Italy Cooking Classes: Cooking Vacations in Lazio, Cucina Romana in the Sabine Hills
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La Cucina Romana in the Sabine Hills
Palombara, Sabina

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About the location: Rome needs no introduction: as one of the former great Empires of the western world, it left behind a cultural heritage that spans Europe and parts of Africa and Asia, and today it is still one of the most visited cities in the world. Lying just outside of Rome, to the northeast, lies the Sabina region. A place of rustic tranquility, fertile lands, and stunning views, it offers the culinary traveler a way to experience authentic Italian life and enjoy the best of of an enchanting and unspoiled land. From the small medieval towns and monasteries nestled in the Appenine hills, to the stunning gardens and fountains of the Villa d'Este, to the wonders of the local cuisine, the Sabine region offers a plethora of culture, beauty, and cuisine to the savvy traveler.

Your home for the week will be at a beautiful villa, a luxury country house nestled in the Sabine Hills, just 30 minutes north of Rome. The villa was built by your hosts, the Micheletta family, in the 80's as a summer retreat, and was recently renovated into a lovely vacation home. It is surrounded by vast olive orchards (the family produces fine DOP olive oils), and the unparalleled views of the encircling countryside, readily seen from the many verandas, gardens, and windowed galleries of the house. The spacious rooms all feature air conditioning, en suite bath, free wifi, and satellite TV, and the property boasts a large, stunning outdoor pool. The kitchen, redesigned specifically with hands-on cooking lessons in mind, offers glass-walled views of the gardens, the olive, lemon, and fig trees, and the nearby castles and hilltops. Today the Michelettas partner with their friend Mike and sister-in-law Nanci to create a warm, authentic experience in the heart of the Roman countryside that you will remember forever.

Chef BarbaraAbout the cooking lessons: Your guide for your Italian cooking lessons will be Chef Barbara, who studied at Gambero Rosso cooking school and now teaches there; she also has appeared on an Italian cooking show. While you will of course learn the secrets of "la cucina romana," Roman cuisine, you will also enjoy a special Tuscan cooking class. The cooking classes will take place in the villa's wonderful teaching kitchen, which boasts individual work stations, multiple cooking tops and ovens, and amazing views of the countryside on three sides so you will feel one with the land whose bounty you will be exploring. The classes will focus on recipes from professional chefs, "nonnas" (grandmas), and special visiting chefs. You will use only the freshest ingredients, including the property's own DOP-certified olive oil, and will learn to make everything from appetizers and pastas, to meat and fish dishes, to pizzas and desserts.

La Cucina Romana in the Sabine Hills Itinerary

Day 1: Sunday

  • Late morning or early afternoon transfer from Rome airport (Fiumicino or Ciampino) or train station (Termini) to the villa.
  • Time to relax and explore the villa and the grounds. Perhaps take a dip in the pool, or relax in the sauna before meeting your hosts and other culinary companions.
  • This evening, a welcome dinner where you will experience real Roman hospitality and discuss the itinerary for the week.
  • Overnight.

Day 2: Monday

  • Breakfast in the dining room or, weather permitting, on one of the outdoor terraces or covered verandas overlooking the surrounding olive groves and countryside.
  • Meet your chef and staff who will guide you through the week.
  • Next, your first hands-on cooking lesson in the beautiful newly designed teaching kitchen. Learn how to prepare a typical Roman meal from start to finish, and then enjoy it afterwards for lunch.
  • In the afternoon, visit the stunning castle of Palombara Sabina, the charming nearby medieval town. You will have a rare chance to visit the castle museum, not normally open to the public, and to enjoy the stunning views of Sabina region at sunset. Following a visit to the castle/museum, enjoy a dinner at medieval castle in Palombara Sabina.
  • Return to the villa and overnight.

Day 3: Tuesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Off to nearby the hilltop village of Tivoli for a visit of the open air market where you will learn to pick the freshest and best local ingredients for your next cooking class.
  • Next, a visit of the amazing Villa d’Este. One of the prime examples of Renaissance architecture and of the Italian Renaissance garden, it is now a UNESCO world heritage site. The villa, although gorgeous, pales in comparison to the extensive and intricate gardens, complete with nymphs, grottos, and the world-famous fountains that have inspired designers, artists, and poets for centuries.
  • Lunch in a local restaurant in Tivoli.
  • Transfer back to the property for your second cooking lesson, this one featuring Tuscan cuisine.
  • Dinner to follow based on your efforts out on the sunset terrace.
  • Overnight.

Day 4: Wednesday

  • Breakfast, and depart for a special day in Rome!
  • Today you will experience a day-long adventure exploring the secrets of Ancient Rome. Your special guided tour of the city will feature places not normally visited by tourists, the Rome that was dear to the ancients and known by modern-day Romans. Your experienced guide will show you the art, food, history, and culture of the Eternal City. Lunch will be savored in Rome during the course of the day, and dinner will take place in a beautiful private roof top garden apartment overlooking the presidential palace and Trevi fountain.
  • Transfer back to the villa and overnight.

Day 5: Thursday

  • A leisurely breakfast after your full day of touring on Wednesday.
  • Take a private transfer to the nearby region of Umbria for a winery visit and tasting. You’ll also get to enjoy lunch at a lovely wine estate.
  • In the afternoon, take a stroll in the walled city of Orvieto, which is known for its stunning views and its impressive cathedral.
  • Return to the villa to take part in a hands-on pizza making class using the property’s outdoor pizza oven. Dinner to follow based on your efforts.
  • Overnight.

Day 6: Friday

  • Breakfast.
  • This morning, depart for a nearby olive grove and mill to learn about the local olive oil production, which started during ancient Roman times. You might also stop at a local dairy to learn about local cheeses. Return to the villa for an olive oil tasting, along with lunch.
  • This afternoon, your last cooking lesson, in which you will employ all the skills you have learned during your other lessons to create a large graduation dinner, from antipasti to dolci.
  • Overnight

Day 7: Saturday

  • Light breakfast and goodbye to your hosts and friends, then transfer to Rome airport or train station.