Full Itinerary

Our Itinerary for the Week

Day 1 (Saturday)

Welcome to Soriano!

Places: Soriano nel Cimino
Classes: None
Meals: Dinner: at Tre Scalini

For those arriving in Italy today on early flights, we offer a shuttle to Soriano nel Cimino from Rome Fiumicino airport at 11:30 AM. If you are already in Italy, or your flight arrives after 10:30 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 2:00 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 5:30 PM, we will meet in a local Gelato shop that is walking distance from your home. We will all spend some time getting to know one another over some aperitivi and gelato as we discuss what's ahead for the week. As we leave, we will stop in one of Soriano's "Porchetta" trucks for a taste of Soriano's famous roasted suckling pig that people drive hours to try! Next, we will do a little shopping for tomorrow's cooking class. We will stop in a local fruit and vegetable shop, and the grocers next door! 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. Especially our locally produced Fennel Pollen. These are ingredients most people back home are unaware of, and will be featured in much of this week's cooking!

Time permitting, we will do casual walking tour of Soriano's medieval quarter through the narrow cobblestone streets of this beautiful village.

For dinner tonight we will dine in one of the finest restaurants in the area - Tre Scalini. Here we will dive head first into Italian culinary culture as we'll be treated to several local specialties in the first of many multi-course meals. Our typical 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 Porciini Mushroom Ravioli - A Sorianese favorite as the porcini are all locally picked.

Second Course
After our pasta we will be treated to a chef's selection of seasonally prepared meat and vegetable dishes.

Dessert
Finally we will be brought either a wonderful tart or chestnut, chocolate and grappa 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 from nearby vineyards..

Making Panzanella
Making Panzanella
Making Panzanella
Palazzo Farnese Staircase
Palazzo Farnese Staircase
Palazzo Farnese Staircase
Palazzo Farnese Map Room
Palazzo Farnese Map Room
Palazzo Farnese Map Room
Palazzo Farnese Fountain
Palazzo Farnese Fountain
Palazzo Farnese Fountain

Day 2 (Sunday)

5-Course Cooking Class, followed by a visit to Palazzo Farnese

Places: Soriano nel Cimino, Caprarola
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: Trattoria Ferri

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 Villa Eddarella for our first cooking class.

Our cooking classes are 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 look like the back-drop to a famous Italian movie scene.

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 "Alchemy", "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 we have had our lunch and chased it with some espresso (one member of our group is always chosen as our "Barista" for the week!). Or maybe you would prefer a little Grappa or Limoncello after the meal!

We will then head out on the first of our daily excursions. Today we will be visiting Palazzo Farnese. This is one of the most beautiful palaces in Italy, built in the early 1500's by Cardinal Alessandro Frarnese (The future Pope Paul III, and brother of Julia Farnese, the infamous mistress of Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI). Every inch is covered in stunning frescoes, gardens, cascades, and so much more. Part of the estate is even used as a vacation home for the President of the Italian Republic!

Tonight we will stop in nearby Canepina for dinner at Trattoria Ferri, a wonderful local restaurant.

 

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: Osteria degli Orti in Assisi
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.

Viterbo at night
Viterbo at night
Viterbo at night

Day 4 (Tuesday)

5-Course Cooking Class & Viterbo: The City of Popes

Places: Soriano nel Cimino, Viterbo
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: Katia's Tavern

After our morning breakfast, we'll take the short drive to Villa Eddarella for our second cooking class.

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 by us from fruit grown at Villa Eddarella.

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 some espresso, grappa, limoncello, etc., there is usually some time to relax back in town before our afternoon and evening excursion. 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. It has been the backdrop of many movies, including La Dolce Vita, and is truly one of Italy's hidden treasures.

We'll make our way into the ancient walled city, and take a walk through the main shopping district. If you're in the mood for some gelato, 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.

After visiting the Palace, we will make our way on foot to the San Pellegrino district of Viterbo, which is known to be the best preserved medieval quarter in all of Europe.

Before returning to Soriano, we will take a nighttime walk through the San Pellegrino district and enjoy the amazing medieval buildings bathing in amber light... truly breathtaking.

For dinner tonight, we will be hosted in Katia's private family tavern. Katia is like your long-lost Italian sister. Everyone loves her while she helps Carla teach our cooking classes. Her tavern, built by her husband, Lucca, is a place where their family gets together for special occasions. Her family will be cooking and hosting a wonderful dinner for us tonight.

 

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: Cantina de' Ricci

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, Letters to Juliet, 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.

