Overview - Wine, Cooking, Truffles & Chocolate: A Foodie's Paradise in Umbria

Umbria Cooking Vacation with Wineries, Olive Oil Mill, Truffle Hunting & Chocolate Class at Perugina!

An All-Inclusive Dream Week of Family, Laughter, Cooking, Food, Chocolate & Wine

This week-long vacation will consist of a very small and intimate group of no more than 16 people. It is an 8 day, 7 night all-inclusive experience that offers a wonderful mixture of some of Central Italy’s highlights with some truly off-the-beaten-path treasures unique to our area.

It is a week that embraces Italian cooking, culinary and artistic tradition with some of the most wonderful locations in Umbria. It is all about having incredibly unique cultural experiences that you will never forget. You will live the Italian life as we cook authentic local recipes together, interact with and befriend the locals, get to know small-village artisans, and so much more. This trip will make you pinch yourself over and over in amazement that you are actually living it.

Most of all, it is a week of fun, family and laughter as we share what makes Central Italy so special in a very personal way.

Our Home for the Week: Foligno, Umbria (Foh-lee-n-y-oh)

To offer our guests immersive and true local living vacations, we try to make our home bases places that are not wall to wall packed with international tourists, without sacrificing on the beauty and charm that allures those same tourists. Foligno was a perfect choice for this!

Just a few miles from iconic cities like Assisi, Perugia and Spoleto, Foligno is a breathtakingly beautiful and bustling medieval Italian city. The difference here is that this is a city mostly enjoyed by the locals when they are trying to get away from those touristy places. The streets here are not lined with souvenir shops selling postcards and T-Shirts. Instead, they are filled with the places the Italians go to shop... for their food, for their fashion, for their daily lives. Simply put, when you are here you cannot help but feel like a guest rather than a tourist.

Foligno is big enough to cater to your every need, and small enough to get the real authentic experience of Italian life. Totally on flat land, Folingo is a perfect city explore by foot or on bike. Decorated with a beautiful renaissance style historical center and piazza, this little city is breathtaking from top to bottom.

You will quickly integrate into Italian life as you settle into your home for the week. Imagine waking up in your Italian home, strolling down to the piazza for some hot coffee and a pastry, watching the locals get their day started, people coming in and out, getting their morning espresso, eating a quick croissant between chatting with the barista and heading off to work or school on their bicycles. You finish up your breakfast in this dream little city and head off for another fantastic, once in a lifetime day of exploring this part of Italy, that most tourists completely skip. The “real Italy".

What Makes Umbria So Special

Most visitors to Italy dream of spending time in the beautiful hill-towns of Tuscany. Umbria is Tuscany's next door neighbor, but doesn't have all of the fame and marketing. They appear largely similar (Most Italians even argue that Umbria is more beautiful), but Tuscany gets most of the international attention. That makes Tuscany far more touristy than Umbria, of course, so it is much more difficult to experience the authentic culture in Tuscany, since so much of it is developed to cater to international tourism. In fact, when you watch many movies based in Tuscany, such as "Under the Tuscan Sun" and many others, the vast majority of the filming actually took place in Umbria in order to convey that "Real Tuscan Feel." The beauty is that very few tourists know this, and the allows us to give our guests a truly immersive vacation in the magical area of central Italy.

Our Cooking Classes This Week

We'll have four cooking experiences this week.

Two classes will be four course meals prepared at Osteria la Mattera, a local restaurant where our lovely cooking instructor will show us the ins and outs of traditional Umbrian cooking. You will be making Meat Canneloni with homemade Ragu sauce, Spezzatino al Sagrantino, Panzanella, Suppli (Central Italy's version of Arancini), Porchetta, "Salame del Re" and "Trecine".

We'll also be making a local pizza-type bread, Torta al Testo, at a centuries-old water-powered flour mill. This is truly a unique experience in the hills outside of Spello that will be an experience like no other, in which we are simply having a day with local friends.

Another highlight of the week is our Private and Exclusive Chocolate-Making class, taught by the master chocolatier at the world-famous Perugina Chocolate Factory.

