8 Days Wine and Cooking Holidays in Tuscany & Umbria

  • Villa Eddarella, Piazza Vitt Emanuele 13, 01038 Soriano nel Cimino, Italy

Overview

Central Italy Cooking Vacations

A true cooking, culinary & wine experience based out of the village of Soriano nel Cimino, at the border between Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. You will live & shop among the villagers, take part in four hands-on cooking classes plus sightseeing through Tuscany, Umbria and Alto Lazio. Visits to Pitigliano, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, Assisi, Orvieto, Deruta, Castelnuovo d'Abate, Civita di Bagnoregio, Viterbo & Castiglione in Teverina. Visits to wineries, an olive oil mill and a Deruta ceramics factory.

Highlights

  • Olive oil tour, olive oil tasting
  • 4 cooking classes, baking class
  • 3 market visits, cheese making class
  • 2 wine tastings, wine tour, cheese tasting
  • Daily excursion in Tuscany, Umbria, Alto Lazio
  • 7 breakfasts, 7 dinners, 6 lunches, wines
  • Villa Eddarella apron & recipe book
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 4 days with instruction
  • English
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Private village homes

Our guests in Soriano stay in their own private village homes, rather than a hotel. All of our homes are beautiful places that date back to medieval times or the renaissance. Each one of them is unique, and has been completely restored with modern conveniences, while maintaining their original beauty. Enjoy private accommodation in a beautiful medieval village home for each night on itinerary. Each party has their own private home!

Immersed in local tradition

Most of our village homes are not clustered together. They are peppered here and there in the village, such that your neighbors are not other travelers. Instead, they are locals. You will find yourself getting to know them with that daily 'good morning' wave, smile and Buon Giorno. You will see them here and there in town, and really get a sense of belonging as you weave yourself into the fabric of Italian village life.

Surrounding

While our homes are not clustered together, they are all close. Soriano is a small town that is built around a central square, "The Piazza". It is in the piazza that we meet each morning for breakfast before our day starts, and end each evening after dinner. All of the homes are within several hundred feet of the Piazza, so getting to and from is very quick, and incredibly pleasant each day.

Amenities

All of our village homes are actual homes that were private residences at one time. As such, they all have private bathrooms, kitchens, refrigerators, etc. All of our homes are also air conditioned and heated. We also have television in each home with satellite service, allowing you English Language programming. Nearly all of our homes also offer free wireless Internet.

Assignment

Since each home is unique, so is the floor plan and the decor. Some are larger than others, some have valley views, some have castle views, and some have village views. Some offer balconies, while others do not. Some have two bedrooms, and some are one bedroom homes. We don't charge different prices for different homes, so we do our best to assign homes based on what we know about guests that are booking.

Cooking vacations in Soriano

Soriano is more down to earth. Our cooking classes in Soriano are "family style". They are structured like a group of friends cooking family recipes together. The town itself has few "tourist" services. It is off the beaten path, and most of the shops are there for the locals, not visitors. Additionally, you are not staying in a hotel, but rather in a self catering village home. What this means, is that you will not have hotel services here, but you will be living among the local residents.

The Soriano itinerary is very action-packed. Between cooking, excursions, cultural experiences, etc., we have something going on all day, every day. There is little "down time". That said, we structure our excursions and activities on most days in a way that it is easy top opt out of something so that you have whatever amount of down time you like. For example, you may want to opt out of a morning excursion, but be there for the afternoon cooking class. In that case, we would simply pick you up in the afternoon.

The Soriano weeks are very immersive. An immersive experience in Italy has upside and downside. You must be very ready to embrace things as they come. Things are not always on time, a restaurant may be unexpectedly closed, and things will not necessarily work as we want them to. For example, The fact that a home has internet does not mean it will work on a given day. Getting a tech in a small village is not as easy as you may expect. Additionally, many services people look for may not be available in a small town that is not accustomed to tourism.

Italian cooking classes

We'll have four half-day completely hands-on cooking classes this week, 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.

Our first two classes are complete five-course meals, during which you are completely involved in everything. Our third class focuses on Italian Liqueurs such as Limoncello, plus Biscotti, Gelato and cheese-making. Our final class of the week is all about pizza!

Depending on the week you come, we may make fresh papardelle pasta with home-made Bolognese sauce, Home-Made Ravioli, Tuscan Herb-Roasted Chicken in our wood-fired oven, Country Wood-Fired Pizza, Eggplant Parmesan, Chicken Cacciatore, Fresh Ricotta Cheese, Home-Made Biscotti, Gelato, and much more.

For those would rather eat than cook, our classes take place at our beautiful 18th century country villa. Take control of our 90-bottle wine rack, relax, take a stroll, or just enjoy the wonderful Italian countryside. Whether you are cooking or not, the time we spend at the villa is always a highlight.

During all of our cooking classes, we work, but we laugh and play. We break out the wine (and sometimes the Grappa). We may sing along to the background music as we are prepping, and everyone takes little breaks along the way. We even have a computer and WIFI Internet right in the kitchen for those of you that can't get away from your e-mail.

During the classes we may find that we need some herbs or veggies, and send a few guests out to the garden to pick them. You may need to make a run down to the cellar to fill up on the olive oil, or run across the road to get some squash from the farmers. In other words, don't think of it as 'school'.

Above all, it is a delightful social experience in a breathtaking setting, while you make a mouth-watering meal together and learn how it is done along the way. In fact, when we get the occasional person that doesn't cook with us, they have just as much fun!

While class is happening, you will be invited to spend some "down time" in our incredible wine, cheese & prosciutto cellar, where we will fire up our copper still and make a batch of pure grappa. Feel free at any time to sample from the dozens of spirits & liqueurs we make here on site, such as Grappa, Brandy, Limoncello, Rosolio, Amaretto, or our famous "Fury" & "Inferno".

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

Highlights: Welcome to Soriano!

Places: Soriano nel Cimino

Classes: None

Dinner: at Taverna dei Frati

Once in Soriano we will help you to your accommodations for the week and give you some time to get settled in, unpack and rest up. As you get settled in, you will find some snacks and drinks waiting for you when you get to your home.

At around 17:30, we will meet in a local gelato shop that is walking distance from your home. We will all spend some time getting to know one another over a gelato as we discuss what's ahead for the week.

As we leave, we will stop in one of Soriano's "Porchetta" trucks for a taste of Soriano's famous suckling pig that people drive hours to try!

Next, we will do a little shopping for tomorrow's cooking class. We will stop in a local fruit and vegetable shop, a grocer, and local butcher. We will meet and get to know some of the shopkeepers in the village and pick up what we will need. While shopping, you will get your first introduction to some of the ingredients that make Tuscan and Umbrian cooking so unique, especially our locally produced Fennel Pollen. These are ingredients most people back home are unaware of, and will be featured in much of this week's cooking!

