Itinerary - Wine, Cooking and Castles in Barolo & Roero

Places Milano Malpensa Airport, Canale
Classes & Experiences

Afternoon Cocktails (included)

Meals Dinner: Welcome dinner at the villa (Included)

Your vacation week begins when you meet your host and the rest of the group at the Milan Malpensa (MXP) Airport. Our scheduled shuttle will be leaving by 1:30 PM and heading to our home for the week - The beautiful Roero Valley and the private Villa Cornarea estate.

If you are flying in this day, please arrange for your flight to arrive prior to 12:00 PM. If you are coming from Milan or other areas in Italy, there is convenient metro or taxi service to the Milan Malpensa Airport, where you can meet up with the rest of the group.

Upon arrival, each party will have a randomly assigned room at the villa. If you would like to reserve one of the suites, you can do so for a slightly higher charge if they are still available.

The rooms are spacious and very accommodating in comfortable settings with lovely appointments. IIt is a splendid display of classic Italian style with modern amenities. All the rooms have their own, in-suite bathrooms, WIFI and air conditioning. There are common areas for relaxing or socializing. There are gorgeous views of the surrounding hills and valleys from just about everywhere on the property.

After a warm welcome and reception, we’ll have some time to get settled in to our rooms and have a bit of time to freshen up. We’ll meet up for our first get-together in the beautiful garden for wine, or other refreshments and local appetizers. We will have a certified sommelier on hand to give us an introduction into the complexities and nuances of the local wines. We’ll get to know one another and talk about the week ahead, as well as answering any questions you might have.

After our wonderful aperitivi, we can take some time to stroll the grounds before we move right into our Welcome Dinner. We will be treated to a private, catered affair at the villa. Our full-course meal will include local dishes, paired with local wines.

Places Barolo, Castigliole d’Asti , Canale
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch
App: Flan of Zucchini and local cheese sauce
1st: Gnocchi di patate al Castelmagno
2nd: Brasato al Barolo
Side:Seasonal vegetables
Dessert: Bunet – Chocolate and Amaretto Cake

Meals

Breakfast: Buffet at Villa (included)
Lunch: The meal we prepare in cooking class (included)
Dinner: Cantina dei Cacciatori in Castigliole d’Asti (included)

Breakfast each day will be in our villa. The breakfast area overlooks the garden, vineyards and the mountains in the background. There is a buffet consisting of traditional Italian breakfast choices, such as pastries, breads, cheeses, yogurts and cereals, hard-boiled eggs. There are many varieties of drinks, including coffee, espresso, cappuccino, juices and milk.

After breakfast today, we will get right into our first cooking class with our chef instructor, Fernanda. She will greet us with a warm welcome and instantly make us feel very comfortable. Our class conveniently takes place in the veranda at at the villa. Each guest will get their own Culture Discovery Apron and recipe book that yours to take home at the end of the week. Since this is 100% hands-on, we’ll get familiarized with the kitchen and Fernanda’s teaching style, and then get right into our class instruction as we start making our first lunch together!

For those that would rather not cook, that’s no problem, the villa has beautiful grounds, a swimming pool, and just being there is an experience of its own!

Today’s recipes include a smooth and savory zucchini soufflé for our appetizer. You will also be making the pasta dish, Gnocchi di patate al Castelmagno. This is a classic potato gnocchi, but instead of parmesan cheese, we’ll use the cheese from Castelmagno. This is a semi-hard, but strong and flavorful cheese from the Italian Alps, where, we just so happen to be visiting a Castelmagno cheese producer later in the week. It is made from the milk of the local breed of Piemontese cows and produced under the protection of a national consortium.

Our main course will be the well-known, Brasato al Barolo. This is a very popular dish made of roasted beef that has been marinated in the very fine, Barolo wine, herbs and spices for many hours prior to being wrapped in pancetta, braised and then roasted to perfection. When served, the beef is thinly-sliced and topped with a reduction sauce made from the wine marinade. It is absolutely delicious, and something that our guests thoroughly enjoy.

We’ll also be making a traditional Piemontese dessert, Bunet. This local spin on a classic pannacotta, incorporates chocolate and several other ingredients to create a creamy, yet firm pudding that is sprinkled with amaretti biscuits to give it a crunchy element. Try this with one of the full-bodied wines from the area and we’re confident that you will be hooked forever!

