8 Days Paradise Cooking Holiday on Amalfi Coast, Italy

  • Villa Scarpariello, Via Carusiello, 32, 84010 Castiglione di Ravello Salerno, Italy

Amalfi Coast Italy Cooking Tours

Imagine staying in a villa that surrounds a medieval tower right on the Amalfi Coast. A private villa that has been home to Kings and Queens, and combine it with an all-inclusive vacation of a lifetime with incredible sightseeing, private boats, cooking classes, parties with the locals and much more. This is the ultimate Amalfi Coast experience unlike any other.

Highlights

  • 3 cooking classes, Italian family cooking experience
  • 2 market visits, baking class, Mozzarella cheese making
  • Wine tour, wine tasting, Limoncello making, restaurant visits, Italian BBQ
  • Ruins of Pompeii tour, boat ride to stunning locations on Amalfi coast
  • Paper factory tour, paper making, Positano fashion house, city trips
  • 7 breakfasts, 7 dinners, 6 lunches, wines
  • 7 nights luxury accommodation
  • CDV apron & recipe book
  • 4 days with instruction
  • English
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Villa Scarpariello, Amalfi Coast, Italy

In the heart of the Amalfi Coast, right on the water between Amalfi and Minori and just below Ravello, sits one of the most iconic medieval towers of the coastline. This has been the home to Princes, Barons, Kings, Queens, and even Jacqueline Kennedy. It is paradise within paradise. It is the ultimate "pinch myself because I must be dreaming" location.

It is the Ravello Castle, a tower built in the 1500's as part of the Amalfi Coast's defenses, around which a breathtaking villa with magnificent gardens, private dock, swimming pool over the cliffs, and stunning panoramic views from every angle await. We have the entire property to ourselves this week.

The Rooms

The villa consists of two buildings built around the tower on the property, with the gardens, terraces and swimming pool between them. There are 3 two-bedroom apartments, 3 one-bedroom apartments, 1 three-bedroom apartment, and 5 hotel-style rooms. 10 of them have balconies or terraces overlooking the Amalfi Coast, and two have long arched windows overlooking the coast.

Amenities

All rooms have air conditioning, flat screen televisions, mini-fridge, hair dryers, and WIFI Internet (1 or 2 rooms have very weak signals). Each room/apartment has one bathroom with shower (only one has a tub), and all rooms have at least one Queen bed, and most have a second bed as well.

How Rooms Are Assigned

We assign the rooms to our guests as they reserve based on a needs and desires model. That is, we assign the best rooms to the first people to book, while also taking into consideration their needs. For example, if a couple is the first to book, they will get the best 1 bedroom apartment with the nicest balcony, but we will hold off on the 2 and 3 bedrooms for reservations with friends traveling together that need separate bedrooms.

We also take age and physical condition into consideration when we have that information. Like everything on the Amalfi Coast, there are many steps. One room may be just 25 steps from street level, while another is more than 100. Finally, the non balcony rooms are always the last to be assigned for people booking late.

Stairs

Like most of the Amalfi Coast, we are on the side of a cliff, with the entire property below the road, reaching down to the sea. There is no elevator on the property. From street level, some rooms are as few as 25 stairs, and some are as much as 140 stairs!

It is very important that all of our guests understand that even if they get one of the rooms that is closer to street level, there will still be stairs while walking around the property. For example, when we take the boats to Capri and Positano, you will need to walk all the way down to the water, and all the way back up.

Cooking vacations in Amalfi Coast and Naples

It is a week that embraces Southern Italian cooking, culinary and artistic tradition with some of the most wonderful locations along the Amalfi Coast and Naples area. It is a week of discovery as you integrate into coastal Italian village life, getting to know the locals, shopping with them, dancing and singing with them. Most of all, it is a week of fun, family and laughter as we share what makes Italy so special in a very personal way.

Many people ask us how our locations are different when trying to choose the trip that is best for them. Each of our locations is different not just in the places you see, but in the overall "feel" of the week. For a "Culture Discovery" style trip, the Amalfi coast presents us some great challenges to overcome.

For example, many of our trips are based in places that are off the beaten path, allowing for a uniquely immersive exprience. The Amalfi Coast, however, being a very popular destination, has a large tourism industry built around it. Getting off the beaten path here is difficult, causing a true sense of immersion to be a complicated proposal. Additionally, how do we build a week here and not go to iconic sites like Positano, Capri, Amalfi and Pompeii?

We have found a balance with our Amalfi Coast itinerary that we believe offers our guests the traditional Amalfi Coast experience, while bringing you into the actual lifestyle here in a way that no other tour could. To begin with, our home base is not just a stunning villa on the water, but its location is closer to some of the towns in which a true local lifestyle does still exist.

This is the reason you see us spending more time in the village of Minori than other places. It is not nearly as touristy as places like Amalfi, Positano and Ravello. It is a place where we actually get to know the locals, integrate into their life, and feel like guests rather than tourists. But with that immersion, we also have a more traditional Amalfi Coast experience as we boat around Capri, shop in Amalfi, visit Ravello, and tour Pompeii.

