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Have you ever wondered why some bottles of olive oil or anything prepared with fresh truffles are sold for what seems like the price of gold? During this cooking vacation in autumnal Umbria, two unique events (the fall olive harvest and the hunt for the elusive black truffle) will grow your appreciation for these revered food products. So come and experience this wonderful vacation with Cucina della Terra!
During this holiday, you will stay at Romitorio. It is a country house surrounded by olive groves and vineyards on the border between Umbria and Tuscany, near Castiglione del Lago, five kilometers from Lake Trasimeno. Its 17th-century church, dedicated to Saint Anthony the Abbot, is a testimony to its deep historical roots. Maintained by a lovely Italian family it offers a quiet setting to experience Italian living.
Locanda Poggioleone is a lovely small hotel where you will experience the warm embrace of a family atmosphere: terracotta flooring, exposed roof beams, antique furnishings, and quality finishing will make you feel truly at home. This traditional feel is integrated with the best elements of modernity, from the latest bathroom fittings to minibars, from safes to televisions, from air conditioning to wireless. It lies on the border between Umbria and Tuscany near Castiglione del Lago.
Occasionally, Cucina della Terra may include alternatives depending on availability. They will advise you at the time of booking.
During this tour, you will experience a variety of dining styles, from trattoria, osteria, ristorante, and of course, pizzeria. The cooking classes are based on teaching the fundamentals of Italian cuisine. You will learn wood-fired grilling, pasta-making, gnocchi-making, risotto-making, saute technique, roasting techniques, braising techniques, egg cookery, salads and of course desserts. You will go home with a recipe packet filled with over 35 recipes that you will be able to recreate in your kitchen.
The cooking classes include authentic wood-fired bruschetta, grilled beefsteaks, sausages, ribs, quail, pappardelle with wild boar ragu, sheep milk ravioli with seasonal sauces, roast leg of lamb, roasted cippolini, assorted seasonal vegetables, veal rollatini, turkey rollatini, seasonal risotto (squash, red wine, seafood, pea, zucchini blossom and squash), branzino, clams, mussels, scampi, frittata, farro salad, desserts of all kinds: biscotti, crostata with homemade jam, granita, gelato, limoncello, olive oil cake, lavender scented seasonal fruits, and perugina chocolate cake with whipped cream, the most delicious tiramisu.
You will be arriving in Rome.You will be provided by transfer by train to Chiusi Chianciano station, where you will be greeted and shuttled to the farmhouse. You will have time to relax and explore the property before joining the full group for dinner at a nearby family-run Osteria specializing in traditional Umbrian cooking.
Perugia (a historic city dating back to BCE) is home to the world-famous Umbrian jazz festival in summer and Eurochocolate Festival in autumn. Perugia is also home to the popular Baci confection produced by Perugina chocolate. During the Renaissance, it was home to artists Perugino and Raphael.
The architecture of Perugia reflects its rich history from the Etruscan period. Walking through the town, you will witness such remains as an Etruscan arch, a fortress from the 1500s, and the Fontana Maggiore, designed in the 1200s to celebrate the freedom of the commune of Perugina.
After a walk through this historic city center, you will enjoy a pizza lunch. In the evening, you will light the outdoor wood-fired grill and enjoy your first cooking class at Cucina della Terra. The menu will celebrate Italian grilling traditions, featuring authentic bruschetta (made with olive oil harvested on the property), as well as Umbrian sausages, beefsteak, small game, local vegetable dishes, and dessert, or “dolci.”
Today, you’ll experience firsthand the racolta: the harvesting of olives from trees surrounding Cucina della Terra. After participating in this time-honored tradition, you will enjoy a rustic farmer’s lunch of soups, salads, and various egg preparations. In the evening, the group will dine in a wonderful family - run restaurant in nearby Tuscany, where the chef prepares local cuisine with a modern flair.
Today, you will visit the exceptional cheese maker and end the night with pasta making cooking class. In the morning, you’ll visit a local olive mill and watch the process of turning olives into precious liquid gold. From there, you’ll continue to Pienza, a town in the province of Siena and UNESCO World Heritage site. Pienza sets the stage for a delightful stroll overlooking the verdant Val d’ Orcia. Postage stamp shops overflow with Italian-made linens, handcrafted ceramics, leather goods, and the famous pecorino cheese of Pienza.
Meet a local artisan who specializes in these outstanding raw milk wheels and ricotta to deepen your knowledge of the process behind these two unique products. In the evening, you will return to the kitchen at Cucina della Terra where you will learn to hand make pasta with a lusty wild boar ragu and a ravioli stuffed with sheep’s milk ricotta and topped with a seasonal sauce.