As always, there will be wine and other beverages and refreshments available throughout the class, with plenty of breaks for some singing, dancing and relaxation!

When we’re finished with class, just like a classic Sunday family-meal, we’ll all sit down together, toast over some wine, and enjoy this fabulous meal that we have all had a share in making.

We’ll have a little time to rest or freshen up before heading out for our afternoon excursion, where we will head over to the namesake town of Barolo, where we will get some history of the town, the cvastle, and some shopping and strolling! For those interested, there is also a wine museum inside the castle.

On our way back to the villa, we’ll stop at a local trattoria for a wonderful dinner featuring more dishes, local and well-known in this area of Piemonte.

Places Poiana-Castelmagno, Chapin – Pradleves, Savigliano , Canale
Classes & Experiences

Experience: Castelmagno Cheese Producer
Experience: Italian Alps
Experience: Sensory Museum and Perfume-Making

Meals

Breakfast: Buffet at Villa (included)
Lunch: Lovely lunch with cheesemakers (included)
Dinner: Pizza at the villa (included)

Today we board our luxury van and head to the Italian Alps towards the border of neighboring France for a full day out.

Our first stop will be at a producer of, arguably, some of the best cheese made in all of Italy. That may be a lofty claim, however, you will know if you are a fan of Castelmagno cheese as we will have used it during our first cooking class. If you like gorgonzola, it has a vague similarity, but is much richer and very flavorful. It is protected under the auspices of the consortium that governs the production of this certain type of cheese and the makers must adhere to strict rules of its production to insure its authenticity. To begin with, the milk used must come from a certain breed of Piemontese cows from the area. We will tour the caseificio, see how it is made, then, of course, have a tasting of this fabulous and full-bodied cheese.

Our next stop is in the city of Savigliano. This city is mostly unknown to tourists and travelers, however it was once one of the most important cities in all of Piemonte and the House of Savoy. You will be pleasantly surprised at the beauty and elegance of this city of around 20,000 residents. The buildings and architecture are a splendid combination of late-mannerist and Baroque styles, with origins dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

We’ll head to the Muses Sensory Museum, which is housed in the magnificent 17th century Palazzo Taffini, once home to an important nobleman during the rule of the House of Savoy. Besides the historical significance of the palazzo and its own magnificent artwork, along with a section honoring Giovanni Maria Farina, the father of Italian perfume, the palazzo is now home to a unique museum that challenges one to use senses other than vision and sound to experience the “art” presented before you. There are several stations and areas where you will be exposed to and surrounded by fragrances and essences that spark the imagination and bring your sense of smell into a realm not often used in this type of setting. We’re sure that you will come away with a new appreciation for this interactive art-form and experience.

Afterwards, we’ll make our way to the “laboratory” workshop where each of us will sit at special work-stations where we will begin our perfume-making class! Making perfume is part art and part science as we are instructed by a professional, nose, that will teach us about the use of certain essential oils made from herbs, spices and plants and how they are combined to make unique blends of fragrances. Everyone will make their own blend and personalized fragrance, whether a perfume or cologne, that you will be able to take home with you at the end of the class! This is an amazingly personal experience in a casual group setting that will have you talking about it for years to come. Especially when one of your friends says to you, “Oh my, that is such a wonderful perfume you are wearing…Where did you get it?” To which, you can reply, “Oh, just something I picked up in Italy.” With a wink and a smile, of course!

We’ll take some time afterward to stroll the historic streets of Savigliano and meet up for aperitivi, before heading back to our villa. After a full day out, we’ll have a relaxing dinner with pizza and other goodies (and wine, of course) at our villa.

Places Castellinaldo, Costigliole d’Asti, Alba, Canale
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch:
Pasta: Traditional Ragu Lasagna
Side: Stuffed tomatoes
Side:Seasonal vegetables
Dessert: Piemontese Meliga pastry cookies with Zabaione cream
Experience: Marsaglia Winery
Experience: Grolla
Experience: Truffle Hunting
Experience: Private Home Dining

Meals

Breakfast: Buffet at Villa (included)
Lunch: The meal we prepare in cooking class (included)
Dinner: Fernanda's home in Alba (included)

Today we start off with a cooking class that is just a short drive from our villa in the private home of Marina Mortara, who has been a dear friend of ours for years. Her classes are super fun and we will make possibly the best lasagna you have ever had! No offense to your own nonna, of course! We also make a fabulous dessert where we will learn how to make everyone’s favorite, the Italian zabaione egg-cream.