Italian cooking classes

We'll have three half-day completely hands-on cooking classes this week, plus a unique "family cooking experience". Our cooking classes are not demonstrations. They are 100% hands-on. We structure them so that you can be as involved as you wish in every stage of every course we prepare.

With every class, we roll up our sleeves and get wrist deep in making everything fresh, from scratch. During the week, we will be making three kinds of pasta from scratch, a local Ragu recipe, traditional Neapolitan style Pizza, Caponata, Pasta Fazul, Fresh Mozzarella, Lemon Scaloppini, and local desserts like Baba' al Rum, Sfugliatelle pastries, and much more!

For those would rather eat than cook, you are at one of the most coveted spots of the Amalfi Coast. Hang out by the pool, take it all in, or head into town for a stroll. Boredom is not likely to be a problem for anyone!

Day 1: Saturday - Arrival, market visit, welcome dinner

As we arrive at the villa, we'll help all guests to their home for the week, and give you a couple hours to get settled an 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 us.

In the meantime, under the tower's Pergola, we will have a light buffet available for anyone wanting something a little more substantial.

While there, you can meet Peppe, our chef/instructor for the week. He'll be preparing the dough for our 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, we will all meet under the pergola for a cocktail reception and get together. We'll spend about an hour getting to know one another as we discuss the week we have planned, answer any questions and get ready to get started.

Next we will board our mini-bus for a very short drive to the coastal village of Minori. We will shop for our cooking class tomorrow.

After shopping, we will make our way on foot to the beautiful "Il Giardiniello" restaurant, where we will have our welcome dinner tonight.

Highlights: Welcome to The Amalfi Coast!

Places: Castello di Ravello, Minori

Classes: None

Foodie experiences: Welcome Reception with Afternoon Cocktails

Dinner: at Ristorante Il Giardiniello

Walking: When we are at the villa, it is important to keep in mind that there are many steps between the street level and the lower levels of the property, so depending on your room, you may have as few as 25 steps, and possibly more than 100. For the evening excursion to Minori, we will be walking roughly 0.4 miles (0.6 km) total, all of which is on flat surfaces and no hills or steps.

Time in Bus: For those being picked up at the Naples airport, the drive will be roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes to the villa. For those meeting us at the Salerno Train station, the ride will be roughly 45 minutes. For the evening, we will simply be going to Minori, which is about 5 minutes in each direction this evening.

Rest Time: Depending on the time you arrive, you may have more or less time to rest once we check in. Those arriving from the airport should have roughly 3 hours to get settled in. Those arriving at the train station will have about an hour and a half before we get started.

Market visit

Minori is one of the smaller villages along the Amalfi Coast, and thankfully, it is one of the few villages that is not overrun with mass tourism. In other words, it is still real.

We'll take a stroll around the town and visit some of the local shops (butcher, grocer, vegetable store) to do some shopping for tomorrow's cooking class. We'll already be meeting some of the locals we will be getting to know this week.

Day 2: Sunday - Cooking class, excursion, free time, restaurant visit

Breakfast this morning will be served on the main terrace of the villa under the pergola, overlooking the coast. We will have Italian pastries, espresso, cappuccino, etc. for breakfast each morning.

Our Italian cooking class today will be right here at the villa under the pergola with all of is breathtaking views. As we get started, we'll give everyone a quick familiarization of how the classes will go and what we will be making. After you have been given your aprons and recipe books (yours to take home at the end of the week), we will get down to business. We have a huge meal to make for lunch, so we'll not waste much time, especially since our cooking classes are extremely 'hands-on'.

We'll start out by making Caponata together, which will be our appetizer today. Then we will get wrist-deep in dough, as we make three kinds of local pasta: Dunderi', E'Ricci & Cocce (A type of ricotta gnocchi, spaghetti and orichette).

As we continue with our class, we will be making a local recipe for Ragu sauce which we will have with our pasta, as well as Beef & Pork Braciola, Ribs & Sausage in the ragu for our second course.

Our side dish today will be Potatoes Gateau, and finally we will prepare the rum syrup soak for our Baba al Rum (for which we made the pastry yesterday), which will be our dessert.

During the class, we will also begin with the first of a 3 phase process of making Sfugliatelle pastries.

We'll have an hour or two to rest up after lunch, then head up the hill to picturesque Ravello. You can join us for a visit to villa Rufolo and the Duomo, or shop & explore on your own this afternoon.

After a couple hours in Ravello, we will go to the tiny village of Pontone di Scala, where we will be having dinner at the San Giovani restaurant, which has beautiful views from high above, allowing us to marvel at the sunset over Ravello and the Amalfi Coast during dinner.

Dinner tonight will be mostly local seafood based (please contact us in advance if you are non seafood eater for a different menu).

Highlights: Cooking Class Overlooking the Amalfi Coast + and an Afternoon in Ravello

Places: Ravello, Pontone di Scala, Castello di Ravello

Classes: Caponata, Dunderi pasta (from scratch) with Ragu, Beef & Pork Braciola, Ribs & Sausage in Ragu, Potatoes Gateau, Baba al Rum. We will also be making E Ricci & Cocce pasta from scratch to be used another day.

