Overview - Wine, Cooking, & The Olive Oil Harvest - Soriano

Harvest Olives & Make Your Own Olive Oil in Umbria, plus Cooking Classes, Tuscan Wineries, Sightseeing and More.

For Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Lovers Only: It's Olive Harvest Time! It's All About Fun, Family, Laughter and Olive Oil!

Imagine yourself in an olive orchard nestled in the hills of Umbria, where "The Best" Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes from. The olives are ripened to the perfect balance of flavor and there you are, with the nets resting on the ground, ready to harvest the olives from the trees and take them to the mill for pressing.

This truly is an exclusive week as it only happens once a year from our Soriano-based location. Our friends at the olive mill only share this experience with our guests. Seeing the olives get harvested is common, but we harvest and even make our own oil this week!

This itinerary closely resembles our Under the Tuscan and Umbrian Sun Vacation Week, during which we do many of the same things such as; the cooking, visiting wineries in Tuscany, etc. However, this week when we visit the Frantoio (Italian for Olive Oil Mill), we will take to the trees and pick olives. It's not all fun and games as we have to take some wine breaks in-between! When we've picked enough, then we're on to the cold press where our olives will be processed to make our very own Extra Virgin Umbrian Olive Oil!

This experience is so unique that time is set aside for us at the mill to allow us to make the olive oil from the olives that WE picked! You will be bringing home the Extra Virgin Olive Oil YOU made! We're confident in saying that this will be The Most Amazing Olive Oil you have ever had!

Take a look at the rest of what your 8-Day, 7-Night All-Inclusive, small group vacation in Central Italy will look like...

As Autumn Fades Toward Winter - Witness The Changing Of The Seasons

It's a special time of year in this part of Italy. The throngs of tourists that typically flock to Italy during the summer and early fall have now diminished. The season begins to change and you start to feel a slight chill in the air. As winter approaches, all of Italy begins to settle into a quieter calm. The farmers are preparing their fields for new growth. In the regions of Tuscany and Umbria, there is still one crop left to harvest this year, and it is perhaps the best of all...

The Olive Harvest.

The magnifcent beauty in Central Italy this time of year has you waking up to misty mornings, sunny afternoons and cooling evenings. Summertime gelato gives way to decadent Italian hot chocolate. The crisp fresh vegetables of summer give way to rich and warming soups such as Ribollita, or comforting stews like spezzatino. Time slows down for a bit and a calmer routine begins. Even the crowds normally found in the popular destinations have all but disappeared.

Starting in late October, the main focus is on OLIO NUOVO, or NEW OIL. There is nothing quite like it, and if you have never had freshly-milled olive oil, you are in for quite a remarkable treat!

We're Picking Olives...We're Milling Olives...We're making Our Own Extra Virgin Olive Oil...And We're Bringing Our Freshly-Pressed Oil Home!

Our guests always say that this bucket-list, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was an amazing experience and one that they will never forget!

Here's what you'll be doing on this special day of making The BEST Extra Virgin Olive Oil will be like...

After meeting at the cafe in the main piazza of Soriano for our Italian breakfast, we'll be taken by our motor coach to the rolling hills of Umbria to our friend's olive oil mill and winery. Umbria has been known for centuries as having the ideal climate in all of Italy for growing the olives to make, arguably, the best olive oil found anywhere!

We'll go to one of their selected orchards to spread out the nets, and begin to rake the olives right off the branches where we let them drop to the nets. While we're having the time of our lives, we'll have fresh-baked pizza-bread and award-winning wine brought to us as we'll need to sustain our energy-level! When we have cleared enough trees, we'll gather up the nets and fill our crates with our olives and head to the press and mill.

It is an incredible operation to see. We'll watch Our olives begin the whole process of how our oil will be made. The olives are cleaned and crushed, seed and all, and then slowly sent through the pressing process where, at the end of the line, the purest oil comes flowing from the pipe.

While our olives are slowly becoming oil, we will have a tour of the winery and the historic "traditional" stone-press mill that dates back to the family's roots in this area over a century ago. We'll taste some of their beautiful and delicate wines paired with some bruschetta drizzled with the Olio Nuovo.

We'll sit down to our specially-prepared and wonderful lunch, enjoying the company and good wine, recalling the fun of what we've just experienced. But we're not done yet! Our olive oil is now ready and each one of us will walk up to the spout where our oil comes out of the centrifuge, and fill our own one liter can of olive oil that we just made from olives we just picked! Truly...One of the most fantastic days of our vacation season and one of the most incredible things we get to do. It's one of the special days of the season that our Culture Discovery family looks forward to each and every year. We know that you will love it too!