Wednesday is the open-air market day in Castiglione del Lago, just five minutes from Cucina della Terra. No words can adequately describe the social atmosphere and the warmth of small-town life as you meander shops overflowing with the renowned salumi, cheeses, balsamics, lentils of castelluccio, the ancient grain farro, beans of Lake Trasimeno, and olive oils.
For those looking for a “deal,” this is the day to buy from the street vendors! If desired, you can visit the palace of the della Corgna family and walk through the narrow passageway of the fortress to get a better feeling of defense centuries ago. Your afternoon lunch provides a taste of the famous porchette sandwiches and torta al testo of Umbria.
The afternoon allows time for a swim, a walk through the hills, or relaxation before returning to the cucina for a night of cooking school. You’ll be crafting one of Italy’s most beloved foodstuffs and the most sought-after gnocchi dish, gnocchi and mushroom ragu, as well as a master class in the techniques of roasting.
High in the hills of Tuscany, overlooking the olive groves and vineyards of the Val di Chiana, sits Montepulciano. You’ll discover this historic wine town by first visiting a select group of artisans.
Most notably, your tour will bring you to a top winery for visit to the cellars, vineyards, historical library, and finally a tasting of the vintar’s wines: Vin Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano, and two more of his select labels. In the evening, the cooking school will feature traditional risotto technique and the Italian art of pan-sautéed proteins and vegetables.
The former papal state of Orvieto sits atop a large butte of volcanic rock called “tufa.” At the base of the town, a necropolis bears the remains of Etruscan tombs, while in the town center, a 175-foot deep well (designed in the 16th century) remains a feat of engineering.
At the top of the town lies a glistening Gothic cathedral, built in the 1300s and housing magnificent frescos, mosaics, and stained glass. Those seeking gifts and exquisite craftsmanship will enjoy a wide range of ceramic, olive wood implements, hand-loomed scarves, leather, and jewelry shops. You’ll stop for lunch in an authentic trattoria before returning home for a cooking class featuring a healthy selection of Mediterranean fish.
No autumn trip to Umbria would be complete without a day in the forest searching for this prized tuber. Early in the morning, you will board a chartered bus for a ride into the Umbrian hills where you will meet our truffle hunter, Matteo, and his dog for a firsthand look at truffle-hunting culture.
Afterwards, you will enjoy a long farmhouse lunch. Later in the evening, you’ll reconvene at the cucina for a sampling of schiacciata, a seasonal flatbread stuffed with tiny grapes and honey, as well as some cured meats, regional cheeses, and fruit.
A farewell breakfast ends this unique cooking vacation experience. Following breakfast, guests will be transported to Chiusi Chianciano station.
Please note the above is a sample itinerary. Each trip's schedule may vary slightly to highlight the finest products of the season.
Besides enjoying truffle hunting as well as wine, olive, and balsamic vinegar tasting, you will also experience a walking tour through Perugia, Pienza (Unesco World Heritage Site), Castiglione del Lago, Montepulciano, and Orvieto.
Growing up in Queens, New York, it was easy for Gerri to fall in love with food. Her Italian-born grandfather owned a fine food store, so her family regularly feasted on such farm-to-table foodstuffs as local squab and fresh produce from Long Island. Yet, despite this unusual access to the region’s freshest flavors, Gerri’s original career plans bent towards academia instead of the kitchen. Since 2008, Gerri has split her time between teaching Italian cooking and professional baking at the award-winning Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan and developing immersive culinary tours.
Along with Gerri, Jack will guide you during this holiday.
This holiday will take place in the rolling hills of Umbria, Italy. The nearest city is the regional capital of Perugia, and the school is located just five minutes up the road from the town of Castiglione del Lago, a beautifully preserved medieval town on the banks of Lake Trasimeno.
Among the many wonders of this beautifully preserved region, Umbria boasts a legacy as the home of St. Francis of Assisi and successive generations of Papal rule. It is thus home to many significant abbeys and churches, as well as the vinicultural heritage of local religious orders.
Gastronomically, the most famed dishes of the region rely heavily on local grains, vegetables, fresh herbs and Umbria’s “liquid gold” olive oil. (Guests of Cucina della Terra always cook with oil pressed from olives that were harvested right on the property!)
During the fall and winter, both black and white truffles reach their peak, with numerous local festivals celebrating the coveted foodstuffs. Finally, the region’s exceptional salumi and grilled meats are not to be missed, including spit- or wood oven-roasted game like rabbit or wild boar.
During this holiday, you will be served with eight Italian-style breakfasts, including espresso, biscotti, pane, pastry, yogurt, fruit, and juice. Eight lunches, either prepared on the property or part of local city tours as well as eight dinners either in the cucina or in local restaurants. All meals paired with carefully selected Italian wines to complement the dishes.
Cucina della Terra always provide some down time between the daily tours and the cooking classes. You can take a nap, read, play a game of bocce, play ping pong, or take a walk through the countryside.
Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport
Transfer not provided
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