Next we will do casual walking tour of Soriano's medieval quarter. We'll have a walk around the narrow streets of this beautiful village. Time permitting, we'll stop in the studio of the extremely talented local artist, Riccardo Sanna and have a look at what he is working on.

For dinner tonight we will dine in an ancient 16th century monastery in Soriano that has been converted to a fantastic restaurant. Here we will sample many local specialties in the first of many multi-course meals as we dive head first in Italian culinary culture. As always, wine is provided with all dinners, and we favor small local wineries wherever we dine. Tonight's wine will be Umbrian wine from nearby vineyards. The menu for tonight's dinner is:

Welcome dinner menu

Appetizer

A sampling of Local Salame, Prosciutto, Porcini Bruschetta, Olive Bruschetta, Ascoline Olives (fried sausage-stuffed olives), and Sutrini (a local crepe with Romano cheese)

First Course

For our first course tonight, we will have samplings of two local pasta dishes: Gnocchi col Ferro (a local specialty eggless pasta that is hand rolled in an Arrabiata sauce) and Ciuffetti Sorianesi (hand made pasta purses, stuffed with radicchio and speck in a Parmesan cream sauce).

Second Course

After our pasta dishes we will sample local grilled Tagliata al Aceto Balsamico (A grilled steak, marinated in balsamic vinegar atop a bed of rucola salad). We'll also have Tuscan Roasted Potatoes as a side dish.

Dessert

Finally we will be brought a lemon sorbet dessert and end our evening with a glass of Limoncello or Grappa.

Day 2: Sunday - Cooking class, excursion

We will begin our first full day together with a bang. In the morning, we'll meet for our daily traditional Italian breakfast at Bar-Pasticceria Roma, a local pastry shop & coffee bar located in Soriano's lively central piazza, a very short walk from the home you are staying in. As with every morning, coffee & freshly baked pastries is on us (tea, milk, juice, etc, is also available). We will have our breakfast alongside the local villagers before our transportation arrives to take us to the villa for our first cooking class.

Our Italian cooking classes are held at Villa Eddarella, which is just 5 minutes from town. The villa is an 18th century farmhouse that was built by Paola's ancestors. We have completely restored into a beautiful country villa, with a breathtaking 700 sq. ft. teaching kitchen on the ground floor and views of the rolling hills that are to die for.

As we arrive, we'll give everyone a quick familiarization tour of the villa, and you will immediately learn one of the most important themes of the week: "Casa mia e' casa tua" (My house is your house). In other words, when we show you how we divide wine bottles in our 90-bottle wine rack (not to mention our 500 bottle cellar), we'll also show you where the corkscrews are, and where the glasses are. When you want some wine, have at it. We are all a big family this week.

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'.

Lunch today will be the results of all of your work, and we promise you won't be wanting for more! We have yet to have a guest tell us they have ever had better. Most important of all, you will know how to make all of this back home.

After we have had our lunch and chased it with some espresso (one member of our group is always chosen as our "Barista" for the week!). Or maybe you would prefer a little Grappa or Limoncello after the meal!

We will then head out on the first of our daily excursions.

Tonight we will be back in Soriano for dinner at the Tre Scalini Trattoria, which is in walking distance to your home.

Highlights: 5-course cooking class, grappa making, followed by an afternoon in Pitigliano, Tuscany

Places: Soriano nel Cimino, Pitigliano

Classes: Panzanella, Ravioli with ricotta and spinach, Tuscan roasted chicken, Tuscan roasted potatoes, tiramisu or eggplant parmesan, pici pasta with fennel ragu, aaltimbocca alla Romana, frascati sauted porcini, tiramisu or Umbrian farro salad, ravioli with ricotta and spinach, Tuscan roasted chicken, Tuscan roasted potatoes, tiramisu

Breakfast: Cappuccino and pastries at Bar-Pasticceria Roma

Lunch: The meal we prepare in cooking class

Dinner: At the Tre Scalini Trattoria in Soriano

Walking on Sunday: Walking to Piazza from all homes is either flat, or downhill. The villa for our cooking classes requires no walking. In the afternoon, we will visit Pitigliano, where the total amount of walking will be roughly 0.6 miles (1 km) which is all flat.

Time in Bus on Sunday: The drive to the villa in the morning is about 5 minutes. For the afternoon excursion, we will be in the bus for roughly an hour and fifteen minutes each way.

Rest Time on Sunday: After the cooking class, we go directly from the villa to Pitigliano. From Pitigliano, we go directly to dinner. There is no down time today after the class. If you would like to relax today, we suggest optiong out of the excursion to Pitigliano and joining us for dinner in Soriano. This will give you about 4 hours of down time during the day.

Day excursion

Today we will be visiting Pitigliano, which is one of the southern-most hill towns of Tuscany. Besides its striking beauty, Pitigliano is famous for two things: Wine and its Jewish Ghetto, which was once a haven for fleeing Jews beginning in the 16th century as they escaped the Vatican's counter-reformation movement.

We will spend a few hours here, tour the ancient Jewish Ghetto, and leave some time for shopping in the local artisan stores of the village.

Cooking class #1

Appetizer

We'll start with our appetizer, which will either be Panzanella (Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad), Eggplant Parmesan, or Farro Salad. The ingredients are always fresh and local, such as tomatoes from our local garden that you may be asked to run outside to pick, olive oil from our own orchard, and locally grown veggies.

First course

Our first course will either be Ravioli made from scratch with our own Ricotta cheese (made right here!), and a butter and sage sauce, or Pici pasta (also made from scratch), with our amazing fennel-ragu sauce.

Second course

The second course and side dishes today will be either Tuscan Roasted Chicken & Potatoes (we'll be cooking it outside in our ancient wood-fired oven!) that we promise will leave you in absolute awe; Or Saltimbocca alla Romana, cutlets sauteed and topped with cheese, prosciutto and sage.

Dessert

Finally for dessert we will be preparing our family recipe for Tiramisu, which is guaranteed to be the best you have ever tasted.

Day 3: Monday - Excursions

After our morning breakfast we head to the Umbrian city of Deruta, which is known for its world-famous 'majolica' ceramics.

As we leave Deruta, we will make our way to Assisi. We'll stop for lunch together in a local restaurant in Assisi, then you will have the afternoon on your own to visit the Basilica of St. Francis, browse the many beautiful shops, and do some sightseeing.

After this long day, we will drive back to Soriano. Tonight we are hosted in the Mountain Villa of Maria Grazia, the sister of a member of our team. She has a tiny B&B in the mountains above Soriano, and we will dine with her and her husband Cesare, who happens to be our contractor! Maria Grazia will have prepared a wonderful home meal for us tonight. This is always a major highlights of the trip.

