Is Wine & Cooking Under the Tuscan & Umbrian Sun For Me?

This is one of our most immersive vacations, and it is not for everyone. 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 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 more welcome guests than other groups!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Altitude - Soriano is at an altitude of 2,000 feet (600 meters).
  6. 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 on 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 Time for the Week

  • Total Walking All Week: ~5.5 miles (8.8 km)
    This is the total for the entire week, not per day, and does not include walking between your home and the town piazza 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. This covers roughly 470 miles (750km) of driving mostly in the scenic Tuscan and Umbrian countryside.

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.

Day Walking Bus Rest Time
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. The only time you will be on 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. n/a
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 Orvieto, where the total amount of walking will be roughly 0.5 miles (0.8 km) which is mostly flat. 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. After the cooking class, we go directly from the cooking class to Orvieto. If you would like to relax after lunch today, we suggest opting out of the excursion to Orvieto and joining us for dinner in Soriano. This will give you about 4 hours of downtime during the day.
Monday This is our first full day out. Our first stop is Pienza, which is quite flat and easy to walk. After Pienza, the vineyard is also flat, but there may be some slight inclines i=walking in the vineyards. When we get to the town of Montepulciano, we will have local transportation that takes us to the area where the coppersmith and much shopping is, but the walk to the wine cellar is at an incline. After the cellar, we walk about 0.4 miles (0.6 km) after the last winery that is all downhill to get to our bus. The morning drive to Pienza is about 90 minutes. The drive from Piezna to Montepulciano is about 15 minutes. The drive home from Montepulciano is about an 75 minutes. Most of the drive today in on highways, so winding roads is not a big concern, except for the later part of the drive to Pienza in the morning. 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 their eyes on the bus ride.
Tuesday Today's cooking class is at the villa, where there is minimal walking. During our evening excursion 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. When we return to Soriano, we will walk from the piazza to Katia's taverna for dinner. The walk is roughly 250 yards from the piazza with some stairs and a slight decline and inclines on the way back. For the evening excursion, we will be on the bus for roughly 25 minutes each way. We must take winding mountain roads for the excursion today. We usually have about an hour and a half of downtime between the cooking class and our excursion to Viterbo. This depends on how long lunch goes after class. Sometimes everyone 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 can still join us for dinner in Soriano at Katia's tavern!
Wednesday This is a long day out, but there are only about 0.9 miles (1.5 km) of walking all day. It is mostly flat and there are no uphill walks at all, except for the truffle hunting which you can opt out of. Today is our longest driving day. We will spend a total of about four hours on the bus today. The morning drive to Montalcino will be two hours. On the way back, we stop roughly half-way for dinner at the castle in Proceno. 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 their eyes on the bus ride.
Thursday Today the amount of walking is mostly up to you. There is very little walking in Deruta, but what you do in Assisi can be very little or quite intense, depending on your desires. The drive from Soriano to the Deruta is about 60 minutes. The drive from Deruta to Assisi is about 30 minutes. The drive back to the villa in the afternoon is about 75 minutes. Today starts out more fast paced, but as we arrive back at the villa, we have lots of relaxation for those looking for it. 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 At the Monster park, you can estimate 0.5 miles (0.8 km) of walking today, mostly flat. There is very little required walking for the rest of the day. The drive to The Monster Park is just 10 minutes. Fro there, it is about 25 minutes to the Olive Mill & winery, and about a half hour back to Soriano in the afternoon. We have a little bit later start time this morning, so you can sleep in, visit the Friday market, and get some packing done. This morning we will visit The Monster Park, then a wonderful Olive Oil mill and winery for lunch and tasting. Tonight is Pizza Class at the villa. This is always a very fun and very casual afternoon and evening. There will be lots of time to rest and hang out at the villa. We usually do not go too late in the evening as many guests want to get some rest before the early wake-up on Saturday for our shuttle to the train station or airport.

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. Here is some information about the Soriano weeks to help you choose:

Luxury-Factor 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.
Activity Level 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 to opt out of something so that you have whatever amount of downtime 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.
Cultural Immersion 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 does 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 accustomed 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.