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8 Day Luxury Culinary Holiday in Piedmont, Province of Alessandria

Castello di Montalero, via Castello, 10, Montalero, 15020 ​Italy

Italy Culinary Vacation

Discover Piedmont! This undiscovered region of Italy has much to offer seasoned travellers with an interest in food and wine, nature, Italian history, architecture, and some of the most splendid panoramas from the local hill towns and villages anywhere in Italy. The cuisine of the Monferrato draws its inspirations from the closing mists of spring and autumn - think truffles, porcini mushrooms, light red wines, and wild boar! At Castello di Montalero, you can learn to cook these regional dishes and many others in an atmosphere of calm and easy-going hospitality. Learn to cook like an Italian.

Meet the instructors

Beppe & Alberto
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Highlights

  • 4 half-day cooking classes
  • Truffle hunting and trip to Santa Margarita
  • Visits to wine and food producers, local markets
  • Gourmet dinners with local wines and grappas
  • 1 dinner and 1 lunch at local restaurants
  • Airport transfers in private minibus
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • All meals included

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate

Styles


7 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Finnish, Italian, Spanish, Swedish
Group size: Maximum of 12 participants
Airport transfer included: Milan–Malpensa Airport
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Accommodation

Facilities

  • Swimming pool (outdoor)
  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Dining area
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Lounge
  • Multilingual staff
  • Smoke-free property
  • Terrace
  • Bicycle rental
  • Free bicycle
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Library

You will stay in Castello di Montalero's luxury double rooms with en-suite bathroom and air-conditioning, totalling approximately 45 square meters (500 square feet). Each of the 6 rooms has either a double or two single beds, sofa with side tables, reading lamps in the room and at each bedside. Drinks fridge and Nespresso machine in each room. Bathrooms are fitted with large shower cubicles, twin wash basins, WC, bidet, heated towel rail, and comfortable chairs.

Chambermaid service each morning, refreshing bedrooms and bathrooms, excluding Sundays. There is a 12 meters x 6 meters south-facing pool with ample sun loungers, steamer chairs, and sun parasols on the adjoining terraces. Large south-facing first-floor terrace where most meals are taken in season.

Traditional drawing room with drinks tray where guests may relax, chat or read at any time during their stay are also available. Air conditioning and Wi-Fi are available in all rooms.

Program

Saturday - Arrival

  • Transfer from Malpensa International Airport
  • Welcome drinks at Castello di Montalero
  • Free time to relax, sunbathe, swim or walk
  • Aperitivi followed by dinner

Sunday - Winery visit

  • Leisurely breakfast
  • Excursion to leading wine producer, Mauro Gaudio, in Vignale Monferrato
  • Lunch at Mongetto Dre Caste restaurant, Vignale Monferrato
  • Return to castello to capture the last rays of the Italian sun by the pool
  • A light, candle lit dinner on the terrace

Monday - Cooking course, wine class, culinary visits

  • Leisurely breakfast
  • Cookery course at 09:00 am until 12:30pm
  • Lunch of the day's course theme
  • Wine class over lunch with a local wine expert
  • Afternoon break to sunbathe, swim, relax
  • Visit to local salami and lardo producer
  • Visit to local goat cheese producer
  • Return to castello for aperitivi and dinner

Tuesday - Escorted full day wine tour

  • Early breakfast
  • Visit to cantina of Angelo Negro in Monteu Roero
  • Visit to cantina of Marchesi di Gresy in Barbaresco
  • Lunch in Alba, the leading truffle market town
  • Visit to cantina of Oddero in La Morra
  • Visit to cantina of Marchesi di Barolo in Barolo
  • Return to castello for aperitivi and dinner

Wednesday - Cooking course

  • Leisurely breakfast
  • Visit to Casale Monferrato food market and some nearby architectural treasure
  • Return to castello for lunch
  • Cookery course at 02:30 pm until 06:00 pm
  • Late afternoon break to sunbathe, swim, relax
  • Aperitivi followed by dinner of the day's course theme at the castello

