Full Itinerary

Our Itinerary for the Week

This is a 2014 Itinerary. For future years, minor modifications may be made.

Day 1 (Saturday)

Welcome to Soriano!

Places: Soriano nel Cimino
Classes: None
Meals: Dinner: at Taverna dei Frati

For those arriving in Italy today on early flights, we offer a shuttle to Soriano nel Cimino from Rome Fiumicino airport at 10:30 AM. If you are already in Italy, or your flight arrives after 9:45 AM in Rome, we offer a second shuttle from the Orte Train station (a 35 minute train ride from Rome Termini station, and easy access from other major Italian cities) at 3:45 PM. For those arriving at times that do not coincide with our shuttle schedule, we can arrange for a private driver to bring you to Soriano for an extra charge.

Once in Soriano we will help you to your accommodations for the week and give you some time to get settled in, unpack and rest up. As you get settled in, you will find some snacks and drinks waiting for you when you get to your home.

At around 6PM, we will meet at the Rottezia restaurant, locqted in ancient caves underneath Soriano's piazza. Here, we will have some Proseco and appetizers together as we get to know one another and discuss the week ahead.

Next, we will do a little shopping for tomorrow's cooking class. We will stop in a local fruit and vegetable shop, a grocer, and local butcher. We will meet and get to know some of the shopkeepers in the village and pick up what we will need. While shopping, you will get your first introduction to some of the ingredients that make Tuscan and Umbrian cooking so unique. These are ingredients most people back home are unaware of, and will be featured in much of this week's cooking!

For dinner tonight we will dine in an ancient monastery in Soriano that has been converted to a fantastic restaurant. Here we will sample many local specialties in the first of many multi-course meals as we dive head first in Italian culinary culture. The menu for tonight's dinner is:

Appetizer:
A sampling of Local Salame, Prosciutto, Porcini Bruschetta, Olive Bruschetta, Ascoline Olives (fried sausage-stuffed olives), and Sutrini (a local crepe with Romano cheese)

First Course
For our first course tonight, we will have samplings of two local pasta dishes: Gnocchi col Ferro (a local specialty eggless pasta that is hand rolled in an Arrabiata sauce) and Ciuffetti Sorianesi (hand made pasta purses, stuffed with radicchio and speck in a Parmesan cream sauce).

Second Course
After our pasta dishes we will sample local grilled Tagliata al Aceto Balsamico (A grilled steak, marinated in balsamic vinegar atop a bed of rucola salad). We'll also have Tuscan Roasted Potatoes as a side dish.

Dessert
Finally we will be brought a lemon sorbet dessert and end our evening with a glass of Limoncello or Grappa.

As always, wine is provided with all dinners, and we favor small local wineries wherever we dine. Tonight's wine will be Umbrian wine from nearby vineyards..

Making Panzanella
Making Panzanella
Making Panzanella
Viterbo at night
Viterbo at night
Viterbo at night

Day 2 (Sunday)

5-Course Cooking Class & The City of Popes

Places: Soriano nel Cimino, Viterbo
Classes: Panzanella, Ravioli w/ Ricotta & Spinach, Tuscan Roasted Chicken, Tuscan Roasted Potatoes, Tiramisu
-or-
Eggplant Parmesan, Pici Pasta w/ Fennel Ragu, Saltimbocca alla Romana, Frascati Sautéed Porcini , Tiramisu
-or-
Umbrian Farro Salad, Ravioli w/ Ricotta & Spinach, Tuscan Roasted Chicken, Tuscan Roasted Potatoes, Tiramisu
Meals: Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar-Pasticceria Roma
Lunch: : The meal we prepare in cooking class
Dinner: At the Tre Scalini Trattoria in Soriano

We will begin our first full day together with a bang. In the morning, we'll meet for our daily traditional Italian breakfast at Bar-Pasticceria Roma, a local pastry shop & coffee bar located in Soriano's lively central piazza, a very short walk from the home you are staying in. As with every morning, coffee & freshly baked pastries is on us (tea, milk, juice, etc, is also available). We will have our breakfast alongside the local villagers before our transportation arrives to take us to the villa for our first cooking class.

Our Italian cooking classes are held at Villa Eddarella, which is just 5 minutes from town. The villa is an 18th century farmhouse that was built by Paola's ancestors. We have completely restored into a beautiful country villa, with a breathtaking 700 sq. ft. teaching kitchen on the ground floor and views of the rolling hills that are to die for.