The fact that the cooking class is in her home, which also happens to be the cantina of their winery makes it extra-special. We’ll be sampling their wines before, during and after class and, of course, during our delicious lunch that we will all have prepared together. Her winery makes amazing reds, such as Roero, Barbera d’Alba, Nebbiolo along with a fantastic Arneis white wine.

After lunch, Marina will prepare a unique coffee-grappa drink in a "Grolla," a tradition of the local Alps. The "Grolla" is a friendship cup with many hole in it. The drink made with coffee, grappa, sugar and some spices is made inside this terra-cotta cup, and each person drinks from their own hole in the cup.

This has long been a favorite stop for all our guests that have come here and made Marina and her warm and inviting family a part of our family as well.

After this delightful morning and lunch, we’ll stop to visit Natale and Gianni, two brothers and our truffle-hunting guides! We’ll learn about the different types of truffles from the area, then head out with their faithful and well-trained companions up into the nearby hills in search of the prized treasure. The dogs are amazing at finding truffles that grow in wooded areas near certain trees and shrubs. Depending on what we can dig up, we’ll take them back to Natale’s house to serve up some delicious truffle-inspired appetizers, including salami’s, cheeses and other local favorites. Natale likes to pour wine for his guests, as well! This is always a fun and informative excursion, along with a nice walk after a filling lunch-time meal. An important note about this experience: There are many truffle hunting experiences offered in Italy, in which you always find beautiful truffles. Unfortunately, truffle hunting does not work like that. We often do find them, but we cannot guarantee it, as we stand on absolute authenticity. In other words, we prefer to come up empty handed and honest over having someone bury tuffles in the ground before we arrive in order to turn something authentically difficult into a "show."

After our truffle hunt and appetizers, we’ll make a stop in nearby La Morra. This charming and classic hillside town is everything an Italian village should be. Take some time to stroll the cobblestone streets and alleyways that meander through the town dotted with cafés, trattorias and enoteca. There are gorgeous views from just about anywhere in town, but the crown jewel is really from the main piazza, which offers stunning vistas of the surrounding Langhe Valley.

Next up for this day out, on our way home we will stop in Alba at the home of Federica, our cooking instructor! This is not a cooking class. Rather, Fernanda is simply having us over to dinner in her home, and tonight she will make whatever she came up with while at the market today! Aside from dinner, she will let us in on a little of the area's culinary history. Long ago before the wines of this area were prized worldwide, this was a very poor area of the country. Many of the farmers had little to eat, so they did what people do when food is scarce. They made something with whatever they had plenty of. In this area, there was lots of pasta, and lots of wine! As such, it was very common to have a simple dish of pasta, and for sauce, all you would do is pour a glass of wine over it. This is a lost tradition, but we will be a part of it tonight.

Places Torino, Canale
Classes & Experiences

Experience: Torino Cafe Crawl / Food Tour
Experience: Gelato Experience
Experience: Apericena

Meals

Breakfast: Buffet at Villa (included)
Lunch: Our walking cafe crawl and food tour will be our lunch (included)
Dinner: Apericena (included)

Today starts out as another special day as we visit the historical center of Torino, or Turin, as many people will recognize it as. Torino could be considered as “The Rome of Northern Italy”, as it was nearly as instrumental in shaping the country from the middle ages and on through the Risorgimento, or the period of unification of Italy in the mid 1800’s.

Once, the Italian seat of the House of Savoy, Torino was at the center of wealth, nobility and financial growth for centuries. Even to this day, Torino is at the helm of industry and the hub of culture, entertainment and other businesses that resonate throughout the country.

The heart of Torino is the historical center that has a fabulous mix of architectural styles, from the Renaissance, Rococo, and Baroque to the Neo-Classical. These elements are blended in a splendid beauty of buildings, roads and walkways, many of which feature the many portici, that wind their way through town giving pedestrians shade from the sun or inclement weather.

We’ll walk under the portici as we start our “Caffé Crawl”. We will be visiting several of Torino’s famous cafés that are as beautiful as they are steeped in tradition. From the birthplace of a popular beverage, or the birthplace of the Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy, the café’s themselves are rich in history and culture.

