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This will be a truly immersive week of the wine and culinary traditions in north-western Italy's Piedmont region, home to many of Italy's most prominent wines, including Barolo, Barbera, Barbaresco, Roero, Arneis, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, and more. You will have first-hand experiences with regional artisans that have been continuing the traditions that have been passed down through generations. You shop where the locals shop, eat where the locals eat, cook in the local traditional way and experience Northern Italy as if you have been living there all your life.
Just outside the beautiful town of Canale, central to the growing areas of Roero wine, Barbaresco, and Barolo, sits this beautiful villa atop a hill with 360-degree views. This villa was originally owned by the Lavazza family (of coffee fame) and now belongs to the Cornarea wine estate, which was the first producers of Arneis wine. It is truly a breathtaking place that you have all to yourself.
The villa has nine rooms for guests and are equipped with LCD TV-SAT, internet connection, and a/c. Each room boasts beautiful views. All rooms have air conditioning, flat-screen televisions, hair dryers. Each room has one bathroom with a shower, and all rooms have at least one queen bed, and some have a second bed as well. The villa offers free WIFI Internet.
The villa is on a flat surface, and the only stairs are to the second-story rooms. There is no elevator.
Your vacation week begins when you meet your host and the rest of the group at the Milan Malpensa (MXP) Airport. The scheduled shuttle will be leaving by 1:30 p.m. and heading to your home for the week, the beautiful Roero Valley and the private Villa Cornarea estate.
If you are flying on this day, please arrange for your flight to arrive prior to 12:00 p.m. If you are coming from Milan or other areas in Italy, there is convenient metro or taxi service to the Milan Malpensa Airport, where you can meet up with the rest of the group.
Upon arrival, each party will have a randomly assigned room at the villa. If you would like to reserve one of the suites, you can do so for a slightly higher charge if they are still available.
The rooms are spacious and very accommodating in comfortable settings with lovely appointments. It is a splendid display of classic Italian style with modern amenities. All the rooms have their own, in-suite bathrooms, WIFI, and air conditioning. There are common areas for relaxing or socializing. There are gorgeous views of the surrounding hills and valleys from just about everywhere on the property.
After a warm welcome and reception, you’ll have some time to get settled into your room and have a bit of time to freshen up. You’ll meet up for our first get-together in the beautiful garden for wine, or other refreshments and local appetizers. You will have a certified sommelier on hand to give you an introduction to the complexities and nuances of the local wines. The Culture Discovery Vacations team will get to know one another and talk about the week ahead, as well as answer any questions you might have.
After the wonderful aperitivi, you can take some time to stroll the grounds before you move right into welcome dinner. You will be treated to a private, catered affair at the villa. The full-course meal will include local dishes, paired with local wines.
Breakfast each day will be in the villa. The breakfast area overlooks the garden, vineyards, and the mountains in the background. There is a buffet consisting of traditional Italian breakfast choices, such as pastries, bread, cheeses, yogurts and cereals, hard-boiled eggs. There are many varieties of drinks, including coffee, espresso, cappuccino, juices, and milk.
After breakfast today, you will get right into your first cooking class with your chef instructor, Fernanda. She will greet you with a warm welcome and instantly make you feel very comfortable. The class conveniently takes place on the veranda at the villa.
Each guest will get their own Culture Discovery Apron and recipe book that yours to take home at the end of the week. Since this is 100% hands-on, you’ll get familiarized with the kitchen and Fernanda’s teaching style, and then get right into the class instruction as you start making your first lunch together!
For those that would rather not cook, that’s no problem, the villa has beautiful grounds, a swimming pool, and just being there is an experience of its own!
Today’s recipes include a smooth and savory zucchini soufflé for our appetizer. You will also be making the pasta dish, Gnocchi di patate al Castelmagno. This is classic potato gnocchi, but instead of parmesan cheese, you’ll use the cheese from Castelmagno. This is a semi-hard, but strong and flavorful cheese from the Italian Alps, where, you just so happen to be visiting a Castelmagno cheese producer later in the week. It is made from the milk of the local breed of Piemontese cows and produced under the protection of a national consortium.