As we arrive, we'll give everyone a quick familiarization tour of the villa, and you will immediately learn one of the most important themes of the week: "Casa mia e' casa tua" (My house is your house). In other words, when we show you how we divide wine bottles in our 90-bottle wine rack (not to mention our 500 bottle cellar), we'll also show you where the corkscrews are, and where the glasses are. When you want some wine, have at it :-). We are all a big family this week.

After you have been given your aprons and recipe books (yours to take home at the end of the week), we will get down to business. We have a huge meal to make for lunch, so we'll not waste much time, especially since our cooking classes are extremely 'hands-on'.

We'll start with our appetizer, which will either be Panzanella (Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad), Eggplant Parmesan, or Farro Salad. The ingredients are always fresh and local, such as tomatoes from our local garden that you may be asked to run outside to pick, olive oil from our own orchard, and locally grown veggies. Our first course will either be Ravioli made from scratch with our own Ricotta cheese (made right here!), and a butter and sage sauce, or Pici pasta (also made from scratch), with our amazing fennel-ragu sauce.

The second course and side dishes today will be either Tuscan Roasted Chicken & Potatoes (we'll be cooking it outside in our ancient wood-fired oven!) that we promise will leave you in absolute awe; Or Saltimbocca alla Romana, cutlets sauteed and topped with cheese, prosciutto and sage.

Finally for dessert we will be preparing our family recipe for Tiramisu, which is guaranteed to be the best you have ever tasted.

To learn exactly which of the above dishes will be on the menu for a given week, click here.

During all of our cooking classes, we work, but we laugh and play. We break out the wine (and sometimes the Grappa). We may sing along to the background music as we are prepping, and everyone takes little breaks along the way. We even have a computer and WIFI Internet right in the kitchen for those of you that can't get away from your e-mail -- although guests that leave the technology behind do get more out of this amazing experience.

During the classes we may find that we need some herbs or veggies, and send a few guests out to the garden to pick them. You may need to make a run down to the cellar to fill up on the olive oil, or run across the road to get some squash from the farmers. In other words, don't think of it as 'school'. Above all, it is a delightful social experience in a breathtaking setting, while you make a mouth-watering meal together... and learn how it is done along the way. In fact, when we get the occasional person that doesn't cook with us, they have just as much fun!

While class is happening, you will be invited to spend some "down time" in our incredible wine, cheese & prosciutto cellar, where we will fire up our copper still and make a batch of pure grappa. Feel free at any time to sample from the dozens of spirits & liqueurs we make here on site, such as Grappa, Brandy, Limoncello, Rosolio, Amaretto, or our famous "Fury" and "Inferno".

Lunch today will be the results of all of your work, and we promise you won't be wanting for more! We have yet to have a guest tell us they have ever had better. Most important of all, you will know how to make all of this back home.

After some espresso, grappa, limoncello, etc., we will head back to town to give you some time to take it easy and rest up. For those that wish to stay on the move, today's excursion is an evening outing to the capital of our province, Viterbo. Just nine miles from Soriano, Viterbo is the largest Italian city between Rome and Florence, and while not frequented by tourists, it has remarkable beauty and a riveting history that very few are aware of.

We'll make our way into the ancient walled city, and take a walk through the main shopping district. We'll stop in the Gran Caffè Schenardi, a beautiful coffee bar that dates back to 1818 as one of the very first coffee bars in Italy, that went on to serve Popes, Kings, Queens, etc. through its history. It was even a favorite place of Orson Welles, who would take time to think and write poetry here during the filming of Othello in 1958.

Next we will take a walk to the ancient Papal Palace, the official seat for six Popes between 1257 and 1281 when the Vatican was having trouble asserting authority in Rome. This was the location of the first Papal Conclave before it was moved to the Sistine Chapel in Rome, after a controversial Papal Election happened here. It was the longest Papal election in history, that lasted nearly 3 years. After it had been going on for almost 2 years, the people of Viterbo became very upset and locked the cardinals inside, then began to ration food to nothing more than bread and water. To make matters worse, they tore the roof off the building to expose the Cardinals inside to the elements! The effects of this reached as far as Marco Polo in China at the time, and when it was all said and done, the people of Viterbo forced the election of a Pope that wasn't even so much as a priest! The result of this disaster created the rules that are, for the most part, the same rules used in electing popes today: The Papal Conclave.

Tonight we will be back in Soriano for dinner at the Tre Scalini Trattoria, which is in walking distance to your home.