Thursday - Cooking course, truffle hunting, wine tasting

  • Leisurely breakfast
  • Cookery course at 09:00 am until 12:30 pm
  • Lunch of the day's course theme
  • ​Truffle hunting (for vacations after September 15)
  • Wine tasting at the world famous "Braida" cantina of the Bologna family (prior to September 15)
  • Wine tasting at Marchesi Incisa della Rochetta (prior to September 15)
  • Dinner at local restaurant

Friday - cooking course, wine class, culinary visit

  • Leisurely breakfast
  • Cookery course at 09:00 am until 12:30 pm
  • Lunch of the day's course theme
  • Wine class over lunch with a local wine expert
  • Afternoon break to sunbathe, swim, relax
  • Visit to Mazzetti Grappa Distillery
  • Visit to C'a Nostra, Olivola for aperitivi
  • Return to castello for dinner

Saturday - Departure

  • Leisurely breakfast
  • Dependant on flight timings, sunbathe, swim and relax prior to transfer to Malpensa

Course content

All courses are taught in English.

Italian Cookery Courses 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 its values in using only sustainable methods of production and animal care.​​

Included excursions

All excursions will be escorted in a minibus with driver provided. Wine tours will be to relatively unknown local producers and to others of international repute. Tastings are often accompanied by a light aperitif. Walking groups will be 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.

Each tour can include a full day excursion to Portofino. The excursion begins with a two-hour drive to Santa Margherita, where a morning sun-bathing session will be available at the private beach (not sand) of the Hotel Continental, near the centre of Santa Margherita.

At 12:30 p.m., a traditional wooden fishing boat will take the group to Portofino, weather permitting (otherwise by minibus). Lunch will be taken at the Ristorante Tripoli or Taverna del Marinaio. The group will return to Santa Margherita after lunch for a brief shopping tour and home for 7 p.m.

Depending on the season (September-November), truffle hunting will be offered which will be led by an experienced hunter with truffle hounds. Within the cookery courses, morning trips to local food markets are arranged where guests can assist in selecting and often tasting seasonal ingredients used in the courses and in the preparation of all meals at the house.

Excursions to local organic producers of goats cheeses, salamis, bread, fresh pasta, and to local butchers and enoteca are also included. For autumn tours, vendemmia mornings will be available where guests can join a grape harvest team in collecting grapes. A vineyard picnic lunch will follow.

Instructors

Beppe Sardi

Alberto De Maio

Location

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.

Distances

  • Milan-Malpensa Airport (MXP) - 1 hour 20 minutes

Features

Activities

  • Swimming
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)

General

  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Mini bar
  • Multilingual staff
  • Terrace

Services

  • Room cleaning
  • Tour assistance
  • Wireless internet

Food

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, as well as Italian, American or decaffeinated coffees.

Lunches are included and will be largely dependant on the selected itinerary. For example, on 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 will be at the house most evenings and will include several courses of locally sourced ingredients. A typical dinner will include antipasti, pasta or risotto, meat or fish course, including fritto misto di pesce in the summer months, followed by desserts typical of the region and local cheeses.

On two evenings, guests will be accompanied to a local trattoria or osteria serving Monferrato specialties. All wine, aperitivi, digestivi, and refreshments throughout the tour 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 in advance.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Soda
  • Alcoholic beverages

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Organic
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Infernot route

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.

Walking and cycling tours

​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.

​Golf

​In Monferrato, there are opportunities to discover several local golf courses, including Golf Club Monferrato, ​Margara Golf Club, and Golf Club Feudo d'Asti.

Asti Palio

​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.

What's included

  • Airport transfers
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 7 breakfasts, 7 dinners, 6 lunches, including 1 dinner and 1 lunch at a local restaurant
  • Wine, bottled water, soft drinks, light refreshments, aperitivi, and digestivi
  • 4 half day cookery lessons
  • Excursions and activities as shown on the itinerary, including transportation, tour guides, and refreshments
  • Diploma of completion
  • Digital photo album of your stay
  • Personalized apron
  • Printed booklet of recipes learnt during the course
  • All local taxes

What's not included

  • Airfares
  • Costs and expenses outside of the itineraries
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance (it is recommended that you take out adequate travel insurance)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

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.

Airport: Milan–Malpensa Airport Airport transfer included: Milan–Malpensa Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
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