We’ll stop at the café that began it all and start with the traditional Piedmontese breakfast, the “Bicerin”. This is a tradition that started in Torino in the 1800’s as Torino was quickly becoming the chocolate manufacturing center of Europe. With the bicerin, espresso, chocolate and milk were layered in a small glass creating a delicious and satisfying morning beverage. This tradition carries on to this day, where the drink is often accompanied by some small cookies or pieces of chocolate.

Our next visit will be at one of the oldest café’s, the Caffe’ di Palazzo Reale. This is the palace where the King of Italy once lived! We’ll have some personal choice beverages before moving on to another historical cafe or osteria for a little relaxation, good wines and local fare.

You will have some time to take in Torino on your own. Whether you want to just stroll the streets, shop or relax somewhere, there is no shortage of things to do, including many places of interest such as the Egyptian Archeological Museum, or the National Cinema Museum at the Mole Antonelliana tower.

After exploring Torino, we’ll have a unique behind the scenes at one of Torino's most famed gelato producers, where we will have a behind the scenes experience, as well as some o the best gelato the planet has to offer!

Finally we will have our "Apericena." This is another classic, Northern Italian tradition. Think of it as a mix between happy hour, dinner, and tapas. We will have an impressive array of fabulous small-plate appetizers, wine and other adult beverages. This is another classic CDV experience that we all look forward to being a part of as a fantastic way to end our day before returning to our villa.

Places Alba, Castagnito, Canale
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch
App: Fiori di Zucca – Fried Stuffed Zucchini Flowers (when in season)
1st: Tajarin Pasta with Sugo Piemontese
2nd: Polenta con salsicce
Dessert: Baci di Dama (biscuit filled with hazelnut cream inside)

Meals

Breakfast: Buffet at Villa (included)
Lunch: The results of our cooking class (included)
Dinner: Ostu di Djun (included)

Our cooking class this morning will once again be with Fernanda at the villa. She will have us making some more fantastic local cuisine. As with all our classes, this is another 100% hands-on, from scratch cooking experience. The appetizer will be a favorite found throughout Italy and has made its way into many homes and restaurants outside of Italy as well. This is the Fiori di Zucca, or stuffed and fried zucchini blossoms. We’ll take the fresh, bright yellow blossoms and stuff them with mozzarella cheese and anchovies (optional). Then they are lightly battered and fried to a lovely, crisp golden brown. If you have never had them, you are in for a wonderful treat with this perfect appetizer dish.

The pasta today will be tajarin, which is a thin flat pasta, that perfectly complements the Piemontese sauce we will also be making from scratch. Piemontese sauce is a light ragu made from onion, tomato, olive oil and a pinch of red pepper.

As if that isn’t enough, another staple in Northern Italian cooking is Polenta. We’ll make this as a companion dish to the pasta. We’ll add some locally-sourced sausages cooked to perfection to round out this hearty and flavorful dish.

And… We still have dessert! We’ll be making delicious, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit-style cookies Baci di Dama, or Lady Kisses, the cookies are sandwiched together and held in place by the hazelnut crème, resemble little pursed lips! They are a favorite in the region and are traditionally made for special occasions and holidays.

As with all our classes, our goal is to give you a variety of regional and national dishes that you can enjoy wherever you are. The classes are designed for everyone to be involved and have a great time during their vacation. You will have your own recipe booklet that you will take home with you so you can show off your new culinary skills with your family and friends. No doubt that they will want you to plan a meal to share with everyone!

We’ll take some time at the villa after lunch to rest up before we head to the picturesque city of Alba to explore the historical center with its great shops, bars, cafes and street scene. Alba is home to one of the largest confectioners in the world, Ferraro. You will know them from the Ferraro- Roche chocolates, Nutella, the Kinder Eggs and Tic Tacs! These are all manufactured in Alba, where you shouldn’t be surprised if you smell the sweet scent of chocolate in the air.

Tonight’s dinner will be something unexpected and quite unique. We will be heading back to Castellinaldo, for dinner at the Osteria delle Aie. Our chef instructor and wine-maker, Marina, took us to this restaurant that turned out to be a wonderful find in the area. We had a spectacular evening and just had to include it in the itinerary as it is too good a place not to share with our guests. This is a night where we are sure to be joined by Marina, as well as some other friends we have made along the way!

