Stirred holidays bring together people who are passionate about food, Italy and stunning surroundings, whether travelling alone, en famille or with friends, we will help you to make your cookery course in Italy a truly memorable experience which suits your exact requirements. Our hands-on cooking classes give you every opportunity to learn through immersing yourself in advanced Italian cooking meanwhile enjoying the cultural, historical and natural richness of the country.
Villa Casagrande is a luxury 15th-century villa in the Veneto, northern Italy. The stunning setting for Stirred's cookery holidays, you enter through an imposing hallway passing between marble pillars with polished stone floors underfoot and swords and the family battle standard adorning the walls. Everything about Villa Casagrande is on a dramatic scale with high ceilings, thick walls and stone floors to keep it refreshingly cool in the heat of the summer. Large fireplaces crackle in the winter months to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
There are seven spacious double or twin bedrooms at Villa Casagrande. Each is individual in style and size and has views either onto the gardens or the village piazza and mountains. Truly palatial in feel, they blend designer touches in the decor, antique furniture and original features. Each bedroom has its own beautifully appointed bathroom and is fully equipped to allow for a wonderfully indulgent stay. In terms of mod cons, all rooms come with WiFi and iPod docks, while the designer beds are built for comfort and adorned with crisp Italian linen.
There are three reception rooms with original frescoed ceilings and trompe l'oeil on the walls where guests can relax with a Spritz before dinner. Over in the dining room, an oval table shaped from locally sourced white marble acts as a beautiful centerpiece. The state of the art kitchen, where cooking classes are held. Is vast and airy with polished stone floors, oak-beamed ceiling and a Venetian fireplace. It opens directly onto the beautifully kept walled gardens of the villa. Villa Casagrande has been in the Conti Brandolini d'Adda family for over 500 years and is steeped in history. A guided tour with the Contessa reveals fascinating snippets of family history and wonderful personal anecdotes which bring the 15th-century palazzo to life.
The villa is surrounded by elegant walled gardens that flow effortlessly through a carefully-manicured rose garden on to well-tended lawns with a vast chestnut tree and orchard. A dip in the 30-foot swimming pool with the foothills of the Dolomites as its backdrop is the perfect way to build up an appetite for an al fresco dinner or work off a sumptuous lunch under the old silk mills. The facade of Villa Casagrande faces out onto the main piazza of the village of Cison di Valmarino. Its huge burnt red entrance doors and matching shutters face the stunning backdrop of the mountains which rise up almost impossibly steeply beyond the confines of the village.
The itinerary is carefully designed to create the right balance between cooking, eating, trips, tours and tastings, leaving room for relaxation and exploring the beautiful surroundings.
Daily hands-on cooking classes using the stunning local and seasonal produce for which the area is renowned.
Go off the beaten track to dine out at local restaurants which serve wonderful regional delicacies for which the area is famous.
Learn new techniques and become acquainted with an exciting array of ingredients over the week-long courses.
Sample some of the most exciting food in Northern Italy.
Visit to a 5th generation artisan mountain cheese producer and an in-depth tasting at the globally celebrated Bisol winery in Valdobbiadene.
A trip into magical Venice to the Rialto fish and fresh food markets to pick up the best seasonal produce to bring back for classes is followed by a private boat ride out to an island, where you will sample some of the most exquisite cuisine the peninsula has to offer. You will visit the Rialto markets with chef to select the very freshest and best seasonal produce to bring back for the classes in the kitchens at Casagrande.
Hunters will take you into the Dolomites in search of seasonal truffles, as well as discovering mountain cheeses perfected by generations of family production.
Tour to Mazzorbo Island. Here you will be greeted by Matteo Bisol of the famous Bisol winery, whose father Gianluca has transformed the island into a haven of haute cuisine. Wine tasting at Bisol winery.
The Veneto is an area of outstanding natural beauty in the northeast of Italy, with extraordinary variety in its scenery. Stretching from the dolomites to the Adriatic, it takes in vast lakes, snow-capped mountains, sandy beaches and iconic towns and cities embedded in a rich, cultural heritage which has spanned over a thousand years.
