Overview

It's Olive Harvest Time!

This is a very special week, during which we will do many of the things we do on our other weeks (cooking, visiting wineries, etc.), but we will also spend a morning harvesting olives, then head over to a cold press olive oil mill and make our own Extra Virgin Umbrian Olive Oil. This is a truly exclusive week, as the olive mill only does this with our guests. You will pick the olives. You will experience the olive mill, making oil from YOUR olives. You will bring home the olive you made!

As Autumn Fades Toward Winter...

The huge crowds of tourists that fill Italy every year have diminished, and there is a slight chill in the air. It isn't quite winter yet, but the bustling cities settle into a quieter calm, and the farms seem as though they are preparing for hibernation. There is one job left this year, and it is perhaps the best of all... The Olive Harvest.

There is a magnificent beauty to Italy this time of year. You wake up to misty mornings, while afternoon gelato gives way to hot sipping chocolate. The fresh vegetable salads of the summer give way to wonderful soups such as Ribollita, and the crowds normally found in museums and attractions have all but completely disappeared.

But there are two words that really matter during the first two weeks of November: OLIO NUOVO, or NEW OIL. There is nothing quite like it, and if you have never had freshly milled olive oil, you are in for quite a treat.

We're Picking Olives... We're Milling Olives... We're making Our Own Olive Oil... We're bringing our oil home

Other companies offer olive oil experiences, but we are unaware of anyone else that offers anything close to what we are doing today. This is truly a life experience none of our guests ever forget.

On one day this week we will be harvesting olives and making olive oil! We will either harvest olives right at Villa Eddarella, or head to an Umbrian Olive Orchard and harvest their olives. This is where Italy's BEST olive oil is grown. We'll spend the morning harvesting olives together, then will make our way to a cold press olive mill with our baskets of olives.

As we arrive at the mill, we will weigh what we picked, then dump it into the mill. We watch our olives get sucked into the press, where they will begin a crushing process. While the olives are being turned into olive oil, we will take a tour of the winery here, do a wine tasting and try some of this harvest's oil while we have a wonderful lunch here at the mill.

After the tour and tasting, we will head back into the mill. Our olives have now been made into olive oil, and each one of us will walk up to the spout where our oil comes out of the centrifuge, and fill our own one liter can of olive oil that we just made from olives we just picked.

During each of our Soriano-based weeks throughout the season, we visit this olive mill, but this is the only time of year that we actually see it in operation... and have the opportunity to experience it first hand. Furthermore, this is an exclusve experience that the olive mill ONLY does with us!

The Cooking Classes

We'll have three half-day completely hands-on cooking classes this week, Our cooking classes are not demonstrations. They are 100% hands-on. We structure them so that you can be as involved as you wish in every stage of every course we prepare. With every class, we roll up our sleeves and get writst deep in making everything fresh, from scratch.

Our first two classes are complete five-course meals, during which you are completely involved in everything. Our final class of the week is all about pizza!

Depending on the week you come, we may make fresh papardelle pasta with home-made Bolognese sauce, Home-Made Ravioli, Tuscan Herb-Roasted Chicken in our wood-fired oven, Country Wood-Fired Pizza, Eggplant Parmesan, Chicken Cacciatore, Fresh Ricotta Cheese, Home-Made Biscotti, Gelato, and much more. To see exactly what we will be making on a given week, click here.

For those would rather eat than cook, our classes take place at our beautiful 18th century country villa. Take control of our 90-bottle wine rack, relax, take a stroll, or just enjoy the wonderful Italian countryside. Whether you are cooking or not, the time we spend at the villa is always a highlight.

The Excursions

When we are not cooking or making olive oil, we are heading out on some truly incredible excursions. We'll visit some amazing wineries, including small family-run places where we will meet the owners and dine with them, and the most beautiful wine cellar in the world. . We'll visit a real Deruta ceramics factory where we will try our hand at the pottery wheel, and we'll of course see many popular sights, such as Assisi, Orvieto, Pienza and more.

The Food & Wine

We are all about food & wine, and if there is one comment we hear more than any other from our guests throughout the week, it is "I can't eat another bite".

You will never be hungry, and you will never want for more wine, period. All of the restaurant meals are in small, local restaurants that are considered the best of the best for their area. These are the places the locals rave about, not the touristy places. Furthermore, we don't do "tourist food". We insist on the highest quality at all times, and always pull out all of the stops.

