Overview - Wine & Cooking Under the Tuscan & Umbrian Sun

Local Living Cooking Vacation with Wineries, Olive Mill, Cheese Making & Sightseeing in Tuscany, Umbria and Alto Lazio

It's All About Fun, Family, Laughter, Food & Wine...

This week-long vacation will consist of a very small and intimate group of no more than 18 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 Tuscany, Umbria and Alto Lazio. It is a week of discovery as you integrate into Italian village life, living in your own homes among the villagers, shopping with them, and getting to know them. Most of all, it is a week of fun, family and laughter as we share what makes Italy so special in a very personal way.

The Cooking Classes

We'll have three half-day completely hands-on cooking classes this week, plus ricotta-making! We will visit local wineries and spend time with the owners, have a lunch at the vineyard, and depending on season we may go truffle hunting, harvest grapes or olives. We will visit popular and off-the-beaten-path hidden treasures, and so much more this week!

Our cooking classes are not demonstrations. They are 100% hands-on. We structure them so that you can be as involved as you wish in every stage of every course we prepare. With every class, we roll up our sleeves and get wrist deep in making everything fresh, from scratch. Two of the classes are complete five-course meals, during which you are completely involved in everything. Yet another is all about Italian Country Wood-Fired Pizza, and making Limoncello Cream from scratch! During the week, we will also make fresh pecorino and ricotta cheese, and even distill a batch of Grappa in our cellar.

Depending on the week you come, we may make fresh pappardelle pasta with home-made fennel-ragu sauce, Home-Made Ravioli, Panzanella, Tiramisu, Panna Cotta, Beef Involtini, Fresh Ricotta Cheese, and much more. Everything fresh from our garden, or locally sourced from friends.

For those would rather eat than cook, there is always something to entertain you. All of our classes take place at our beautiful 18th century country villa. Take control of our 90-bottle wine rack, try a sampling of our countless home-made liqueurs in our cellar, relax, take a stroll, or just enjoy the wonderful Italian countryside. Whether you are cooking or not, the time we spend during the cooking classes is always a highlight.

True Farm-To-Table, Truly Organic

Soriano is home-base for CDV, and the kitchen at the villa in Soriano is the centerpiece for everything that CDV does. This shows in all of the ingredients we use for our cooking here. Every vegetable that we have growing in our garden outside the villa is used in our cooking classes. The olive oil comes from the olive trees growing right outside, and is milled at an olive mill you visit this week. The hazelnuts are from our own hazelnut trees just outside the villa. The tomato sauce we use is all from jars that we prepare each yer right here with our own tomatoes.

The liqueurs we serve a made here at the villa from alcohol we distill in our own cellar, made from grapes grown by friends we visit this week. The meat, eggs and milk are all sourced locally from our friends down the road. The flour in our pasta comes from a local flour mill in town that uses grains grown right here in Soriano. The wines we serve are from the wineries we visit on CDV trips throughout Italy. The salt in our cooking classes is all harvested by our own guests on our Sicily Cooking Vacations, the balsamic vinegar comes from our own barrels from an artisan balsamic vinegar producer in Modena that our guests help make on our Bologna Cooking Vacations.

The prosciutto and Cold Cuts are all prepared especially for us by friends of our s that we visit on our Norcia and Bologna vacations. The limoncello is made by our own guests on our Amalfi Coast Vacations, and we often use lemons brought back by our hosts from Amalfi for our Limincello cream class this week. The Vanilla we use in our Panna Cotta, is made right here at the villa, and even the various sauces and spreads you will have during the week were made right here during our off-season. If we could find a sugar plantation locally, even our sugar would be locally sourced!

The Excursions

When we are not cooking, we are heading out on some truly incredible excursions. We'll visit some amazing wineries, including small family-run places where we will meet the owners and dine with them. We'll have lunch in Tuscan vineyards, visit a wine cellar that is widely-considered to be the most beautiful cellar in the world. We'll have lunch at a small home-based olive mill that makes arguably, the best Extra-Virgin Umbrian Olive Oil you will ever have! We'll visit a generations old, operational Deruta ceramics factory where we try our hand at the potter's wheel. We'll see many other beautiful-beyond-description Italian gems such as Assisi, Orvieto, Pienza and more.

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!

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 'Sunday Family Meals'... Some are 5 courses, all done to the max. Other classes highlight Italian Desserts and Pizza!

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

Home cooking...Away from home. Welcome to the Real Italy. Several of our meals will be home-cooked, home-served. That is, we are dining with local residents in their homes, villas or "taverne", truly sharing in their lives, and being part of everyday family life in an Italian village.

It doesn't stop there. Each morning we have traditional Italian breakfast of Cappuccino and Pastries 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 drink or pastry 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.

It's not just in town where you will have this opportunity. Down at the villa, we have visitors come often to join us for lunch or pizza night. When we go to the wineries and the olive mill, we are at their personal homes and not some touristy stop where mainstream tour companies go.

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.

Cities & Villages we'll visit...

In Tuscany, we will visit the villages of Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Pienza, plus the border-town of Proceno. We will visit small family-run wineries and go on a truffle hunt before having an amazing home-made lunch in Montalcino at the home of our dear friend (and Brunello Winemaker), and on another day we will visit Montepulciano, visit an artisan coppersmith, the most beautiful wine cellar in the world, and lunch in the vineyard of our dear friends that produce an incredible Vino Nobile, weather permitting.

Umbria...Figuratively and literally, sits in Tuscany's shadow, yet evokes emotions of what Tuscany was like before all of the tourists arrived.

Our journey to 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. We 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 Deruta, we have an exclusive experience at the factory and showroom of a family-run ceramics-maker. You can take your turn at the potter's wheel at this generations-old Italian ceramics factory. Deruta is known around the world as home to some of Italy's most iconic and recognized designs.

