Is Wine, Cooking, Truffles & Chocolate: A Foodie's Paradise in Umbria and Tuscany 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 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. Physical Limitations - Getting around Norcia is very easy. The town is completely flat, and our hotel is in the center of town. We do walk roughly 1/4 mile each day to and from where our bus can pick us up and drop us off, but it is all flat.
  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.
  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 - Norcia is at an altitude of 604 m (1,982 ft). Most of the week we will be at this altitude or lower, with the exception of the visit to Castelluccio at the end of the week, which is at 1,452 m (4,764 ft).
  7. 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. Some days will have more travel time, and some very little.

Total Walking & Bus Time for the Week

  • Total Walking All Week: ~3.5 miles (6.6 km)
    This is the total for the entire week, not per day. (Excluding walking between the Palazzo and the bus pick up/drop off each day)
  • Total Time in Bus All Week: ~12 hours
    This is the total for the entire week, not per day, and does not include transfers at beginning and end of the week.

Detail Day By Day:

While in Norcia
Norcia is very small and flat. Our accommodations are right in the middle of town, and everything is close and easy to get to. On our Truffle Hunting excursion and when we visit the pig farmer, there will be some light trail walking.

Day Walking Bus Rest Time
Saturday On Saturday when you arrive, you will be walking from the entrance to town to the Palazzo. This is a 2 minute walk. 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 0.4 miles (0.8 km) today. None of the walking is on an incline. The only time you will be in the bus today is to get to Norcia. The drive is roughly two and a half hours, but can vary with traffic because part of the drive is on a road with no passing lanes. Assuming all flights are on time and we leave on schedule, you will have roughly 3 hours to get settled in once we arrive in Norcia, before we have our first get-together and dinner.
Sunday Walking to Casa Bianconi for the cooking classes is just a few steps from the hotel. The excursion to the pig farm is very simple with a little bit of very light trail walking. We are only on the minibus for a few minutes each way today. You will have about 3 hours between the class and the visit to the pig farm to relax or stroll around town.
Monday There is no extensive walking involved at the pizzeria. 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. The drive from Norcia to the Pizzeria is about an hour and fifteen minutes. From the Pizzeria to Assisi is only about 15 minutes, then an hour and fifteen minutes back home in the evening. This is a full day of about eleven hours out. You can relax as much as you like at the pizzeria, and you can opt out of the heavy walking in Assisi if you are tired, but if you choose to come with the group today, we will not be back at the hotel until around 7:00 PM, and will have a half hour to an hour to rest up before dinner.
Tuesday Tuesday is broken into three parts, and you can pick and choose what you do. The truffle hunt is early Tuesday morning at around 7:45 AM. If you choose to participate, there is about an hour of walking along trails with some inclines. After the truffle hunt we have our cooking class, which is just a 1 minute walk from the hotel. The afternoon and evening in Ascoli Piceno will include about three quarters of a mile of walking (1 km) or more on cobblestone streets, but the town is very flat and even. The morning drive for the truffle hunt is only about 5 minutes. The drive to Ascoli in the afternoon is about 1 hour each way. Being that today is broken into three parts, you can do lots of picking and choosing today. If you do everything, you can count on about an hour and a half after lunch before we go to Ascoli. However, if you choose to skip on the truffle hunt, this is quite a relaxing day.
Wednesday This is our second full day out. We will have a total of about a mile (1.6 km) of walking today, mostly on flat and fairly even surfaces. The drive to Cortona today is about an hour and a half minutes each way. Being a full day out, we never cross back to Norcia until dinner time. This one of the more active days of the week, as we spend the morning walking aorund Cortona, have our private visit at the winery followed by lunch, then head to the Perugina Chocolate Factory where there will be lots of standing during the class. Of course, if you are tired there are places to sit. Once back in Norcia, we will have anywhere between a half hour and an hour of rest before dinner.
Thursday Today very little walking is required as there is parking everywhere we go. The drive to Montefalco is about one hour. From Montefalco to the Olive mill is about twenty minutes, then about an hour back to Norcia in the evening. We'll head out a little bit later today, so you can sleep in more, then be out or about six hours between the winery and the olive oil mill, including lunch. When we return, we will have about two and a half hours to rest before heading out to our BBQ party. The party can go very late into the night, depending on the nature of the group on a given week, but whenever you are tired, there is always a ride back to the hotel available.
Friday Today very little walking is required as there is parking everywhere we go. We only have about 20 minutes each way to Castelluccio. This is a much slower day with more down time between lunch and the visit to Castelluccio and the cheese makers, as well as before dinner. There is lots of time to pack today as well.

Special Needs we can (and cannot) cater to in Norcia

Physical Limitations You must be able to walk up to one mile and do at least a couple of flights of stairs in order to come on this trip in order to go on the excursions.
Food Limitations We can cater to most food allergies, vegetarian diets, and to some extent kosher diets. Please understand, however, that this area is known for its pork, so many of the dishes will have pork in one way or another. We will substitute with other dishes if you let us know in advance. 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.