Deuta Ceramics
Deruta Ceramics
Deruta Ceramics
St Francis' Basilica in Assisi
St Francis' Basilica in Assisi
St Francis' Basilica - Assisi
Dinner at Maria Grazia's Villa
Dinner at Maria Grazia's Villa
Dinner at Maria Grazia's Villa

Day 3 (Monday)

Highlights of Umbria: Assisi & Deruta

Places: Assisi, Deruta
Classes:

None

Meals: Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma
Lunch: Pozzo della Mensa
Dinner: Maria Grazia's House

After our morning breakfast we head to the Umbrian city of Deruta, which is known for its world-famous 'majolica' ceramics. Deruta is home to a centuries old ceramics tradition that is unparalleled anywhere in the world, and is among the most valued Italian ceramics internationally. We will have a factory tour, and those that are up to it can try their hand at the pottery wheel. If you are interested in purchasing any pottery or ceramics this week, this is the place with extremely deep discounts compared to what you will find elsewhere... a fraction of the costs back home.

As we leave Deruta, we will make our way to Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis. Still surrounded by its ancient walls, is sits on the slopes of Mount Subasio with beautiful rose stone buildings, winding narrow streets, noble palaces and balconies full of flowers.

We'll stop for lunch together in a local restaurant in Assisi, then you will have the afternoon on your own to visit the Basilica of St. Francis, browse the many beautiful shops, and do some sightseeing.

After this long day, we will drive back to Soriano. Tonight we are hosted in the Mountain Villa of Maria Grazia, the sister of a member of our team. She has a tiny B&B in the mountains above Soriano, and we will dine with her and her husband Cesare, who happens to be our contractor! Maria Grazia will have prepared a wonderful home meal for us tonight. This is always a major highlight of the trip.

Day 4 (Tuesday)

5-Course Cooking Class & Soriano

Places: Soriano nel Cimino
Classes:

Pancetta-Stracchino Bruschetta, Pappardelle pasta from scratch w/ Bolognese, Brasato al Barolo Roast, Sautéed Zucchini, Panna Cotta
-or-
Sausage-Stracchino Bruschetta, Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, Chicken Cacciatore, Sautéed Bell Peppers, Crostata
-or-
Pancetta-Stracchino Bruschetta, Pappardelle pasta from scratch w/ Bolognese, Porchetta, Tuscan Beans, Panna Cotta

Meals: Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma
Lunch: The meal we prepare in our cooking class
Dinner: Catia's Cellar

After our morning breakfast, we'll head back to the local shops in town to do some shopping for this morning's cooking class. As with Sunday, we will visit the local butcher, grocer, etc. Once done. we will head back down to the villa and get right to it.

Today our appetizer will be a unique Bruschetta with stracchino cheese and either Pancetta & rosemary or local sausage. For our first course, we will be making pasta from scratch again, either Pappardelle with Bolognese sauce, or Gnocchi with Sorrentina sauce. Our second course will either be Brasato al Barolo (Beef roast braised in Barolo wine, Brandy and local sspices), Chicken Cacciatore, or our local specialty Porchetta. Finally, for dessert we will either make Panna Cotta with a chocolate-hazelnut & straberry topping, or Crostata with preserves made right here at the villa.

To learn exactly which of the above dishes will be on the menu for a given week, click here.

Lunch, of course, will be the meal we prepare in class.

After lunch, we will head back to Soriano for some time to rest. This afternoon we have little mid-week down time, giving you the chance to either take an afternoon of relaxation or explore Soriano at your own pace.

For those that would prefer to get a tour of Soriano. we will do casual walking tour of Soriano's medieval quarter. We'll have a walk around the narrow streets of this beautiful village. During our walk we'll stop in the studio of the extremely talented local artist, Riccardo Sanna and have a look at what he is working on.

We'll be meeting in the piazza this evening for tonight's dinner. All of you will hav gotten to know Catia by now in the kitchen at Villa Eddarella. She and her husband have a beautiful ancient cellar in town that they have restored as a "hang out" of sorts, where they get together with friends, cook up a meal and enjoy good company. Tonight we are Catia's guests as she prepares a wonderful dinner for us, including her amazing Lasagna!

 

Day 5 (Wednesday)

A Day of Wine, Cheese & The Gregorian Chant in Tuscany

Places: Montalcino, Castelnuovo dell'Abate, Montepulciano, and Pienza, Tuscany
Classes: None
Meals: Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma
Lunch: With the owners of a Brunello Winery in Montalcino
Dinner: Rottezia

After our morning breakfast we will head out for a day full of wine, cheese & more in beautiful Southern Tuscany.

We'll start by driving to our furthest point, the town of Castelnuovo d'Abate. To get there, we will be driving the famous Orcia Valley Wine Trail through this picturesque wine region which evokes the classic image of Tuscan rolling hills. This is the area of Tuscany that most of us think of, seen in many well-known movies, such as Under the Tuscan Sun, Life is Beautiful, and many more.

