Our Italian cooking holiday at Podere le Olle in Umbria was fabulous. The venue is stunning and the couple who run it are really wonderful, genuine and welcoming. We enjoyed good food and wine, good company and great scenery. It gets a gold star from both me and my husband. We would go back in the blink of an eye. We could not have made it more perfect a holiday if we had designed it in detail ourselves!
The hosts of Podere le Olle
Marina and Gianluca, the couple who own and run this Agriturismo, are a delight. It is the professional and friendly yet discreet attentiveness they give that makes everything else go so smoothly.
Nothing was too much trouble and everything is thought out and very well organised. If they could do something for you - it happened. They were available and friendly when we wanted anything yet we had all the space and time we needed to ourselves when wanted.
The picturesque Podere le Olle
A welcoming place for us to stay and relax
The en suite accommodation is lovely, simple, spacious, and comfortable. The house itself, where the dining room, reception and kitchen are, has been wonderfully converted into a stylish and easy space to relax in.
The gentle jazz playlist always added an extra dimension of relaxation to the overall ambience of the place. As we were there over winter, the open hearth was very welcome - although the background heat was more than adequate - it was just another concession to the sense of comfort and welcome.
We go by the glass door to the kitchen
Cooking classes at Podere le Olle
The kitchen is well designed, obviously with teaching in mind, so that Gianluca can offer his training skills in a useful space. He was incredibly patient with us 'pasta making rookies' - which for a professional trained chef was very kind of him indeed. (He must surely have been cringing inwardly at our clumsy attempts yet he never looked at all concerned!)
The cookery school element of this holiday is very minimal (in terms of hours) as you will see from the daily schedule details; yet the amount of knowledge and hands on experience we came home with was huge!
I am unsure quite how that happened, but the whole time in the kitchen whizzed past in a truly fun and enjoyable blur, but we have great recipes and improved skills and knowledge as a result. Stunningly good outcome for such a limited time spent - all down to Gianluca and the way the programme is organised.
Going out to some truly beautiful and interesting places
The rest of your time is spent visiting some of the most wonderful places within easy reach of Podere Le Olle. We had been many places in Italy prior to this trip but had never visited Umbria before. Now that I have been I am 100% certain it will not be our last trip. Wow!
The towns and countryside nearby are some of the most stunning scenery we have seen anywhere in the whole of Europe. Why is Umbria not better known in England, I wonder. Even just leaving our bedroom each morning was like walking out into a view over Hobbiton!
Outside is beautiful and peaceful and time is standing still, view from the bedroom
Wonderful italian culinary experiences and hospitality
The included visits sometimes also involve visiting other restaurants, bars and vineyard, etc; all of which I can vouch for too. Great places, well selected by Marina and Gianluca for their interest and good quality. We had such a good time in all of them; and everyone we met at each of the venues visited were welcoming and friendly.
The vineyard visit was a particular favourite because the owner appeared genuinely pleased to show us around and chat. He also gave us a very generous taste of the wines. The wines themselves were stunningly good and we would have liked to buy a couple of bottles, but it was not set up for selling to you at all - so we completely forgot to ask at the end of our visit!
That is the complete opposite of what might have been expected on seeing a ‘vineyard visit’ on the itinerary! Indeed, I would suggest they think about how to sell to those visiting in case others forget to ask in the happy haze that follows the generous helpings of fabulous wine and nibbles!
Anyway, it is a small point and one which endears me to them even more really, it was refreshingly undersold so therefore a rarity! I am wittering on, but I am gushing because I can honestly not praise this trip enough.
"Cheers everyone!", here we all are at the Saltapicchio wine bar in Citta Della Pieve
Hilary Brett went to Podere le Olle with her husband Nigel Brett in December 2013 on a weeklong culinary holiday. Hilary wrote this review and Nigel contributed pictures for BookCulinaryVacations.com. This review was published at Trip Advisor and has been edited and republished by BookCulinaryVacations.com with permission.