Overview

It's All About Fun, Family, Laughter, Food & Wine...


Click above to view a video presentation of our Soriano weeks

This week-long vacation will consist of a very small and intimate group of no more than 18 people. It is an 8 day, 7 night all-inclusive experience that offers a wonderful mixture of some of Central Italy’s highlights with some truly off-the-beaten-path treasures unique to our area. It is a week that embraces Italian cooking, culinary and artistic tradition with some of the most wonderful locations in Tuscany, Umbria and Alto Lazio. It is a week of discovery as you integrate into Italian village life, living among the villagers, shopping with them, and getting to know them. Most of all, it is a week of fun, family and laughter as we share what makes Italy so special in a very personal way.

The Cooking Classes

We'll have four 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.

Two of the classes are complete five-course meals, during which you are completely involved in everything. Another class focuses on Italian Liqueurs such as Limincello, plus Biscotti and Gelato. Yet another is all about Italian Country Wood-Fired Pizza! During two of our classes, we will also make fresh pecorino and ricotta cheese, and even distil a batch of Grappa in our cellar.

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, there is always something to entertain you. Two of 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. The other two are right in town in a restaurant converted from a 16th century monastery. Whether you are cooking or not, the time we spend during the cooking classes is always a highlight.

The Excursions

When we are not cooking, 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 small home-based olive mill that still uses the antique methods to produce some of the most incredible extra virgin olive oil. 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.

At Home with the Locals
Several of our meals will be home-cooked, home-served. That is, we are dining with local residents in their homes or "taverne", truly sharing in their lives.

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'... 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:
Pitigliano, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, Castelnuovo d'Abate

Umbria:
Assisi, Orvieto, Deruta

Alto Lazio:
Civita di Bagnoregio, Viterbo, Castiglione in Teverina, Caprarola

 

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

Class 4:
Limoncello, Limoncello Cream, Cantucci (Tuscan Biscotti), Gelato (Vanilla with fresh fruit & balsamic vinegar reduction), Sorbetto (Lemon-Moscato Sorbet), Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

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)
  2. Piombaia Winery in Montalcino (Brunello Wine)
  3. Cantina de' RicciWinery in Montepulciano (Vino Nobile & Vin Santo 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 village homes.

Is This For You?

Is This For You?

This is our most immersive vacation, and it is not for everyone. Please read this page carefully to make sure it is a right fit 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 prefer 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!

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 Palazzo Farnese, where the total amount of walking will be roughly 0.25 miles (0.5 km) which is all flat. There are several flights of stairs in the palazzo.

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 35 minutes each way. We must take winding mountain roads for the excursion today.

Rest Time on Sunday:
After the cooking class, we go directly from the cooking class to Palazzo Farnese. We generally have an hour or two of rest time back in Soriano, but the visiting hours of the Palazzo force us to go right away. When we return, we will hav about an hour and a half of rest time before dinner. If you would like to relax after lunch today, we suggest optiong out of the excursion to Palazzo Farnese and joining us for dinner in Soriano. This will give you about 4 hours of down time during the day.

Monday
Walking on Monday:
This is our first full day out. There is very little 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. Most of the drive today in on highways, so winding roads is not a big concern.

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

Tuesday
Walking on Tuesday:
Today's cooking class is at the restarant we had our welcome dinner in on Saturday. The walk is about 250 meters (270 yards) from the town piazza. During our evening excursion and dinner in Viterbo, we will walk roughly 1.1 miles (1.7 km) as we stroll through the city. The walk is mostly flat or very slight incline at times.

Time in Bus on Tuesday:
For the evening excursion, we will be in the bus for roughly 25 minutes each way. We must take winding mountain roads for the excursion today.

Rest Time on Tuesday:
We usually have about an hour and a half of down time between the cooking class and our excursion to Viterbo. This depends on how long lunch goes after class. Sometimes eveyone just chooses to relax, causing less time before Viterbo, but having the class in town today allows you to easily leave whenever you desire. 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.

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 home-cooked dinner before returning home.

Thursday
Walking on Thursday:
Today offers the most challenging day for anyone that is out of shape. When we get to the dying city, there is a 1,000 foot (320 meter) foot bridge to get up to the village. This bridge is high, fairly narrow, and half is on a moderate incline, and half is a steep incline. Once in the village, everything is mostly flat. Guests choosing to come with us, but not walk the bridge can wait for us at a cafe if they choose. But there is no legal way to get up to the village other than on foot. After the dying city, there is no significant walking for the rest of the day.

Time in Bus on Thursday:
The drive from Soriano to the dying city is about 45 minutes. The drive from the dying city to the winery & olive mill is about 20 minutes. The drive back to the villa in the afternoon is about 40 minutes.

Rest Time on Thursday:
Today is a quite relaxing day. After the morning excursion, we go straight to the villa for the cooking class and dinner. Tonight is pizza night, which is a very fun and relaxing class. Tonight is also the night that we are set up to go late into the night, given that we have a late start time the following day.

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.

Rest Time on Friday:
We have a late start time this morning, giving you lots of time to sleep in, visit the Friday market, and get some packing done. Our class today is in town at the restaurant we had our welcome dinner in. After lunch, we will visit Orvieto, then have anopther hour or so before our farewell dinenr, which is also right in town.

How This Trip is Unique From Our Others

Many people ask us how our locations are different when trying to choose the trip that is best for them. Each of our locations is diffferent not just in the places you see, but in the overall "feel" of the week. Here is some information about the Soriano weeks to help you choose:

Soriano is more down to earth
Our cooking classes in Soriano are "family style". They are structured like a group of friends cooking family recipes together. The town itself has few "tourist" services. It is off the beaten path, and most of the shops are there for the locals, not visitors. Additionally, you are not staying in a hotel, but rather in a self catering village home. What this means, is that you will not have hotel services here, but you will be living among the local residents.

The Soriano itinerary is very action-packed
Between cooking, excursions, cultural experiences, etc., we have something going on all day, every day. There is little "down time". That said, we structure our excursions and activities on most days in a way that it is easy top opt out of something so that you have whatever amount of down time you like. For example, you may want to opt out of a morning excursion, but be there for the afternoon cooking class. In that case, we would simply pick you up in the afternoon.

The Soriano weeks are very immersive
An immersive experience in Italy has upsides and downsides. You must be very ready to embrace things as they come. Things are not always on time, a restaurant may be unexpectedly closed, and things will not necessarily work as we want them to. For example, The fact that a home has internet dos not mean it will work on a given day. Getting a tech in a small village is not as easy as you may expect. Additionally, many services people look for may not be available in a small town that is not accumstomed to tourism.

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 go on the excursions on this trip. If you are unsure, please be aware that while we do all that we can to help our guests, we cannot do so at the expense of other guests. As such, if you are unable to walk during any of our excursions, we ask that you have someone come with you that can assist you.

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 you have a positive attitude about it. We are happy to substitute, but the variety of alternatives may be limited.