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If you love Italy, if you love Italian food, if you want a "behind the scenes look" at this wonderful country, and if you’re searching for a fun, relaxing, high-quality holiday in the sun, then this food and wine experience are for you! Think of your stay with Italian Cookery Courses "as an English country house vacation in Italy" – everything’s done right, but in a gentle, leisurely way and with a personal touch that makes you feel you’re among friends. So, while there’s organized cooking time and scheduled trips, there’s no pressure to conform which means you will have plenty of opportunities to do your own thing – and if you need any help or advice, just ask, the staff will be there throughout your stay.
We’re Christopher and Kaarina Watkins and if you share our passion for Italian food, wine, and culture, then we’d like to invite you to enjoy our Italian Food and Wine Experience in one of the country’s undiscovered regions – Monferrato.
Monferrato’s part of Piemonte, which is now being called the new Tuscany for lovers of food and wine. So, while it’s not as well-known as other parts of north-west Italy, we think its culinary heritage is just as rich.
We discovered and fell in love with Monferrato more than 25 years ago and, after countless visits here, it’s where we now live in a romantic medieval castle – Castello di Montalero. And we hope you’ll join us here as our guest on one of our Italian Food and Wine Experiences.
This holiday takes five days from Sunday to Thursday, including four nights accommodation, all meals and beverages, escorted excursions and airport transfers.
There will be six luxury double rooms with en suite bathrooms, totaling approximately 45 square meters (500 square feet). Each room has either a double or two single beds, sofa with side tables, reading lamps in the room and at each bedside.
Bathrooms are fitted with large shower cubicles, twin wash basins, WC, bidet, heated towel rail, and comfortable chairs. There will be chambermaid service each morning, refreshing bedrooms and bathrooms, excluding Sundays.
There is a 12 meter by 6 meter south-facing pool with ample sun loungers, steamer chairs and sun parasols on the adjoining terraces.
The venue has a large south-facing first-floor terrace where most meals are taken in season. A traditional private dining room with a single large dining table is available for evenings when the weather precludes being outdoors, or if guests prefer, to eat inside at any time during the year.
It also boasts a traditional drawing room with drinks tray where guests may relax, chat or read at any time during their stay.
Drinks fridge and Nespresso machine are available in each room. Additionally, all rooms are equipped with air conditioning and WiFi.
The course itineraries and accommodation are well suited to singles travelers, who are particularly welcome at Italian Cookery Courses.
The program is very, very informal, and the atmosphere’s extremely relaxed so don’t worry about making mistakes. Everyone does. And there’s always someone on hand to get you back on track and to show you the tricks of the trade.
All of the courses are in English so there’s no language barrier to worry about. And just so you remember your time in the kitchens with Italian Cookery Courses, they’ll take pictures throughout your stay, and put them in a digital photo album for you to take away.
This program may not turn you into a Michelin star chef, but Italian Cookery Courses promises you’ll leave them not just knowing how to cook the "Monferrato way" but with many of fantastic memories and plenty of new friends.
Subject to changes according to season, weather, and availability.
All courses are taught in English. The lessons are led by experienced, local Italian chefs specializing in the cuisine of the Monferrato region.
The lessons are "hands-on," not demonstrations and carried out in a specifically designed kitchen used only for the courses. The kitchen has work stations for 12 persons, each including food preparation area, cooking hob, cooking utensils, pans, etc. Ovens and sinks are shared.
The lessons are informal and intended to include a large element of fun as well as learning. These courses are for those in search of a fun and relaxing holiday with high standards of accommodation, food, and wine.
You will leave the course with a good working knowledge of food preparation of the Monferrato region, many good memories of associated excursions and experiences and you will also meet new friends.
Photographs will be taken throughout the course and included in a complimentary digital photo album.
Italian Cookery Courses uses the highest quality ingredients for all food and wine experiences, sourcing most of the ingredients from local producers who share Italian Cookery Courses' values in using only sustainable methods of production and animal care.
Beppe Sardi is well known throughout Italy as one of the most convivial of teaching chefs. Beppe also co-produces a fabulous Barbera wine, "Rebarba", which guests will enjoy during their stay. Hosting his own TV programmes, Beppe is known for his mastery of classic Piemontese cuisine, having been the successful owner of the renowned 'Il Grappolo' restaurant in Alessandria until recently. Beppe leads the cookery courses throughout parts of September and October with particular emphasis on those autumnal dishes for which Piedmont is so much appreciated.
