Welcome. As the premiere resource for travel information in and around Soriano nel Cimino, Italy, Culture Discovery Vacations receives frequent inquiries from future guests of Palazzo Catalani. This page has been created to help Palazzo Catalani guests better understand how the two resources relate to one another and how we can and cannot help.
What is Palazzo Catalani?
Palazzo Catalani is a time share hotel located in Soriano nel Cimino, Italy. It is operated by Diamond Resorts (previously Suntera), and is frequently booked through the Global Resorts Network or Interval International Vacation Exchange. The Palazzo attracts a great deal of people from the United States and England, being Diamond's only resort near Rome and Tuscany in Italy. It is a beautiful building that was once the home of the Catalani family (close friends of one of our own founders), and was converted into a time share hotel. The rooms are beautiful, and by all accounts we have heard, their service is excellent. However, Culture Discovery Vacations and Palazzo Catalani are in no way affiliated.
What is Culture Discovery Vacations?
We are one of the most successful and respected cooking, culinary & wine vacation companies in Italy, and Palazzo Catalani just happen es to be in the same town we are based out of. While the Palazzo is about where you will sleep, but also offers some things to do while in Soriano, we are all about what you will do while in Soriano, and also offer a place to sleep. In other words, we are a tour operator and cooking school that focuses on cultural tourism. They are a time share hotel that offers a place to stay in Italy. This is not to say that we don't also focus on accommodations. We do... We have to, because our guests tend to be far more discerning than those that stay at Palazzo Catalani since we focus on culinary, wine and cultural travel. The difference is that while our accommodations must still be beautiful, our guests never book with us BECAUSE OF the accommodations, and often not even because of the location. They do so for the cooking classes, the food quality, the very unique cultural experiences we offer, and the excursions that are part of our all-inclusive packages.
Why has Culture Discovery put up this page?
Soriano is a small town, and 95% of the travelers that come to Soriano are either with us, or staying at the Palazzo. As such, many future Palazzo Catalani guests do searches on the Internet looking for more information about where they will be going. Our website has so much information about Soriano, that they often find themselves here. Over the years, some people have had confusion, thinking that we were somehow part of Palazzo Catalani. Many have believed that what they see on our website is representative of what they will experience at Palazzo Catalani, or that our tours, classes, and experiences would be available through Palazzo Catalani.
How does Culture Discovery relate to Palazzo Catalani?
Culture Discovery Vacations and Palazzo Catalani have no reciprocal agreement or collaborative relationship, however we both cater mostly to guests from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Palazzo Catalani does not offer the same tours, cooking classes, in-room amenities, U.S. point of contact, airport pickup service, etc. that Culture Discovery does. Furthermore, Palazzo Catalani does not book any Culture Discovery offerings on behalf of their guests. nor does Culture Discovery offer any booking services on behalf of Palazzo Catalani.
Does Culture Discovery recommend Palazzo Catalani?
Yes. Palazzo Catalani and Culture Discovery cater to guests that generally are looking for very different experiences. Palazzo Catalani offers a much more hotel-like experience, while Culture Discovery's experience is more about integrating into Italian culture and culinary tradition during your stay. In other words, when you walk into the Palazzo, you will be surrounded only by hotel staff and other foreign guests. They have a front desk, an in-hotel restaurant, etc. Being that it is Diamond Resorts only property in Italy, the Palazzo tends to attract guests that are looking for a general holiday in Italy.
On the other hand, Culture Discovery is quite the opposite. Instead of more traditional hotel rooms, a Culture Discovery home is a fully self-contained residence that has been completely outfitted with first-class everything, but is integrated into Italian village life. The person next door is not a tourist... they live there. Our guests shop in the local fruit stands and grocers, they become part of the fabric of life in this little Italian village.
Our guests are not looking for a general Italian vacation. They specifically chose to be in our location because of the culinary experience we offer.
For the person that wants the traditional hotel experience, the Palazzo is absolutely beautiful, and by all accounts we have heard, their service is excellent. Their rooms are stunning, and their staff is very friendly and helpful.
Does Palazzo Catalani offer the Excursions and cooking classes that Culture Discovery offers?
Not really. Palazzo Catalani is primarily a Time Share Hotel for people wanting to come to Italy in general. Culture Discovery is a tour company with a specific focus on cooking, wine, and cultural travel in Italy. They focus on giving you a place to stay, while our focus is all about the full experience you will have once you are here. We are like the all-inclusive resort, and they are like the traditional hotel. Still, Palazzo Catalani does offer some small local excursions and a mini-cooking-class for an extra fee once their guests arrive.