The main course will be the well-known, Brasato al Barolo. This is a very popular dish made of roasted beef that has been marinated in the very fine, Barolo wine, herbs, and spices for many hours prior to being wrapped in pancetta, braised, and then roasted to perfection. When served, the beef is thinly sliced and topped with a reduction sauce made from the wine marinade. It is absolutely delicious, and something that our guests thoroughly enjoy.
You also are making a traditional Piemontese dessert, Bunet. This local spin on a classic pannacotta incorporates chocolate and several other ingredients to create a creamy, yet firm pudding that is sprinkled with amaretti biscuits to give it a crunchy element. Try this with one of the full-bodied wines from the area and we’re confident that you will be hooked forever!
As always, there will be wine and other beverages and refreshments available throughout the class, with plenty of breaks for some singing, dancing, and relaxation!
When you’re finished with class, just like a classic Sunday family meal, you’ll all sit down together, toast over some wine, and enjoy this fabulous meal that you have all had a share in making.
You’ll have a little time to rest or freshen up before heading out for an afternoon excursion, where you will head over to the namesake town of Barolo. You will get some history of the town, the castle, and some shopping and strolling! For those interested, there is also a wine museum inside the castle.
On your way back to the villa, you’ll stop at a local trattoria for a wonderful dinner featuring more dishes, local and well-known in this area of Piemonte.
Today you board a luxury van and head to the Italian Alps towards the border of neighboring France for a full day out. Your first stop will be at a producer of, arguably, some of the best cheese made in all of Italy. That may be a lofty claim, however, you will know if you are a fan of Castelmagno cheese as you will have used it during our first cooking class. If you like gorgonzola, it has a vague similarity but is much richer and very flavorful.
It is protected under the auspices of the consortium that governs the production of this certain type of cheese and the makers must adhere to strict rules of its production to ensure its authenticity. To begin with, the milk used must come from a certain breed of Piemontese cows from the area.
You will tour the caseificio, see how it is made, then, of course, have a tasting of this fabulous and full-bodied cheese.
Your next stop is in the city of Savigliano. This city is mostly unknown to tourists and travelers, however, it was once one of the most important cities in all of Piemonte and the House of Savoy. You will be pleasantly surprised at the beauty and elegance of this city of around 20,000 residents. The buildings and architecture are a splendid combination of late-mannerist and Baroque styles, with origins dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
You will head to the Muses Sensory Museum, which is housed in the magnificent 17th century Palazzo Taffini, once home to an important nobleman during the rule of the House of Savoy.
Besides the historical significance of the palazzo and its own magnificent artwork, along with a section honoring Giovanni Maria Farina, the father of Italian perfume, the palazzo is now home to a unique museum that challenges one to use senses other than vision and sound to experience the “art” presented before you.
There are several stations and areas where you will be exposed to and surrounded by fragrances and essences that spark the imagination and bring your sense of smell into a realm not often used in this type of setting. Culture Discovery Vacations is sure that you will come away with a new appreciation for this interactive art form and experience.
Afterward, you’ll make your way to the “laboratory” workshop where each of you will sit at special work-stations where you will begin a perfume-making class! Making perfume is part art and part science as you are instructed by a professional, nose, that will teach you about the use of certain essential oils made from herbs, spices, and plants and how they are combined to make unique blends of fragrances.
Everyone will make their own blend and personalized fragrance, whether perfume or cologne, that you will be able to take home with you at the end of the class! This is an amazingly personal experience in a casual group setting that will have you talking about it for years to come. Especially when one of your friends says to you, “Oh my, that is such a wonderful perfume you are wearing…Where did you get it?” To which, you can reply, “Oh, just something I picked up in Italy,” with a wink and a smile, of course!
You will take some time afterward to stroll the historic streets of Savigliano and meet up for aperitivi, before heading back to the villa. After a full day out, you'll have a relaxing dinner with pizza and other goodies (and wine, of course) at the villa.
