Is Cooking in Paradise on the Amalfi Coast For Me?

Please read this page carefully to make sure it is a right fit for you.

  1. 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.
  2. Be Ready to Embrace the Culture - Our trips focus on bringing you into the true culture of the place, but some guests want 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 most of 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 more welcome guests than other groups!
  3. EXPECT and EMBRACE Changes in the Schedule - The weather can be unpredictable, and some things on our itinerary simply cannot be done in certain weather conditions. For example, on the day we go to Capri, and the day we go to Positano, if the sea conditions are not right for boating, we simply cannot boat. In the case of Capri, we will do everything in our power to reorganize the week and do Capri on another day, but sometimes it just is not in the cards. In the case of Positano, we may need to go there by bus instead of boat, in which case the Proseco at sunset on the water has to be canceled and the BBQ becomes a dinner in a restaurant. Unfortunately, we cannot control what we cannot control, but please know that we do everything our power to make everything happen.

    There are, however, some things that we may change from time to time that ARE within our control. For example, there may be a special festival event happening in a nearby town. Or we may have a unique opportunity to participate in local activities, such as harvesting. These are often the kinds of things that come up on the fly with a phone call. They are rare, but they do happen. These are the times that we make a call based on our experience, because if we look for a unanimous vote among the guests on something they cannot imagine until they have experienced, we will never get a consensus. An example of this happens on our Tuscany trips in the Autumn. We may get a call telling us we can go harvest wine grapes. When that happens, we always cancel whatever we were doing that day and go harvest. Our reasoning is simple: Our name is "Culture Discovery", and we are all about unique experiences that you would never be able to otherwise have. You can visit that town on the itinerary again, but when will you have the chance to harvest those Tuscan grapes?
  4. 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.

    The Amalfi Coast is all cliffs, and there are LOTS of stairs. Do not expect to get out of a vehicle, and hop on elevators. There will be a good amount of walking with lots of steps getting to and from places on a regular basis during the week.
  5. 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.
  6. Altitude - Most of the week we are at sea level, except the day we go to the winery, which is 1,000 feet above sea level.
  7. Walking, Bus & Boat 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.

Total Walking, Bus & Boat Time for the Week

  • Total Walking All Week: ~ 4 miles (6.5 km)
    This is the total for the entire week, not per day. Take note that the Amalfi Coast involves many stairs.
  • Total Time in Bus All Week: ~ 4 1/2 hours
    This is the total for the entire week, not per day, and does not include transfers at beginning and end of the week.
  • Total Time in Boat All Week: ~ 5 1/2 hours
    This is the total for the entire week.

Detail Day By Day:

Stairs to Our Villa!!
As mentioned above, stairs are a big factor in this area. Each time we return to our villa from any of our outings, there are roughly 150 stairs to get back to the villa. You can always take it easy and rest along the way. The views are breathtaking and once you re at the villa, well... the stair are worth it!!!

