts and senses with a heady perfume. Various varieties of roses, irises, hydrangea, and ivy blossom.
The chirping of birds and the scent of flowers flood the garden and the rooms of the Villino with color, light, and music, as an invitation to lose yourself in its poetic splendor.
During the holiday, you will live and shop among the villagers, take part in three hands-on cooking classes one of which is about traditional pizza making under the guidance of a professional pizzaiolo. You will visit winery with wine lesson and tasting by sommelier. You will also have the opportunity to watch a “Bel Canto” performance, and one morning you will participate in an exciting drive through the countryside with the iconic Fiat 500s.
At 2:00 p.m., there will be the pick-up at Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ) or 3:00 p.m. pick-up at Rimini train station (20-minute private transfer). Your home for the week is a lovely four-star hotel in the beautifully preserved medieval town of Santarcangelo di Romagna. Surrounded by greenery, this charming villa is a quiet haven, yet just a few minutes from the cultural highlights and the many shops and cafés of the lively old town city center.
At 5:00 p.m., you will meet up for a formal introduction, then take a walk through town to familiarize with what will quickly come to feel like your town. You might stop for a gelato or a "piadina" (the typical Romagna flatbread), as you enjoy the evening "passeggiata" (the Italian leisurely evening stroll) with the locals.
Dinner will take place at one of the best restaurants in the region. Here begins your week-long love affair with Italian cuisine, accompanied by delicious wines produced by selected boutique wineries of the area.
After breakfast at the hotel (in the garden, weather permitting), you'll have a short ride up to a gorgeous home in the Romagna hills. Here, you will have your first cooking lesson, preparing what the Italians call "il pranzo della domenica", that is Sunday lunch, a lengthy relaxed meal to enjoy with family and friends. Roll up your sleeves, because you will be making the entire four-course meal yourselves, under the guidance of Italian cooks.
The menu includes "piadina" with assorted cold cuts, "tagliatelle" pasta with "ragù" meat sauce, chicken baked in a casserole Romagna style, roast potatoes with rosemary, and a ricotta cake. Then, it is time to eat and enjoy the fruits of your labor, accompanied by delicious local wines. After lunch, you can relax and enjoy the garden around the pool.
Later in the afternoon, you transfer to a well-known local winery on the Rubicon River. An expert sommelier will explain the ins and outs of his wine-making, followed by a wine tasting and a dinner featuring the best gastronomic specialties (DOP and IGP products) of the Emilia-Romagna region.
You will step back in time to the Middle Ages, with a morning visit to the medieval town and fortress of San Leo. Recognized as one of the most beautiful villages of Italy, the town’s position on an craggy outcrop of rock is particularly scenic.
You will begin in the evocative piazza Dante, where two churches (both over a thousand years old) and the surrounding civic architecture transport you back in time. Accompanied by a local guide, you will learn the town’s history and explore the magnificent medieval fortress of Federico da Montefeltro, Lord of Urbino, from where he could keep an eye on his neighbor and enemy, Sigismondo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini.
In the afternoon, you transfer to a nearby working farm where wine, extra-virgin olive oil, and the traditional Italian vermouth are produced. The owners take you on a tour of the property. The site is very picturesque, with a gorgeous view of the valley. With this backdrop you are treated to a live performance of "bel canto", a traditional Italian vocal style renowned for its beauty. A delicious dinner featuring the farm’s own products caps off the evening.
A neighbor to Tuscany and Florence, this region played an important role in the Renaissance, in large part due to the humanist and military leader, Federico da Montefeltro, Lord of Urbino. You will cross into the region of Marche, to explore Urbino, where you begin to appreciate the power and splendor of his court.
Accompanied by a local guide, you will visit Montefeltro’s palatial residence, which today hosts the National Gallery of Marche, displaying works of art by Piero della Francesca, Tiziano, and Raffaello.
In the afternoon, you have a special treat. You will visit an area where a very unusual cheese is produced, the "formaggio di fossa di Sogliano". This highly-prized cheese is aged in underground pits dug out of the volcanic tuff. An award-winning cheesemaker will host you, acquainting you with the procedure for making this cheese, followed by a tasting of his family’s specialities.
You’ll return to Santarcangelo where you are free to explore the town on your own and dine in one of the many "osterie" (=little restaurants) in downtown.
In the morning you return to the lovely place in the Romagna hills for the second cooking lesson. This time, you will prepare "bruschette" and a "frittata" with herbs, "cappelletti" in broth, meatballs Romagna style, roast pork with vegetables, and a typical dessert called zuppa inglese, the Romagna version of trifle.
After a lovely relaxed lunch, you will return to Santarcangelo for some free time. Late afternoon, you drive will down to Rimini and meet with your guide whose expertise is in art and cinematography. You will learn about Rimini’s Roman and Renaissance history, then shift to the twentieth century and follow the footsteps of Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, who was born in Rimini in 1920.
Then, you move up the coast a couple of miles to the seaside town of Cesenatico, where you will enjoy a stroll along the port canal designed by Leonardo da Vinci, followed by an delicious seafood dinner.
Friday is market day in Santarcangelo, the weekly market for the town. Here you can find just about anything, from clothes, shoes, and kitchen items, to fruit and vegetables. In the morning, you are free to catch up on your sleep, or browse and shop at your leisure in the market.
You will meet up late morning for a "cooking show" demonstration by a professional pastry chef, followed by tasting his delicious creations. In the afternoon you will go to an important historical spot, the very place where in 49 BC, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River with his troops, an act in defiance of the Roman Senate and one that triggered a five-year civil war. His declaration "alea iacta est!" (the die is cast!), has come to mean "this is the point of no return" ever since.