Highlights: Great cities of Umbria: Assisi & Deruta

Places: Assisi, Deruta

Classes: None

Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma

Lunch: Pozzo della Mensa

Dinner: Maria Grazia's House

Walking on Monday: This is our first full day out. There is no walking in Deruta, as we are just visiting a factory here. In Assisi there is about 0.8 miles (1.4 km) of walking, mostly flat and slight incline. If you decide to also go up to the top, add an addition 0.6 miles (1 km), half of which is uphill, but you can opt out of doing this in favor of shopping or relaxing.

Time in Bus on Monday: The morning drive to Deruta is about an hour and fifteen minutes.The drive from Assisi to Deruta is about 30 minutes. The drive home from Assisi is about an hour an a half.

Rest Time on Monday: Today is a full day out. We will not be back in town until dinner time. Most guests take time to close their eyes on the bus ride.

Day excursion #1

Deruta is home to a centuries old ceramics tradition that is unparalleled anywhere in the world, and is among the most valued Italian ceramics internationally. We will have a factory tour, and those that are up to it can try their hand at the pottery wheel.

If you are interested in purchasing any pottery or ceramics this week, this is the place with extremely deep discounts compared to what you will find elsewhere, a fraction of the costs back home.

Day excursion #2

Assisi is the hometown of St. Francis. Still surrounded by its ancient walls, it sits on the slopes of Mount Subasio with beautiful rose stone buildings, winding narrow streets, noble palaces and balconies full of flowers.

Day 4: Tuesday - Market visit, cooking class, excursion

After our morning breakfast, we'll head back to the local shops in town to do some shopping for this morning's cooking class. As with Sunday, we will visit the local butcher, grocer, etc. Once done. we will head back down to the villa and get right to it.

Lunch, of course, will be the meal we prepare in class.

After some espresso, grappa, limoncello, etc., we will head back to town to give you some time to take it easy and rest up.

Highlights: 5-Course Cooking Class & Viterbo: The City of Popes

Places: Soriano nel Cimino, Viterbo

Classes: Pancetta-Stracchino Bruschetta, Pappardelle pasta from scratch w/ Bolognese, Brasato al Barolo Roast, Sauted Zucchini, Panna Cotta -or- Sausage-Stracchino Bruschetta, Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, Chicken Cacciatore, Sauted Bell Peppers, Crostata -or- Pancetta-Stracchino Bruschetta, Pappardelle pasta from scratch w/ Bolognese, Porchetta, Tuscan Beans, Panna Cotta

Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma

Lunch: The meal we prepare in our cooking class

Dinner: Osteria Salicicchia in Viterbo

Walking on Tuesday: During our evening excursion and dinenr in Viterbo, we will walk roughly 1.1 miles (1.7 km) as we stroll through the city. The walk is mostly flat or very slight incline at times.

Time in Bus on Tuesday: The drive to the villa in the morning is about 5 minutes. For the evening excursion, we will be in the bus for roughly 25 minutes each way.

Rest Time on Tuesday: We usually have about 2 hours of down time between the cooking class and our excursion to Viterbo. This depends on how long lunch goes at the villa. Sometimes everyone just chooses to relax at the villa, causes less time back in town before Viterbo. If you wish to opt out of the excursion to Viterbo today, you will also be on your own for dinner, because we are having dinner while out.

Cooking class #2

Appetizer

Today our appetizer will be a unique Bruschetta with stracchino cheese and either Pancetta & rosemary or local sausage.

First course

For our first course, we will be making pasta from scratch again, either Pappardelle with Bolognese sauce, or Gnocchi with Sorrentina sauce.

Second course

Our second course will either be Brasato al Barolo (Beef roast braised in Barolo wine, Brandy and local sspices), Chicken Cacciatore, or our local specialty Porchetta.

Dessert

Finally, for dessert we will either make Panna Cotta with a chocolate-hazelnut & straberry topping, or Crostata with preserves made right here at the villa.

Evening excursion

Today's excursion is an evening outing to the capital of our province, Viterbo. Just nine miles from Soriano, Viterbo is the largest Italian city between Rome and Florence, and while not frequented by tourists, it has remarkable beauty and a riveting history that very few are aware of.

We'll make our way into the ancient walled city, and take a walk through the main shopping district. We'll stop in the Gran Caff Schenardi, a beautiful coffee bar that dates back to 1818 as one of the very first coffee bars in Italy, that went on to serve Popes, Kings, Queens, etc. through its history. It was even a favorite place of Orson Welles, who would take time to think and write poetry here during the filming of Othello in 1958.

Next we will take a walk to the ancient Papal Palace, the official seat for six Popes between 1257 and 1281 when the Vatican was having trouble asserting authority in Rome. This was the location of the first Papal Conclave before it was moved to the Sistine Chapel in Rome, after a controversial Papal Election happened here.

It was the longest Papal election in history, that lasted nearly 3 years. After it had been going on for almost 2 years, the people of Viterbo became very upset and locked the cardinals inside, then began to ration food to nothing more than bread and water. To make matters worse, they tore the roof off the building to expose the Cardinals inside to the elements!

The effects of this reached as far as Marco Polo in China at the time, and when it was all said and done, the people of Viterbo forced the election of a Pope that wasn't even so much as a priest! The result of this disaster created the rules that are, for the most part, the same rules used in electing popes today: The Papal Conclave.

Day 5: Wednesday - Wine tour, wine tasting, cheese tasting

After our morning breakfast we will head out for a day full of wine, cheese & more in beautiful Southern Tuscany.

Dinner tonight will be in a small country Trattoria in a tiny village near Soriano. They are known for their home-made "Fieno" pasta, which is thinner than angel hair, and cooked in a special way that causes it to remain al dente. We'll also be having local grilled meats tonight.

Highlights: A Day of Wine, Cheese & The Gregorian Chant in Tuscany

Places: Montalcino, Castelnuovo dell'Abate, Montepulciano, and Pienza, Tuscany

Classes: None

Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma

Lunch: With the owners of a Brunello Winery in Montalcino

Dinner: Trattoria Scacco Matto

Walking on Wednesday: This is a long day out, but there is only about 0.9 miles (1.5 km) of walking all day. It is mostly flat and there are no uphill walks at all. There is, however, a 0.4 mile (0.6 km) walk after the last winery that is all downhill, which is factored into the total for the day.

Time in Bus on Wednesday: Today is our longest driving day. We will spend a total of about four and a half hours in the bus today. The morning drive to Montalcino will be roughly two hours and fifteen minutes. After that, we will be backtracking toward home for the rest of the day. The drive from the abbey to the winery is ten minutes. The drive to Pienza is twenty minutes. The drive to Montalcino is twenty minutes. Finally the drive home will be about an hour and twenty minutes. Additionally, when we are in Monepulciano, the winery is at the top of the city hill, where we cannot drive. Rather than have you walk up the steep hill, we take a short (5 or 10 minute) city bus ride to get there

Rest Time on Wednesday: Today is a full day out, and we are having lots of wine. It is very relaxing along the way, but our guests are always thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day. When we get back to Soriano, we have a light dinner before returning home.

