Itinerary - Wine & Cooking Under the Tuscan & Umbrian Sun

Places Rome FCO Airport, Soriano nel Cimino
Classes & Experiences 11th Century Castle Visit
Street Food
Shooping for Cooking Class

Dinner: Welcome Dinner at Rotezzia (Included)

For those arriving in Italy today on early flights, we offer a shuttle to Soriano nel Cimino from Rome Fiumicino airport at 11:30 AM. If you are already in Italy, or your flight arrives after 10:30 AM in Rome, we offer a second shuttle from the Orte Train station (a 35 minute train ride from Rome Termini station, and easy access from other major Italian cities) at 2:00 PM. For those arriving at times that do not coincide with our shuttle schedule, we can arrange for a private driver to bring you to Soriano for an extra charge.

Once in Soriano we will help you to your accommodations for the week and give you some time to get settled in, unpack and rest up. As you get settled in, you will find some snacks and drinks waiting for you when you get to your home.

At around 6:00 PM, we will meet in a local cafe in the main square of the village (walking distance from your home). We will all spend some time getting to know one another over some drinks and snacks as we discuss what's ahead for the week.

Next, we will stop at one of Soriano's "Porchetta" trucks for a taste of local "street food": Soriano's famous roasted suckling pig that people drive hours to try! Next, we will do a little shopping for tomorrow's cooking class. We will stop in a local fruit and vegetable shop, and the grocers next door to get some of what we don't have growing in the garden at the villa. We will meet and get to know some of the shopkeepers in the village and pick up what we will need. While shopping, you will get your first introduction to some of the ingredients that make Tuscan and Umbrian cooking so unique. Especially our locally produced Fennel Pollen. These are ingredients most people back home are unaware of, and will be featured in much of this week's cooking!

Time permitting, we will do casual walking tour of Soriano's medieval quarter through the narrow cobblestone streets of this beautiful village, with a visit to the beautiful and majestic 11th century castle, once the summer home for Popes.

For dinner tonight we will head down some stairs below the main square into a trattoria called "Rotezzia." This place is truly a destination in and of itself, situated in a maze of centuries-old carved out caves under the town.

As always, wine is provided with all dinners, and we favor small local wineries wherever we dine. Tonight's wine will be from nearby vineyards.

Places Soriano nel Cimino, Orvieto
Classes & Experiences

Panzanella, Ravioli w/ Ricotta & Lemon, Tuscan Roasted Chicken, Tuscan Roasted Potatoes, Tiramisu
Farro Salad, Pappardelle Pasta w/ Fennel Ragu, Tuscan Roasted Chicken, Tuscan Roasted Potatoes, Tiramisu

Make fresh Ricotta & Pecorino cheese with a local shepherd


Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar-Pasticceria Roma (included)
Lunch: : The meal we prepare in cooking class (included)
Dinner: Tre Scalini Trattoria (included)

We will begin our first full day together with a bang. In the morning, we'll meet for our daily traditional Italian breakfast at Cafe Roma, a local pastry shop & coffee bar located in Soriano's lively central piazza, a very short walk from the home you are staying in. As with every morning, coffee & freshly baked pastries is on us (tea, milk, juice, etc, is also available). We will have our breakfast amongst the local villagers before our transportation arrives to take us to Villa Eddarella for our first cooking class.

Our cooking classes are at Villa Eddarella, which is just 5 minutes from town. The villa is an 18th century farmhouse that was built by Paola's (one of CDV's founders) ancestors. We have completely restored into a beautiful country villa, with a breathtaking 700 sq. ft. teaching kitchen on the ground floor and views of the rolling hills that look like the back-drop to a famous Italian movie scene.

As we arrive, we'll give everyone a quick familiarization tour of the villa, and you will immediately learn one of the most important themes of the week: "Casa mia e' casa tua" (My house is your house). In other words, when we show you how we divide wine bottles in our 90-bottle wine rack (not to mention our 500 bottle wine & grappa cellar), we'll also show you where the corkscrews are, and where the glasses are. When you want some wine, have at it :-). We are all a big family this week.