Piombaia is a true artisan microwinery. They are one of very few growers that still make wine manually with ancient basket presses, completely by hand. Their wine is completely organic & their vineyards biodynamic. They produce only around 600 cases of their Brunello per year!

The owners are extremely close friends of ours, and they will host us to a woinderful lunch as we sample their 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. After lunch, they will treat us to a private tour of their vineyards before we move on.

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 Cantina de'Ricci. This ancient 14th century cellar was built underneath the Palace of Cardinal Ricci and is widely considered to be the most beautiful wine cellar in the world. Like Piombaia, the owners here are very close personal friends. In fact, you will be treated to a visit to the ancient 3,000 year old private cellar where "EMIRO" wine is aged. EMIRO is a project between Piombaia, Cantina de'Ricci and Culture Discovery. One in which these three friends have produced a first-ever exclusive blend of Brunello & Vino Nobile, and only 1,000 bottles (83 cases) per year are produced.

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.

For dinner tonight, we will be the guests of Enrico and his family and dine at a specially prepared meal only for our group.

Wine Tasting in Castiglione
Wine Tasting in Castiglione
Wine Tasting in Castiglione
Cold-Press Extra Virgin Umbrian Olive Oil
Cold-Press Extra Virgin Umbrian Olive Oil
Cold-Press Extra Virgin Umbrian Olive Oil
Pizza Class
Pizza Class
Pizza Class

Day 6 (Thursday)

An Olive Oil Mill & Winery, The Dying City + Limoncello, Gelato & Biscotti Class

Places: Civita di Bagnoregio, Castiglione in Teverina, Soriano nel Cimino
Classes:

Limoncello; Limoncello Cream; Tozzeti (Tuscan Biscotti); Gelato (Vanilla with fresh fruit & balsamic vinegar reduction); Sorbetto (Lemon or Pear Sorbet); Pecorino & Ricotta Cheese

Meals:

Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma
Lunch: At Madonna delle Macchie Winery & Olive Mill
Dinner: At Villa Eddarella after class including Spaghetti alla Carbonara or al'Amatriciana

This morning we will all 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.

We will then drive back to Villa Eddarella for our next class of the week: Our Desserts and Limoncello Class!

We will learn how to make Italy's famous after dinner lemon liqueur: Limoncello, as well as delicious and authentic Biscotti, and Gelato.

Besides the traditional Limoncello, we'll also make our own family recipe for Crema di Limoncello (Limoncello Cream Liquor).

Our Biscotti today will be a local specialty known as 'Tozzeti', which are delicious Hazelnut Biscotti, traditionally dipped in wine when eaten.

While our Biscotti are baking, we'll make a Vanilla Gelato with fresh fruit and a balsamic vinegar reduction, as well as a wonderfully refreshing lemon & grappa wine sorbet. As always, we keep it all as close to home as possible. The hazelnuts we use are grown at Villa Eddarella. The grappa we use in the sorbet is the grappa we distilled earlier in the week. The vanilla we use for the gelato comes from vanilla we extracted in our own cellar. Even the lemons for the Limoncello are usually lemons we bring up from the gardens during our Amalfi Coast weeks!

When today's class is over, each guest will take home a ½ liter bottle of each Limoncello we make, plus a bag of our Biscotti to take home.

At the end of our class, we will prepare some Spaghetti alla Carbonara or Spaghetti al'amatriciana for dinner. Naturally, dessert will consist of the Gelato we made and the Biscotti!

Tonight often turns out to be a party, and you may see some of the locals show up that you have met during the week, as it is an open-invitation evening (don't worry, we make enough pizza to feed an army). We often go late into the night with music and dancing, especially since Friday morning we get a little bit later start!

Ceramics in Orvieto
Ceramics in Orvieto
Ceramics in Orvieto
Biscotti Fresh from the Oven
Biscotti Fresh from the Oven
Just-Baked Biscotti

Day 7 (Friday)

Market Day, Orvieto, + Pizza Night & Ricotta Cheese Making!

Places: Orvieto, Soriano nel Cimino
Classes:

Pizza + Pecorino & Ricotta Cheesemaking Experience and Grappa Making*

Meals: Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma
Lunch: At Duomo Marizio in Orvieto
Dinner: The Pizza we make at the Villa!

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.

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.

While all of this is going on, we will be visited by a local shepherd, who will bring some fresh milk. We will make fresh Ricotta and Pecorino cheese together! Naturally this fresh cheese is used in our classes!

If the Grappa-Master is in town, we will head down to the wine cellar for a hands-on participation in making this Italian liquor in our own copper still.

For our farewell dinner, we will hang out in the cabana or the villa dining room for a wonderful and casual pizza dinner to end our week!

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.

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