Is This Vacation Right For You?

We get all kinds of questions from people trying to determine if this type of trip is right for them. Read on and you will get most of your answers:

Attitude is Everything

We simply cannot stress this enough. This is much more than a cooking vacation in Italy. It is a cultural experience, and our main objective is to make you feel at home, as part of the family. You will spend a week living Italian village life. You will have the experience of your life as long as you don't have false expectations. We are away from the major tourist areas, so you won't find an American coffee. You won't be able to get bacon and eggs in the morning. You won't see rows of touristy stores selling snow globes.

Part of the family experience is that we treat you like friends and family, not clients. At our cooking classes, for example, it is perfectly normal for guests to help serve, help with the dishes, etc. It is all part of the relaxed experience. If you are expecting to be waited on, this may not be for you.

Think of it like visiting relatives. They will go out of their way to make sure you have a wonderful time, and you will go out of your way to help them where you can. When we break the customer/host relationship, and simply all be friends, we have the most amazing experience you can imagine!

The important point is that we don't use the term "friends and family" as a marketing term. We actually treat our guests that way.

Are there physical limitations?

Italy is full of hills and cobblestone streets. The ancient cities and towns are full of tiny streets with no vehicle traffic and no parking. Because of this, Italians walk quite a bit. Our weeks are all about living like Italians, among the villagers... so we will do quite a bit of walking, too. We live where they live, we shop where they shop. At minimum you will need to walk about a quarter mile per day, and part of that will be on an incline. On some days, we walk more.

We always take care of our guests that have trouble walking, but that may mean that you miss out on something. For example, on the day that we go to The Dying City, it is quite a walk up a narrow bridge. Some of our guests are not up to it. In those cases, you are invited to wait at a cafe while we go, but unfortunately there is no way to get there (legally) except on foot.

When are Physical Limitations a Deal Breaker?

Mobility is a big concern, especially for many Americans. Remember that Italy doesn't have big parking lots with handicap parking to take you into that 14th century wine cellar. They don't have escalators that help you avoid the stairs up to that 11th century castle, and they don't have mobility scooters onwhich you can ride alongside the ancient ruins. So cosider these points: Are you able to walk up a several flights of stairs? If so, good. Do you need a mobility scooter when you go shopping? If so, not good.

Are you really looking for a REAL experience?

We could make sure that every meal we eat is at a darling sidewalk cafe where all the staff speaks English and they have butter for your bread, but that would not be real Italian life. We will eat in wonderful restaurants, but we'll also eat in the local pizzerias, and at times we'll grab Panini on the go. The point is that some visitors have an impression of Italy from the movies, or from a past experience in a touristy area. Our mission is to give you a week of true Italian life. Like everywhere else in the world, they have amazing restaurants, as well as that 'hole in the wall' that happens to make the most amazing food. They have incredible fine dining, and also have that 'little stand that sells the most amazing sandwiches'. They have places called 'Autogrill', which are literally a rest-stops with counter service food, but the food is fantastic, and illustrates how even at the most basic levels, Italians take their food very seriously. In other words, we try to balance it all out so that you get a broad culinary experience.

Do singles ever do this trip?

Almost every week we have several people traveling on their own. They are usually women, but we have had men come on their own as well. Safety has never been a concer. That's why we liken Soriano to be Italy's Mayberry.

Am I too young/old?

The youngest person we have ever had was 12. The Oldest was 93. Neither was too young or old by any means. We usually have a really good mix every week, and age has never been an issue. That said, unless you are booking a private week, kids under 18 generally won't get the most out of it.

My husband/wife doesn't want to come because of the cooking

It is not uncommon for non-cooking spouses to come. When they do, they always enjoy spending time at our villa, taking walks, relaxing in the yard, etc. More often then not, they end up cooking as well, and wind up having more fun than anyone else! We have never had a non-cook that wasn't thrilled to be at the villa.

Do I need to speak Italian?

Not at all. All of our key staff speak English, and the shopkeepers in town are always happy to find a way to communicate with you! If you do choose to learn some Italian, you will find that the locals will consider it a great honor that you have made the effort to learn their language.

How do I know we will bond with the group?

The simple rule is the more you let go, the more you will have fun and make great new friends. Everyone is on vacation, and our guests almost always wind up becoming fast friends, and very often form long lasting friendships long after the trip.

How big are the groups?

Our general rule is that 16 people is our maximum and 4 is our minimum.. In some circumstances, we will allow up to 18 people.

What Nationalities Are The Other Guests?

About 70% of our guests are Americans. The remaining 30% is generally a mix of Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders South Africans and British. Everything we do is in English, so these are the nationalities that we tend to attract. However, we have had guests from all over the world. The only requirement is that you speak English as that is the language of our classes and excursions.