After you have been given your aprons and recipe books (yours to take home at the end of the week), we will get down to business. We have a huge meal to make for lunch, so we'll not waste much time, especially since our cooking classes are extremely 'hands-on'.

We'll start with our appetizer, which will either be Panzanella (Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad) or Farro Salad. The ingredients are always fresh and local, such as tomatoes from our local garden that you may be asked to run outside to pick, olive oil from our own orchard, and other veggies from our garden or locally grown.

Our first course will either be Ravioli made from scratch with our own Ricotta cheese (made right here!), and lemon, or Pappardelle pasta with our amazing Fennel-Ragu Sauce. (all made from scratch)

The second course and side dishes today will be Tuscan Roasted Chicken & Potatoes (we often cook it outside in our ancient wood-fired oven!) that we promise will leave you in absolute awe.

Finally for dessert we will be preparing our family recipe for Tiramisu, which is guaranteed to be the best you have ever tasted.

During all of our cooking classes, we work, but we laugh and play. We break out the wine (and often the Grappa and our homemade liqueurs). We may sing along to the background music as we are prepping, and everyone takes little breaks along the way. And yes, we have WIFI Internet right in the kitchen for those of you that can't get away from your e-mail -- although guests that leave the technology behind do get more out of this amazing experience.

During the classes we may find that we need some herbs or veggies, and send a few guests out to the garden to pick them. You may need to make a run down to the cellar to fill up on the olive oil, or run across the road to get some squash from our farmer neighbors. In other words, don't think of it as 'school'. Above all, it is a delightful social experience in a breathtaking setting, while you make a mouth-watering meal together... and learn how it is done along the way. In fact, when we get the occasional person that doesn't cook with us, they have just as much fun!

While class is happening, we will also be visited by our friend, Antonio. A local shepherd, he will show us how to make fresh Ricotta and Pecorino cheese. For those of you that want to get your hands dirty, this is a full-participation experience!

Lunch today will be the results of all of your work, and we promise you won't be wanting for more! We have yet to have a guest tell us they have ever had better. Most important of all, you will know how to make all of this back home.

After we have had our lunch and chased it with some espresso (one member of our group is always chosen as our "Barista" for the week!). Or maybe you would prefer a little Grappa or Limoncello after the meal -- we will head out on the first of our daily excursions.

Today we will be visiting the beautiful town of Orvieto in Umbria. You will have time for some great shopping and strolling, or visit 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.

Tonight we have a wonderful dinner awaiting us in Soriano's Tre Scalini Trattoria, one of the best restaurants in the area, and just steps away from your village homes.

Places Pienza, Montepulciano
Classes & Experiences Pienza Cheese tasting
Tuscan Vinyard Lunch
Coppersmith Visit
14th Century Wine Cellar

Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma (included)
Lunch: Lunch in Tuscany Vineyards (included)
Dinner: Papacqua Park (included)

After our morning breakfast we head to the beautiful Tuscan village of Pienza, known for its incredible Pecorino cheese and perhaps the best photo opportunities in all of Tuscany. We will do a Pecornio cheese tasting together, and you will have a some time to walk around this charming village.

As we leave Pienza, we will take a short drive to the rolling hills of Montepulciano, and stop at the vineyards of our extremely dear friends, Enrico and Antonella. They produce what is arguably the best Vino Nobile wine in all of Tuscany. If weather permits, we will have a relaxing lunch together outside right alongside their vinyards. If not, we will have lunch indorrs right in the middle of their wine production facilities! Naturally, we will be sampling many of their wines. If we are here during the harvest period, we will likely harvest together, or take part in some of the winemaking process.

After lunch and some relaxation, we will head up into the town of Montepulciano.

Finally, we will tour Enrico and Antonella's wine cellar, Cantini DeRicci. Here you will truly understand the significance of our friends, as theirs is widely considered to be the most beautiful wine cellar in the world. Those that have seen the 2009 film 'New Moon' (The sequel to 'Twilight') will recognize this wine cellar from the movie! As we visit are in the main cellar, be sure to ask about "The Grappa Bottles". You will quickly come to understand the deep bond between these winemakers and the founders of Culture Discovery, and realize that this is truly a connection of friendship.