Breakfast: Italian / Continental Breakfast at the villa

Lunch: The meal we prepare in cooking class

Dinner: Ristorante San Giovanni

Walking: You can expect roughly 0.75 miles (1.2 km of walking today in Ravello, plus a very short walk to the restaurant for dinner. There are a few stairs to consider when we go to dinner tonight.

Time in Bus: The drive to Ravello in the afternoon is only 4 miles (6 km), and we will spend about 15 minutes getting there. Form there to dinner is another 2 miles (3 km) that will take 10 min., and back home is another 2.5 miles (4 km), for about 15 min. In all, we will spend about 40 minutes driving today.

Rest Time: Assuming we finish our cooking class and lunch on schedule, we have 2 hours of rest time before the afternoon excursion. However, cooking class times can vary, and lunch always depends on our group. If lunch goes long, the rest time can easily be cut to one hour.

Cooking class #1

Appetizer

Caponata

First course

Dunderi', E'Ricci & Cocce Pasta from scratch with ragu sauce

Second course

Beef & Pork Braciola, Ribs & Sausage in the ragu

Side: Potatoes Gateau

Dessert

Baba al Rum

Sfugliatelle

Dinner menu #1

Appetizer

Shrimp w/ Lemon & Arucola

First course

Scialatielli with Zucchini & Scomorza Cheese

Second course

Grilled Catch of the Day with Roasted Potatoes

Dessert

Dessert of the day

Day 3: Monday - Boat ride, excursions, free time

After breakfast at the villa, we will take the steps down to our private dock, where we will have a "Gozzo Sorrentino" (The traditional boat of the Amalfi Coast) come pick us up and take us to the island of Capri.

We'll make our way up the Amalfi Coast, viewing the spectacular coastline from the water, until we reach Capri, where we will begin a couple hours navigating around the island and its many beautiful grottos.

We will have some time to relax, swim, and have lunch on the boat.

After lunch, we 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, we will board our boat once again and make our way home to the villa, where dinner will await us. Tonight we will be having Neapolitan lasagna, salad, and fresh fruit.

Highlights: A Day of the Island of Capri

Places: Capri, Castello di Ravello

Classes: None

Breakfast: Italian / Continental Breakfast at the villa

Lunch: Pannini & Fruit on the boat

Dinner: Dinner at the villa

Walking: Walking today is very much up to you. We will have roughly 3 hours on the island of Capri, during which you will be free to do your own thing. Some will simply find a cafe and take it all in, while others will walk around town for shopping, and others will take a hike.

Time in Boat: There is no time in a bus today, except a very short funicular to get to the piazzetta in Capri. However, we will be spending a considerable amount of time in boats. The boat from our Villa to Capri is about 1 hour, then we will be boating around the island for roughly 2 1/2 hours. Later in the day we will boat back to the Villa, which is another hour. All in all, we will have spent about 4 1/2 hours in the boat today.

Rest Time: Being our first full day out, there is no rest time built into the itinerary in the middle of the day, except the fact that we will be on a boat much of the day.

Day excursion: Boat ride

We'll go to Capri and 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 we have a light lunch on our boat.

Lunch menu #1: Panini

Hors d'oeuvre

Caprese

Pancetta & Eggplant

Smoked Mozzarella & Olives

Drinks

Wine, Beer, Water

Sides

Fresh fruits

Day 4: Tuesday - Excursion, cooking class

After our morning breakfast, we'll drive toward Naples and head to the ruins of Pompeii, and begin a guided tour of the iconic site.

After our tour of Pompeii, we will grab a quick snack of fried pizza, a popular local favorite, then head back to the villa for lunch.

Lunch today will have been prepared for us by Peppe and Filomena.

After lunch, we we have a little rest before heading back to the Pergola for our second cooking class, which will result in tonight's dinner.

What would a trip to this area be without making PastaFazul? Of course, we'll use one of he fresh pastas we made on Sunday for this one! Our second course will be Eggplant Involtini, and we'll even be making a very unique Chocolate Eggplant Dessert today! Today, we will also prepare phase two of our Sfugliatella the filling and tirare la sfoglia (the preparation of the pastry shell).

Dinner tonight will give us the chance to take in the breathtaking sunset over the water from our splendid location!

Highlights: Pompeii and Our Second Cooking Class & Mozzarella Cheese making!

Places: Pompeii, Castello di Ravello

Classes: PastaFazul (using pasta we made on Sunday), Eggplant involtini, Mozzarella (we will be making from scratch), Chocolate eggplant as dessert. We will also prepare phase two of our Sfugliatella the filling and tirare la sfoglia (the preparation of the pastry shell).

Breakfast: Italian / Continental Breakfast at the villa

Lunch: At the villa

Dinner: The meal we prepare in our cooking class

Walking: Today, you can expect roughly a mile (1.6 km) of walking in Pompeii, much of which is on uneven surfaces with up and downgrades. Pompeii is a challenging proposition for people with walking problems.