The wine is always flowing at lunch and dinner. We always focus on local wines from the area we are in, and it is always fantastic!

Additionally, the meals at our cooking classes are not little 'learn to make pasta' classes like many others. Instead, the classes are traditional Italian 'Sunday Family Meals'... 4 and 5 courses, done to the max.

When the week is over, you will have experienced the real Italy that few tourists have ever experienced. You will have made new friends, and you will have learned why Italian culture is so amazing... because you will have lived it.

Cities We'll Visit...

Tuscany
Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, Castelnuovo d'Abate

Umbria
Assisi, Orvieto, Deruta

Lazio
Viterbo, Castiglione in Teverina

 

What we'll be cooking...

Our classes rotate three weekly menus. Click here to see which of the following menus we will have on a given week.

Class 1: 
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

Class 2: 
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

Class 3: 
Limoncello, Limoncello Cream, Cantucci (Tuscan Biscotti), Gelato (Vanilla with fresh fruit & balsamic vinegar reduction), Sorbetto (Lemon-Moscato Sorbet), Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

Class 4: 
Each guest will have the opportunity to make their own pizza. In addition, we make Focaccia with Melon, Prosciutto & Mortadella (Figs when in season), Margherita Pizza, Sausage & Porcini Mushroom Pizza, Caramelized Onion Pizza, Caramelized Sugar Pizza, Ricotta & Nutella Pizza

In addition, during our classes we will be revisiting acient traditions that are nearly lost to time. During one class, we will actually make Grappa from scratch in our artisan copper still. During another, we will be visited by a local shepherd, with whom we will make the freshest Ricotta and Pecorino cheese!

Factories, Wineries & Mills we will visit...

  1. Madonna delle Macchie Winery & Olive Mill in Castiglione (Orvieto Wine & Umbrian Olive Oil) or Carletti Olive Oil Mill in Campello sul Clitunno - Umbria
  2. Piombaia (or Solaria) Winery in Montalcino (Brunello Wine)
  3. Cantina del Redi Winery in Montepulciano (Vino Nobile Wine)
  4. Ceramics Factory in Deruta

Dates & Prices

Map

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Accommodations

Private Village Homes

Our guests in Soriano stay in their own private village homes, rather than a hotel. All of our homes are beautiful places that date back to medieval times or the renaissance. Each one of them is unique, and has been completely restored with modern conveniences, while maintaining their original beauty.

Immersed in Local Tradition

Most of our village homes are not clustered together. They are peppered here and there in the village, such that your neighbors are not other travelers. Instead, they are locals. You will find yourself getting to know them with that daily 'good morning' wave, smile and Buon Giorno. You will see them here and there in town, and really get a sense of belonging as you weave yourself into the fabric of Italian village life.

Location

While our homes are not clustered together, they are all close. Soriano is a small town that is built around a central square, "The Piazza". It is in the piazza that we meet each morning for breakfast before our day starts, and end each evening after dinner. All of the homes are within several hundred feet of the Piazza, so getting to and from is very quick, and incredibly pleasant each day.

Amenities

All of our village homes are actual homes that were private residences at one time. As such, they all have private bathrooms, kitchens, refrigerators, etc. All of our homes are also air conditioned and heated. We also have television in each home with satellite service, allowing you English Language programming. Nearly all of our homes also offer free wireless Internet.

How Homes Are Assigned to Guests

Since each home is unique, so is the floor plan and the decor. Some are larger than others, some have valley views, some have castle views, and some have village views. Some offer balconies, while others do not. Some have two bedrooms, and some are one bedroom homes.

We don't charge different prices for different homes, so we do our best to assign homes based on what we know about guests that are booking. For example, if we know that you would rather not walk up a few flight of stairs or uphill, we will give you one of the lower-lying homes if available. If you are a married couple booking, we will give you a one bedroom home if available. In addition, we take requests. If you have seen photo of our village homes, and there is one in particular that you would like, we will try to make sure you get that one when we confirm your booking. In such cases, it is part first come, first served. But we also take other factors into consideration. For example, if a married couple requests a large 2 bedroom home that sleeps 4 people, we will happily give you a temporary assignment of that home, but if a group of three books later, and all we have left are one bedroom homes, we may need to move you.

See All Of Our Village Homes

Photographs of all of our village homes can be viewed by clicking here. Besides the photographs, you will also find a clickable map of Soriano that indicates the locations of all of our home.

Is This For You?

Is This For You?