After our visit we descend down a beautiful road on foot to the breathtaking San Biagio church, an icon in photos of Mopntepulciano. There, we will board our bus for the drive back to Soriano. For dinner tonight, if weather permits, we will have a catered dinner in the "Papacqua Park" at the foot of Soriano's 16th Century Chigi-Albani Palace. There, you will find some locals you are sure to have already become friends with! If weather does not permit, we will have our dinner at the villa tonight.

Places Soriano nel Cimino, Viterbo
Classes & Experiences

Pancetta-Stracchino Bruschetta, Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, Saltimbocca alla Romana, Panna Cotta
Sausage-Stracchino Bruschetta, Eggplant Parmesan, Amatriciana Polpette, Ricotta and Vin Santo Tarts


Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma (included)
Lunch: The meal we prepare in our cooking class (included)
Dinner: Katia's Taverna (included)

After our morning breakfast, we'll take the short drive to Villa Eddarella for our second cooking class.

Today our appetizer will be a unique Bruschetta with stracchino cheese and either Pancetta & rosemary or local sausage. For our first course, we will be making pasta from scratch again, either Gnocchi with Sorrentina sauce, or Eggplant Parmesan. Our second course will either be Saltimbocca alla Romana, or Amatriciana Polpette (an amazing spin on Meatballs). Finally, for dessert we will either make Panna Cotta with a chocolate-hazelnut & strawberry topping, or wonderful Ricotta and Vin Santo Tarts, a spin on a recipe fro the first cookbook in history, the ancient Roman Apicius.

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.

You can expect that at any given time, Carla or Katia may put a leg of prosciutto on the counter that we need to slice. The prosciutto in our kitchen here is always made especially for us by fronds of ours in Norcia or Parma, where the best prosciutto comes from. We slice it all by hand, and Carla or Katia are always happy to teach our guests how to properly slice a prosciutto by hand!

Lunch, of course, will be the meal we prepare in class.

After some espresso, freshly distilled grappa, limoncello, etc., there is usually some time to relax back in town before our afternoon and evening excursion. Today's excursion is an evening outing to the capital of our province, Viterbo. Just nine miles from Soriano, Viterbo is the largest city between Rome and Florence, and, while not frequented by tourists, it has remarkable beauty and a riveting history that very few are aware of. It has been the backdrop of many movies, including La Dolce Vita, and is truly one of Italy's hidden treasures.

We'll make our way into the ancient walled city, and take a walk through the main shopping district. If you're in the mood for some gelato, we'll stop in the Gran Caffè Schenardi, a beautiful coffee bar that dates back to 1818 as one of the very first coffee bars in Italy, that went on to serve Popes, Kings, Queens, etc. through its history. It was even a favorite place of Orson Welles, who would take time to think and write poetry here during the filming of Othello in 1958.

Next we will take a walk to the ancient Papal Palace, the official seat for six Popes between 1257 and 1281 when the Vatican was having trouble asserting authority in Rome.

This was the location of the first Papal Conclave before it was moved to the Sistine Chapel in Rome, after a controversial Papal Election happened here. It was the longest Papal election in history, that lasted nearly 3 years. After it had been going on for almost 2 years, the people of Viterbo became very upset and locked the cardinals inside, then began to ration food to nothing more than bread and water. To make matters worse, they tore the roof off the building to expose the Cardinals inside to the elements! The effects of this reached as far as Marco Polo in China at the time, and when it was all said and done, the people of Viterbo forced the election of a Pope that wasn't even so much as a priest! The result of this disaster created the rules that are, for the most part, the same rules used in electing popes today: The Papal Conclave. This is even where the tradition of signaling Papal election results by white or black smoke started.

Before returning to Soriano, we will take a nighttime walk through the San Pellegrino district, considered one of the best preserved medieval quarters in all of Europe. We will enjoy the amazing medieval buildings bathing in amber light... truly breathtaking.

For dinner tonight, we will be hosted in Katia's private family tavern. Katia is like your long-lost Italian sister, and you are surely friends by now as she has been one of those teaching the cooking classes. Her private family tavern is a place where their family gets together for special occasions. Her family will be cooking and hosting a wonderful dinner for us tonight. Usually her wonderful children are there with us for a wonderful family experience.

