Our Itinerary for the Week
Day 1 (Saturday)
Welcome to Soriano!
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 in a local Gelato shop that is walking distance from your home. We will all spend some time getting to know one another over a Gelato as we discuss what's ahead for the week. 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!
Next 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.
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:
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..
Day 2 (Sunday)
5-Course Cooking Class, Grappa Making, followed by an Afternoon in Pitigliano, Tuscany
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 gardens, 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 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.
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, 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 tomatoes 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, and our famous "Fury".
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 (and/or Grappa or Limoncello), we will head out on the first of our daily excursions. Today we will be visiting Pitigliano, which is one of the southern-most hill towns of Tuscany. Besides its striking beauty, Pitigliano is famous for two things: Wine and its Jewish Ghetto, which was once a haven for fleeing Jews beginning in the 16th century as they escaped the Vatican's counter-reformation movement. We will spend a few hours here, tour the ancient Jewish Ghetto, and leave some time for shopping in the local artisan stores of the village.
Tonight we will be back in Soriano for dinner at the Tre Scalini Trattoria before calling it a night.
Day 3 (Monday)
A Day of Wine, Cheese & The Gregorian Chant in Tuscany
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. Here we will witness the monks of the abbey as they do the Gregorian Chant during a brief service.
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.
We will be hosted to a wonderful lunch with the owners of the estate, 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 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.
Dinner tonight is at an extremely unique Pizzeria that serves seemingly endless varieties of pizza 'by the meter'. We will laugh and drink wine and beer while we sample pizza selections like you have never dreamed of. Tonight's pizza will be one you will dream of long after you have returned home!
Day 4 (Tuesday)
5-Course Cooking Class & Viterbo: The City of Popes
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.
Lunch, of course, will be the meal we prepare in class.
After some espresso, grappa, limoncello, etc., we will head back to town to give you some time to take it easy and rest up. 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.
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. There, we will have dinner in a delightful trattoria that belongs to a friend of ours.
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.
Day 5 (Wednesday)
Highlights of Umbria: Assisi & Deruta
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 6 (Thursday)
An Olive Oil Mill & Winery, The Dying City + Limoncello, Gelato & Biscotti Class & Ricotta Cheese Making!
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.
After lunch, we will drive back to the villa in Soriano for our next class:
Today 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 & Moscato wine sorbet.
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!
At the end of our class, we will prepare some Spaghetti alla Carbonara. Tonight's dinner will be the pasta we make, plus a wonderful assortment of Salames, Cheeses, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Garden Salad, Tuscan Beans, and other local products from the places we have visited this week. Naturally, dessert will consist of the Gelato we made and the Biscotti!
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 when the week is over (as if they will last that long).
Day 7 (Friday)
Market Day, Orvieto, & Pizza Class
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)
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
Info About Our Soriano Vacations
- Imagine a Day as Our Guest
- About Soriano Nel Cimino
- Accommodations in Soriano
- The Cooking Class Location
- Is This Vacation Right For You?
- Frequent Questions and Answers
- What to Expect
- Info About the Destinations
- Info About the Cultural Experiences
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