As we arrive, we will visit the St. Antimo Abbey, a beautiful Romanesque church that dates back to the 9th century. It sits in a valley just outside of Montalcino, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The monks now pray privately outside of the abbey, however we are still able to listen to the Gregorian chants of the monks that reside here.

After the service, we will go to nearby Montalcino, home of what is arguably the best of all Italian wines: Brunello. Instead of going to the big wineries for impersonal tastings like the tourists, we have something truly exclusive in store for you today. We will visit the small, private Piombaia winery in Montalcino. This is the only winery we have ever encountered that makes their wine entirely by hand. It is a true artisan wine, made exactly as it was centuries ago!

We will be hosted to a wonderful lunch with the owners of the estate, as we sample their artisan Brunello wine with our meal. As we have lunch together, they will share their family history with you and answer any question you can imagine. You are sure to fall in love with this gracious family. It is always one of the major highlights on our weeks, and provides for a truly exclusive and unique Brunello experience.

Next, we'll take the short drive to beautiful Pienza, known for its incredible Pecorino cheese. You will have a some time to walk around this charming village, do some Pecorino cheese tastings and some shopping before we leave for the town of Montepulciano, where we will do our final wine tasting and tour of the day.

Montepulciano is known for its Vino Nobile wine, a primary competitor for the Brunellos. Here we will tour the town's ancient 14th century cellar that was built underneath the Palace of Cardinal Ricci and is widely considered to be the most beautiful wine cellar in the world. After the cellar tour, we will participate in a complete tasting of Montepulciano's fantastic wines. Those that have seen the 2009 film 'New Moon' (The sequel to 'Twilight') will recognize this wine cellar and other areas of town from the movie.

After this long day, we will return to Soriano for dinner right in town, near your homes. We will be eating at the Rottezia rsstaurant, which is truly unique. Under Soriano, there is a network of ancient caves, some of which dug out as n escap route for Popes living in our castle, and some during the Nazi occupation of the town in World War II. Some of these caves right under our piazza have been converted into a restaurant and pub, which is where we will have dinner tonight.

Harvesting Olives
Harvesting Olives in Italy
Just-Harvested Olives
Just-Harvested Olives
Just-Harvested Olives
Bringing Our Harvest to the Olive Mill
Bringing Our Harvest to the Olive Mill
Bringing Our Harvest to the Olive Mill
Touring the Winery during a break
Touring the Winery during a break
Touring the Winery during a break
The Olive Oil WE Just Made!
The Olive Oil WE Just Made!
The Olive Oil WE Just Made!

Day 6 (Thursday)

Harvesting Olives, Making Oil & Wine Tasting...

Places: Castiglione in Teverina
Classes: None
Meals: Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma
Lunch: Castiglione in Taverna or Campello sul Clitunno
Dinner: Tre Scalini Trattoria

This morning we have breakfast at Bar Roma, then head out to harvest olives!

Depending on the week you come (we won't know which week until October), we will do one of two things:

1) We will head down to Villa Eddarella and harvest the olive trees at the villa.
or
2) We will head to the an olive orchards in either Castiglione in Taverna or Campello sul Clitunno and harvest some of their olives.

We will spend a couple hours harvesting olives from the local trees. Our area is known for its volcanic soil, which produces excellent olives for making the best olive oil, so we are in for quite a treat!

Imagine... this is a stop on all of our tours, but this is one of only a couple weeks of the year that we actually get to be part of the olive oil making process!

After we have harvested our olives, we will head to the Madonna delle Macchie Olive Mill and Winery in the tiny village of Castiglione in Taverna which borders with the well-known Umbrian city of Orvieto. This is a tiny family run artisan operation with a very low production of the highest quality wine and oil. Depending on the week, we may opt for harvesting at the Carletti Antique Olive Oil Mill in Umbria, another high quality, small production family olive oil mill.

The olive mill here is an ultra cold-press mill that produces a top-quality extra virgin, unfiltered olive oil with the lowest possible acidity. Consider that in order to be called Extra Virgin, olive oil needs to have less than 0.8% acdity, and the olive oil here averages 0.2%, four times less than the standard! In other words, it is simply the best of the best of the best.

As we arrive, we will walk into the mill and weigh our olives before we dump them into a container that will start the process. We will learn all about how the olive oil making process works as our olives are being pressed into olive oil.

We will then head to their wine cellar where we will be given a private tour of the winery side of the operation, as well as their ancient olive mill by one of the owners. During our tour, we will have a full wine tasting of all their wines, as well as a tasting of the newly produced olive oil and a wonderful homemade buffet lunch.