During our Soriano-based weeks throughout the season, we visit this same olive mill. While it is still a fantastic time and one of the highlights of the week, this is the only time of year that we actually see it in operation... and have the opportunity to experience it first hand. Furthermore, this is an exclusive experience that the olive mill ONLY does with us!

Our Cooking Classes This Week

We'll have three half-day completely hands-on cooking classes 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.

Our first two classes are complete five-course meals, during which you are completely involved in everything. Our final class of the week is all about pizza!

Depending on the week you come, we may make fresh Papardelle Pasta with home-made Bolognese sauce, Home-Made Ravioli, Tuscan Herb-Roasted Chicken baked in our wood-fired oven, Wood-Fired Pizza from scratch, Eggplant Parmesan, Chicken Cacciatore, Fresh Ricotta Cheese, and much more. To see exactly what we will be making on a given week, click here.

For those would rather eat than cook, our classes take place at our beautiful 18th century country villa. Be the sommelier and open some wine from our 90-bottle wine rack, relax, take a stroll, or just enjoy the wonderful Italian countryside. Whether you are cooking or not, the time we spend at the villa is always a highlight.

The Excursions

When we are not cooking or making olive oil, 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 dinner where the wine cellar is widely-considered to be the most beautiful cellar in the world. 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!

For those that are not big wine enthusiasts, not to worry! While we are visiting three wineries this week, each one of them is selected because it has much more to offer than just the wine. They are truly family experiences, and unique in their own way. One is in the heart of Montepulciano. Another makes Brunello at their family villa nestled in the hills and vineyard of Montalcino. The other will be where we are making our olive oil. 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.

Cities & Villages we'll visit...

It really is like everything you've dreamed about.

You've seen the countless images of the tall cypress trees that dot the landscape. Standing like sentinels guiding the way up winding driveways to that Tuscan villa set amid a backdrop of rolling hills. The landscape is awash with golden hues in a patchwork of fields of wheat, nestled between vineyards and valleys. Every view is a photograph and simply beautiful.

Two of the most recognized wines from Tuscany are Vino Nobile and Brunello. The most typical type of cheese in Tuscany is Pecorino. We bring it all together with memorable visits to Montepulciano, The Montalcino Countryside and Pienza. We'll have a family-winery experience with lunch in the vineyards at the home of our friends that make artisan and organic Brunello wines.

On our way to Montepulciano, we'll make a stop to sample different styles and ages of Pecorino cheese in the magnificently restored and picturesque town of Pienza. Ultimately, we'll have a personal visit, wine-tasting and pairing with the family of the centuries-old wine cellar of Cantina de' Ricci. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful cellars in the world. Be prepared for an incredible day of some fantastic wines and picturesque views.

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

Your 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. 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 Deruta, we have an exclusive experience at the factory and showroom of a family-run studio. 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 best-kept secrets isOrvieto. Along with a renaissance-inspired interior, the remarkable, gold-laden facade is recognized as one of the most beautiful examples of gothic design and architecture. We have a fantastic visit for shopping and lunch 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 Civita di Bagnoregio, we visit The Dying City, named that for its history of having most of the town crumble away leaving it nearly abandoned for decades.

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

Our fantastic day at the winery and olive oil mill is in the rolling hills of Castiglione in Teverina.

Another local gem is the Palazzo Farnese, a Renaissance-inspired artistic and architectural masterpiece in nearby Caprarola.

What we'll be cooking...

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:

Appetizer First Course Second Course Side Dessert
1 Tuscan Panzanella Ravioli - From scratch with Home-made Ricotta & Spinach Tuscan Roasted Chicken (Made in our Wood-Fired Oven Tuscan Roasted Potatoes (Made in our Wood-Fired Oven) Our special recipe for Tiramisu
2 Eggplant Parmesan made from scratch Pici Pasta w/ Fennel Ragu made from scratch Saltimbocca alla Romana Frascati Sautéed Porcini Mushrooms (from our local hills) Our special recipe for Tiramisu
3 Umbrian Farro Salad Ravioli made from scratch with Homemade Ricotta & Spinach Tuscan Roasted Chicken (Made in our wood-fired oven) Tuscan Roasted Potatoes (Made in our wood-fired oven) Our special recipe for Tiramisu

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!

Our Final Cooking Class 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.

And that's not all...

It's a regional and Roman tradition to make pan-pizzas. 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 we've made and also a home-made hazelnut and chocolate spread.

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

  • Asssi - Birthplace of St. Francis
  • Villa Farnese - Vatican-Inspired Country Palace in Caprarola
  • 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)
  • Ceramics Factory in Deruta