Day Walking Bus/Boat Rest Time
Saturday For the evening excursion to Minori, we will be walking roughly 0.4 miles (0.6 km) total, all of which is on flat surfaces and no hills or steps. For those being picked up at the Naples airport, the drive will be roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes to the villa. For those meeting us at the Salerno Train station, the ride will be roughly 45 minutes. For the evening, we will simply be going to Minori, which is about 5 minutes in each direction this evening. Depending on the time you arrive, you may have more or less time to rest once we check in. Those arriving from the airport should have roughly 3 hours to get settled in. Those arriving at the train station will have about an hour and a half before we get started.
Sunday You can expect roughly 0.75 miles (1.2 km of walking today in Ravello, plus a very short walk to the restaurant for dinner. There are a few stairs to consider when we go to dinner tonight. The drive to Ravello in the afternoon is only 4 miles (6 km), and we will spend about 15 minutes getting there. Form there to dinner is another 2 miles (3 km) that will take 10 min., and back home is another 2.5 miles (4 km), for about 15 min. In all, we will spend about 40 minutes driving today. Assuming we finish our cooking class and lunch on schedule, we have 2 hours of rest time before the afternoon excursion. However, cooking class times can vary, and lunch always depends on our group. If lunch goes long, the rest time can easily be cut to one hour.
Monday Walking today is very much up to you. We will have roughly 3 hours on the island of Capri, during which you will be free to do your own thing. Some will simply find a cafe and take it all in, while others will walk around town for shopping, and others will take a hike. There is no time in a bus today, except a very short funicular to get to the piazzetta in Capri. However, we will be spending a considerable amount of time in boats. The boat from our Villa to Capri is about 1 hour, then we will be boating around the island for roughly 2 1/2 hours. Later in the day we will boat back to the Villa, which is another hour. All in all, we will have spent about 4 1/2 hours in the boat today. Being our first full day out, there is no rest time built into the itinerary in the middle of the day, except the fact that we will be on a boat much of the day.
Tuesday Today, you can expect roughly a mile (1.6 km) of walking in Pompeii, much of which is on uneven surfaces with up and downgrades. Pompeii is a challenging proposition for people with walking problems. The drive from the villa to Pompeii is 30 miles (48 km), which will take roughly an hour each way. The excursion to Pompeii can be very exhausting, as the entire time there is under the sun. However, upon our return, we will have 2 1/2 hours of down time, which will include a lunch that awaits us at the villa. Additionally, after that down time, we are still at the villa for a cooking class, so guests can really take it easy today if they desire.
Wednesday As you walk around Positano during the ~3 hours of free time, you will see that Positano is built on a rather steep hill, so getting around will involve many hills and steps unless you spend all of your time down near the beach. There is no bus time today (unless the seas are too rough to go by boat), but we will be on a boat for about 30 minutes each way today. Being the middle of the week, we have a large chunk of rest time in the morning for guests to sleep in, spend time at the pool, etc. We won't be leaving the villa today until 1:30 PM, unless you feel like spending some time on your own in Amalfi today. However, because of the beach BBQ, it is likely that we will not return home until around midnight tonight.
Thursday In the late morning when we go to Minori, there will be very little walking involved, not more than 1/4 mile (500 meters or so). The same goes for lunch. Finally, in the afternoon when we have our pizza class, we will have a bit of a challenge for those with walking issues. We will be high above Minori at a private villa. From the place we can park our minibus, there will be roughly 150 stairs to get to the villa. In the morning, we will simply be going to Minori, which is about 5 minutes. For lunch we will be going to Atrani, which is about about 2 miles away (3 km) - a 10 minute drive. Then back to the villa (5 minutes), and back into Minori for the evening (5 minutes). The total driving time for the day is about 35 minutes. Today is a fairly leisurely day. We get a late start at about 10:00 AM, and stay very close to home. We are doing some basic shopping at the weekly market, then a short Limoncello class, followed by a leisurely lunch. We should have between 1 1/2 and 2 hours of rest time at the villa between lunch and our pizza class. Furthermore, the pizza class is at a very relaxing villa overlooking the Amalfi coast.
Friday There will be very little necessary walking in Amalfi today, except time that you spend on your own shopping and browsing. You can estimate roughly a half a mile (0.6 km) total. The drive to Amalfi is only 1.25 miles (2 km), taking about 5 minutes. The drive to the winery is about 13 miles (20 km), but it is up mountain roads, so it will take about 35 minutes each way today. We will have roughly 2 hours of rest time between lunch at the winery and our final cooking experience. Also note that cooking tonight is not a traditional class, but rather a family cooking experience at the villa, so it will be very laid back.

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 different not just in the places you see, but in the overall "feel" of the week. For a "Culture Discovery" style trip, the Amalfi coast presents us some great challenges to overcome. For example, many of our trips are based in places that are off the beaten path, allowing for a uniquely immersive experience. The Amalfi Coast, however, being a very popular destination, has a large tourism industry built around it. Getting off the beaten path here is difficult, causing a true sense of immersion to be a complicated proposal. Additionally, how do we build a week here and not go to iconic sites like Positano, Capri, Amalfi and Pompeii?

We have found a balance with our Amalfi Coast itinerary that we believe offers our guests the traditional Amalfi Coast experience, while bringing you into the actual lifestyle here in a way that no other tour could. To begin with, our home base is not just a stunning villa on the water, but its location is closer to some of the towns in which a true local lifestyle does still exist. This is the reason you see us spending more time in the village of Minori than other places. It is not nearly as touristy as places like Amalfi, Positano and Ravello. It is a place where we actually get to know the locals, integrate into their life, and feel like guests rather than tourists. But with that immersion, we also have a more traditional Amalfi Coast experience as we boat around Capri, shop in Amalfi, visit Ravello, and tour Pompeii. All said, this week is a wonderful mixture of immersion, luxury, local cooking & cuisine, and amazing sites!

Special Needs we can (and cannot) cater to on the Amalfi Coast

Physical Limitations You must be able to walk up to a mile and do at least a few flights of stairs in order to come on this trip in order to go on the excursions.

If you suffer motion sickness, please consider that w will be spending two days on boats, and we cannot guarantee sea conditions. Furthermore, much of the driving is along very winding roads.
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. For those that do not eat seafood, there will always be non-seafood options, but they will be somewhat limited.