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This culinary vacation offers a wonderful mixture of some of the Amalfi Coast's spectacular highlights along with some truly off-the-beaten-path treasures unique to the area. During this exciting vacation week, your group will have the exclusive use of a historic villa perched in the hills above the dramatic and beautiful Amalfi Coast. It is a vacation that embraces Southern Italian cooking, combining culinary and artistic tradition with some of the most wonderful locations along the Amalfi Coast and Naples area.
In the heart of the Amalfi Coast, overlooking the water between Amalfi and Atrani sits one of the most beautiful villas of the coastline. Built in the 13th century, it was originally a Franciscan Monastery. The location is just 300 meters from downtown Amalfi and 150 meters from Atrani! It is a paradise within paradise. It is the ultimate "pinch myself because I must be dreaming" location. The villa boasts magnificent views, a lemon grove, a swimming pool, a wood-fired oven, and so much more. You have the entire property to the group this week.
The villa is composed of twelve double rooms, with vaulted or frescoed ceilings, finely decorated with artistic hand-painted ceramic from Vietri sul Mare and equipped with LCD TV-SAT, telephone, internet connection, and air conditioner. Each room boasts beautiful views, while 5 of them also offer a balcony.
All rooms have air conditioning, flat-screen televisions, hair dryers. Each room has one bathroom with a shower (a few also have a tub), and all rooms have at least one queen bed, and some have a second bed as well.
The villa offers free WIFI Internet. Because of the thick walls, it may not reach every room, but the large common area of the villa has a full signal. Note, however, that the internet on the Amalfi coast is often hit and miss.
Like most of the Amalfi Coast, the villa is on the side of a cliff, and roads do not get to most of the villas. The walk between the street and the villa is about 300 feet. Upslope to the villa, and down to the street. The pathway is uneven with a slight slope and steps.
For arrivals today, Culture Discovery Vacations offers two free shuttles to the accommodations in order to make it most convenient for their guests. The first shuttle is at 1:00 p.m. from the Naples International Airport (NAP) in Capodichino. The second shuttle is at 1:30 p.m. from the Napoli Centrale Train Station.
If you are flying into Naples, be sure to choose a flight that arrives no later than 12:15 p.m., or a train that arrives no later than 1:00 p.m. If you cannot make these times, Culture Discovery Vacations will be happy to arrange a private driver from Naples or Salerno, however, you will pay the driver for their services.
As you arrive at the villa, Culture Discovery Vacations will help all guests to their homes for the week, and give you a couple of hours to get settled and rest up. You will find fresh fruit, a bottle of wine, and some extra goodies to make you feel at home as you get ready for the week ahead of you.
In the meantime, in the villa's porticos, Culture Discovery Vacations will have a light buffet available for anyone wanting something a little more substantial. While there, you can meet some of the Amalfi family that will be with you for the week. One of the chef instructors will be preparing the dough for your Baba' dessert that will be made in tomorrow's class. You are free to jump in and help if you want to get started with the cooking experience right away!
In the early evening, you will all meet on the veranda for a cocktail reception and get-together. You'll spend about an hour getting to know one another as you discuss the week that has been planned, answer any questions, and get ready to get started.
You will then head down from the villa to the town of Amalfi. This sea-faring village dates back to pre-Roman times and was better known as one of the four Maritime Republics of Italy during the Middle Ages. Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, being the others. You'll take in the flavor of this famous village before dinner at the local restaurant, Taverna Buonvicino. This unique, family-run ristorante hidden amongst the winding sidewalks of Amalfi, serves delicious local fare in a comfortable and cozy environment.
After dinner, you have the option of taking in more of the town of Amalfi or heading back up to the villa to relax there, enjoying the gorgeous coastal views.
Breakfast this morning will be served on the main terrace of the villa under the porticos, overlooking the coast. You will have Italian pastries, espresso, cappuccino, etc. for breakfast each morning.
The Italian cooking class today will be right here at the villa with all of its breathtaking views. As you get started, the instructor will give everyone a quick familiarization of how the classes will go and what you will be making. After you have been given your aprons and recipe books (yours to take home at the end of the week), you will get down to business. You have a huge meal to make for lunch, so you'll not waste much time, especially since the cooking classes are extremely 'hands-on'.
You'll start out by making Caponata together, which will be your appetizer today. Then you will get wrist-deep in the dough, as you make three kinds of local pasta: Dunderi', E'Ricci, and Cocce (a type of ricotta gnocchi, spaghetti, and orichette).
As you continue with your class, you will be making a local recipe for Ragu sauce which you will have with the pasta, as well as beef and pork Braciola, ribs, and sausage in the ragu for the second course.