Italy wine tours, wine tasting, cheese tasting

We'll start by driving to our furthest point, the town of Castelnuovo d'Abate. To get there, we will be driving the famous Orcia Valley Wine Trail through this picturesque wine region which evokes the classic image of Tuscan rolling hills. This is the area of Tuscany that most of us think of, seen in many well-known movies, such as Under the Tuscan Sun, Life is Beautiful, and many more.

As we arrive, we will visit the St. Antimo Abbey, a beautiful Romanesque church that dates back to the 9th century. It sits in a valley just outside of Montalcino, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Here we will witness the monks of the abbey as they do the Gregorian Chant during a brief service.

After the service, we will go to nearby Montalcino, home of what is arguably the best of all Italian wines: Brunello. Instead of going to the big wineries for impersonal tastings like the tourists, we have something truly exclusive in store for you today. We will visit the small, private Piombaia winery in Montalcino.

We will be hosted to a wonderful lunch with the owners of the estate, as we sample their Brunello wine with our meal. As we have lunch together, they will share their family history with you and answer any question you can imagine. You are sure to fall in love with this gracious family.

It is always one of the major highlights on our weeks, and provides for a truly exclusive and unique Brunello experience. After lunch, they will treat us to a private tour of their vineyards before we move on.

Next, we'll take the short drive to beautiful Pienza, known for its incredible Pecorino cheese. You will have a some time to walk around this charming village, do some Pecorino cheese tastings and some shopping before we leave for the town of Montepulciano, where we will do our final wine tasting and tour of the day.

Montepulciano is known for its Vino Nobile wine, a primary competitor for the Brunellos. Here we will tour the town's ancient 14th century cellar that was built underneath the Palace of Cardinal Ricci and is widely considered to be the most beautiful wine cellar in the world.

After the cellar tour, we will participate in a complete tasting of Montepulciano's fantastic wines. Those that have seen the 2009 film 'New Moon' (The sequel to 'Twilight') will recognize this wine cellar and other areas of town from the movie.

Day 6: Thursday - Excursion, wine tasting, olive oil tasting, cooking class

This morning we will all meet in a local coffee bar and pastry shop in Soriano's main Piazza. Here we will have our traditional Italian breakfast of freshly baked pastries and cappuccino.

After breakfast, we will head out for the nearby dying city of Civita di Bagnoregio.

In the early afternoon, we will take a short drive to a small family-run winery and antique olive mill in the village of Castiglione in Teverina.

After lunch, we will drive back to the villa in Soriano for our next class.

At the end of our class, we will prepare some Spaghetti alla Carbonara. Tonight's dinner will be the pasta we make, plus a wonderful assortment of Salames, Cheeses, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Garden Salad, Tuscan Beans, and other local products from the places we have visited this week. Naturally, dessert will consist of the Gelato we made and the Biscotti!

When today's class is over, each guest will take home a liter bottle of each Limoncello we make, plus a bag of our Biscotti to take home when the week is over (as if they will last that long).

Highlights: An Olive Oil Mill & Winery, The Dying City + Limoncello, Gelato & Biscotti Class & Ricotta Cheese Making!

Places: Civita di Bagnoregio, Castiglione in Teverina, Soriano nel Cimino

Classes: Limoncello; Limoncello Cream; Tozzeti (Tuscan Biscotti); Gelato (Vanilla with fresh fruit & balsamic vinegar reduction); Sorbetto (Lemon & Moscato Wine Sorbet); Pecorino & Ricotta Cheese; Dinner: Spaghetti alla Carbonara & More

Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma

Lunch: At Madonna delle Macchie Winery & Olive Mill

Dinner: At the villa after class

Walking on Thursday: Today offers the most challenging day for anyone that is out of shape. When we get to the dying city, there is a 1,000 foot (320 meter) foot bridge to get up to the village. This bridge is high, fairly narrow, and half is on a moderate incline, and half is a steep incline. Once in the village, everything is mostly flat. Guests choosing to come with us, but not walk the bridge can wait for us at a cafe if they choose. But there is no legal way to get up to the village other than on foot. After the dying city, there is no significant walking for the rest of the day.

Time in Bus on Thursday: As we get to the end of the week, we stay closer to home. The drive from Soriano to the dying city is about 45 minutes. The drive from the dying city to the winery & olive mill is about 20 minutes. The drive back to the villa in the afternoon is about 40 minutes.

Rest Time on Thursday: Today is a quite relaxing day. After the morning excursion, we go straight to the villa for the cooking class and dinner, which is a less intense cooking day.

Morning excursion

Civita di Bagnoregio is a nearly deserted town that was originally built by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC. It is called the dying city because it is literally crumbling away thanks to thousands of years of erosion, to the point that it is now accessible only by a foot bridge. Civita resembles a ghost town, but is extremely well kept as a place where time is frozen.

Our guests often tell us that this is their favorite of the 'destinations'. This town has a striking beauty like nothing else.

Italian wine and olive oil tasting

We will go to Castiglione in Teverina. Here, one of the owners will give us a private tour of their wine cellar and olive mill, followed by a tasting of their line of wines and their olive oil. As we are tasting, we will have a wonderful buffet lunch in their garden made by the owners with many local delicacies, and of course their wine!

This is likely to be one of the highlights not only of the vacation, but your life. In fact, when we do Alumni trips, our past guests always tell us that coming back here is at the top of their list.

Cooking class #3

Liqueurs

Today we will learn how to make Italy's famous after dinner lemon liqueur: Limoncello, as well as delicious and authentic Biscotti, and Gelato.

Besides the traditional Limoncello, we'll also make our own family recipe for Crema di Limoncello (Limoncello Cream Liquor).

Biscotti

Our Biscotti today will be a local specialty known as 'Tozzeti', which are delicious Hazelnut Biscotti, traditionally dipped in wine when eaten.

Gelato

While our Biscotti are baking, we'll make a Vanilla Gelato with fresh fruit and a balsamic vinegar reduction, as well as a wonderfully refreshing lemon & Moscato wine sorbet.

Cheese

While all of this is going on, we will be visited by a local shepherd, who will bring some fresh milk. We will make fresh Ricotta and Pecorino cheese together! Naturally this fresh cheese is used in our classes!

Day 7: Friday - Market visit, cooking class

Today is market day in Soriano. This is a true local market, not a tourist market. Here you will find clothing, accessories, kitchen items, food, etc. You will have the early morning to enjoy the market at your leisure or sleep in a bit before we start our day.