Time in Bus: The drive from the villa to Pompeii is 30 miles (48 km), which will take roughly an hour each way.

Rest Time: The excursion to Pompeii can be very exhausting, as the entire time there is under the sun. However, upon our return, we will have 2 1/2 hours of down time, which will include a lunch that awaits us at the villa. Additionally, after that down time, we are still at the villa for a cooking class, so guests can really take it easy today if they desire.

Day excursion: Pompeii tour

Pompeii is a location that needs no description! The amazing ruins of this city (an UNESCO World Heritage Site) were buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, and it is now one of the most popular destinations in all of Italy.

We'll spend a morning here during our Amalfi Coast weeks, with a professional guided tour of the site.

Lunch menu #2

First course

Paccheri alla Genovese (pasta with beef & onion sauce)

Second course

Beef alla Genovese with Seasonal Vegetables

Side

Fresh fruits

Cooking class #2

First course

PastaFazul

Second course

Eggplant Involtini

Dessert

Chocolate Eggplant Dessert

Sfugliatelle the filling and tirare la sfoglia for pastry shell

Mozzarella cheese making

During our class, we will have a visit from a local cheese-maker, and together we will make Mozzarella cheese from scratch.

Some of our mozzarella will be used in today's meal, some we will naturally be eating right there while it is warm, and some we plan to set aside for our pizza class, of course.

Day 5: Wednesday - Free time, boat ride, excursion, BBQ

We are in the middle of the week, so we have a little down time 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, we will have a vehicle handy to take you into Amalfi 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 us at the villa.

At around 1:30 PM, we will walk down to our private dock once again and board our "Gozzo Sorrentino" boat, which will take us to Positano for the afternoon.

Excursion and tour fashion house with the owner Cristina and free time.

About a half hour before sunset, we will hop back on our boat and set out to the outer bay, where we will pop open bottles of Proseco for a sunset toast, overlooking Positano and the coast.

BBQ on the beach.

Highlights: An Afternoon in Positano, Proseco Sunset & Beach BBQ

Places: Positano, Amalfi, Conca dei Marini, Castello di Ravello

Classes: None

Meals: Breakfast: Italian / Continental Breakfast at the villa

Lunch: At the villa

Dinner: Grigliata (Beach BBQ) in a cove near Positano

Walking: Once we arrive in Positano, the walk to the designer we will visit is only about 1/3 mile (0.6km), but it will be on an upslope with steps. As you walk around Positano during the ~3 hours of free time, you will see that Positano is built on a rather steep hill, so getting around will involve many hills and steps unless you spend all of your time down near the beach.

Time in Boat: There is no bus time today (unless the seas are too rough to go by boat), but we will be on a boat for about 30 minutes each way today.

Rest Time: Being the middle of the week, we have a large chunk of rest time in the morning for guests to sleep in, spend time at the pool, etc. We won't be leaving the villa today until 1:30 PM, unless you feel like spending some time on your own in Amalfi today. However, because of the beach BBQ, it is likely that we will not return home until around midnight tonight.

Lunch menu #3

Appetizer

Marinated anchovies

First course

Fusilli allo Scoglio (One of the pastas made on Sunday with seafood)

Second course

Totani e Patate (cuttle fish with potatoes)

Dessert

Tiramisu

Day excursion: Positano

Once we arrive in Positano, we'll take a walk up to "La Bottega di Brunella", one of the last remaining Positano boutiques that not only creates its own designs, but designs its own fabric. This is possibly the most original and acclaimed designer of the iconic Positano fashions.

Here, we will meet Cristina, one of the owners. She will show us behind the scenes all about what they do back in their studio, and for those that are up to it, we'll even do a little fashion show!

After our visit with Cristina, everyone will have a few hours to explore Positano on their own, do some shopping, and snap those photos!

Italian BBQ: Grigliata

We'll then head to a tiny little cove, where we will have an Italian "Grigliata", essentially and Italian BBQ on the beach.

We'll have candles lit as we grill up dinner with live music under the stars tonight!

Day 6: Thursday - Market visit, limoncello making, restaurant visit, pizza and baking class

After breakfast this morning, we will head into the village of Minori once again to attend their weekly market.

Next we will take a walk to the Carlo Mansi Limoncello factory.

After our visit with Carlo, we will take a short drive to the tiny seaside village of Atrani, where we will have lunch at the A Paranza restaurant.

After a little post-lunch rest at the villa, we will make our way up to the top of the hill above Minori to a friend's villa, which is in a wonderful setting under lemon trees and vines, and with an amazing panoramic view of the coast. Peppe will be waiting for us here as we get started with our Pizza Napoletana class!

This promises to be another wonderful evening as Peppe and Tonino serenade us with their guitars and mandolins, and hopefully the rest of us have learned the words to some of the Neapolitan classics!

Highlights: The Minori Market, Limoncello, and Pizza Napoletana!

Places: Minori, Atrani, Castello di Ravello

Classes: Limoncello, Pizza Napoletana

Breakfast: Italian / Continental Breakfast at the villa

Lunch: Ristorante A Paranza in Atrani

Dinner: Pizza!

