Itinerary - Wine, Cooking, & The Olive Oil Harvest - Norcia

Places Rome FCO Airport, Norcia
Classes & Experiences Afternoon Cocktails (included)

Dinner: Dinner at Vespasia Restaurant (Included)

We start our week at the Rome FCO International airport with our shuttle departing at 12:00 Noon. For guests arriving on late flights that cannot make our free shuttle, we can arrange for a private transfer service for an additional charge.

Once in Norcia, you will check in to your room for the week: The “Relais & Chateaux Palazzo Seneca”, a 16th century palazzo in the heart of Norcia’s medieval quarter that has been converted into an opulent luxury resort. All the rooms are different with wrought-iron post beds or carved wooden headboards, leather desks, designer bathrooms, décor to the standards of the most prestigious mansions.

Once you are checked in, you will have the afternoon to relax, browse the breathtaking village of Norcia, or just take some time to unwind in the sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, etc. You may also enjoy the privacy of a beautiful library with historic and prestigious books, fireplaces and soft leather sofas where you can relax and drink a chalice of fine wine.

At around 6PM, we will meet in the lounge of the elegant Vespasia restaurant, where Hors d’oeuvres and Proseco will be served as we get together for an hour or so to discuss the week ahead and get to know one another. After our get-together, we will take a short stroll around town together and point out some places of interest.

Vespasia Restaurant in Norcia - 1 Michelin Star

Our welcome dinner tonight will be in Chef Valentino Palmisano's elegant Michelin-Starred "Vespasia" restaurant. Chef Valentino was listed among the 10 best Italian chefs abroad by ‘Arbiter’ magazine. The menu of the evening will be Umbricelli pasta with Sausage & Fresh Ricotta, Brasato di Sagrantino (Chianina Beef braised in Sagrantino wine), followed by a wonderful Honey & Pollen Parfait for dessert.

After dinner, those that are tired from a long trip can simply walk upstairs to their rooms, or join us for a stroll around this breathtaking village at night and a little grappa to salute our first day together!

Places Norcia
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch
App: Chianina Beef & Vinaigrette Vegetable Salad
1st: Ricotta Ravioli with butter & Sage Sauce
2nd: Local Sausage & Romano Cheese Country Tart
Dessert: Hot Chocolate Mini Cru

Artisan: Visit with a Prosciutto & Salame Producer (included)


Breakfast: Buffet at Vespasia (included)
Lunch: : The meal we prepare in cooking class (included)
Dinner: Granaro del Monte Restaurant (included)

This morning we’ll have late start to give you some rest after your trip yesterday. Take the time to relax, explore the village, or use the Palazzo’s sauna and steam baths. At around 10:00, we’ll meet in the lounge of the Palazzo, where a beautiful buffet will await us, complete with pastries prepared that morning by the palazzo’s bakery, home-made jams, freshly baked, breads, etc. We’ll have some time to enjoy breakfast with a fresh cappuccino, café latte, or tea as we meet Chef Valentino, our cooking instructor for the week. Valentino will tell us a little about himself and his experience.

After breakfast, Chef Valentino will take us on the short walk the beautiful and historic “Casa Bianconi”, the site of our cooking classes for the week.

For our class today, we will prepare a four course meal, which will be taught by Chef Valentino and/or his sous chef & staff. Our appetizer will be a Chianina Beef & Vinaigrette Vegetable Salad. For our first course, we will make Ricotta Ravioli with butter & Sage Sauce completely from scratch. Our main dish will be a Local Sausage & Romano Cheese Country Tart. Finally, for dessert, we will make Hot Chocolate Mini Cru.

As always, class is 100% hands-on, so today we will get right into it! Once class is over, we will sit down and enjoy the meal we prepared together for lunch.

We'll take a little rest break after lunch before we head into the local hills to visit a very special farm in the rolling hills just outside of town where "Cinturino" pigs are raised. This is a very special blood line of pigs that are unique to Norcia. Some know of the "Cinta Senese" pigs that are the most elite of Tuscany (They are to pork what "Kobe" is to beef). The Cinturino pigs are an extremely rare, genetically selected breed of the Cinta Senese pigs, and these are considered the best of the best. We will spend a little time in the fields around these free range pigs, take in the view and have a tasting of the local salamis that come from these amazing creatures while we learn all about what makes them so special.

Keep in mind that this is not a tourist destination with a gift shop at the exit. To the contrary, this is a local farm that rarely sees anyone other than the farmers. It is a truly amazing experience you won't soon forget.