The side dish today will be Potatoes Gateau, and finally, you will prepare the rum syrup soak for Baba’ al Rum (for which you made the pastry yesterday), which will be your dessert.
After you've had some time to rest up after lunch, you will walk down to the town of Amalfi and visit an ancient paper mill in town. You'll have a tour, learning how they have made paper for centuries, and try your hand at making paper yourself. Next, you will have a little free time for visiting Amalfi and shopping in town before you head over to the seaside town of Atrani where you will have dinner.
Dinner tonight is another unique dining experience. The setting for tonight's dinner is the Torre Saracena. The original tower was built in the Middle Ages to help protect the coastline from foreign invaders. Perched on the hillside of the Amalfi Coast and very close to the villa, you will enjoy incredible views as you dine in casual comfort on local and seasonal fare. Those guests that wish to stay in lively little Atrani or Amalfi after dinner are welcome to do so, as the villa is within walking distance of town.
Note that non-seafood alternatives are available if Culture Discovery Vacations is notified in advance.
After breakfast at the villa, you will head to port, where you'll have a "Gozzo Sorrentino" (the traditional boat of the Amalfi Coast) come to pick you up and take you to the island of Capri. You'll make your way up the Amalfi Coast, viewing the spectacular coastline from the water, until you reach Capri, where you will begin a couple of hours navigating around the island and its many beautiful grottos. You'll make some stops in some of the grottoes (including an opportunity to go inside the Blue Grotto), and finally, anchor somewhere for a chance to swim as you have a light lunch on the boat.
There are many spectacular views along the Amalfi Coast, including this natural arch near a secluded beach. Lunch will be traditional "Panini" of the area, including Caprese, Pancetta, and Eggplant, smoked Mozzarella and olives + wine, beer, water, and fresh fruit.
After lunch, you will head to the marina in Capri, and take the funicular up to the village, where you will have a few hours to spend shopping, strolling, or head over to Anacapri.
In the early evening, you will board the boat once again and make your way home to the villa, where dinner will await you. Tonight you will be having Neapolitan lasagna, salad, and fresh fruit.
After breakfast at the villa, you'll drive toward Naples and head to the ruins of Pompeii, and begin a guided tour of the iconic site. After the tour of Pompeii, you will walk to the nearby Trattoria Add'u' Mimi for lunch. This wonderful family restaurant offers local seafood fare as well as other local favorites.
After lunch, you'll head back to the villa for a little rest before your second cooking class, which will result in tonight's dinner. What would a trip to this area be without making Pasta’Fazul? Of course, you'll use one of the fresh portions of pasta you made on Sunday for this one! Your second course will be Eggplant Involtini. Dessert will be Bocconotto - a pastry tart filled with seasonal preserves, pastry creme, or chocolate.
During our class, you will have a visit from a local cheesemaker and together you will make Mozzarella cheese from scratch. Some of the mozzarellas will be used in today's meal, some you will naturally be eating right there while it is warm, and some are planned to set aside for the pizza class, of course! Dinner tonight will give you the chance to take in the breathtaking sunset over the water from the splendid location!
You are in the middle of the week, so you have a little downtime this morning. For those that want to relax, hang out by the pool, sleep in, or whatever you like. For those that want to stay on the go, take the short walk into Amalfi or Atrani for the morning. Either way, this is a good morning to relax, since it will be a late night.
Lunch today will be prepared for you at the villa. You'll be having Marinated anchovies, Fusilli allo Scoglio (one of the portions of pasta made on Sunday with seafood), Totani e Patate (cuttle fish with potatoes), and Tiramisù for dessert.
At around 1:30 p.m., you will head down to the boat docks in Amalfi and board the "Gozzo Sorrentino" boats. These stylish boats, traditional to this area, will take you to Positano for the afternoon. Everyone will have a few hours to explore Positano on their own, do some shopping, and snap those photos!
About thirty minutes before sunset, you will hop back on the boat and set out to the outer bay, where you will pop open bottles of Prosecco for a sunset toast, overlooking Positano and the coast.
You'll then head to a tiny little cove, where you will have an Italian "Grigliata", essentially an Italian BBQ on the beach. You'll have candles lit as you dine under the stars tonight! After a lovely dinner, it is back on our boats to take you home for the night after another magical day.
After breakfast this morning, you will head into the village of Minori to attend their weekly market. You'll visit the local vegetable stands to shop for the ingredients you will be needing for pizza class tonight, and give everyone some time to browse the market on their own.