Walking: In the late morning when we go to Minori, there will be very little walking involved, not more than 1/4 mile (500 meters or so). The same goes for lunch. Finally, in the afternoon when we have our pizza class, we will have a bit of a challenge for those with walking issues. We will be high above Minori at a private villa. From the place we can park our minibus, there will be roughly 150 stairs to get to the villa.

Time in Bus: In the morning, we will simply be going to Minori, which is about 5 minutes. For lunch we will be going to Atrani, which is about about 2 miles away (3 km) - a 10 minute drive. Then back to the villa (5 minutes), and back into Minori for the evening (5 minutes). The total driving time for the day is about 35 minutes

Rest Time: Today is a fairly leisurely day. We get a late start at about 10:00 AM, and stay very close to home. We are doing some basic shopping at the weekly market, then a short Limoncello class, followed by a leisurely lunch. We should have between 1 1/2 and 2 hours of rest time at the villa between lunch and our pizza class. Furthermore, the pizza class is at a very relaxing villa overlooking the Amalfi coast.

Market visit

We'll visit the local vegetable stands to shop for the ingredients we will be needing for pizza class tonight, and give everyone some time to browse the market on their own.

Limoncello making

Carlo Mansi Limoncello factory. This tiny producer of limoncello is known locally to be the best of the best, and we will quickly find out why.

But not only will we taste his limoncello, but we will make it with him today, learning what makes his limoncello so unique.

We'll get our limoncello started here, and tomorrow we will bring home some of what we made (along with the instructions for making the finished product since Limoncello takes time).

Pizza and baking class

Pizza Napoletana is considered to be the best of the best when it comes to pizza, and it is truly different than all other pizza you find in Italy.

We'll be preparing the dough, and each of us will make our own individual pizza plus some other traditional favorites.

Finally, we will pass to phase three of the sfugliatella we have been working on all week! Fill and bake and above all eat!

Day 7: Friday - Paper factory tour, paper making, free time, wine tour, wine tasting, family cooking

After breakfast today, we will head to Amalfi and visit an ancient paper mill in town. We will have a tour and experience making paper.

Next, we will have a little free time for visiting Amalfi and shopping in town.

At around 12:30, we will take a drive up in the hills to the mountain village of Tramonti, famous for its centuries old vineyards. We will have a wine tour, wine cellar visit, wine tasting, and lunch.

After lunch, we will head back to the villa, where you will have some time to get a little packing done before our farewell dinner.

Dinner tonight is not quite a class, and not quite served dinner. Instead, it is a family cooking experience. We will be there with many of our new friends (guests and locals) as we prepare dinner together. Everyone chips in here and there. Tonight's dinner is based on Amalfi Coast Lemons.

As has become our 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!

Highlights: Amalfi, a Paper Mill, Tramonti Wines, & Our Lemon Dinner

Places: Amalfi, Tramonti, Castello di Ravello

Classes: Family Cooking Experience

Breakfast: Italian / Continental Breakfast at the villa

Lunch: Tenuta San Francesco Winery

Dinner: Farewell Dinner at the villa

Walking: There will be very little necessary walking in Amalfi today, except time that you spend on your own shopping and browsing. You can estimate roughly a half a mile (0.6 km) total.

Time in Bus: The drive to Amalfi is only 1.25 miles (2 km), taking about 5 minutes. The drive to the winery is about 13 miles (20 km), but it is up mountain roads, so it will take about 35 minutes each way today.

Rest Time: We will have roughly 2 hours of rest time between lunch at the winery and our final cooking experience. Also note that cooking tonight is not a traditional class, but rather a family cooking experience at the villa, so it will be very laid back.

Day excursion: Paper factory tour

We'll have a tour, learning how they have made paper for centuries, and try our hand at making paper ourselves.

Wine tour, wine tasting

We'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 a lunch with the family that runs the winery with a full tasting of their wonderful wines.

Italian family cooking experience

We'll be making a Citrus salad, Tagliolini al limone, Scaloppini al limone, Potatoes sfruguliate, and finally Bab soaked in Limoncello syrup.

Day 8: Departure

Morning departure

We do all-inclusive weeks, so we make sure there is always something to do, but we design the weeks so that you can opt-in or opt-out of just about everything. So when we are not cooking, there is always some sort of excursion going on, or you can just relax back at home and soak up that awe-inspiring view and lay out by the pool.

Most rarely opt out of the excursions, because they are pretty amazing and unique! We'll be visiting Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Minori, Tramonti, a Day of the Island of Capri, and and outing to Pompeii. Moreover, they are not mere sightseeing trips, but they are true culture discovery.

Foodie and local experiences

On the day we go to Positano, we go by private boat from our private dock. We get to know a local designer of Positano's iconic fashions, and we end the day with a "Grigliata" (Italian BBQ) on the beach in a tiny cove off the coast.

On the day we go to Tramonti, we visit a family vineyard with vines as old as 500+ years, then join the family for lunch. While in Minori, we make Limoncello with Carletto, owner of a small Limoncello factory. The list goes on, and these are all experiences we trust you will never forget.