We will then head back to the mill, where our olives have now been made into Olive Oil.

Finally, each of us will walk up to the centrifuge in the mill where our oil is going through the last step of the process as all water is separated from the oil. As the thick, green oil drips from a spout, we will each fill a one liter can of the oil that came from the olives we picked this morning and milled this afternoon!

Today you will go home with oil that you made, and came from olives you harvested. This is exclusive experience, as the olive mill only does this with OUR guests. Today will have been pure magic.. A day you will never forget.

As we leave the mill with gigantic grins on our faces, we will head back to town and give you a few hours to rest and clean up. Tonight we will meet again for dinner at the Tre Scalini Trattoria in Soriano.

Ceramics in Orvieto
Ceramics in Orvieto
Ceramics in Orvieto
Pizza Class
Pizza Class
Pizza Class

Day 7 (Friday)

Market Day, Orvieto, & Pizza Class

Places: Orvieto, Soriano nel Cimino
Classes:

Pizza Class, making: Focaccia with Melon, Prosciutto & Mortadella (Figs when in season); Margherita Pizza; Sausage & Porcini Mushroom Pizza; Caramelized Onion Pizza; Caramelized Sugar Pizza; Ricotta & Nutella Pizza; plus Zucchini Flower Pizza when in season.

Meals: Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma
Lunch: in Orvieto
Dinner: Pizza Class resulting in our farewell dinner

Today is market day in Soriano. This is a true local market, not a tourist market. Here you will find clothing, accessories, kitchen items, food, etc. You will have the early morning to enjoy the market at your leisure or sleep in a bit before we start our day.

After breakfast we will drive to the Umbrian city of Orvieto which is the home to one of Italy's most magnificent cathedrals, as well as the world-renowned white Orvieto Classico wine and beautiful ceramics shops.. We'll visit the magnificent Gothic cathedral (The Duomo), then give you time to explore & shop in this wonderful cliff-top town.

We'll meet up again for lunch in a local trattoria, then after lunch we will drive back to the villa for our final (and always most popular) class of the week: Country Wood-Fired Pizza!

In Italy, making Pizza is a social event, similar to the way many of us think of having a Barbecue. It is a time of fun and laughter where bonds are forged. It is a truly special experience while the group shares the homemade pizza one tray at a time as it is pulled from the wood-fired brick oven and carried piping hot to the garden table under the vines and stars.

We will prepare several kinds of dough, and prepare the fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and many other ingredients for this wonderful evening together. Each person will help while they learn every stage of this event. You will make the dough, drink some wine, prepare the ingredients, drink some wine, help fire up the oven, drink some wine, and even handle the peel as the pizza cooks.... and then we will drink some wine!

It will be true Italian country pizza, like nothing you have ever experienced.

Each guest will have the opportunity to make their own pizza, plus we will make all sorts of additional pizzas, such as Focaccia, Pizza Margherita, Sweet Onion pizza, Sausage & Porcini Pizza, and for dessert we will have Sugar Pizza and finally Nutella Pizza.

Day 8 (Saturday)

Goodbye :-(

Sadly, our week comes to a close this morning. The shuttle leaves town at 6:15 AM as most outbound flights require early morning airport arrivals. We will be at the Orte train station for a drop off by 6:40 AM, and at the Rome Fiumicino airport by 8:00 AM. This will be sufficient time for outbound flights leaving after 9:45 AM.

___________________________________________

Itinerary Subject to Change
This is a base itinerary, which is subject to minor changes before the vacation begins. Changes may be reorganization of days due to closure and festivals, changes due to weather, or seasonal changes. Additionally, these itineraries are prepared well in advance, and at times there are unexpected closures for various reasons that require us to alter the plans. In the end, our goal is always to make it better for our guests, and when substitutions happen, they are always wonderful.

Menu Variations
The menus listed on the itineraries are subject to change depending on season. We use only fresh ingredients wherever possible, so if we are unable to prepare a certain dish, it will be substituted. In case of expected rain, Pizza night may be replaced with Gnocchi class, especially between October and April. Occasionally we make changes to some items as certain dishes prove to be very popular. For example, we sometimes do a Sausage, Onion & Vodka sauce with our fettuccine, and we sometimes make Amatriciana sauce instead of Carbonara. Finally, from time to time we experiment with different recipes with our alumni groups, and sometimes dishes turn out so great that we decide to make them a part of our regular schedule.

Weather
Some places on our itineraries don't work well with rain. When we do expect rain, we try to rearrange the schedule to make the best of it, but substitutions may be made.

Map