Following this, you walk to a "pizzeria" for a cooking lesson, making traditional Italian pizza. Under the guidance of a professional "pizzaiolo" (pizza chef), you will make your own pizzas and enjoy them in the company of regular Italian customers.
To kick off the weekend, you will attend a procession of the legendary Fiat 500 cars. This is the classic tiny Italian city car, developed in the post-war period as an economical car affordable by all.
You'll take a ride to the medieval village of Longiano, and share a drink with the members of the Fiat 500 Club beside the impressive fortress. Together you'll visit a well-known olive mill, to learn about and taste the local extra-virgin olive oil, then you’re invited for lunch at the inn next door.
You’ll have some free time in Santarcangelo before the last outing, off to a medieval village in the nearby hills. Here, you will have the final "aperitivo", toast your week together, and cap it off with an unforgettable fish dinner at a renowned "osteria".
In the morning, you will say goodbye to your fellow travelers and your new Italian friends. Better, just say "arrivederci", meaning "until we meet again". An 8:30 a.m. departure by private transfer gets you to Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ) by 10:15. Alternatively, you will be taken take to Rimini train station to catch a train for onward travel.
Throughout the holiday, you can participate to the degree you wish, or just help out on the sidelines. The lessons are not mandatory. If you prefer, there is a pool and a garden at the villa. One can take a stroll or nap, and join up for the feast when it is ready. It is impossible to be bored in Italy!
Most days require some walking, but no more than is usually required for, say, a city stroll or a guided tour. Transfers between activity locations vary, but usually are no more than 20-30 minutes in a van, with the exception of the first and last day transfers to/from Bologna (approximately one hour and fifteen minutes), and the day you visit Urbino, which requires an hour and a half each way.
ALBA ROSA has been teaching the joys of Italian cooking to her delighted students for over ten years. Come learn her secret for a perfect piadina!
GUIDO’s love for his native Romagna is palpable. He has a degree in foreign languages and a passion for travel and wine. A sommelier AIS, he is the perfect guide to the variety of wines and food traditions of this region.
Our pizza making is guided by Ciro, who hails from Naples, the home of Italian pizza. Ciro will show us how to make the perfect dough, we can top it according to our desire, then bake it right there in his pizzeria.
Romagna is the other half of Emilia-Romagna, and is definitely a land worth exploring. Situated between the sparkling Adriatic Sea and the hills of Tuscany, Romagna boasts a fascinating history and a rich culinary tradition.
With its many protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI) products, which are the highest levels of certification given in recognition of authenticity, it is widely regarded as the cradle of Italian culinary tradition. Magnificent PDO and PGI products are fossa cheese, Squacquerone cheese, Mora Romagnola pork cold cuts, Razza Romagnola beef, extra virgin olive oil, the legendary Piadina, as well as superb wines such as Sangiovese, Albana, Trebbiano, and Pagadebit.
Furthermore, Romagna has a fascinating history and is, along with Florence, Ferrara and Mantua, the cradle of the Renaissance. Two of the most important Renaissance families, the Montefeltro and Malatesta, lived here. The many magnificent castles and fortresses they built attest to their power. Some of them are San Leo, Urbino, Verucchio, Gradara, Roncofreddo, Longiano, Montiano and Montefiore. It seems every hill has a castle.
Many of the Renaissance masters were born or worked here, such as Raffaello, Piero della Francesca, Dante, and Leonardo da Vinci. The name Romagna means "land of the Romans", and in fact there are important Roman monuments, such as the Arch of Augustus and Tiberius’ Bridge in Rimini. Also near Rimini is the legendary Rubicon River that was famously crossed by Julius Caesar in 49 BC.
The retreat is situated in the lively center of Santarcangelo, minutes away from little piazzas, cobblestone streets, shops, wine bars, and cafès.
Seven breakfasts, four lunches, and six dinners are included in price. Lunches and dinners will take place at the best regional restaurants, where your fellow diners are locals and where you’ll enjoy the excellent wines of the area.
The will be two cooking classes, where you will prepare four-course lunches in a beautiful country house in the Romagna hills. The warm welcome by the owner, Marzia, will start the day. She will introduce you to Alba Rosa, whose merry demeanor and cooking expertise have been delighting students for over ten years. Together, you will learn the steps and secrets to making pasta, meat dishes, and Italian desserts that you will enjoy at a typical Italian lunch.
During the first cooking lesson, you will learn how to make cold cuts, tagliatelle pasta with ragù meat sauce, chicken baked in a casserole Romagna style, roast potatoes with rosemary, and a ricotta cake. During the second cooking lesson, you will prepare bruschette and a frittata with herbs, cappelletti in broth, meatballs Romagna style, roast pork with vegetables, and a typical dessert called zuppa inglese.
The pizza-making session will be guided by Ciro, who hails from Naples, the home of Italian pizza. Ciro will show you how to make the perfect dough, which is topped according to your desire, then baked right there in his pizzeria.
Please book your flight to arrive at Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ). Transfer from the airport is included. Buonjourney Italy provides transfer from the airport to Santarcangelo on Sunday. Meeting time is 1:30 p.m. Transfer time is approximately one hour and fifteen minutes.
You can opt for a train ride to Rimini. There will be a shuttle from the Rimini train station to Santarcangelo. Meeting time is 3:00 p.m. Transfer time is approximately 20 minutes. If you prefer, you can arrive to the train station in Santarcangelo independently and the hotel will pick you up there.
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