Welcome to Villa Eddarella

All of our cooking classes are held in our beautiful teaching kitchen at our private villa in the countryside near Soriano. Here is a little about it:

Our Paradise

Villa Eddarella is owned by Michael and Paola, the founders and owners of Culture Discovery Vacations. The home has been in Paola's family for more than 350 years, after her family emigrated from Corsica to Italy. All of our cooking classes are held on the ground floor of the villa. The top two floors are Michael and Paola's summer residence.

One of Paola's ancestors was a doctor who had delivered twins for a countess in Soriano by caesarean section, a method that very few doctors of the time praticed. As payment, the doctor was granted thousands of acres of land beneath the town. From that point forward, and until the middle of the 20th century, the family were land barons and this home had been one of the residences where families of farm-servants lived.

During World War II, the Nazis had occupied Soriano. In doing so they ousted Paola's family from their "Palazzo" in the town piazza in order to use it for offices. They had chosen to live in one of the family farmhouses, and this was the one they chose... a choice that probably saved the family when the Americans bombed the main piazza on June 5th,1944 as they liberated the town from the Nazis.

The Restoration

The home continued to be inhabited by a family of farmer-servants until the 1980's, and with time it fell into disrepair. In 1999 Paola's mother, Edda (often referred to as Eddarella), passed away and left the home to Michael and Paola.

Almost immediately, they began a total renovation on the home by completely gutting the house out and rebuilding it from the inside out with original regional design and authenticity in mind. After a few years, the country house was named in Paola's mother's honor as Villa Eddarella.

Today they spend their summers living in the top two floors of the villa, while the bottom floor is dedicated to the cooking classes.

The Teaching Kitchen

Until 2007, all of our classes were done in our second floor kitchen, but we wanted more room. There was an ancient 700 foot stable attached to the house, and we decided that it would get much better use as a kitchen. So we designed what we felt would be the ultimate kitchen to teach and learn in... naturally respecting the beauty of Tuscany and Umbria!

In July of 2008 it was finally done, and to to say this kitchen is breathtaking is a complete understatement. The room is divided in half by a crumbling stone wall, on one side is the kitchen section with solid-block travertine marble counters, a hand-carved travertine marble sink, custom hand-painted tiles, etc. Hanging from the rack above the 12 foot center counter, you will find salames, onions, garlic, etc. Over on the far side we always have a complete prosciutto there to pick on at will. On the other side is our dining area. As you walk up the steps between the two, it is impossible to miss our 90 bottle wine rack that you will have complete access to any time you desire!

Just outside the door, the view is simply unmatched. On one side you look toward the Tiber Valley, and the other toward the hills of Umbria.

To make you feel a little more connected to home, we have a webcam running during all of our classes, so you can let your family know when to watch for you, and we have a dedicated computer with Internet access on which you can check your e-mail, browse your pictures, etc. Additionally, for those that want to bring a laptop, we have wireless internet at the villa.

The "Cabana Toscana"

It is said that a true Italian construction project is never complete, and ours is no exception. In 2011 we started (and somehow completed) the next phase at the villa: An 800 square foot terraced outdoor patio area with an attached outdoor kitchen, and a wine & cheese cellar beneath it. At first, we jokingly called it "The Tuscan Tiki Hut", but later began to refer to it as the "Cabana Toscana".

This was a very different project, and all of the locals thought we were crazy! Since Italy is so full of antiquity, when most Italians build new structures, thy like to go with a more modern style. We, on the other hand, wanted to build something that looked like it was hundreds of years old, using ancient materials. In other words, we wanted it to look like some ancient building that we merely propped up.

To make this happen, we had to find materials from ancient structures, and literally create a new building from the old. Local farmers would come down and shake their heads. Even our architect got frustrated at us for not wanting modern beams and perfect angles. But when it was all done, everyone agreed: It was a masterpiece.

The Oven

The crown jewel of this new project is, of all things, the oven. Attached to the outdoor kitchen, we wanted a big brick pizza oven, but we wanted it to be exactly as it would have been hundreds of years ago, had a poor farmer used it for the family's bread. Unfortunately, the materials to build a centuries old oven no longer exist. No problem! Our contractor was able to find -- and acquire -- a 500 year old oven from an ancient house nearby. He broke it down carefully and rebuilt it, stone by stone, at Villa Eddarella. This is the oven in which we will bake our pizza for our pizza class!

The Wine Cellar

We built a 400 square foot cellar, which is home to so much more than wine. While you will find a wonderful collection of Umbrian and Tuscan wines here, we also use the cellar for other "projects". Here, we age cheese as well. When we make Ricotta cheese together, we take some of the "Cacio" cheese that is part of the process to make Pecorino cheese that we age here. We also age our prosciutto and salami in the cellar. Finally, our newest project involves a pot still, with which we make our own Grappa on site.

The Location

While all of our guests stay in town, Villa Eddarella is 2 miles (3.5km) as a crow flies from the village of Soriano. It is perched atop one of the rolling hills of the Tiber valley, just outside of town, among olive and hazelnut orchards. The views from the villa are breathtaking, making it the perfect setting for days of Italian country cooking & relaxation.

On days that we have cooking classes in the morning, we all have breakfast together in town before boarding our minibus for the five minute drive to the villa. When our cooking classes happen in the afternoon, we simply head here after our morning excursions.

Home Away from Home

While you will have your private village home in town, one thing is common among all of our guests. Villa Eddarella becomes home. From the moment you first arrive here for the first cooking class, you will quickly get into the rhythm: Our house is your house. When you are at the villa, you will find that you are truly our house guest for the week. Feel like some wine? Just get a bottle from the wine rack. Thirsty? The refrigerator is yours to raid. Want some coffee? Just go ahead and help yourself. We do everything we can to make you feel completely at home, so it simply becomes 'home base' for everyone.