Next, you will take a short walk to the Carlo Mansi Limoncello factory. This tiny producer of limoncello is known locally to be the best of the best, and you will quickly find out why. But not only will you taste his limoncello, but you will make it with him today, learning what makes his limoncello so unique. You'll get your limoncello started here, and tomorrow you will bring home some of what you made (along with the instructions for making the finished product since Limoncello takes time).
After your visit with Carlo, you will take the short walk back to the seafront for a fabulous lunch prepared at one of the area's premier restaurants, Sal De Riso. Salvatore is one of the most well-known pastry chefs in all of Italy! He was born and raised in this little seaside town of Minori where he serves up excellent dishes besides his incredible desserts!
After a little post-lunch rest at the villa, you will start your pizza class at the villa. Peppe will be here to teach you how to make Pizza Napoletana. Arguably...THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD!
Pizza Napoletana is considered to be the best of the best when it comes to pizza, and it is truly different than all other pizzas you find in Italy. You'll be preparing the dough, and each of you will make your own individual pizza... plus some other traditional favorites.
This promises to be another wonderful evening as Peppe and Tonino serenade you with their guitars and mandolins, and hopefully, the rest of you have learned the words to some of the Neapolitan classics!
After breakfast today, you will be driven high up into the hills above Amalfi and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site and historic town of Ravello. Ravello grew from humble beginnings into a very wealthy and powerful seat of the Vatican during the middle ages. The hilltop site was ideal to protect it from enemy invasion. It also was ideal for the wealthy inhabitants to build gorgeous villas boasting spectacular views of the Amalfi Coastline.
While you're in Ravello, you'll visit the historic and spectacular Villa Rufolo. With origins from the 13th Century, the villa and surrounding gardens are a testament to the powerful Rufolo family that was instrumental in constructing this beautiful villa overlooking the sea. After exploring the villa, you will have some time on your own to stroll this lovely town, visit the Duomo, shop or relax at one of the many enotecas.
After your visit to Ravello, you will take a drive into the hills of the mountain area of Tramonti, famous for its centuries-old vineyards. You'll be visiting the San Francesco winery here, tour the vineyards (and see one vine that is over 700 years old!), visit their wine cellar, and have lunch with the family that runs the winery with a full tasting of their wonderful wines.
After lunch, you will head back to the villa, where you will have some time to get a little packing done before your farewell dinner.
Dinner tonight is not quite a class, and not quite served dinner. Instead, it is a family cooking experience. You will be there with many of your new friends (guests and locals) as you prepare dinner together. Everyone chips in here and there. Tonight's dinner is based on Amalfi Coast Lemons.
You'll be making a Citrus salad, Tagliolini al limone, Scaloppini al limone, Potatoes sfruguliate, and finally Babà soaked in Limoncello syrup.
As has become the custom by now, Peppe and Tonino are sure to break out the mandolin and guitar for another, final evening music, singing, and dancing... until we meet again!
Sadly, your week comes to a close this morning. You'll be leaving the villa at 8:00 a.m., stopping at the Naples Airport, and finally the Naples Train Station.
This is a fair-weather itinerary, and sadly you can never guarantee weather conditions. Many things you do this week, especially the boating activities and outdoor dining, are contingent on good weather and sea conditions. In case the weather gets in the way of the plans, Culture Discovery Vacations will do all they can to reorganize the activities in order to miss out on as little as possible. However, this is not always under their control. In the event that weather forces Culture Discovery Vacations to cancel anything, Culture Discovery Vacations will substitute as best they can with available alternatives.
This is a base itinerary, which is subject to minor changes before the vacation begins. Changes may be a reorganization of days due to closure and festivals, changes due to weather, or seasonal changes. Additionally, these itineraries are prepared well in advance, and at times there are unexpected closures for various reasons that require Culture Discovery Vacations to alter the plans. In the end, their goal is always to make it better for guests, and when substitutions happen, they are always wonderful
The menus listed on the itineraries are subject to change depending on the season. Culture Discovery Vacations uses only fresh ingredients wherever possible, so if the team is unable to prepare a certain dish, it will be substituted. Occasionally Culture Discovery Vacations makes changes to some items as certain dishes prove to be very popular.
Whether you are cooking or on an outing, the all-inclusive weeks always feature a full itinerary of lots of things to do. The vacation also gives you the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out of just about everything. So, if you feel like hanging out by the pool, soaking up the rays along with that awe-inspiring view, then that is exactly what you should do!
Most rarely opt-out of the excursions, because they are pretty amazing and unique! You'll be visiting Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Minori, Tramonti, a day on the water to visit the Island of Capri, and an outing to Pompeii.