At the restaurant, the first thing you will notice is the attention to detail that the owner and staff incorporate into the table settings and other décor. Then, the dining concept is very different from traditional restaurants. Each night, the restaurant has a pre-set full course menu that has something for everyone. The conceptual part of the dining experience comes with the serving portions. There are nearly no limits. If you want more appetizers, or pasta or main course, you are welcome to have as much or as little as you would like. This also includes the excellent selection of wines that they have on hand, in large format bottles. They will leave the bottles at the table where, once again, guests can choose which wines they want and can pour as much or as little as they want. This theme continues through each course, including dessert and digestivi beverages.

This dining experience will be a night to remember and one you will be talking about for a very long time!

Places La Morra, Montaldo di Cerrina, Canale
Classes & Experiences

Experience: Barolo Winery Visit with lunch in the vineyard
Experience: Barbera Winery Visit
Experience: Farewell dinner with friends at their private villa

Meals

Breakfast: Buffet at Villa (included)
Lunch: At the Ballarin Winery (included)
Dinner: Farewell Dinner in a private villa (included)

Today we cross back over into Langhe Valley again amidst the fabulous and picturesque vineyards of some of the best wines produced in Italy. We’ll have an exclusive visit with Giorgio at his family-run winery where he specializes in making small production organic Barolo wines. Besides Barolo, he makes other varieties such as Barbaresco and Barbera. He will share his first-hand knowledge and passion for wine as we tour the grounds and wine cellar before we all have lunch together in his vineyard! It is very likely that some of his friends will stop by to join us. At the end of a full week, it will be most welcome to have some casual time with each other in this beautiful setting.

Giorgio is a rare find in this area, as he truly brings us into his life. Don't be surprised if he breaks out some bottles of some of his private "projects" with hand-written labels!

After lunch, we will head to the hometown of our friend Alessandro and have a casual afternoon and evening with his family and friends. We will visit his neighbor, Fabrizio, a very interesting and knowledgeable man, who just happens to be an incredible artisan wine-maker too! We will try his wonderful Barbera wines and discover his passion and craft for making his award-winning wines.

The winery visit and tasting will spill right in to our evening at Alessandro’s villa. We will be making all sorts of delicious fare for our farewell dinner. Feel free to lend a hand rolling out the pizza dough and adding the toppings, or help with the barbecue and cooking up some locally-sourced products, including beef, pork, chicken and sausages with one of the most beautiful views in the world. It is a friends and family experience all the way and has something for everyone.

The music will be playing, we’ll be singing and dancing as we recall the amazing week we all just had. Even as we prepare to leave, we will never have felt more welcome.

Places Canale , Milano Malpensa Airport
Classes & Experiences n/a
Meals

Breakfast: Buffet at Villa (included)

Sadly, our week has come to an end. We hope that you had a Vacation-of-a-Lifetime and we will see you another time! We will have one shuttle leaving for the Milan Malpensa (MXP) Airport in the early morning. Time, TBD based on departing flights.


The Not So Fine Print:

Last Sunday of August

If you are coming on a week that includes the last Sunday of August, The cooking class and visit to Barolo on Sunday will replace the day in the alps, and on Sunday we will instead take part in the world-famous "Mangialonga" wine walk, which is a festive event that has us (and thousands of others) walking through the Barolo vineyards, tasting wines, and having various courses of our meal at different stops along the way. This also adds about 3 miles of walking.

Itinerary Subject to Change

This is a base itinerary, which is subject to minor changes before the vacation begins. Changes may be reorganization of days due to closure and festivals, changes due to weather, or seasonal changes. Additionally, these itineraries are prepared well in advance, and at times there are unexpected closures for various reasons that require us to alter the plans. In the end, our goal is always to make it better for our guests, and when substitutions happen, they are always wonderful.

Menu Variations

The menus listed on the itineraries are subject to change depending on season. We use only fresh ingredients wherever possible, so if we are unable to prepare a certain dish, it will be substituted. Occasionally we make changes to some items as certain dishes prove to be very popular.

*Weather

Some places on our itineraries don't work well with cold weather or rain. We may have to have some of our meals indoors that were scheduled to be outside. When we do expect rain, we try to rearrange the schedule to make the best of it, but substitutions may be made.