Expect and embrace changes on your itinerary

The weather can be unpredictable, and some things on our itinerary simply cannot be done in certain weather conditions. For example, on the day we go to Capri, and the day we go to Positano, if the sea conditions are not right for boating, we simply cannot boat.

In the case of Capri, we will do everything in our power to reorganize the week and do Capri on another day, but sometimes it just is not in the cards. In the case of Positano, we may need to go there by bus instead of boat, in which case the Proseco at sunset on the water has to be canceled and the BBQ becomes a dinner in a restaurant.

Unfortunately, we cannot control what we cannot control, but please know that we do everything our power to make everything happen. There are, however, some things that we may change from time to time that are within our control.

For example, there may be a special festival event happening in a nearby town. Or we may have a unique opportunity to participate in local activities, such as harvesting. These are often the kinds of things that come up on the fly with a phone call. They are rare, but they do happen.

These are the times that we make a call based on our experience, because if we look for a unanimous vote among the guests on something they cannot imagine until they have experienced, we will never get a consensus.

An example of this happens on our Tuscany trips in the Autumn. We may get a call telling us we can go harvest wine grapes. When that happens, we always cancel whatever we were doing that day and go harvest.

Our reasoning is simple: Our name is "Culture Discovery", and we are all about unique experiences that you would never be able to otherwise have. You can visit that town on the itinerary again, but when will you have the chance to harvest those Tuscan grapes?

Cities and islands we visit

  • Atrani
  • Capri (and Anacapri)
  • Conca dei Marini
  • Minori
  • Pompeii (Ruins)
  • Positano
  • Ravello
  • Tramonti

Factories, Wineries & Mills visit and experiences

  • Fashion Designer in Positano
  • Limoncello Factory in Minori
  • Paper Mill in Amalfi
  • Winery in Tramonti

This very exclusive week-long vacation will consist of a very small and intimate group of no more than 18 people. It is an all-inclusive experience that offers a wonderful mixture of some of the Amalfi Coast's highlights with some truly off-the-beaten-path treasures unique to the area. As people drive up and down the Amalfi Coast, the views are naturally breathtaking, but there are a few locations that really stick out.

One of these is a tower built in the 1500's at the edge of a cliff just south of Amalfi and Ravello. The tower, with its surrounding villa has been home to the Princess of Marsicanovo, the Barons of Campagna, King Vittorio Emanuele III, and Queen Elena. Today it belongs to Prince Don Luigi d'Angerio, who refers to it as "Caroline's Tower" after a stay here by Jaqueline Kennedy with her daughter Caroline as a child in 1962.

The tower is surrounded by breathtaking gardens, a stunning villa with 12 apartments and rooms, each with independent entrance and breathtaking views, and a pool that hangs out above the coastline. It is one of the more photographed spots along the coast and it is all ours this week. It is such a stunning location that we feel confident that once our guests see it, the rest of the itinerary for the week simply won't matter.

Most of the week we are at sea level, except the day we go to the winery, which is 1,000 feet above sea level. We are right in the heart of the Amalfi Coast, and right on the cliffs with our own private dock. The villa is located 1 mile (1.6 km) north-east of Amalfi, and 0.8 miles (1.3 km) south-west of Minori. While sitting at the villa, look right up the hill, and you are looking at Ravello.

We are all about food & wine, and if there is one comment we hear more than any other from our guests throughout our weeks, it is "I can't eat another bite". Unlike so many other tour companies out there, we take a very artisanal approach to what we do.

We do everything we can to get away from the touristy places that serve substandard tourist fare, and o where the locals do. And when we do, we always opt for the local specialties. After all, if a place is famous amongst the locals for a certain dish, it is a pretty safe bet, and it always works!

For information about the booking conditions, please send Culture Discovery Vacations an inquiry.

Testimonials

  • Review by a traveler from Toronto, Canada

    "I have had the pleasure to go on two vacations with Culture Discovery. The first one I literally lived with the Italians in a small village and learned so much about the culture. The second one was on the Amalfi Coast which I will always remember as a dream vacation."

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  • Review by Sabrina G.

    "The trip was wonderful! I was contemplating not going, and I'm so glad I did! The guides were so wonderful, the weather was perfect, and the tours were incredible! The food was also amazing. The whole trip exceeded my expectations. I will definitely do another one with Culture Discovery. Thank you for making us feel so at home!"

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  • Review by Chris L.