Moreover, they are not mere sightseeing trips, but they are truly a cultural discovery. On the day you go to Positano, you go by private boat from the Amalfi harbor. You end the time in Positano with a private party on private boats, before heading to a tiny cove for tonight's dinner. You'll have a memorable meal at a local family-run restaurant serving delicious regional fare from their family recipes.
On the day you go to Tramonti, you visit a family-run winery and vineyard with vines as old as 500+ years, then join the family for lunch. While in Minori, you make Limoncello with Carletto, owner of a small Limoncello factory. The list goes on, and these are all experiences Culture Discovery Vacations trusts you will never forget.
Cities and villages you visit:
Historical sites, wineries, factories, and mills you will visit:
This cooking vacation takes place on the Amalfi Coast, Italy. The Amalfi Coast has its share of villas, but there are very few that offer a central location, stunning views, private rooms with en-suite bathrooms, walking distance to town, an infinity swimming pool, and much more. Villa Eremo San Francesco is one of just a handful that has it all, and it is ALL YOURS this week!
It is such a stunning location, within walking distance to Amalfi and Atrani, that Culture Discovery Vacations feels confident that once you see it, the rest of the itinerary for the week simply won't matter.
You will have three half-day completely hands-on cooking classes this week, plus a unique "family cooking experience". The cooking classes are not demonstrations. They are 100% hands-on.
Culture Discovery Vacations structures them so that you can be as involved as you wish in every stage of every course we prepare. With every class, you roll up your sleeves and get wrist-deep in making everything fresh, from scratch.
During the week, you will be making three kinds of pasta from scratch, two locally-known recipes, 'Ndunderi and Bocconotto. Traditional Neapolitan style Pizza, Caponata, Pasta Fazul, Fresh Mozzarella, stuffed and rolled eggplant, and local desserts like Baba' al Rum and much more!.
For those who would rather eat than cook, you are at one of the most coveted spots on the Amalfi Coast. Read a book relaxing by the pool. Enjoy taking it all in, or head into town for shopping, or a stroll on the beach. Boredom is never a problem as there's always something to do...Or nothing at all!
This holiday is all about food and wine, and if there is one comment Culture Discovery Vacations hears more than any other from guests throughout the week, it is "I can't eat another bite".
It's highly doubtful you will ever be hungry during one of Culture Discovery Vacations' vacations. Not to mention that you will never want for more wine, period. All of the restaurant meals are in small, local restaurants that are considered to be among the best of the best for their area. These are the places the locals rave about and are not geared to accommodate mass amounts of tourists. Furthermore, Culture Discovery Vacations doesn't do "special-menu-tourist food". Culture Discovery Vacations insists on the highest quality everywhere you go.
The wine is always flowing at lunch and dinner. Culture Discovery Vacations always focuses on local wines from the area you are in, and it is always fantastic!
Being on the Amalfi Coast affords Culture Discovery Vacations the opportunity to have the freshest, locally-sourced products available. There is nothing more Italian than having seasonal, local specialties that you can not find...nor taste the freshness of, anywhere else in the world!
Two full course meals based on Amalfi Coast and Southern Italian traditions, plus a Limoncello making class, Mozzarella making, and Neapolitan Pizza-making class.
Naples International Airport
Please book your flight to arrive at Naples International Airport (NAP). Transfer from this airport is included in the price at a scheduled time.
Culture Discovery Vacations offers one free shuttle with two stops for arrivals:
If you are flying on the same day, be sure to get a flight that arrives before 1:00 p.m. in order to give you time to get through customs and baggage claim. If you are already in Italy on the start date or arrive later, Culture Discovery Vacations strongly suggests the train station pick up, rather than flying to Naples.
On the departure day, there is one morning shuttle with two stops for departures. You leave the villa at around 7:00 a.m. You arrive at the Naples Capodichino (NAP) Airport at around 8:45 a.m. (this will be sufficient time for outbound flights leaving after 10:30 a.m.). You arrive at the Napoli Centrale Train Station at around 9:15 a.m. (this will be sufficient time for trains leaving after 9:45 a.m.)
If all departing flights or trains are late enough to allow the group to leave later, you all will leave later. Similarly, if someone has an early flight, you may leave a bit earlier.
If you would like to sleep in and depart at a later time, Culture Discovery Vacations can generally arrange it so long as they know in advance. Transportation in this case will be at your own expense. Culture Discovery Vacations will need to have access to your room no later than 9:30 a.m. for cleaning. If you make this choice, you will be on your own for transportation as Culture Discovery Vacations is limited to one vehicle for transfers, and their staff is spread thin on Saturdays. Culture Discovery Vacations can arrange a taxi for you if you are going elsewhere on the Amalfi Coast, or a private car to take you longer distances.
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