After breakfast we will drive to the Umbrian city of Orvieto which is the home to one of Italy's most magnificent cathedrals, as well as the world-renowned white Orvieto Classico wine and beautiful ceramics shops. We'll visit the magnificent Gothic cathedral (The Duomo), then give you time to explore & shop in this wonderful cliff-top town.

We'll meet up again for lunch in a local trattoria, then after lunch we will drive back to the villa for our final (and always most popular) class of the week: Country Wood-Fired Pizza!

In Italy, making Pizza is a social event, similar to the way many of us think of having a Barbecue. It is a time of fun and laughter where bonds are forged. It is a truly special experience while the group shares the homemade pizza one tray at a time as it is pulled from the wood-fired brick oven and carried piping hot to the garden table under the vines and stars.

We will prepare several kinds of dough, and prepare the fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and many other ingredients for this wonderful evening together. Each person will help while they learn every stage of this event. You will make the dough, drink some wine, prepare the ingredients, drink some wine, help fire up the oven, drink some wine, and even handle the peel as the pizza cooks, and then we will drink some wine!

Highlights: Market Day, Orvieto, & Pizza Class

Places: Orvieto, Soriano nel Cimino

Classes: Pizza Class, making: Focaccia with Melon, Prosciutto & Mortadella (Figs when in season); Margherita Pizza; Sausage & Porcini Mushroom Pizza; Caramelized Onion Pizza; Caramelized Sugar Pizza; Ricotta & Nutella Pizza; plus Zucchini Flower Pizza when in season.

Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma

Lunch: in Orvieto

Dinner: Pizza Class resulting in our farewell dinner

Walking on Friday: In Orvieto, you can estimate 0.75 miles (1.2 km) of walking today, mostly flat.

Time in Bus on Friday: The drive to Orvieto is about 40 minutes each way. There will also be a short ride in a funicular, followed by a city bus while in Orvieto to get us from the parking area to the Cathedral, then a short funicular ride back down.

Rest Time on Friday: Today is a quite relaxing day. After the morning excursion, we go straight to the villa for the cooking class and dinner, which is a less intense cooking day.

Cooking class #4

Pizza

It will be true Italian country pizza, like nothing you have ever experienced. Each guest will have the opportunity to make their own pizza, plus we will make all sorts of additional pizzas, such as Focaccia, Pizza Margherita, Sweet Onion pizza, Sausage & Porcini Pizza, and for dessert we will have Sugar Pizza and finally Nutella Pizza.

Day 8: Saturday - Departure

Morning departure

When we are not cooking, we are heading out on some truly incredible excursions. We'll visit some amazing wineries, including small family-run places where we will meet the owners and dine with them, and the most beautiful wine cellar in the world.

We'll visit a small home-based olive mill that still uses the antique methods to produce some of the most incredible extra virgin olive oil. We'll visit a real Deruta ceramics factory where we will try our hand at the pottery wheel, and we'll of course see many popular sights, such as Assisi, Orvieto, Pienza and more.

Cities we visit

  • Tuscany: Pitigliano - Montalcino - Montepulciano - Pienza - Castelnuovo d'Abate
  • Umbria: Assisi - Orvieto - Deruta
  • Alto Lazio: Civita di Bagnoregio - Viterbo - Castiglione in Teverina - Gallese

Factories, Wineries & Mills we visit

  • Madonna delle Macchie Winery & Olive Mill in Castiglione (Orvieto Wine & Umbrian Olive Oil)
  • Piombaia (or Solaria) Winery in Montalcino (Brunello Wine)
  • Cantina del Redi Winery in Montepulciano (Vino Nobile Wine)
  • Ceramics Factory in Deruta
  • Rocky

    You will quickly pick up on the fact that we are all connected outside of "business". Rocky is a great person to start with to convey this! Like Michael, Rocky grew up in Los Angeles... in fact, just a few blocks from Michael. They never knew one another, but they had a very close mutual friend most of their lives. That friend visited Michael and Paola in Soriano in early 2011, and brought Rocky with. He joined in on one of our week-long cooking vacations in Soriano, and felt an instant connection.

  • Spartaco

    Yes, Spartaco really is his name, so when you meet him, remember to utter these words: My name is Spartacus! A Soriano native and long time family friend, Spartaco has been our primary guide for our excursions since 2007, and now he hosts many of our vacations outside of Soriano. Ladies, be prepared. You will be charmed and fall in love. His accent will grab you, those little mistakes in English will make you smile... and whatever you do, make sure he does his Tony Soprano impersonation!

  • Sophie

    Sophie is one of those rare Italians that you meet and simply cannot believe speaks English as a second language. Her perfect British accent, however, is a dead giveaway for the fact that she was raised by an English father, albeit in Italy. She lives just over the hill from Soriano in Viterbo, and travels regularly with our groups to all of our locations... and our guests invariably love her

  • Alyssa & Sam

    Alyssa is Michael and Paola's daughter, and Sam is her other half. Like Michael, they are both from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angels (Like, Totally!), but they now split their time between Orlando, Florida and Italy. Alyssa grew up actually speaking Italian before English, but was mostly raised in the States, spending her summers in Italy. Sam, on the other hand, came to Italy for the first time in 2013, but picked up the language in a heartbeat and is sometimes even mistaken for an Italian.

  • Luigi

    During our Norcia weeks, we always have a pizza class at a pizzeria near Assisi, and Luigi has always been our instructor. Guests invariably fell in love with him, and a friendship developed over time. As it turned out, Luigi had been a tour guide for years in the past, and really missed that part of his life. So one day, in a pinch, Luigi hosted one of our vacations, and it was phenomenal​! Next thing we knew, we got to talking and here we were. Luigi has become so much more than the Pizza Chef! He is now a host on many of our trips!

Many of our cooking vacations are based in Soriano nel Cimino, which is right at the border between Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany. While largely unknown internationally, Soriano is just 15 minutes from Italy's major rail lines and the main A1 Autostrada (Expressway). That puts us at an extremely convenient near half-way point between Rome and Florence, right in the heart of Italy and within close proximity to most of Italy's most popular destinations: Rome, Florence, Assisi, Tuscany, Umbria, and much more!

The village of Soriano nel Cimino (often simply called Soriano) is one of those few remaining places in central Italy that is still unspoiled by the ravages of mass tourism. Soriano is still unspoiled. It has incredible beauty and charm, but the real Italian life is still here. Soriano still has the mom and pop grocer, the butcher that slices your proscuitto by hand, and the vegetable stand that sells produce grown on his own farm. You still see the villagers mingling on a Sunday morning before church, and you still see the women walking around doing their morning shopping every day.