Your Disposition

Our vacations are focused on having a good time with new friends. Everything we do revolves around that. People seeking a self-centered vacation might reconsider. Our groups tend to span all ages, men & women, singles & couples... everyone is welcome, and when our guests come ready to embrace a new culture, look forward to trying new things, and interact with other guests, it is always amazing. Even the way our guests see us is important. If you see us as "providers of a service", you may reconsider our trips. We bring you into our family and become part of the group with you... as though you are visiting friends and family. If you are able to be in this frame of mind, our trips will be like nothing you have ever experienced, but if you are looking for a more detached relationship with us, our trips may not be for you.

Be Ready to Embrace the Culture

Our trips focus on bringing you into the true culture of the place, but some guests want to see it, but not live it. We embrace the culture and do things the way locals do, which may or may not be what you are looking for. This includes little things like not having cappuccino with our meals (Italians only have cappuccino as a breakfast beverage), not having bacon and eggs for breakfast (Italians have coffee or tea and pastries), or larger things, like the fact that we have our dinners after 8:00 PM, like the Italians do. Every step of the way we adapt to the local culture, rather than asking the local culture to adapt to us. This also tends to make us much mroe welcome guests than other groups!

Weather Concerns & Flexibility

November in Italy can be absolutely beautiful, or it can be cold and raining every day. We never quite know what we are going to get. This itinerary has some things that simply do not work with rain, so our days may be switched around a bit. For example, we cannot harvest olive trees while it is raining, so if we see weather reports that indicate rain on our harvest day, we will try to move things around. This usually works out with no problems, but it is important to note that much of what we do is appointment based, so we cannot always move everything. As such, there is a possibility that some plans may have to be cancelled or substituted in order to facilitate other plans and weather conditions. When we do move things around this week, it is always to favor the harvesting of olives above all else, since that is the core theme of the week. However, while extremely rare, it is possible that we may not have a clear day in which we can harvest. Additionally, if we move things around, we cannot absolutely guarantee that we will be able to make our own olive oil on the day we harvest olives because the mill is appointment based, and there may not be a free time slot for us if we need to change our date or time.

Physical Limitations

Physical Intensity
You by no means need to be athletic for this vacation, but you must be able to handle some level of physical exertion. A good rule to follow would be to ask yourself if you can do three flights of stairs, then continue walking without needing to sit down for a while.

Age Concerns
We have had guests as old as 90 years old with no problems whatsoever. Age is not a limiting factor, so long as you are in good physical condition with no health problems that exertion would complicate.

Altitude
Soriano is at an altitude of 2,000 feet (600 meters).

Walking & Bus Time
In Italy, walking is always a larger concern than it probably is back home. This is because the towns are ancient, and much is closed to vehicle traffic. Some guests are also concerned about how much time they will spend in a bus. While we are in a very central area, we try to go to some of the most interesting places. Some days will have more travel time, and some very little.

Here is a general outline of the intensity and amount of walking and time in the bus during this week:

Total Walking All Week (Excluding walking between your home and the town piazza each day):
~5.5 miles (8.8 km) - Total for the week, NOT per day

Total Time in Bus All Week (Excluding transfers at beginning and end of week):
~12 hours - Total for the week, NOT per day

Detail Day By Day:

While in Soriano
Soriano is a castle-topped hill town. There are moderate inclines while walking in town. Furthermore, some of our homes are in the medieval quarter, which is up a hill in an area that only allows foot traffic. Some of the homes have stairs (none more than three flights). All of our days start and end in the town piazza. The homes are all close to the piazza, but in different locations. The most distant home is 580 feet (175 meters) from the piazza. 250 feet (80 meters) of that walk is up a moderate incline.

Saturday
Walking on Saturday:
On Saturday when you arrive, you will be walking from piazza to your home to check in. We will help with your bags if you desire. In the evening, we take a stroll around the village, then to dinner. Between the stroll and the restaurant where we have dinner, we will walk roughly 0.6 miles (1 km) today, not including the walking between your home and piazza. About 1,100 feet (470 meters) of this is on a slight to moderate incline.

Time in Bus on Saturday:
The only time you will be in the bus today is to get to Soriano. If you come from the Rome airport, it is roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes. If you come from the Orte train station, it is roughly 20 minutes.

Sunday
Walking on Sunday:
Walking to Piazza from all homes is either flat, or downhill. The villa for our cooking classes requires no walking. In the afternoon, we will visit Viterbo, where the total amount of walking will be roughly 0.6 miles (1 km) which is all flat.

