Day 1 - Arrival & First Cooking Class
Welcome to Soriano!
This morning you will take a train to the ORTE Train station. We offer a free shuttle service from the Orte Train Station at 10:00 AM. Guests coming from Rome can get a train from the Roma Termini Train station at 9:13 AM that will get to Orte at 9:55 AM.*
After we have picked you up, we will bring you to Soriano and get you checked into your village home. We'll then head out into the village, where we will visit the local shops and green grocers to do shopping for today's cooking class. Here you will get a feel for small town Italian life, as the local women are doing their morning shopping for their family meals today. You will meet with the shopkeepers and even learn some Italian as we move from shop to shop with our list.
After our shopping, we will go to the little "Tre Scalini" Trattoria for lunch together. We'll have a full lunch served up in the darling village trattoria that is extremely popular among the locals.
Once we have had our leisurly lunch, we will load up in the van and take the short 5 minute drive to our private "Villa Eddarella" in the rolling hills of the Soriano countryside. This is where our cooking classes take place.
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, 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 dinner, so we'll not waste much time, especially since our cooking classes are extremely 'hands-on'.
Together, we will prepare Panzanella, which is a Tuscan bread salad made with fresh tomatoes from our local gardens, onion, olive oil, vinegar, and other various fresh veggies growing outside. For our first course, we will prepare a delicate white Risotto with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a balsamic vinegar reduction, followed by our family recipe for Tuscan Roasted Chicken & Potatoes that we promise will leave you in absolute awe. Finally for dessert we will be preparing our family recipe for Tiramisu, which is guaranteed to be the best you have ever tasted.
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. We may find that we need some herbs, and send a few guests out to the garden to pick them. 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!
Dinner tonight will be the results of all of yourwork, and we promise you won't be wanting for more! We have yet to have a guest tell us they have ever had better Panzanella, or better Roasted Chicken, or better Risotto, or better Tiramisu. Most important of all, you will know how to make all of this back home.
After dinner, we will head back into town, where you can call it a night or take it easy in any of Soriano's wonderful bars and cafes.
Day 2 Cooking Class & The Monster Park
Another Cooking Class and the Fabled "Monster Park"
In the morning, we'll meet for our 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. 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 second cooking class.
Today we will learn the secrets of making homemade Pappardelle Pasta (a very wide fettuccine) from scratch, and prepare a wonderful Bolognese sauce for it that has been passed down through the generations in our family. Our appetizer today will be a wonderful Bruschetta topped with a mixture of local Pancetta and Stracchino Cheese. Our second course will be Brasato al Barolo, a braised roast marinated in local herbs & Barolo wine. Our side will be sauteed spinach from the garden outside, followed by Panna Cotta with hazelnut-chocolate glaze garnished with fresh seasonal fruit or berries. Lunch will be the meal we prepare in class.
After lunch, we'll rest up a bit, have a little espresso, then head out on a short afternoon excursion to the nearby village of Bomarzo, home of The Sacred Grove' (also known as The Monster Park). This amazing estate is believed by some to have been designed by Michelangelo. It was commissioned by a local Prince in the 14th century after his wife's death. The grounds are full of massive and bizarre statues that were carved out of the local volcanic rock. It is believed that this "park", which is the only thing of its kind in the world, was developed to convey the grief the prince felt after having lost his beloved wife. It is a truly amazing place that words and pictures cannot fully describe.
After our visit to the Sacred Grove, we will have a little time to rest up in Soriano before dinner.
Tonight we will head down to the nearby town of Bassano for dinner in a unique restaurant called La Piazzetta In the early 20th century this was an Italian Vaudeville Club and theater that has been converted to a restaurant. As we sit down, thy will begin to bring us little bowls of all kinds of food... Italian Tapas for lack of a better term. It will be so much that it will completely cover our table.
Day 3 - The Dying City, An Olive Mill, a Winery & Goodbye...
This morning you will check out of your village home before we meet in a local coffee bar and pastry shop in Soriano's main Piazza. Here we will have our traditional Italian breakfast of freshly baked pastries and cappuccino.
After breakfast, we will head out for the nearby dying city of Civita di Bagnoregio, a nearly deserted town that was originally built by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC. It is called the dying city because it is literally crumbling away thanks to thousands of years of erosion, to the point that it is now accessible only by a foot bridge. Civita resembles a ghost town, but is extremely well kept as a place where time is frozen. Our guests often tell us that this is their favorite of the 'destinations'. This town has a striking beauty like nothing else.
In the early afternoon, we will take a short drive to a small family-run winery and antique olive mill in the village of Castiglione in Teverina. Here, one of the owners will give us a private tour of their wine cellar and olive mill, followed by a tasting of their line of wines and their olive oil. As we are tasting, we will have a wonderful buffet lunch in their garden made by the owners with many local delicacies, and of course… their wine! This is likely to be one of the highlights not only of the vacation, but your life. In fact, when we do Alumni trips, our past guests always tell us that coming back here is at the top of their list.
After our lunch, we will bring you to the Orte Train Station as we say our goodbyes. You will be able to catch a train to Rome at roughly 4:45 PM, which will get you downtown by 5:20 PM. If you are going to Florence or Venice, there is a train at 5:15 PM that will get you to Florence by 7:30 PM, and Venice by 9:30 PM.
Itinerary Subject to Change