Places Montalcino Tuscany, Proceno
Classes & Experiences

Possible Wine Grape Harvest depending on time of year. (included)


Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma (included)
Lunch: With the owners of a Brunello Winery in Montalcino (included)
Dinner: At The Proceno Castle (included)

After our morning breakfast, we'll drive to Montalcino Tuscany, taking the scenic route that will take us past just about every photo or movie clip you have every seen depicting Tuscany. After some rest and photo-op stops, we will finally arrive in the small family winery, La Piombaia, where they make true artisan Brunello Wine completely by hand, averaging only ~5,000 bottles for year, and the only completely hand-made organic Brunello that exists!

As with just about everything we do, we are with dear friends again. Roberto and his family are dear friends with the founders of CDV, as well as much of our team. So, this is no typical "wine experience".

Should we be here during the wine harvest, we may choose this day to harvest grapes and help Roberto in the making of his Brunello wine. When we have this experience, it is always something truly special, as we get together with all of their family and friends for this wonderful tradition.

Weather permitting, we will have a wonderful lunch alongside the vineyards. Otherwise, we will dine in Roberto's home as we taste his amazing wines, including his phenomenal Brunello.

We can make one promise. Roberto's Brunello will shock you both in quality and price. While Brunello is normally one of the most expensive Italian wines, Roberto doesn't deal with mass-market advertising, or have a massive production overhead, so he keeps his pricing in line with what locals can afford for a fantastic wine.

After lunch, we will have a little visit in the town of Montalcino, where you can visit some of the beautiful shops and medieval quarter.

As we leave, we will take another amazing scenic route, The Via Francigena. We will drive eight legs of the Tuscany and Lazio portions of this ancient pilgrim route that spanned from France to the Vatican. We will stop at The Proceno Castle, a pentagonal fortress which includes a main tower and two secondary towers interconnected by walkways and a drawbridge, one of 19 still working in Italy. In medieval times, this was the first stop on the pilgrimage within the Vatican States, as sign for all that they were drawing near. Here, we will be met by Cecilia, the Duchess of the castle. She will treat us to a wonderful guided tour of the castle, much of which is actually her home!

After our visit, we will head down to a beautiful restaurant that they own on the castle's grounds. Here, we will have a dinner that includes a special dish that she once served us as guests in her house. A sort of meatloaf with pepper sauce using the original recipe that is documented as having been used at the christening of Cosimo 'de Medici, the famous de facto ruler of Florence during the mid 15th renaissance, and patron of much of Florence's greatest art.

Places Assisi, Deruta
Classes & Experiences Deruta Pottery Experience
Assisi Vist
Prep for Villa Party

Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma (included)
Lunch: At Favorita (included)
Dinner: Diner Party at Villa Eddarella. (included)

This morning we will all meet in a local coffee bar and pastry shop in Soriano's main Piazza. Here we will have our traditional Italian breakfast of freshly baked pastries and cappuccino.

After breakfast, we will head out to the Umbrian town of Deruta, which is is one of the world’s most famous producers of ceramic pottery. While here, we will visit the Ceramiche Bettini factory where we will be treated to a factory tour. While many tours go to Deruta, they go to the more touristy places, that are merely showrooms. Here, the owners are, as usual, family friends. So they let us in back, and those that are up to it can try their hand at the potter’s wheel. As we said, this is not where the "tour busses" go. This is where locals go. so if you are interested in purchasing any pottery or ceramics this week, this is a place with extremely deep discounts compared to what you will find elsewhere.

After our factory visit, we will head to Assisi, and begin our visit with lunch at a wonderful local restaurant called Favorita, which offers specialities from the BOLOGNA area. This offers us a little moment to discover the gastronomy of another of our great location in Italy!

Tonight is Party Night at the villa. For those that feel like cooking, feel free to head into the kitchen with Carla and Katia. We will be preparing all sorts of goodies for tonight's dinner, as well as a home-made Nutella that we will use for tomorrow's Pizza night. While that is going on, we will have music playing outside, wine flowing, head down to the cellar... whatever. This is always an amazing evening of fun and leisure. Some of the people you have et during the week are likely to stop by, as we have an open door policy. Sometimes even past guests of ours know that if it is Thursday, come on down to the villa!