Soriano is a place where children still are allowed to run free at night, and many still leave their doors unlocked. You feel it the moment you get there. Stunning beauty with an innocent feeling of a time long gone for the rest of us. All of this exists in this amazing place, yet it is still extremely close to all of the destinations so many people dream of visiting. In this way, Soriano offers the perfect balance of actually experiencing Italian life, while still having the opportunity to see the sights you have always looked forward to.

Soriano is a castle-topped hill town. There are moderate inclines while walking in town. Furthermore, some of our homes are in the medieval quarter, which is up a hill in an area that only allows foot traffic. Some of the homes have stairs (none more than three flights). All of our days start and end in the town piazza. The homes are all close to the piazza, but in different locations. The most distant home is 580 feet (175 meters) from the piazza. 250 feet (80 meters) of that walk is up a moderate incline.

While all of our guests stay in town, your cooking classes will take place at Villa Eddarella which is 2 miles (3.5km) as a crow flies from the village of Soriano. It is perched atop one of the rolling hills of the Tiber valley, just outside of town, among olive and hazelnut orchards. The views from the villa are breathtaking, making it the perfect setting for days of Italian country cooking & relaxation. On days that we have cooking classes in the morning, we all have breakfast together in town before boarding our minibus for the five minute drive to the villa. When we have cooking classes in the afternoon, we head here after our morning excursions.

While you will have your private village home in town, one thing is common among all of our guests. Villa Eddarella becomes home. From the moment you first arrive here for the first cooking class, you will quickly get into the rhythm: Our house is your house. When you are at the villa, you will find that you are truly our house guest for the week. Feel like some wine? Just get a bottle from the wine rack. Thirsty? The refrigerator is yours to raid. Want some coffee? Just go ahead and help yourself. We do everything we can to make you feel completely at home, so it simply becomes 'home base' for everyone.

We are all about food & wine, and if there is one comment we hear more than any other from our guests throughout the week, it is "I can't eat another bite". You will never be hungry, and you will never want for more wine, period.

All of the restaurant meals are in small, local restaurants that are considered the best of the best for their area. These are the places the locals rave about, not the touristy places. Furthermore, we don't do "tourist food". We insist on the highest quality at all times, and always pull out all of the stops.

The wine is always flowing at lunch and dinner. We always focus on local wines from the area we are in, and it is always fantastic! Additionally, the meals at our cooking classes are not little 'learn to make pasta' classes like many others. Instead, the classes are traditional Italian 'Sunday Family Meals' 5 courses, done to the max.

When the week is over, you will have experienced the real Italy that few tourists have ever experienced. You will have made new friends, and you will have learned why Italian culture is so amazing, because you will have lived it!

Italian cuisine sample menu

Menu A availability

  • April 26 - May 3
  • May 17 - 24, 24 - 31
  • July 5 - 12
  • August 2 - 9, 16 - 23
  • August 30 - September 6

Cooking class #1

Appetizer

Panzanella - A Tuscan bread salad with tomatoes, egg and other fresh vegetables, served with a Balsamic Vinegar reduction.

First Course

Ravioli - made from scratch, filled with spinach and Ricotta cheese (made fresh weekly here at the villa); Served in a butter and sage sauce.

Second Course

Tuscan Roasted Chicken - Locally raised free-range organic chicken, prepared with fennel pollen, garlic, rosemary & other local spices; When possible, we roast the chicken in our outdoor wood-fired oven.

Side Dish

Tuscan Roasted Potatoes - Prepared and cooked with the roasted chicken.

Dessert

Tiramisu - Our unique recipe for this popular Italian dessert is one that our guests never forget!

Cooking class #2

Appetizer

Bruschetta - Topped with a delightful mixture of Stracchino cheese, Pancetta and Rosemary.

First Course

Pappardelle alla Bolognese - Thickly cut pasta, made from scratch, prepared with a beef & pork Bolognese Ragu sauce.

Second Course

Barasato al Barolo - Local organic beef roast, braised in a mixture of Barolo wine, Brandy, Pancetta, fresh vegetables and spices.

Side Dish

Sauted Spinach - made with our own olive oil, onions & regional spices. *This may be substituted with sauted zucchini, depending on the season.

Dessert

Panna Cotta - An Italian custard-like pudding, served with a Chocolate-Hazelnut sauce & a strawberry glaze.

Grappa - During this class, we often also fire up our artisan copper pot still in our cellar to make a batch of Grappa (an Italian distilled spirit). For those that enjoy harder alcohol, our grappa is truly special. We also use the grappa we make here as the base for all of the many artisan liqueurs we serve here at the villa. Those that are interested will learn all about grappa distilling, and have the opportunity to try many of the liqueurs we make, our own aged cheese, our own olives, and much more.

Cooking class #3

Liqueurs

Limoncello - We'll learn to make Italy's most famous after-dinner liqueur from scratch. Note that some of the prep work (peeling lemons) may be done in advance of the class. Each guests will take home some Limoncello they made.

Limoncello Cream - A creamy variant of Limoncello, made with milk. This is always a favorite among our guests. Each guest will take home some Limoncello Cream they made.

Biscotti

Hazelnut Cantucci - Traditional Biscotti from our area, made with locally grown hazelnuts. These Biscotti are traditionally dipped in wine when eaten.

Gelato

Vanilla Gelato - Topped with fresh fruit & the balsamic vinegar reduction we made in our first class. *We will occasionally change the Gelato flavors and toppings.

Lemon-Moscato Sorbetto - A refreshing sorbet made with lemons and Moscato wine.

Cheese

Pecorino Cheese - A local shepherd will visit us, bringing his fresh milk of the day. Together, we will make fresh pecorino cheese on the patio outside the villa. We eat some of it freshly made with local honey, and prepare some for aging in our cellar. The cheese we age will one day be the Romano cheese served with some of our pasta dishes.

Ricotta Cheese - We will make fresh Ricotta after we have finished the Pecorino. We will have some served with honey on the spot, plus we will use some in tonight's dinner. Furthermore, we will use some of our Ricotta made today in our pizza class, as well as with our next group. *The ricotta you used in the Ravioli class a few days earlier was made by our previous group.

Note that the cheese making will happen at the same time as some of the other things we are doing in the kitchen. Because of this, guests wanting to be part of the entire cheese-making process will miss some of what is happening in the kitchen. However, if you have a more casual interest, you will have the opportunity to be involved in some of everything.

Dinner

Since we have been busy making cheese, limoncello, biscotti and gelato, there isn't much time to make a full course dinner tonight. However, we will be making Spaghetti alla Carbonara as part of our class. The rest of dinner will be a selection of salames, cheeses, and all sorts of other "Tapas" like delicacies that were prepared earlier in the day.

Cooking class #4

Pizza

Tonight is Pizza class! We will prep our wood-fired brick oven and make all sorts of pizza. We will prepare the dough and all of the toppings, then each guest will have the opportunity to make their own creation. In addition, we also make some country pan pizza, focaccia, Ricotta & Nutella pizza, and all sorts of others, depending on what is fresh this week.