After our visit, we will head back to Norcia for a little rest before dinner.

Our dinner tonight we will be in the charming and rustic “Granaro del Monte” restaurant, Umbria’s oldest restaurant. Having been in continuous operation since 1850, it recognized as a national historic monument.

The menu for the evening is entirely based on ancient Norcian traditional recipes. We’ll start with a smoked trout salad made with trout from Norcia's local rivers. Our first course will be their specialty “Casteluccio Lentil Soup” (Local lentils grown on the nearby Casteluccio plains, which are known to be the best in the world) with Umbrian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Our second course tonight will be wood-fire grilled Norcia Sausages, Pancetta, and other local meats. For our side dish, we will have fresh seasonal vegetables, and finally dessert will be the pick of the day from the restaurant’s in-house bakery.

Places Norcia, Assisi
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch
Pizza! All kinds, however you like it!

Excursion: St. Francis' Basilica in Assisi; Shopping in Assisi (included)


Breakfast: Buffet at Vespasia (included)
Lunch: : Pizza made in class (included)
Dinner: Italian Tapas at the Enoteca (included)

As with every day, our morning begins again with the beautiful breakfast buffet, full of freshly baked pastries and breads from the palazzo’s in-house bakery. After breakfast, we will make our way to the outskirts of Assisi, where we will visit the famous "Boccione" pizzeria, which is located in the beautiful rolling hills just outside Assisi.

Once here, we will Meet Luigi and Paolo, the pizza masters who regularly teach pizza mastery to people from all over the country. Today, they have closed their pizzeria to the public in order to host us for what will be one part pizza class, and one part party. We'll mix our dough together, then each guest will have the chance to pick their own toppings, make their pizza, and cook it in the wood-fired oven. This is one of the highlights of our week together, and our guests always leave having had one of the most amazing experiences of their lives!

After lunch, we will head up to Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis. Still surrounded by its ancient walls, is sits on the slopes of Mount Subasio with beautiful rose stone buildings, winding narrow streets, noble palaces and balconies full of flowers.

You will have a few hours to do some shopping and exploring in town, or join us on a walking tour of the St. Francis’ Basilica.

We’ll then head home to Norcia for a beautiful sunset/dusk drive though the countryside that evokes images you imagine from so many movies about the Tuscany area. Once home at the Palazzo, we will have a little time to rest before dinner.

Tonight we will be having dinner at the Enoteca, just a few steps from the Palazzo. Weather permitting, we will have dinner outside on the main street of Norcia where the locls take their evening stroll. We'll be having an amazing layout of Italian tapas, based on Norcia specialties. They will be bringing us samplings of Norcia salames and prosciutto, Local cheeses with honey and marmalade, Panzanella, Farro salad, Focaccia with local prosciutto and cheese, Quiche with local onions and pancetta, Guanciale with Sage, Goat cheese with dried fruit, Smoked trout with ricotta, Assorted bruschetta, Fruit with sweet Sagrantino wine, Torta al Testo, Grilled Veggies, Porchetta, and Gelato. Of course, dinner will be accompanied by an assortment of local wines.

Places Norcia, Ascoli Piceno in Marche
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch
App: Farro Salad with Prawns & Salted Ricotta Cheese;
1st: Tagliatelle Pasta with Truffles & Mushrooms
2nd: Crusted Turkey Spiedini
Dessert: Cake With Sagrantino Wine Sauce

Bonus: Olive All'Ascolane (during our visit to Ascoli) (included)
Activity: Truffle Hunt (included)


Breakfast: Buffet at Vespasia (included)
Lunch: : The meal we prepare in class (included)
Dinner: Trattoria in Ascoli Piceno (included)

For those interested, we will head out this morning on an early morning Truffle Hunt. Our guide for the hunt will be Nicola and his amazing truffle hunting dogs. This is an actual truffle hunt, so we never know what we will find, or how much we will find, but some of the truffles we find on our hunt will come back to town with us to be used in our cooking class today!

Note: In some periods of May and September, truffle hunting is not allowed in Norcia. When this is the case, our truffle hunt will be more of a demonstration than an actual hunt, and we will let our guests know before we head out.

We'll have some time for a more relaxing breakfast after the truffle hunt, and meet Chef Valentino in the Vespasia lounge this morning. We will then head to the local shops in town to do some shopping for this morning's cooking class. We'll meet with local grocers and butchers as we gather the key ingredients for today's class.