Our dinner will be a tapas style dinner, and we are sure to have some wonderful surprises. after dinner, if we have an energetic group, we can dance the night away, and often once of us will pick up the guitar and all start singing! All said and done, this is always an unforgettable night!

Places Bomarzo, Castiglione in Teverina, Soriano nel Cimino
Classes & Experiences

Monster park Visit
Olive Oil Mill & Winery
Pizza Class (included)
Limoncello Cream Class (included)


Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma (included)
Lunch: At The Olive Oil Mill & winery (included)
Dinner: The Pizza we make at the Villa! (included)

After breakfast today, we will drive to the nearby town of Bomarzo for an incredible guided walk through the gardens of a local nobleman that takes us back to 16th century Renaissance Italy. We’ll find massive and surreal sculptures of ogres, dragons, and much more that were designed by a contemporary of Michelangelo. We’ll discover the secrets of this famous and unique garden that was lost to history for over 300 years, as we walk through this world of fantasy that he built after the death of his wife, the granddaughter of the infamous Pope Alexander VI (Rodgrigo Borgia). It is said by some that he had this built in an attempt to create the 8th wonder fo the world, and by others that it was a place where he would hold lavish parties and attempt to help others understand the grief he was feeling for the loss of his wife.

As we leave the Monster Park, we will take a short drive to a small family-run winery and antique olive oil mill in the village of Castiglione in Teverina. As always, they are small private artisan producers that are dear friends of ours. Here, one of the owners will give us a private tour of their wine cellar and olive mill, followed by a tasting of their line of wines and their olive oil. As we are tasting, we will have a wonderful buffet lunch in their garden made by the owners with many local delicacies, and of course… their wine! This is likely to be one of the highlights not only of the vacation, but your life. In fact, when we do Alumni trips, our past guests always tell us that coming back here is at the top of their list.

Then we head back to the villa for Pizza Night and our farewwell dinner. In Italy, making Pizza is a social event, similar to the way many of us think of having a Barbecue. It is a time of fun and laughter where bonds are forged. It is a truly special experience while the group shares the homemade pizza one tray at a time as it is pulled from the wood-fired brick oven and carried piping hot to the garden table under the vines and stars.

We will prepare several kinds of dough, and prepare the fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and many other ingredients for this wonderful evening together. Each person will help while they learn every stage of this event. You will make the dough, drink some wine, prepare the ingredients, drink some wine, help fire up the oven, drink some wine, and even handle the peel as the pizza cooks.... and then we will drink some wine!

It will be true Italian country pizza, like nothing you have ever experienced.

Each guest will have the opportunity to make their own pizza, plus we will make all sorts of additional pizzas, such as Focaccia, Pizza Margherita, Sweet Onion pizza, Sausage & Porcini Pizza, and for dessert we will have Sugar Pizza and finally Ricotta and Nutella Pizza made with the ricotta and nutella spread we made during our classes this week.

In addition to making pizza tonight, we will also be backing homemade Limoncello Cream, a rich, milky variant of Limoncello that all of our guests love! Often, one of our hgosts will have brough lemons up from The Amalfi Coast for us to use tonight, and you are sure to love it and make it when you get back home! We will naturally have some tonight, but you will also bring a small bottle of what we made home with you.

For our farewell dinner, we will hang out in the cabana or the villa dining room for a wonderful and casual pizza dinner to end our week!

Places Rome FCO Airport
Classes & Experiences n/a

Breakfast: Cappuccino & Pastries at Bar Roma (included)

Sadly, our week comes to a close this morning. The shuttle leaves town at 6:15 AM as most outbound flights require early morning airport arrivals. We will be at the Orte train station for a drop off by 6:40 AM, and at the Rome Fiumicino airport by 8:00 AM. This will be sufficient time for outbound flights leaving after 9:45 AM.

The Not So Fine Print:

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, unexpected traffic or road closures, 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.


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.