    "Our Culture Discovery vacation was the best purchase I have ever made. Be it a car, a home, or any other vacation. I liken it to when you spend money on something that is handmade, be it food, clothing or art. This is a company in name only, it is a family of employees who walk their talk when they say you will "live" Italian culture, not just see Italian tourist attractions. By the second day I (and I believe all who were in my group), knew we had made the right decision to "do" Italy in this way. Mornings spent peering from my balcony over medieval village rooftops to view layer after layer of colors and hues of the distant hills blend into the mountains. Stops in the tiny,local produce shop to pick up fresh figs and honey colored grapes to enjoy with my pastry choice of the morning...pistachio, almond, currant topped, or any one of the dozens available. Sipping espresso amidst chatting Italian villagers while greeting "Buongiorno" (Good morning) to my traveling companions as they arrived. Reclining in the tour bus to begin an IMAX-like experience of driving through narrow cobblestone streets that open up into the pastel green dotted landscape from the olive trees. Gaping up at one Medieval Village after another perched high in the distance looking down at us as a fortress, but upon arrival greeting us as guests as though we were sent for to celebrate a special occasion. Our home base was the little town of Soriano, and from there we had excursions to locally owned wineries, a small family owned olive oil business, meals in homes and local restaurants, shopping in villages and more. An utter feeling of timelessness and of losing oneself in another culture."

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  • Review by a traveler from Virginia, USA

    "This was my second trip with Culture Discovery in Soriano and my third trip with Culture Discovery overall; and the introductory tour for my husband and step-daughter. There is an incredible team that supports each location including two guest-hosts, and the kitchen-cooking team. I don't know how any tour could pack in more fun, adventure, and experiential unique aspects than this trip does. Rather than crowd into the large mega-wineries, Culture Discovery Vacations takes you to small family run wineries where you meet the owners and even have lunch or dinner with them on their property. Where else would you have the opportunity to have dinner in the home of a local Italian, someone who opened her home to us and prepared a fabulous meal although she speaks very little English. The most unique aspect of this tour with Culture Discovery Vacations is that you stay in an apartment in this mid-evil village, and your neighbors are all Italians (who for the most part don't speak English!). One of our favorite rituals was the daily walk from our apartment through the village to get to the piazza where we had cappuccino and croissant, whilst sitting amongst the locals and listening in on their passionate conversations to each other all in Italian of course! My husband said that experience alone - living among the locals - was a once in a lifetime experience and made the trip worth every penny. The food - well, there is more food than you can ever imagine at every meal. The meals we prepared were incredible! The cooking classes aren't so much about technique and formal cooking, but just as much about sharing an experience among friends while laughing and having fun. If you are interested in technique and aspects of the recipes that have been handed down for generations, Carla is more than willing to share more. In fact, once you return home and try a recipe - if you have questions, she or Katia will respond on Facebook with answers. I have used these recipes so many times and have shared with family and friends who all rave about the food. The excursions are so interesting and not jammed with tourists. You have attention and focus of a guest host who wants to ensure the overall experience is what you expected. During our week, we had Ilaria and Linda (pronounced Leeeeenda) and they kept us laughing all week long, and very well informed about the places we visited. While during this week there were some 'snafu's' - the whole Soriano team went out of their way to make it an incredible week. You read on the website about the Culture Discovery Vacations family, and once you're there - you experience it and feel it - and know its real. At the dinner on the first night a group of 12-14 strangers starts off friendly but still reserved, and by the last night everyone feels like they've made lifelong friends, and are in tears knowing the week has come to an end. "

    "If you want to experience Italy; get away from the tourists; go deep on the culture; have great food and wine; and have a heck of a lot of fun - this is a tour you'll never forget."

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  • Review by Kelly E.

    "Carla, Linda, and all of the lovely ladies at Culture Discovery made our family feel like we were a part of a large, loving Italian family gathering for a wonderful home cooked meal. We laughed, learned had wine, and listened to music while Carla shared with us her family recipes and taught us how to prepare them. We all agreed it was our favorite part of our visit to Soriano. "

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  • Review by Randy from Illinois, USA

    "I was part of the "Olive Pickers" group from October 31 - November 7, 2015. Our group was truly blessed with very professional people who taught us the true culture of a rural small town in Italy. Every day was filled with new and exciting hands on lessons. The staff accommodated every wish of our group and our friendships with other group members grew stronger. I think this says it best, my wife and I are signed up for another week in September of 2016! Thank you Rocky for a spectactlar week!"

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  • Review by Lori from New York, USA

    "CDV delivers on providing a true Italian experience. The Norcia November experience far exceeded expectations thanks to Spartaco's care and feeding of his new 18 member family. The accommodations and experiential opportunities for olive oil pressing, truffle hunting, and cooking with Emanule and his very capable staff were fabulous. Can't wait for my next CDV experience."

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  • Review by Andrea from South Africa

    "What a great week in Norcia! CDV delivered everything that was promised and more. From the unexpected surprise of a 5-course world class dining experience to a fun filled barbecue at Anna and Chicco's home, with wine tasting, olive picking, cheese making, truffle hunting and three cooking classes in between, each day was filled with wonderful experiences. Big thanks to Spartaco, who handled our group with humour, grace and kindness."