The huge, burnt red oak doors of Villa Casagrande open onto the main square of Cison di Valmarino, voted as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy in a select list compiled since 2001, and one of only five featured from the Veneto.
The foothills of the Dolomites dominate the backdrop to the village. These contain countless wonderful walking and trekking opportunities with views stretching out over the valleys and the strada del prosecco, with its steep inclines and meticulously carved out terraces laden with Glera vines.
The Veneto is home to polenta and risotto, and the local trattorias and osterias are renowned for serving up some of the very best rich and robust dishes that Northern Italy has to offer.
Near Villa Casagrande lies one of the most spectacular, unique and historically important cities in the world, not to mention a mecca for gourmet travelers who have been visiting its canals for hundreds of years. On the all-important spice route and a powerful trading center to be reckoned with. Venice has over the years developed a rich cultural and gastronomic heritage which still has Italian food lovers flocking to its shores today.
The Rialto district of Venice has been home to a market for over a thousand years. Today, it still boasts a stunning selection of fish and seafood sourced both from the lagoon and the Adriatic sea, along with a mesmerizing array of fresh and colorful products plucked from the rich pastures of the Veneto.
Throughout this retreat you will get the chance to sample some of the most exciting food in Northern Italy. Also you will be using the rich and diverse seasonal products for which the area is renowned. Concentrate on creating regional Italian dishes such as faraona in salmis con salsa peverada (roast guinea fowl with spicy pepper sauce) and seppie col nero alla Veneziana (cuttlefish stewed in its own ink), as well as exploring broader Italian cuisine. Below you can find a detailed sample menu from your cookery course.
Wines of the Veneto are some of the most important produced in Italy and the area has the greatest production of DOC wines in the country. Amongst red Veneto wines the most prominent are from the Valpolicella region in the province of Verona and made from a blend of Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella grapes. The methods used to produce the bolder versions of Valpolicella. (Ripasso for Valpolicella Ripasso and appassimento for the king of Valpolicella, Amarone, both exclusive to the Veneto region). Soave is the principal white wine of the Veneto and is made with the Garganega grape. Villa Casagrande sits at the entrance to the "Strada del Prosecco" or "Strada del Vino" and is surrounded by vineyards grown on the steep hills which surround Valdobiaddene which produce the Glera grape used exclusively in the production of Prosecco.
Stirred understands the importance of matching wine with food to bring out the very best in both, and to that end we carefully select our wines to be the perfect accompaniment to every meal which is passionately created at Casagrande. Many years of respectful interaction with the major wine producers in the Veneto, both large and small, have cemented close ties with producers with an envious reputation not only in Italy but on a world stage. We find it very hard to resist stocking up on wines from Masi, who for over 200 years have been producing globally renowned wines under the Boscaini family who still run the business today. A member of the family or from the company, usually one and the same person, can often be found holding council over dinner at Villa Casagrande, matching the wonderful range of wines they produce. Masi famously have a collaboration with the Conti Serego d'Alighieri family, direct descendants of Dante, producing wonderfully expressive wines on their family estate.
Stirred also has a close working relationship with other giants on the Veneto wine stage such as the Allegrini family, whose award winning wines speak for themselves, and Pieropan who amongst other wines produce some of the best Soaves in existence. You can expect an in-depth Prosecco tasting from the Bisol family estate which, tucked into the steep hills surrounding the village of Valdobbiadene, produces an amazing range of wines found only in select spots around the world. The owner of the estate, Gianluca Bisol, is also responsible for resurrecting an ancient grape variety called La Dorona from the Venetian lagoon, the only remaining vines now found in the world. He cultivates them on the island of Mazzorbo to produce the spectacular Venissa, which you will also have the chance to sample with his son Matteo on the island.
The nearest airports are Venice (VCE), Bologna (BLQ), Verona (VRN) and Treviso (TSF) airport. Many people from Britain fly from Stansted with Ryanair. Their destinations are Treviso, Bologna, and Bergamo. It is better if you rent the car at the time of booking the air tickets, particularly if you do it on-line. Low cost flights are with Ryanair.com and EasyJet. British Airways and Alitalia fly to Venice and Bologna and many guests use those routes.