Our cooking classes are not demonstrations. They are 100% hands-on. The classes and instruction gives you the freedom to be as involved as you want to be. Whether it's in every stage of every course we prepare, or if you want to sit out here and there and enjoy yourself just relaxing. There's always plenty of food being made!

The Excursions...

When we are not cooking, we are heading out on some truly incredible excursions and experiencing things most other travelers can only dream of.

We'll have an amazing visit at a centuries old, Traditional Cold-Press Olive Mill. We'll go on a Truffle Hunt with a national champion truffle hunting dog. We will visit a lovely family-run winery in the beautiful hills of Montefalco, Umbria's Sagrantino wine region.

We will have an exclusive wine-tasting and BBQ dinner at a family-run winery in Montefalco. Eraldo makes amazing Sagrantino wines in a very artisan-style way. You will have an up-close and personal experience with this wonderful man and his family. A truly unique, one-of-a-kind experience in a very special setting.

On the day we go to the chocolate factory, we will also have a visit and lunch in the historical center of Perugia. Perugia is the capital of Umbria and has one of the most beautiful piazza's and corso in the entire region.

One of our day trips will take us to Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis and one of the most beautiful towns in all of Italy.

To sum it up, this week's excursions are all set in some of the most beautiful settings in Italy that will evoke the Italian dream at every moment

The Food & Wine

Italians love their food. And why wouldn't they? It's delicious! We love it too and so much of what we do revolves around meal planning! We're talking about lunch at breakfast and then talking about dinner during lunch! One thing you never hear during one of our vacation weeks is, "I'm hungry" - What we do hear is..."I can't eat another bite!" But they still find some room!

You will never be hungry, and you will never want for more wine, period. All of the restaurant meals are in small, local restaurants that are considered the best of the best for their area. These are the places the locals rave about, not the touristy places. Furthermore, we don't do "tourist food". We insist on the highest quality at all times, and always pull out all of the stops.

The wine is always flowing at lunch and dinner. We take a lot of pride in making sure that we're pairing the right dish with one of the fantastic local wines. Everyone has their preferences. Find out which ones you like best! Additionally, the meals at our cooking classes are not little 'learn to make pasta' classes like many others. Instead, the classes are traditional Italian “Family Meals'... 4 courses, all from scratch. Whenever possible, we will use the most locally-sourced and sustainable products and ingredients available.

When the week is over, you will have experienced the real Italy that few tourists have ever experienced. You will have made new friends, and you will have learned why Italian culture is so amazing... because you will have lived it.

For those that are not big wine enthusiasts, not to worry! While we are visiting the wineries this week, they are selected because they have much more to offer than just the wine. These are truly family experiences, and unique in their own way. For instance, one is in a gorgeous setting in the hills of Montefalco, one of the premier wine regions of Umbria. There are plenty of places to relax or take a nice walk around the grounds with it's olive orchards and gardens. All in a magnificent setting with an amazingly gracious family. There are always alternative beverage options and lots of gorgeous scenery to take in.

When the week is over, you will have experienced the real Italy that few tourists have ever experienced. You will have made new friends, and you will have learned why Italian culture is so amazing... because you will have lived it.

At Home with the Locals

A true and authentic experience in Italy means you are not just seeing sites, but becoming part of the local culture and getting to really know the locals. So when we are dining, it's just not going to always be at restaurants. We will also be visiting the homes of friends of ours, having home-cooked, home-served meals with the families. We are truly sharing in their lives, and being part of everyday family life in an Italian village. In fact, you will see many of the same people throughout the week as you build relationships with your new friends. It might just be that person at the winery you visited one day is also at a friend's house for dinner one night.

If you have been on one of our other trips in the past, you might just find someone you met at one of our other locations at. lunch or dinner. Or perhaps you will meet someone new that you may find on another trip with us as an integral part of that location. This is because we are truly all friends and family, not just at each location, but throughout CDV.

It doesn't stop there. Each morning we have traditional Italian breakfast of Cappuccino and breakfast in the main piazza with the locals, you will be welcomed with friendly smiles and a Buongiorno from the baristas. Don't be surprised when they know your specialty by the next day!