Time in Bus on Sunday:
The drive to the villa in the morning is about 5 minutes. For the afternoon excursion, we will be in the bus for roughly thirty each way.

Rest Time on Sunday:
We usually have about 2 hours of down time between the cooking class and our excursion to Viterbo. This depends on how long lunch goes at the villa. Sometimes eveyone just chooses to relax at the villa, causing less time back in town before Viterbo. If you wish to opt out of the excursion to Viterbo today, you will also be on your own for dinner, because we are having dinner while out.

Monday
Walking on Monday:
This is our first full day out. There is no walking in Deruta, as we are just visiting a factory here. In Assisi there is about 0.8 miles (1.4 km) of walking, mostly flat and slight incline. If you decide to also go up to the top, add an addition 0.6 miles (1 km), half of which is uphill, but you can opt out of doing this in favor of shopping or relaxing.

Time in Bus on Monday:
The morning drive to Deruta is about an hour and fifteen minutes.The drive from Assisi to Deruta is about 30 minutes. The drive home from Assisi is about an hour an a half.

Rest Time on Monday:
Today is a full day out. We will not be back in town until dinner time. Most guests take time to close thir eyes on the bus ride.

Tuesday
Walking on Tuesday:
The walking tour in Soriano will be about a half a mile (0.8km) for those that wish to join in. Soriano, as you will know by now, ahs lots of hills and cobblestone streets. Dinner tonight will be in the Catia's cellar, which will be about a 5 or 6 minute walk down the cobbestone streets of Soriano. The return is a little bit uphill with some stairs.

Time in Bus on Tuesday:
The drive to the villa in the morning is about 5 minutes.

Rest Time on Tuesday:
After lunch today you have the bulk of the afternoon and early evening for rest.

Wednesday
Walking on Wednesday:
This is a long day out, but there is only about 0.9 miles (1.5 km) of walking all day. It is mostly flat and there are no uphill walks at all. There is, however, a 0.4 mile (0.6 km) walk after the last winery that is all downhill, which is factored into the total for the day.

Time in Bus on Wednesday:
Today is our longest driving day. We will spend a total of about four and a half hours in the bus today. The morning drive to Montalcino will be roughly two hours and fifteen minutes. After that, we will be backtracking toward home for the rest of the day. The drive from the abbey to the winery is ten minutes. The drive to Pienza is twenty minutes. The drive to Montalcino is twenty minutes. Finally the drive home will be about an hour and twenty minutes. Additionally, when we are in Monepulciano, the winery is at the top of the city hill, where we cannot drive. Rather than have you walk up the steep hill, we take a short (5 or 10 minute) city bus ride to get there

Rest Time on Wednesday:
Today is a full day out, and we are having lots of wine. It is very relaxing along the way, but our guests are always throughly exhausted by the end of the day. When we get back to Soriano, we have a light dinner before returning home.

Thursday
Walking on Thursday:
Today we will be in the fields fo the harvesting of olives. There is not much walking to be worried about, but the orchard is in the countryside, so there are uneven surfaces.

Time in Bus on Thursday:
The drive to the olive orchard and mill is about 40 minutes.

Rest Time on Thursday:
We will get home at around 3:00 PM, assuming everything goes according to schedule. However, timing may shift due to weather. If we stay on schedule, you will have the afternoon to rest and clean up before dinner tonight.

Friday
Walking on Friday:
In Orvieto, you can estimate 0.75 miles (1.2 km) of walking today, mostly flat.

Time in Bus on Friday:
The drive to Orvieto is about 40 minutes each way. There will also be a short ride in a funicular, followed by a city bus while in Orvieto to get us from the parking area to the Cathedral, then a short funicular ride back down.

Rest Time on Friday:
Today is a quite relaxing day. After the morning excursion, we go straight to the villa for the cooking class and dinner, which is a less intense cooking day.

Special Needs we can (and cannot) cater to in Soriano

Physical Limitations
You must be able to walk up to a mile and do at least a couple flights of stairs in order to come on this trip in order to go on the excursions.

Food Limitations
We can cater to most food allergies, vegetarian diets, and to some extent kosher diets. We will substitute with other dishes if you let us know in advance. We can even cater to a gluten-free diet. Our cooking class menus will not change based on a guest's food limitations, but even in the classes, we can usually offer alternatives to eat. That said, if you do have limitations, it is important that ou have a positive attitude about it. We are happy to substitute, but the variety of alternatives may be limited.