One of Umbria's most beautiful towns is Orvieto. Along with a renaissance-inspired interior of its magnificent Cathedral, the remarkable, gold-laden facade is recognized as one of the most beautiful examples of gothic design and architecture in the world. We have a fantastic visit with time for shopping in this historic town.

Alto Lazio...Where Italian Traditions Still Prevail...

We find many of Central Italy's hidden treasures in the area of Alto Lazio - locally known as Tuscia. This is a mostly Roman area, yet borders parts of Umbria and Tuscany and has influences from all three regions. Our home base of Soriano nel Cimino which lies in the foothills above the Tiber Valley, was a strategic outpost beginning in Etruscan times and over the years has built a very storied history.

In Proceno, which sits right at the border of Tuscany and Lazio, we visit an ancient castle with a private tour hosted by our friend, the Duchess of the castle, followed by a lovely dinner either in her home, or on the grounds of their beautiful estate that they have converted into a breathtaking outdoor restaurant venue.

We'll visit the beautifully preserved medieval quarters of the City of Popes in Viterbo, which was also an historic seat of the Vatican.

We spend a fantastic day at a winery and olive oil mill in the rolling hills of Castiglione in Teverina.

Another local gem is the "Monster Park" in Bomarzo. These are massive 16th century gardens that were built by the prince of the castle that overshadows it in the 16th century, after his wife (granddaughter of Pope Alexander VI's infamous mistress) passed away. Designed by Michelangelo's student, who also designed the Tivoli Gardens, this park is thought to have been something of a theme park of its time, with massive statues of dragons and ogres, an ancient leaning house, an echo chamber, and much more. Some believe he was attempting to create the 8th wonder of the world, while others believe he was trying to convey the pain he felt after losing his wife to visitors. Whatever the true story is, this is one of the most underrated sites in all of Italy.

What we'll be cooking...

Four Completely Hands-On Cooking Classes - Family Style.

At Our Villa Eddarella Cooking Classes in Soriano, Our Recipes and Menus Rotate.

Depending on which week you come, our Sunday Family-Meals will be one of the following:

As an addition to our scheduled classes, during this week we'll be visited by a local shepherd who will need our help to make fresh Ricotta and Pecorino cheese. We fire up the cauldron and stir the pot as we learn how to make these regional specialties. The Ricotta or Pecorino cheese we have been using this week was made like this with our guests. As we make it, you will have the chance to taste this fresher-than-fresh, just-made ricotta cheese with a locally-sourced honey made by friends of ours. It is truly sensational!

# Appetizer First Course Second Course Side Dessert
1 Tuscan Panzanella Ravioli - From scratch with Home-made Ricotta & Lemon Tuscan Roasted Chicken (Made in our Wood-Fired Oven Tuscan Roasted Potatoes (Made in our Wood-Fired Oven) Our special recipe for Tiramisu
2 Farro Salad Papparedelle Pasta w/ Fennel Ragu made from scratch Tuscan Roasted Chicken (Made in our Wood-Fired Oven Tuscan Roasted Potatoes (Made in our Wood-Fired Oven)) Our special recipe for Tiramisu

Our Second Cooking Class Features More Regional Favorites

Today's class we'll be cooking one of the following menus:

While everything is going on in the kitchen, those that want to help are welcome to come down to our cellar, where we will be distilling a batch of Grappa today in our copper still, a nearly lost art in Italy. You will learn the whole process, and take part as much as you like. Drink the grappa straight from the still, and try some of our barrel-aged grappa, as well as the many grappa-based liqueurs that we concoct here with our grappa, including our own Amaretto, Coffee liqueur, Walnut liqueur, Jasmine-Lavender liqueur, and a notoriously famous concoction we call "Inferno," as well as many others.

Tonight is not so much a cooking class, but a series of events leading up to a wonderful dinner party. We'll have music and dancing... and lots of wine flowing for those that want to simply relax and have a good time. In the meantime, we'll be cooking up "who knows what?" for dinner in the kitchen, and all are welcome to join in. We'll also be making "Nellina," a chocoltate-hazelnut cream (Yes, the home-made cream that Nutella is based off of), made with the hazelnuts right from our property. We'll be sure to leave enough for Nutella-Ricotta pizza the following day!

Dinner tonight will be family-style tapas plates along with everything prepared today, which you are encouraged to help with, as family!

Class 4 Is Our Traditional Pizza Night at the Villa!

We prepare the dough together, as well as all of the toppings as we fire up our 500 year old wood-fired brick oven! Each guests will have the chance to make their own individual pizza with toppings of your choice.

Additionally, we will be making a batch of Limoncello Cream tonight, and you will have a bottle to take home with you! (Yes, we will be drinking it, too)

In addition to our individual pizzas, it's a regional and Roman tradition to make pan-pizza, so we'll help Carla prepare several types of them. Such as...Margherita Pizza, Sausage & Porcini Mushroom Pizza, Caramelized Onion Pizza, Cherry Tomato Pizza, Zucchini Flower and Cream Pizza. Even a dessert pizza made with the fresh ricotta cheese we've made and the home-made, Nutella-style, hazelnut and chocolate spread we made together.

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

  • Asssi - Birthplace of St. Francis
  • The Monster Park at Bomarzo
  • Madonna delle Macchie Winery & Olive Mill in Castiglione (Orvieto Wine & Umbrian Olive Oil)
  • Piombaia Winery in Montalcino (Brunello Wine)
  • Cantina de' Ricci Winery in Montepulciano (Vino Nobile & Vin Santo Wine)
  • Coppersmith in Montepulciano
  • Ceramics Factory in Deruta