Menu B availability

  • May 3 - 10
  • May 31 - June 7
  • June 21 - 28
  • July 12 - 19
  • September 20 - 27
  • December 19 - 29

Cooking class #1

Appetizer

Eggplant Parmesan - Our own recipe for Tuscan/Umbrian style eggplant parmesan, served in appetizer portions.

First Course

Pici Sorianesi Pasta - Made from scratch, this local specialty is an eggless pasta similar to spaghetti. For a sauce, we make our special pork & sausage ragu with fennel pollen. This is an extremely unique dish that leaves our guests in awe every time we make it.

Second Course

Saltimbocca alla Romana - This traditional Roman dish literally translates to "jump int he mouth". Milanesa steak sauted with prosciutto, cheese and sage.

Side Dish

Frascati Sauted Porcini - Procini mushrooms sauted in olive oil, garlic and Roman Frascati white wine.

Dessert

Tiramisu - Our unique recipe for this popular Italian dessert is one that our guests never forget!

Cooking class #2

Appetizer

Bruschetta - Topped with a delightful mixture of Stracchino cheese with local sausage.

First Course

Gnocchi - Potato Gnocchi made completely from scratch with a sorrentina sauce.

Second Course

Chicken Cacciatore - The central Italian variation of this popular recipe is beautifully balanced and absolutely delicious.

Side Dish

Sauted Bell Peppers - made with our own olive oil, onions & regional spices. *This may be substituted with sauted zucchini, depending on the season.

Dessert Ricotta and Vin Santo Tart - A delicate tart made with ricotta cheese made at our villa and Vin Santo, a Tuscan sweet wine.

Grappa - During this class, we often also fire up our artisan copper pot still in our cellar to make a batch of Grappa (an Italian distilled spirit). For those that enjoy harder alcohol, our grappa is truly special. We also use the grappa we make here as the base for all of the many artisan liqueurs we serve here at the villa. Those that are interested will learn all about grappa distilling, and have the opportunity to try many of the liqueurs we make, our own aged cheese, our own olives, and much more.

Cooking class #3

Liqueurs

Limoncello - We'll learn to make Italy's most famous after-dinner liqueur from scratch. Note that some of the prep work (peeling lemons) may be done in advance of the class. Each guests will take home some Limoncello they made.

Limoncello Cream -A creamy variant of Limoncello, made with milk. This is always a favorite among our guests. Each guest will take home some Limoncello Cream they made.

Biscotti

Hazelnut Cantucci - Traditional Biscotti from our area, made with locally grown hazelnuts. These Biscotti are traditionally dipped in wine when eaten.

Gelato

Vanilla Gelato - Topped with fresh fruit & the balsamic vinegar reduction we made in our first class. *We will occasionally change the Gelato flavors and toppings.

Lemon-Moscato Sorbetto - A refreshing sorbet made with lemons and Moscato wine.

Cheese

Pecorino Cheese - A local shepherd will visit us, bringing his fresh milk of the day. Together, we will make fresh pecorino cheese on the patio outside the villa. We eat some of it freshly made with local honey, and prepare some for aging in our cellar. The cheese we age will one day be the Romano cheese served with some of our pasta dishes.

Ricotta Cheese - We will make fresh Ricotta after we have finished the Pecorino. We will have some served with honey on the spot, plus we will use some in tonight's dinner. Furthermore, we will use some of our Ricotta made today in our pizza class, as well as with our next group. *The ricotta you used in the tart class a few days earlier was made by our previous group.

Note that the cheese making will happen at the same time as some of the other things we are doing in the kitchen. Because of this, guests wanting to be part of the entire cheese-making process will miss some of what is happening in the kitchen. However, if you have a more casual interest, you will have the opportunity to be involved in some of everything.

Dinner

Since we have been busy making cheese, limoncello, biscotti and gelato, there isn't much time to make a full course dinner tonight. However, we will be making Spaghetti alla Carbonara as part of our class. The rest of dinner will be a selection of salames, cheeses, and all sorts of other "Tapas" like delicacies that were prepared earlier in the day.

Cooking class #4

Pizza

Tonight is Pizza class! We will prep our wood-fired brick oven and make all sorts of pizza. We will prepare the dough and all of the toppings, then each guest will have the opportunity to make their own creation. In addition, we also make some country pan pizza, focaccia, Ricotta & Nutella pizza, and all sorts of others, depending on what is fresh this week.

Menu C availability

  • June 28 - July 5
  • May 10 - 17
  • July 26 - August 2
  • August 23 - 30
  • September 6 - 13

Cooking class #1

Appetizer

Umbrian Farro Salad - A wonderful recipe of Farro (similar to Spelt) with zucchini, onion, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, almonds and local herbs.

First Course

Ravioli - made from scratch, filled with spinach and Ricotta cheese (made fresh weekly here at the villa); Served in a butter and sage sauce.

Second Course

Tuscan Roasted Chicken - Locally raised free-range organic chicken, prepared with fennel pollen, garlic, rosemary & other local spices; When possible, we roast the chicken in our outdoor wood-fired oven.

Side Dish

Tuscan Roasted Potatoes - Prepared and cooked with the roasted chicken.

Dessert

Tiramisu - Our unique recipe for this popular Italian dessert is one that our guests never forget!

Cooking class #2

Appetizer

Bruschetta - Topped with a delightful mixture of Stracchino cheese, Pancetta and Rosemary.

First Course

Pappardelle alla Bolognese - Thickly cut pasta, made from scratch, prepared with a beef & pork Bolognese Ragu sauce.

Second Course

Porchetta Sorianese - Soriano is famous throughout the region for Porchetta, Tuscany and Umbria's much celebrated roast suckling pig. We'll be making Soriano Porchetta, a recipe even our Italian friends beg us for.

Side Dish

Insalata di Radicchio e Arancia & Noci - Radicchio Salad with Orange and Walnuts.

Fagioli All'Uccelletto - The classic "Tuscan Beans", made with tomato, onions, our own olive oil, local herbs and spices.

Dessert

Panna Cotta - An Italian custard-like pudding, served with a Chocolate-Hazelnut sauce & a strawberry glaze.

Grappa - During this class, we often also fire up our artisan copper pot still in our cellar to make a batch of Grappa (an Italian distilled spirit). For those that enjoy harder alcohol, our grappa is truly special. We also use the grappa we make here as the base for all of the many artisan liqueurs we serve here at the villa. Those that are interested will learn all about grappa distilling, and have the opportunity to try many of the liqueurs we make, our own aged cheese, our own olives, and much more.