Today you start off with a cooking class that is just a short drive from our villa in the private home of Marina Mortara, who has been a dear friend of Culture Discovery Vacations for years. Her classes are super fun and you will make possibly the best lasagna you have ever had! No offense to your own nonna, of course! You also make a fabulous dessert where you will learn how to make everyone’s favorite, the Italian zabaione egg cream.
The fact that the cooking class is in her home, which also happens to be the cantina of their winery makes it extra-special. You’ll be sampling their wines before, during, and after class and, of course, during delicious lunch that you will all have prepared together. Her winery makes amazing reds, such as Roero, Barbera d’Alba, Nebbiolo along with a fantastic Arneis white wine.
After lunch, Marina will prepare a unique coffee-grappa drink in a "Grolla," a tradition of the local Alps. The "Grolla" is a friendship cup with many holes in it. The drink made with coffee, grappa, sugar, and some spices is made inside this terra-cotta cup, and each person drinks from their own hole in the cup.
This has long been a favorite stop for all guests that have come here and made Marina and her warm and inviting family a part of our family as well.
After this delightful morning and lunch, you’ll stop to visit Natale and Gianni, two brothers, and your truffle-hunting guides! You’ll learn about the different types of truffles from the area, then head out with their faithful and well-trained companions up into the nearby hills in search of the prized treasure.
The dogs are amazing at finding truffles that grow in wooded areas near certain trees and shrubs. Depending on what you can dig up, you’ll take them back to Natale’s house to serve up some delicious truffle-inspired appetizers, including salami’s, cheeses, and other local favorites. Natale likes to pour wine for his guests, as well!
This is always a fun and informative excursion, along with a nice walk after a filling lunchtime meal. An important note about this experience: There are many truffle hunting experiences offered in Italy, in which you always find beautiful truffles. Unfortunately, truffle hunting does not work like that.
People often do find them, but Culture Discovery Vacations cannot guarantee it, as Culture Discovery Vacations stands on absolute authenticity. In other words, Culture Discovery Vacations prefers to come up empty-handed and honest over having someone bury truffles in the ground before you arrive in order to turn something authentically difficult into a "show."
After the truffle hunt and appetizers, you’ll make a stop in nearby La Morra. This charming and classic hillside town is everything an Italian village should be. Take some time to stroll the cobblestone streets and alleyways that meander through the town dotted with cafés, trattorias, and enoteca. There are gorgeous views from just about anywhere in town, but the crown jewel is really from the main piazza, which offers stunning vistas of the surrounding Langhe Valley.
Next up for this day out, on your way home, you will stop in Alba at the home of Federica, your cooking instructor! This is not a cooking class. Rather, Fernanda is simply having you over to dinner in her home, and tonight she will make whatever she came up with while at the market today! Aside from dinner, she will let you in on a little of the area's culinary history.
Long ago before the wines of this area were prized worldwide, this was a very poor area of the country. Many of the farmers had little to eat, so they did what people do when food is scarce. They made something with whatever they had plenty of. In this area, there was lots of pasta and lots of wine! As such, it was very common to have a simple dish of pasta, and for sauce, all you would do is pour a glass of wine over it. This is a lost tradition but you will be a part of it tonight.
Today starts out as another special day as you visit the historical center of Torino, or Turin, as many people will recognize it as. Torino could be considered as “The Rome of Northern Italy”, as it was nearly as instrumental in shaping the country from the middle ages and on through the Risorgimento, or the period of unification of Italy in the mid-1800’s.
Once, the Italian seat of the House of Savoy, Torino was at the center of wealth, nobility, and financial growth for centuries. Even to this day, Torino is at the helm of industry and the hub of culture, entertainment, and other businesses that resonate throughout the country.
The heart of Torino is the historical center that has a fabulous mix of architectural styles, from the Renaissance, Rococo, and Baroque to the Neo-Classical. These elements are blended in a splendid beauty of buildings, roads, and walkways, many of which feature the many portici, that wind their way through town giving pedestrians shade from the sun or inclement weather.
