Our Four Culinary Tours in a Nutshell3 minute read
All our tours, no matter the regions we visit, are a way to enjoy Italy through a culinary lens. The only prerequisite is a love of food and an appetite for pleasure (and maybe some pants with an elastic waistand).
Group size varies depending on reservations and accommodations, but we max out at 22 participants, which makes for highly interactive cooking classes, fun meals, lots of laughter, and plenty of new, lasting friendships.
All our tours focus on smaller destinations; we figure you can visit Florence, Rome, Venice, and Milan on your own, so we include small towns and out-of-the-way villages in our itineraries. We always seek out local food producers who work on an artisanal level, and we reserve tables at each region's most characteristic restaurants (some fancy, others not so much). Our daily cooking classes are all about getting you involved and hands-on: we make a full menu each morning, then sit and enjoy our culinary creations with wine before heading out to discover nearby towns.
These are the similarities, but there are some differences... Read on to see what makes each tour distinctive and what you can expect in each destination.
May 8-14: Liguria (The Italian Riviera) 6 nights/7 days
We stay at a hotel on the seaside in the northern Italian town of Rapallo; this means you can walk around town in the mornings before cooking class, or after dinner you can stroll and buy a gelato at one of the artisan gelaterie on the sea promenade. If you want to swim, there's a public beach by the medieval castle a few minutes' walk from the hotel. The region is hilly but the towns we'll visit are mostly flat (except the Cinque Terre) so this is an easy terrain for walking. We visit towns like Chiavari, Camogli, Santa Margherita, Portofino, and more by private bus; some short train rides and scenic ferry travel is included. If you love the sea, this is the tour for you.
May 22-28, September 18-24: Puglia & Beyond 6 nights/7 days
We stay on an agricultural estate 30 minutes from Bari. The estate has a large pool and is surrounded by vineyards and cactus pears. All travel is by private bus, and the terrain is generally flat and easy to walk, though some towns are built on a hill. The tour touches on Puglia and nearby Basilicata, two beautiful southern Italian regions; highlights include visits to Matera, Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, and Ostuni. The food is gutsy, bold, and fresh pastas like orecchiette and cavatelli are often the stars of the meal. And the bread in this part of Italy is among the best you'll ever eat; it's mostly made from semolina, and it's amazing dipped in the local olive oil.
June 4-10, September 11-17: Tuscany & Beyond 6 nights/7 days
We stay in a private villa with a pool and a huge woodburning oven, 45 minutes from the art city of Arezzo. The villa is immersed in nature (there are olive groves and cypress trees as far as the eye can see). All travel is by private bus, and the terrain is generally hilly. Because the villa is located in Tuscany on the border of Umbria and the Marches, we visit all three regions, so you get to taste three distinct cuisines. Here you'll see the iconic central Italian landscape: rolling hills, vineyards, olive trees. We'll visit Gubbio, Montepulciano, Arezzo, Anghiari, Urbino, and other medieval towns. The wines in this area are second to none and include heavy hitters like the super Tuscans and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
September 28-October 6: Sicily & Beyond 8 nights/9 days
This is essentially two tours in one: 4 nights on the eastern side of Sicily, and 4 nights on the northern coast of Calabria, both on a private estate with an amazing pool. Both regions are hilly (Calabria is downright mountainous), but Sicily is bright and vivacious, while Calabria is more quaint and dramatic. All travel is by private bus except the short ferry ride that will bring us from Sicily to Calabria. We'll visit Taormina, Ragusa, Siracusa, Modica, Altomonte, Rossano, Civita, and more. This tour will take you to destinations that are off the beaten path where you'll sample sesame-studded breads, hearty vegetable focaccias, handmade pasta with eggplants, roasted lamb, almond paste cookies, and much more.
Oh, we nearly forgot... Despite all the differences, one thing ALL our tours have in common is our freshly baked bread and focaccia, made with sourdough starter we bring with us across the ocean! Is there a better way to connect with others and with nature than to bake fresh bread together using wild yeast?
Micol and Dino