Immerse yourself in the REAL culture, wine and food of Italy.

If you want to immerse yourself in REAL Italian culture, the best way to do it is to spend a week with Michael and Paola’s family.

Written By: Brian and Sharon M.
Location: Bethany - ON - CA
Review Source: Trip Advisor
Type of Traveler: Couple
Itinerary: Soriano - Cities Lost in Time

Full Review

We found Culture Discovery on the web while looking for cooking schools in Tuscany. One look at their web site convinced us that what they offer is far more exciting than being locked up in a kitchen for 5 days.

We toured wineries, olive groves, castles and medieval towns. We ate wonderful fresh food and drank superb wine we'll never find in North America. The groups are limited to about a dozen people, so we quickly developed a "family" with a diverse collection of Canadians, Americans and Aussies. It didn’t take long before we were sharing songs, dancing and laughing. 

Our accommodation was totally unique. Instead of staying in a tourist hotel, we had our own one bedroom apartment in the medieval section of Soriano surrounded by neighbours who greeted us daily with a friendly ‘buon giorno’. The view from our window overlooked the valley far below, with magnificent vistas and beautiful sunsets.

Oh, and did we cook! We shopped in local stores for ingredients and spent 4 half days creating authentic Italian dishes. The Villa Eddarella Cooking School is housed in Michael and Paola's home – an incredibly beautiful villa which has been in Paola's family for 300 years. We made our own pasta and gnocchi, genuine Bolognese sauce, the best Tiramisu we've ever tasted, gelato and even Limoncello. The panna cotta with strawberries and chocolate sauce was plate licking good (we have embarrassing pictures).

No trip to Italy would be complete without wine tasting. Michael introduced us to local vintners where we tasted wines and often enjoyed them with a lunch or dinner at the winery to see how they matched with various dishes. We sampled famous wines, such as Brunello, as well as wonderful lesser known wines which, sadly, are not exported. One of the highlights of the week was lunch on the patio of the Madonna delle Macchie winery, surrounded by beautiful gardens and sipping their extraordinary Forcone wine.  

Our second trip was entirely different from the first. We toured several ancient Roman and Etruscan ruins which tourists rarely see. We explored towns, such as Norcia, which is home to Italy’s finest prosciutto and truffles, and Pienza, famous for delicious pecorino cheese. In keeping with the ‘Cities Lost in Time’ theme, we cooked recipes from an ancient Etruscan cookbook updated by Michael and Paola!  
If you want to immerse yourself in REAL Italian culture, the best way to do it is to spend a week with Michael and Paola’s family. Meet us at the medieval Chestnut festival next fall when we return for our third unique Culture Discovery adventure.

Sample Photo from this Itinerary