A rising star chef from Asti, Alberto is an inspiring new face of Piemontese cuisine with his modern techniques on traditional dishes. Alberto has a strong repertoire of skills in creating pasta dishes in addition to those classic Piemontese meat and game dishes.
This culinary vacation will take place in the region of Piedmont, Italy. During your vacation, you will stay at the historic Castello di Montalero, a 17th-century house built on the foundations of the original 13th century fortified castle, built to protect the ancient and then important road between Casale Monferrato and Turin.
Breakfast each morning will typically include brioche, fresh bread, homemade and locally produced organic honey, jams and marmalades, local salamis and hams, local cheeses, cereals and muesli, fresh fruit, juices, herbal and regular teas, Italian, American or decaffeinated coffees.
Lunches are included and will be largely dependant on the selected itinerary. For example, in cookery courses, you prepare lunches during the morning courses. A typical lunch might include fresh pasta or risotto, salads, vegetables etc.
For walking tours, the itinerary can be planned to include lunch at a local osteria or, a packed lunch and wine can be provided and taken with the accompanying minibus.
Dinners are included and will be served at the house most evenings. Dinners include several courses of locally sourced ingredients. Typically, dinner will include antipasti, pasta or risotto, meat or fish course, followed by desserts typical of the region and local cheeses. Drinks and apperitivi are offered prior to dinner.
On one evening, guests will be taken to a local trattoria or osteria serving Monferrato specialties. Some examples of favourite and more traditional local restaurants can be seen at http://www.ristorantedubini.it, http://www.trattoriaibologna.it www.osterialeramo.com and http://www.ristoranteitalia.it/eng/
All wine, bottled water, soft drinks, aperitivi, digestivi and light refreshments throughout the vacation are included.
Where available, organic produce is used in all dishes prepared at the house. Food allergies, vegetarian and other dietary needs can be catered for. Please advise details with your booking.
Infernots were created under, or at the side of, wine cellars and originally used to store and age bottled wines, often for several years, until reaching maturity. They were mostly carved into the hard 'Tufo' stone, on which most of the Monferrato region lies.
Nowadays, modern winemaking techniques allow wines to mature in controlled conditions where bottling and aging are carried out more effectively. Many of the Infernots of Monferrato are now included in the newly created UNESCO World Heritage zone of Monferrato. Some are open to public viewing at certain times of the year and are a must-see for wine enthusiasts.
The Monferrato has much to offer those guests with an interest in walking and cycling. Most agricultural land in Italy is freely open to walkers to roam at will, whilst acknowledging the need to show respect for the land and environment. Castello di Montalero is an excellent base for exploring the areas by walking or cycling, there being many tracks and minor roads nearby.
Walking groups are taken to the starting point of each walk and collected at an agreed time and place. Lunches and refreshments will be provided throughout the day with the minibus and driver available for the duration of the excursion if required.
Basic mountain / touring bikes are freely available at the castello for guest's use. For those seeking to use more sophisticated bikes, there is a rental shop in nearby Moncalvo where bikes can be rented by the day or the week.
In Monferrato, there are opportunities to discover several local golf courses, including Golf Club Monferrato, Margara Golf Club, and Golf Club Feudo d'Asti.
The famous and exciting Palio d'Asti is usually run in early September each year. Italian Cookery Courses can arrange trips for those interested in experiencing this unusual Italian festival of 21 horses racing through a short course around the Piazza Alfieri, in the centre of the historic Roman town of Asti.
Each horse represents one of the many parishes of the town of Asti and other nearby towns and villages. The competition is fiercely contested and an exciting, although brief, spectacle to watch. This event has been held since the 13th century and is enthusiastically attended by locals, so important to book well in advance for seats.
Trips are for minimum six persons and bookings for this event should be made by June 2019. The trip is an included option and will take the place of one of the other itinerary excursions, subject to seat availability and sufficient numbers of guests booking.
Please book your flight to arrive at Milan-Malpensa Airport (MXP). Transfers to and from this airport are included in all of the tours at recommended pick-up and departure times. Italian Cookery Courses will pick you up from the airport.
Guests will be met on arrival and taken by minibus for direct transfer to the house. Return transfers will take guests directly to the departure terminal, with assistance in locating baggage trolleys and check-in areas.
For this organizer you can guarantee your booking through BookCulinaryVacations.com. All major credit cards supported.
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