Cooking class #3

Liqueurs

Limoncello - We'll learn to make Italy's most famous after-dinner liqueur from scratch. Note that some of the prep work (peeling lemons) may be done in advance of the class. Each guests will take home some Limoncello they made.

Limoncello Cream -A creamy variant of Limoncello, made with milk. This is always a favorite among our guests. Each guest will take home some Limoncello Cream they made.

Biscotti

Hazelnut Cantucci - Traditional Biscotti from our area, made with locally grown hazelnuts. These Biscotti are traditionally dipped in wine when eaten.

Gelato

Vanilla Gelato - Topped with fresh fruit & the balsamic vinegar reduction we made in our first class. *We will occasionally change the Gelato flavors and toppings.

Lemon-Moscato Sorbetto - A refreshing sorbet made with lemons and Moscato wine.

Cheese

Pecorino Cheese - A local shepherd will visit us, bringing his fresh milk of the day. Together, we will make fresh pecorino cheese on the patio outside the villa. We eat some of it freshly made with local honey, and prepare some for aging in our cellar. The cheese we age will one day be the Romano cheese served with some of our pasta dishes.

Ricotta Cheese - We will make fresh Ricotta after we have finished the Pecorino. We will have some served with honey on the spot, plus we will use some in tonight's dinner. Furthermore, we will use some of our Ricotta made today in our pizza class, as well as with our next group. *The ricotta you used in the tart class a few days earlier was made by our previous group.

Note that the cheese making will happen at the same time as some of the other things we are doing in the kitchen. Because of this, guests wanting to be part of the entire cheese-making process will miss some of what is happening in the kitchen. However, if you have a more casual interest, you will have the opportunity to be involved in some of everything.

Dinner

Since we have been busy making cheese, limoncello, biscotti and gelato, there isn't much time to make a full course dinner tonight. However, we will be making Spaghetti alla Carbonara as part of our class. The rest of dinner will be a selection of salames, cheeses, and all sorts of other "Tapas" like delicacies that were prepared earlier in the day.

Cooking class #4

Pizza

Tonight is Pizza class! We will prep our wood-fired brick oven and make all sorts of pizza. We will prepare the dough and all of the toppings, then each guest will have the opportunity to make their own creation. In addition, we also make some country pan pizza, focaccia, Ricotta & Nutella pizza, and all sorts of others, depending on what is fresh this week.

Menu D availability (Festival Weeks)

  • October 4 - 11, 11 - 18
  • October 25 - November 1
  • November 1 - 8

Cooking class #1

Appetizer

Panzanella - A Tuscan bread salad with tomatoes, egg and other fresh vegetables, served with a Balsamic Vinegar reduction.

First Course

Ravioli - made from scratch, filled with spinach and Ricotta cheese (made fresh weekly here at the villa); Served in a butter and sage sauce.

Second Course

Tuscan Roasted Chicken - Locally raised free-range organic chicken, prepared with fennel pollen, garlic, rosemary & other local spices; When possible, we roast the chicken in our outdoor wood-fired oven.

Side Dish

Tuscan Roasted Potatoes - Prepared and cooked with the roasted chicken.

Dessert

Tiramisu - Our unique recipe for this popular Italian dessert is one that our guests never forget!

Cooking class #2

Appetizer

Bruschetta - Topped with a delightful mixture of Stracchino cheese, Pancetta and Rosemary.

First Course

Pappardelle alla Bolognese - Thickly cut pasta, made from scratch, prepared with a beef & pork Bolognese Ragu sauce.

Second Course

Barasato al Barolo - Local organic beef roast, braised in a mixture of Barolo wine, Brandy, Pancetta, fresh vegetables and spices.

Side Dish

Sauted Spinach - made with our own olive oil, onions & regional spices. *This may be substituted with sauted zucchini, depending on the season.

Dessert

Panna Cotta - An Italian custard-like pudding, served with a Chocolate-Hazelnut sauce & a strawberry glaze.

Grappa - During this class, we often also fire up our artisan copper pot still in our cellar to make a batch of Grappa (an Italian distilled spirit). For those that enjoy harder alcohol, our grappa is truly special. We also use the grappa we make here as the base for all of the many artisan liqueurs we serve here at the villa. Those that are interested will learn all about grappa distilling, and have the opportunity to try many of the liqueurs we make, our own aged cheese, our own olives, and much more.

Cooking class #3

Pizza

Tonight is Pizza class! We will prep our wood-fired brick oven and make all sorts of pizza. We will prepare the dough and all of the toppings, then each guest will have the opportunity to make their own creation. In addition, we also make some country pan pizza, focaccia, Ricotta & Nutella pizza, and all sorts of others, depending on what is fresh this week.

Cheese

Pecorino Cheese - A local shepherd will visit us, bringing his fresh milk of the day. Together, we will make fresh pecorino cheese on the patio outside the villa. We eat some of it freshly made with local honey, and prepare some for aging in our cellar. The cheese we age will one day be the Romano cheese served with some of our pasta dishes.

Ricotta Cheese - We will make fresh Ricotta after we have finished the Pecorino. We will have some served with honey on the spot, plus we will use some for tonight's pizza. Furthermore, we will use some of our Ricotta made today with our next group. *The ricotta you used in the Ravioli class a few days earlier was made by our previous group.

Note that the cheese making will happen at the same time as some of the other things we are doing in the kitchen. Because of this, guests wanting to be part of the entire cheese-making process will miss some of what is happening in the kitchen. However, if you have a more casual interest, you will have the opportunity to be involved in some of everything.

Arrival by car

If you will have a rental car, getting to Soriano is extremely easy. We are about 1 hour from Rome and 90 minutes from Florence, just 15 minutes off of Italy's main A1 Autostrada (Expressway).

If you will not have a car, and cannot make one of our shuttles, we are always happy to arrange private transportation for an extra cost.

Arrival by bus

We offer an included shuttle service for our guests from the Rome Fiumicino (FCO) airport and the Orte Train Station. For those that arrive in Italy the day our vacation begins, our shuttle leaves the Rome airport at 10:30 AM, and it takes about 75 minutes to get to Soriano.

Arrival by train

The Orte Train station is the first major hub north of Rome on the line between Rome and Florence, and is about 15 minutes from Soriano.

There are trains to Orte from almost every major city, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Bologna, Naples, and many more.

The train to Orte from Rome takes about 35 minutes. From Florence it takes about 90 minutes.

For those that are already in Italy on the day our vacation begins, or arrive after our 10:30 airport shuttle, we offer an included shuttle service from the Orte Train station at 3:30 PM, giving our guests time to get there from just about anywhere in Italy.

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."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • 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!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • 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."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • 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.

Speaks English

from --

8 days / 7 nights

Low season
  • September 2016
  • April, May 2017

 

Mid-season
  • June, July, August, September 2017

 

High season
  • October 2017

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