After our shopping, we will go back to Casa Bianconi and start our class for today's lunch. Today we will be making Farro Salad with Prawns & Salted Ricotta Cheese, Tagliatelle Pasta with Truffles & Mushrooms (from scratch - using truffles we found this morning), Fruit-Crusted Turkey Spiedini, and Farro & Pear Cake With Sagrantino Wine Sauce.

As always, our lunch today will be the what we made in class. After we finish our lunch, we will have a little relaxation time before we head out for our evening excursion.

Tonight we will travel to the neighboring region of Marche to the wonderful city of Ascoli Piceno - Birthplace of the famous Olive All’Ascolane. We’ll head to a local enoteca in the piazza where Chef Augusto will pour us some wine and teach us how to make these delicious deep-fried stuffed olives.

In Ascoli, you will also have the opportunity to spend some time browsing this beautiful Renaissance town with a piazza that has been described as one of the most beautiful and perfect piazzas in all of Italy. In the Piazza del Popolo, visit the historic Café Meletti, rated as one of the top 150 caffes in Italy – And also where the liquor Anisette was created. You will truly walk (and drink) in the footsteps of history as this

famous establishment has been visited by politicians, poets and philosophers. As well as artists and authors such as Ernest Hemmingway, John Paul Sarte, and Simone De Beauvoir. Take some time to stroll the town with it’s many beautiful buildings, cafe’s and boutiques in this historic city with roots pre-dating the Roman period. Dinner tonight will be in a wonderful trattoria in Ascoli.

Places Campello sul Clitunno, Norcia
Classes & Experiences

Harvest Olives & Make our own Olive Oil (included)


Breakfast: Buffet at Vespasia (included)
Lunch: : At the Olive Mill (included)
Dinner: Granaro del Monte (included)

After breakfast this morning, we will drive to the little Umbrian town of Campello sul Clitunno, in the foothills of Perugia.

Here, we will visit Carlo Carletti and his Olive Orchards & Mill. He runs one of the last remaining "traditional" olive mills in Italy -- The kind with the big millstones. In fact, his mill dates back to the 16th century, and the only difference between now and then is that motors have replaced donkeys for power to run the mill!

The olive mill here is an ultra cold-press mill that produces a top-quality extra virgin, unfiltered olive oil with the lowest possible acidity. Consider that in order to be called Extra Virgin, olive oil needs to have less than 0.8 percent acidity, and the olive oil here averages 0.2 percent, four times less than the standard! In other words, it is simply the best of the best of the best.

As we arrive, we will head up to the hills, where we will spend a couple hours harvesting olives in one of his orchards. Then we will head back to the mill and unload our olives into the mill, where we will watch them get crushed my the giant millstones.

We'll then make the resulting paste and operate the mill ourselves as we stack plates full of olive paste from our olives, and finally move them over to the press. We will learn all about how the olive oil making process works by dong it ourselves as our olives are being pressed into olive oil.

While the press is squeezing our olives, we will have lunch in the room next door, obviously sampling the new oil from that day with our lunch.

Finally, each of us will walk up to the centrifuge in the mill where our oil is going through the last step of the process as all water is separated from the oil. As the thick, green oil drips from a spout, we will each fill a one liter can of the oil that came from the very olives we picked this morning and milled this afternoon!

Today you will go home with oil that you made, and came from olives you harvested. This is exclusive experience, as the olive mill only does this with OUR guests. Today will have been pure magic.. A day you will never forget.

We'll finally head home to Norcia for some rest time. Dinner tonight is all about Truffles! We will be having Truffle Bruschetta, Tagliatelle pasta with Summer Truffles & Mushrooms, Norica sausage stuffed with truffles and local cheese, and finally Crostata with Ricotta and Castelluccio Lentils.

*As always, for those that do not like truffles, we will have alternatives for each dish.

Places Norcia, Montefalco
Classes & Experiences

Scacciadiavoli Winery Tour & Tasting (included)
BBQ with the locals (included)


Breakfast: Buffet at Vespasia (included)
Lunch: : At Scacciadiavoli Winery (included)
Dinner: Umbrian BBQ (included)

This morning after breakfast we will go to the outskirts of Montefalco, where we will visit the boutique “Scacciadiavoli” winery, one of the oldest in the region dating back to the 1800’s. Set in beautiful rolling hills full of vineyards (and sunflowers int he summer) right at the Tuscany border, the scenery here is just breathtaking. We’ll visit the beautiful ancient cellars and enjoy a tasting of heir incredible wines, including their celebrated Sagrantino (DOCG), Montefalco Rosso (DOC), Sagrantino Passito (DOCG), Grechetto Umbria (IGT), and Spumante (BRUT).