You will walk under the portici as you start the “café crawl”. You will be visiting several of Torino’s famous cafés that are as beautiful as they are steeped in tradition. From the birthplace of a popular beverage, or the birthplace of the Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy, the café’s themselves are rich in history and culture.
You’ll stop at the café that began it all and start with the traditional Piedmontese breakfast, the “Bicerin”. This is a tradition that started in Torino in the 1800s as Torino was quickly becoming the chocolate manufacturing center of Europe. Bicerin, espresso, chocolate, and milk were layered in a small glass creating a delicious and satisfying morning beverage. This tradition carries on to this day, where the drink is often accompanied by some small cookies or pieces of chocolate.
Your next visit will be at one of the oldest café’s, the Caffe’ di Palazzo Reale. This is the palace where the King of Italy once lived! You’ll have some personal choice beverages before moving on to another historical cafe or osteria for a little relaxation, good wines, and local fare.
You will have some time to take in Torino on your own. Whether you want to just stroll the streets, shop, or relax somewhere, there is no shortage of things to do, including many places of interest such as the Egyptian Archeological Museum, or the National Cinema Museum at the Mole Antonelliana tower.
After exploring Torino, you’ll have a unique behind the scenes at one of Torino's most famed gelato producers, where you will have a behind-the-scenes experience, as well as some o the best gelato on the planet has to offer!
Finally, you will have "Apericena." This is another classic, Northern Italian tradition. Think of it as a mix between happy hour, dinner, and tapas. You will have an impressive array of fabulous small-plate appetizers, wine, and other adult beverages. This is another classic CDV experience that you all look forward to being a part of as a fantastic way to end your day before returning to the villa.
The cooking class this morning will once again be with Fernanda at the villa. She will have you making some more fantastic local cuisine. As with all the classes, this is another 100% hands-on, from-scratch cooking experience.
The appetizer will be a favorite found throughout Italy and has made its way into many homes and restaurants outside of Italy as well. This is the Fiori di Zucca, or stuffed and fried zucchini blossoms. You’ll take the fresh, bright yellow blossoms and stuff them with mozzarella cheese and anchovies (optional). Then they are lightly battered and fried to a lovely, crisp golden brown. If you have never had them, you are in for a wonderful treat with this perfect appetizer dish.
The pasta today will be tajarin, which is a thin flat pasta, that perfectly complements the Piemontese sauce you will also make from scratch. Piemontese sauce is a light ragu made from onion, tomato, olive oil, and a pinch of red pepper.
As if that isn’t enough, another staple in Northern Italian cooking is Polenta. You’ll make this as a companion dish to the pasta. You’ll add some locally-sourced sausages cooked to perfection to round out this hearty and flavorful dish.
And… You still have dessert! You will make delicious, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit-style cookies Baci di Dama, or Lady Kisses, the cookies are sandwiched together and held in place by the hazelnut crème, resemble little pursed lips! They are a favorite in the region and are traditionally made for special occasions and holidays.
As with all classes, the goal is to give you a variety of regional and national dishes that you can enjoy wherever you are. The classes are designed for everyone to be involved and have a great time during their vacation. You will have your own recipe booklet that you will take home with you so you can show off your new culinary skills with your family and friends. No doubt that they will want you to plan a meal to share with everyone!
You will take some time at the villa after lunch to rest up before we head to the picturesque city of Alba to explore the historical center with its great shops, bars, cafes, and street scene. Alba is home to one of the largest confectioners in the world, Ferraro. You will know them from the Ferraro- Roche chocolates, Nutella, the Kinder Eggs, and Tic Tacs! These are all manufactured in Alba, where you shouldn’t be surprised if you smell the sweet scent of chocolate in the air.
Tonight’s dinner will be something unexpected and quite unique. You will be heading back to Castellinaldo, for dinner at the Osteria delle Aie. Your chef instructor and wine-maker, Marina, will take you to this restaurant that turned out to be a wonderful find in the area. Marina and the Culture Discovery Vacations team had a spectacular evening and just had to include it in the itinerary as it is too good a place not to share with guests. This is a night where Culture Discovery Vacations is sure to be joined by Marina, as well as some other friends you have made along the way!
