I booked this break with my stepson in order to learn more about Italian cooking. Ever since I retired fourteen years ago, I have developed an interest in cooking and I am continuing to improve my skills. I enjoy a variety of tastes namely Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Moroccan. But Italian has been a favourite of mine for many years. I wanted to improve from our ‘Britalian’ way of cooking and get down to the authentic Italian way! Convivio Rome gave me that experience.
First day in Italy
Right from the start, meeting Guido at Fara Sabina station, when he turned up to take to our accommodation in Toffia, I had a good feeling about what was ahead. The accommodation was as requested, a two-bedroom and two-bathroom house with a small kitchen and seating area. We had a raised courtyard garden with elevated views of the village and an arbour covered with ripe grape vines. We then joined Sally who hosted a meal in the local restaurant and explained the course itinerary to us.
Idyllic view of Toffia
Good morning in Toffia
Breakfast was a short walk to the Piazza to a local cafe where we sat outside enjoying the morning. Coffee and croissants were a great start and Sally and Guido joined us to check on our welfare. After breakfast, they escorted us to their house and opened up their kitchen for the course participants to begin our schooling. These were our cooking holiday routines for the next three days.
Cooking demonstration by Guido
Cooking classes at Convivio Rome
The making of fresh pasta demonstration, by Lucia, was a revelation and the courses we prepared, following the instructions of Guido, were superb. Fresh ingredients and simplicity in cooking, that is what the Italian way is all about. And the end result is good! I think at home I had an idea as to what Italian food was all about but tended to over-complicate things. The lesson is fresh ingredients and simplistic approach. I also learned that when adding garlic to the cooking, it was not retained in the food, whole garlic cloves were sweated off with onions and other ingredients, then removed so you got garlic infusion only. After preparing and cooking the starter, main course, and dessert, we all went to the exquisite dining room which housed a natural grotto and a large refectory table in the room. Good food, good wine, and ambience brought a perfect conclusion to the culinary procedures of the day.
Food preparation, veal, prosciutto, sage
We went on guided tours of the surrounding area. We joined the olive grove tour which took about an hour and fifteen minutes. We visited nearby villages and also the largest olive tree in Europe. One day was left free for us to do our own thing. Train to Rome was within reach.
Olive oil tour
Second to none
On the last day, we were invited for an evening meal where Sally and Guido had prepared a really tasty buffet style spread plus wine tasting. The whole experience from initial booking, the transfer from Fara Sabina to Toffia, the accommodation, were second to none. We had a valuable cooking experience, enjoyed spending our holiday at an idyllic location, and got to know the most professional and friendliest hosts you could wish to meet. Would I do it again? Most definitely yes!
Tips and recommendations
- Menu to order at a local restaurant: I like the freshly made pizzas with the thin crusts.
- Free day: Walk in the area or go to Rome by train. Ask Sally and Guido for more advice.
- Favourite Italian food: Risotto al Pomedoro Verde (green tomatoes and zucchini) with a shallow-fried melon sauce.
- Favourite lesson: Cooking Risotto.
Charles Smiles signed up for the five-day cooking vacation package at Convivio Rome with his stepson in September 2012. This culinary travel article with pictures was written and contributed personally for BookCulinaryVacations.com. Did you go for a cooking vacation at Convivio Rome? Share with us your stories like Charles did. We would love to publish them on our website. Please send your greetings by adding your comments below.