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  • Review by a traveler from Napier, New Zealand

    "My wife and I booked this one week visit to Soriano Nel Cimino and learnt a lot about the Italian way. We were with a group of 13 people, 10 Americans, 1 Canadian and us 2 kiwis. They were all great people. It was fantastic, the food, the culture, the tradition, the cooking classes all exceeded our expectations. The people from CDV were all great people and very helpful and very funny. Carla the head cooking teacher was funny and a great teacher. Linda was an excellent funny cheeky tour guide. We went to Rome after this trip for a week and it was great that we got to see both sides of Italy"

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  • Review by Morrisa C

    "My husband and I recently took our second vacation with the Culture Discovery team and, as with our first trip, we were blown away with every aspect of the week. This trip we joined the Sicily tour and were treated like royalty all week. From Sophie's amazing leadership to Ivan's and Betta's hospitality, we could not have asked for a more top rate experience. The culture we were exposed to on the island of Favignana is something we never could have arranged on our own. Great food, unique and fascinating activities, and a great team to guide us. CDV, another great vacation for us. Can't wait to come back and try yet another of your amazing itineraries. All the best!"

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  • Review by a traveler from Lancaster, UK

    "Some experiences in life you never forget - for once they happen, you are forever changed. Such was our week in Soriano nel Cimino with Culture Discovery Vacations. With CDV you aren't a customer, you are a guest - a friend - a member of the family.You don't just see Italy, you see it through the loving eyes of those who know its secrets and hidden treasures.You don't just eat the food, you learn to prepare and savor local dishes you make yourself under the expert guidance of those who have a passion for the culture and history of the cuisine. You don't stay in a hotel, you live as the locals do in a home in the village. In short, with CDV you don't tour Italy - you live it.The greatest gift of all is the people of CDV - Michael, Carla, Rocky, Ian, Linda, Katia, Rita, Sergio - professional and knowledgeable, and their work is marked by their love of what they do. When this group uses the word family - it is genuine and sincere. They care about you, and make it their mission to see that you experience the best of Italy. With these friends to lead you, the journey is inspiring, intimate and an experience you will never forget."

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  • Review by a traveler from Michigan, USA

    "Just got back from a week in Soriano and I cannot say enough nice things about this company. They are very well organized and the trip was exactly as they promised. The cooking classes are fabulous and all of places we visited were wonderful. Definitely not places that you would find on your own or even have access to. My only complaint is that I can no longer button any of my pants. I hold them completely responsible."

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  • Review by a traveler from Edmonton, Canada

    "Its taken me a couple of weeks to formulate a review after an amazing week in Sicily (Sept. 13-20). I was the lone solo traveler in a group of couples and one foursome and although I had trepidations prior to my arrival that I would be a fifth wheel (or in my case, the 11th wheel), the experience I had was wonderful and I will certainly be back to take part in another CDV tour.From the moment I was greeted by the lovely Sophie at the airport in Palermo, I knew this was going to be a great experience. The food was made from the best ingredients, fresh, rustic and delicious. The outings were amazing (especially jumping off the top deck of the boat with Ivano), but it was the people we encountered along the way that make this trip marvelous.From Francisco, who insisted on giving us, not only a tutorial on making ricotta cheese and collecting honey, but an explanation on the Sicilian dialect, to his beautiful family for making us feel so welcome. Then there was Adelina, Rita and Graciella the kitchen goddesses and of course Ivano, Shepio, Paulo (Maria) and Laura and the fishermen - this is what makes CDV a rich and fulfilling experience.If you go, relax. Go with the flow. Try everything. I didnt think I would like sea urchins, but I did. I didnt think I would like eel, but I loved it. This is probably not the holiday for you if you dont like fish, as the meals on this excursion are fish dominated. Favignana is very proud of its rich tuna heritage. I love tuna, so it was paradise for me.The accommodation at Nido del Pellegrino was fantastic. The little apartment style villas were perfect. Despite several of my fellow travellers commenting on the beds being hard and the pillows being too flat, I found the bed and pillows very comfortable. The rooms were clean, spacious and each had a private front and back patio. The sea view from the villa was beautiful. What more could you ask for?I will be back. Alone. I loved being able to be part of a group or just take the time to relax and unwind by myself. I had the safety net of a group to take part in the various cooking classes, wine drinking, salt harvesting, sausage making, wine drinking, cheese making, honey pressing, wine drinking, swimming and fishing in the Mediterranean, but plenty of down time to nap, read a book, drink some more wine and eat. See you in a couple of years. I wonder which tour Ill try next."

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  • Review by a traveler from San Francisco

    "I had the good fortune to learn of Culture Discovery Vacations from a family friend. Given my love for travel and food, it was an easy decision to sign up for a week of culinary indulgence in this small town in Italy. This was my 2nd week long culinary adventure in Tuscany and it didn't disappoint. Seamless execution of all the little details. Amazing culinary lessons, enjoying the fruits of our labor afterwards. Varied, unique and thoroughly enjoyable/special side trips to nearby towns. And an amazing crew behind and in front of the scenes. I would absolutely return for another adventure in another part of Italy with Culture Discovery Vacations and have no reservations about sending friends and family their way. Visited October 2014"

    January 4, edited

Florida, United States

Direct operators of Cooking Vacations in Italy, with six locations in Tuscany, Piedmont, Umbria, Sicily and The Amalfi Coast.

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8 days / 7 nights

Departure:
Saturday July 15, 2017
(8 days / 7 nights)

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