At the restaurant, the first thing you will notice is the attention to detail that the owner and staff incorporate into the table settings and other décors. Then, the dining concept is very different from traditional restaurants.
Each night, the restaurant has a pre-set full course menu that has something for everyone. The conceptual part of the dining experience comes with the serving portions. There are nearly no limits. If you want more appetizers or pasta, or the main course, you are welcome to have as much or as little as you would like.
This also includes the excellent selection of wines that they have on hand, in large format bottles. They will leave the bottles at the table where, once again, guests can choose which wines they want and can pour as much or as little as they want. This theme continues through each course, including dessert and digestivi beverages.
This dining experience will be a night to remember and one you will be talking about for a very long time!
Today you cross back over into Langhe Valley again amidst the fabulous and picturesque vineyards of some of the best wines produced in Italy. You’ll have an exclusive visit with Giorgio at his family-run winery where he specializes in making small production organic Barolo wines. Besides Barolo, he makes other varieties such as Barbaresco and Barbera.
He will share his first-hand knowledge and passion for wine as you tour the grounds and wine cellar before you all have lunch together in his vineyard! It is very likely that some of his friends will stop by to join you. At the end of a full week, it will be most welcome to have some casual time with each other in this beautiful setting.
Giorgio is a rare find in this area, as he truly brings you into his life. Don't be surprised if he breaks out some bottles of some of his private "projects" with hand-written labels!
After lunch, you will head to the hometown of our friend Alessandro and have a casual afternoon and evening with his family and friends. You will visit his neighbor, Fabrizio, a very interesting and knowledgeable man, who just happens to be an incredible artisan wine-maker too! You will try his wonderful Barbera wines and discover his passion and craft for making his award-winning wines.
The winery visit and tasting will spill right into the evening at Alessandro’s villa. You will be making all sorts of delicious fare for farewell dinner. Feel free to lend a hand rolling out the pizza dough and adding the toppings, or help with the barbecue and cooking up some locally-sourced products, including beef, pork, chicken, and sausages with one of the most beautiful views in the world. It is a friends and family experience all the way and has something for everyone.
The music will be playing, you’ll be singing and dancing as you recall the amazing week you all just had. Even as you prepare to leave, you will never have felt more welcome.
Sadly, your week has come to an end. Culture Discovery Vacations hopes that you had a vacation-of-a-Lifetime and they will see you another time! You will have one shuttle leaving for the Milan Malpensa (MXP) Airport in the early morning. Time, TBD based on departing flights.
If you are coming on a week that includes the last Sunday of August, the cooking class and visit to Barolo on Sunday will replace the day in the alps, and on Sunday you will instead take part in the world-famous "Mangialonga" wine walk, which is a festive event that has you (and thousands of others) walking through the Barolo vineyards, tasting wines, and having various courses of meals at different stops along the way. This also adds about three miles of walking.
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, the goal is always to make it better for Culture Discovery Vacations' 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.
Some places on the itineraries don't work well with cold weather or rain. Culture Discovery Vacations may have to have some of the meals indoors that were scheduled to be outside. When Culture Discovery Vacations does expect rain, the team tries to rearrange the schedule to make the best of it, but substitutions may be made.
This culinary vacation takes place in the Piedmont region.
This package includes 20 meals (7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners) as listed in the itinerary. Additionally, you will enjoy three cooking classes based on local recipes.
Please book your flight to arrive at Milan–Malpensa Airport (MXP). Culture Discovery Vacations offers one free shuttle to and from Milan Malpensa Airport. Shuttle departure time: 1:00 p.m. If you are flying on the same day, be sure to get a flight that arrives before 11:30 a.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, there is a convenient train from Milan's central train station to the airport.
Departures: Based on outbound flight times, Culture Discovery Vacations will determine the departing shuttle schedule once they have all flight details.
If you need a private transfer (for arrival or departure), please let Culture Discovery Vacations know and they will help you arrange a private driver.
For this organizer you can guarantee your booking through BookCulinaryVacations.com. All major credit cards supported.
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