A light lunch will be at the winery during our tasting experience, including bruschetta, local cheeses, and Panzanella.

Next, we will head to the town of Montefalco for a little time to stroll and get some shopping in.

We'll then head back home to Norcia for a coupe hours rest before be head out for tonight's extremely special event:

The Grigliata!

It all comes together tonight as we head just outside of town to a local farm, where we will have a "Grigliata", or Italian BBQ. Tonight we will get together with some of the locals we have gotten to know (from Palazzo Seneca, the pig farmer, local butcher, and their friends and families) and have a traditional Italian "friends and family" BBQ. We'll grill up sausages, pancetta and more together for an evening you will never forget.

This is not a restaurant type experience. It is a true cultural experience as you live the true Italian life in a way very few travelers ever experience. We will all do a little bit of everything. Some of us will man the grill, some will set the tables, etc. We'll have a wonderful evening as we get to know people we have been seeing all week in a completely different way... as friends. We'll dance, we'll sing, and we will firm up new bonds in a way that "tourists" can never experience. This is always a night our guests never forget.

If they hadn't fully realized it yet, by tonight, our guests feel they are truly at home here. If there was ever and doubt, it is gone now, because tonight there is no question at all. We are all a big group of close friends that feel like they have known one another for years. This includes our visiting guests, the CDV team, and the locals at Norcia.

Places Norcia, Castelluccio
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch
App: Herb Crusted Trout Roll
1st: Norcia Lentil Soup
2nd: Umbrian Porchetta
Dessert: Lentil Crème Brulee

Artisan: Make Ricotta Cheese (included)
Experience: Experience the Gregorian Chant (included)


Breakfast: Buffet at Vespasia (included)
Lunch: : The meal we prepare in class (included)
Dinner: Ristorante Vespasia (included)

After breakfast this morning, we will start our final cooking class for the week at Casa Bianconi.

Today we will be making a wonderful Herb Crusted Trout Roll for our appetizer. Our first course will be the Norcia Lentil Soup that you will have been begging us for after having tried it the second night. We will make roasted Porchetta for our main course, and finally Lentil Crème Brulee.

When our class has finished, we will sit down and enjoy the results of our class for lunch.

After lunch, we will head up the Sibillini Mountains Natural Reserve to visit the “Castelluccio Plain”, which offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Besides the striking beauty, Castelluccio is

recognized at the source of the best lentils in the world. We'll head up into the tiny village and visit a local shepherd, where we will have the opportunity to make Pecorino and Ricotta cheese while experiencing the incredible views.

For guests visiting us in June, it is Flower Season, and people come here from all over the world to see the amazing flowers growing here!

As we return to Norcia, those that with to join us can take a short stroll to the St. Benedict monastery before dinner, where we will experience the amazing Gregorian Chant by the monks in the church built at the birthplace of St. Benedict. This will be their "Compline" service, during which all the lights of the church are turned off and the monks chant by candlelight. It is a truly moving experience.

For our farewell dinner tonight, we will be back in the elegant Vespasia restaurant. Our menu for the evening includes Crisped Gnocchi w/ Pecorino fondue and Sagrantino wine reduction, followed by Guinea Fowl in wine, basil, tomato & olive sauce. Our side will be roasted & potatoes. For dessert, we will have a wonderful local berry compote, layered with sweet & crispy wafers and freshly whipped cream.

Places Norcia , Rome FCO Airport
Classes & Experiences n/a

Breakfast: Buffet at Vespasia (included)

Sadly, our week comes to a close this morning. This morning we will have an early departure at around 6:00 AM. This will get us to the Rome airport by 8:30 AM.

This will be sufficient for flights departing after 11:00 AM, so if you cannot get a flight out after 11:00 AM, you will need to spend a night in Rome for a Sunday flight out. Alternately, you can hire a private driver to take you to the airport earlier or later at a cost of roughly 350 Euros per car.

The Not So Fine Print:

Itinerary Subject to Change

It is highly likely that the order of the days on this itinerary may change. This is because we cannot be sure of cooperative weather on a given day for the olive harvest. As such, we will do our best to schedule the harvesting on the day with the best expected weather of the week, and reorganize the other days around it.

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.


This is an autumn itinerary, so expect days to be chilly, and we may have rain. Please be prapared. 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.