Your daily encounters with locals will leave a lasting impression not only on yourselves, but also with the locals as they really love our guests and the interaction that takes place. They are as genuine as it comes and you will feel it from the moment you arrive until the time to say goodbye.

This will most-likely be unlike anything you have experienced when traveling. You are invited into people's homes and lives and will be welcomed in as if you have known them for years.

It's Always About The People

It's all about friends and family! Our groups are small and intimate. We attract people that are looking for an authentic experience, so our guests always become friends right away. We are not guides, we are hosts. We are part of the group... we see you as our guests, not our clients.

Along the way, you will meet many new people in the towns we visit, and before you know it you will find yourself greeting locals you have befriended while walking the streets of . The hotel staff is incredible and will make you feel welcome from your first meeting. The locals are very friendly and proud of their town and are so happy to share their experiences with us...their out-of-town guests! Don't be surprised to see the barista or other locals waving to you as you pass them on the street. A sense of belonging develops very quickly as you become part of the fabric of this amazing little town.

Cities & Villages we'll visit...

Umbria is much like Tuscany...Before Tuscany was Tuscany!

Unpretentious - Beautiful Cities and Towns - Uncrowded - Delicious Food and Wonderful People!

Besides our time in Foligno, your journey in Umbria will bring you to some incredible towns with unforgettable experiences. One of the true gems and remarkable places in all of Italy is the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. You will have plenty of time to stroll through the picturesque walkways in this beautiful, historical town and marvel in the magnificence of the basilica.

When we go to the Umbrian capital city of Perugia, you will marvel at this picturesque and vibrant town with it's beautiful cathedrals, piazza's, cafe's, and shopping area in the historical center.

On our day in Norcia, you are sure to have your breath taken away. Seeing people’s faces as we get off the bus and they see this little village is incredible. Norcia is a prized culinary hotspot, famous for its prized prosciutto and black truffles.

Other stops will be in the hills of Montefalco which is along the Sagrantino wine trail. The olive oil mill is in the little commune of Campello sul Clitunno. The ancient town of Spoleto, And our Torta al Testo class is on the outskirts of Spello, to the Umbrian hills near Mt. Subasio to Valtopina.

What we'll be cooking...

Four Completely Hands-On Cooking Classes

Grab an apron! It's time to start cooking!

Appetizer First Course Second Course Dessert
Chef's Choice (Seasonal) Cannelloni with Ragu Spezzatino al Sagrantino (Sagrantino Wine Stew) Trecine Pastries

For today's class we have the exclusive use of the teaching kitchen at the Perugina Chocolate Factory - Home of the Baci Kisses!

The master chocolatier will teach us how to make our own unique recipes for our very own chocolate truffles that we'll be taking home!

Chocolate Truffles Chocolate Flavored Infusions Examples
Ganache Filling of Your Choice White and Dark Chocolate Limoncello, Grappa, Mint, Pistachio Creme, Cayenne, Amaretto and much more!

Our Third Cooking Class Features More Regional Favorites, all made from scratch and 100% hands-on.

Appetizer First Course Second Course Dessert
Umbrian Panzanella Suppli (Central's Italy's take on Arancini) Porchetta Salame del Re (A chocolate dessert)

Our Last Class Features A Local Specialty Sandwich: Torta al Testo

Today's class takes us into the hills above Spello to a generations-old family-run grain mill that still uses a water-powered grinder to make their artisan flour. Torta al Testo is local sandwich made from a type of pizza bread, but with a local twist. It is not only something that you can only get in Umbria, but specifically this area of Umbria, and people come from all over Italy for it. It just doesn't get any fresher than this!

We'll also make a dessert roll similar to a strudel that will be baked in their wood-burning oven.

Torta al Testo is what made famed restaurateur, Nancy Silverton, want to become a baker!

Historical Sites, Factories, Wineries & Mills we will visit...

  • Assisi - Birthplace of St. Francis
  • Cortona - Iconic Tuscan Hilltop Village and the setting for Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Perugina Chocolate Factory
  • Historical Center of Perugia
  • Historical Center of Foligno
  • Carletti Winery & Olive Mill in Campello sul Clitunno
  • Truffle Hunting
  • Traditional Water-Drive Grain Mill
  • Montefalco Sagrantino Winery