Is Wine, Cooking, & The Olive Oil Harvest - Soriano 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.

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 Viterbo, where the total amount of walking will be roughly 0.6 miles (1 km) which is all 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 thirty minutes each way. We usually have about 2 hours of down time between the cooking class and our excursion to Viterbo. This depends on how long lunch goes at the villa. Sometimes eveyone just chooses to relax at the villa, causing less time back in town before Viterbo. 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.
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 not only visiting the Basilica of St. Francis, but also for shopping or relaxing. 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. 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 The walking tour in Soriano will be about a half a mile (0.8km) for those that wish to join in. Soriano, as you will know by now, has lots of hills and cobblestone streets. Dinner tonight will be in the Katia's cellar, which will be about a 5 or 6 minute walk down the cobblestone streets of Soriano. The return is a little bit uphill with some stairs. The drive to the villa in the morning is about 5 minutes. After lunch today you have the bulk of the afternoon and early evening for rest.
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. 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. Today is our longest driving day. We will spend a total of about four and a half hours on 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 Montepulciano, 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. 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 thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day. The bus ride back to Soriano is usually quiet as most of the guests are taking a little snooze.
Thursday Today we will be in the fields fo the harvesting of olives. There is not much walking to be worried about, but the orchard is in the countryside, so there are uneven surfaces. The drive to the olive orchard and mill depends on which we go to. If we go to Villa Eddarella, it is 5 minutes. If we go to Madonna delle Macchie, it is about 35 minutes each way, and Carletti is about 45 minutes each way. We will get home at around 3:00-4:00 PM, assuming everything goes according to schedule. However, timing may shift due to weather. If we stay on schedule, you will have the afternoon to rest and clean up before dinner tonight.
Friday In Orvieto, you can estimate 0.75 miles (1.2 km) of walking today, mostly flat. The drive to Orvieto is about 40 minutes each way. 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 Orvieto, and have our lunch there before heading back to Soriano. 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.