That said, one should not look at our itineraries and think the Palazzo Catalani offerings will compare. They do offer a cooking class one day, but it will not look like what you see on our website, and it will not be comparable to what our guests experience four days a week. They offer it as a 'little extra'. For us, it is our primary offering that we base our reputation on. They will bring you to the home of one of their employee's family, and you will learn to make some pasta and have a lunch. Our classes are all based out of a stunning fully staffed 700 sq.ft. teaching kitchen that we built specifically for cooking classes, complete with amenities tailored to your needs. Our classes are full hands-on five course meals. It is like comparing a Volkswagon to a Ferrari. Still, if you are simply looking for an afternoon of fun cooking, we have heard nothing but positive comments about their cooking class.
With respect to excursions, the same can be said. Since we plan out your entire week, our reputation is based on the type of excursions we do when we are not cooking, while they are still primarily a place to sleep while you are in Italy. With that in mind, they will offer you a trip to a winery one day... but don't expect it to look anything like what is displayed on OUR website. They will take you to a commercial winery local to Soriano that makes what is regarded as marginal wine. We do tours for wine lovers, so we often go to southern Tuscany's Orcia Valley where we will visit a 14th century wine cellar that produces some of Italy's best wine. We will visit a Brunello winery in Montalcino and meet enologists that read like a who's who in Wine Spectator. We'll also visit with small local growers that produce some of the regions most fantastic wines, but are not internationally available.
Similarly, they may offer a visit to an olive mill, but it is not the antique traditional cold-pressed mill that specializes in extremely low-production of the absolute highest quality olive oil you can find in Italy, as we do. We have to, because our guests are here to find the best of the best.
They won't offer visits with Umbrian princes that offer private tours of their castle. They won't hike you to the top of a waterfall built by the ancient Romans, etc. These unique, special, once in a lifetime experiences are what we are about. The Palazzo is about filling rooms in a time share. Again, they are a hotel. We are a tour company.
Does Culture Discovery help Palazzo Catalani Guests?
Yes. We are always happy to help all visitors to Soriano, no matter where they are staying. We want you to have the best possible trip to Soriano no matter what the case. If you are a future Palazzo Catalani guest, we will be more than happy to help you and answer any questions you may have. Simply call or e-mail us, and we will treat you in the same way we treat our own guests. But please do keep in mind that we do this strictly as a courtesy to you. We have had some Palazzo Catalani guests call us with certain expectations as though we were either part of the hotel, experiencing financial gain, or had some responsibility with respect to their reservation. We have absolutely nothing to do with your Palazzo Catalani stay, but are always happy to extend a friendly hand where we can.
Does Culture Discovery offer its Tours & Cooking Classes to Palazzo Catalani Guests?
To some extent, yes. Guests of Palazzo Catalani can participate in our week-long cooking and culinary tours. If you are a guest of the Palazzo and would like to participate in our week-long tours, we offer a discount of US$300.00 per person as you will not be taking advantage of our lodging accommodations.
However, it is important to keep in mind that in our experience, Palazzo Catalani tends to have compartmentalized guests. It is a small hotel, and their guests tend to bond strictly amongst themselves in this small village, while our guests are always together and bond amongst themselves, as well as many of the local villagers since we integrate so much more into village life. When you go back to the hotel at night, you will find many of the other guests bonding at the bar, while you were part of an outside group. We can promise that they will be extremely envious of whatever you did on a given day, but whatever they did, they will have done together, and will have bonded over that.
Additionally. you may be able to take part in single day tours and classes with us and join one of our existing tours for a day or more. Please keep in mind, however, that we only offer the day tour and class options based on availability. If we have room for a particular day between 7 and 30 days in advance, we are happy to make room for you. If you would like to reserve a spot more than 30 days in advance, we require that you either book the full week tour, or we will put you on a waiting list to see if there is space 30 days before our tour. The reason for this limitation is that our classes and tours are very limited in size and almost everything we offer sells out. If we were to give you one space in in one class during a given week, it would force us to block out that space for the entire week.
Can Palazzo Catalani Guests extend their trip with Culture Discovery?
Yes. This is not at all uncommon. Many people have stayed one week in the Palazzo, and extended their stay with us, and many people have found us after having stayed at the Palazzo, then come back on one of our tours.