Italy Cooking Vacation: Roman Countryside Discovery
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Roman Countryside Discovery
Ciociaria, Lazio

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About the location: This 1797 villa is located in the heart of Ciociaria and the historic center of a small town. In 1964, the Ministry of Education proclaimed this an area of particular interest for its panoramas of extraordinary beauty. From the slopes of the ancient tower (where, according to popular tradition, the legendary queen Camilla and her father Metabus took refuge in a cave), it is a wonderful view of arches, towers and bare stone walls, giving the appearance of a medieval hamlet, built close around the fortress.

Your host is an American-born Italian who grew up in a close-knit Italian family of three generations in the Midwest, where he was lucky to have learned fluent Italian at a young age from his beloved “Nonna.” He owned a very successful interior design firm in Boca Raton, Florida, but always spent time in Italy. He was continually drawn to the village of his father’s birth and in 2005, when the adjacent property to where his father was born was put up for sale, it was a forgone conclusion that this would become his opportunity to fulfill his dream.

An old traditional olive oil mill dating back to the 16th century is located on the ground floor of your accommodations and welcomes you to the property. The seven bedrooms (photo gallery) have been lovingly renovated, and tastefully decorated with wrought-iron beds and antique furniture. All guest rooms have reading lights, heating and air conditioning, beautifully tiled ensuite bathrooms, Jacuzzi bathtubs, heated towel bars and hair dryers. Wi-fi is also available in the public areas. Luxury has not been sacrificed for authenticity! This is a beautiful, welcoming property, where you can relax and enjoy not only your culinary activities but the scenic surroundings.

Cooking class in LazioAbout the cooking lessons: The local chefs create mouth-watering specialties such as zuppa di pane, sagne e fagioli, fettuccine by hand with various meat sauces, gnocchi with pork ribs, salsiccia patate e peperoni with casereccio bread and ciambelle di vino, only to name a few. Those who travel to this area soon learn that in Ciociaria “Si mangia e si mangia bene” (you eat and eat well). This area is also known for its marzoline (goat cheese), fresh ricotta, bufala mozzarella and prosciutto di Guarcino.
Your host immerses his guests into cooking in an Italian family environment and offers small hands-on cooking classes taught by various professionals. Your host during your stay is an Italian-American, self-taught cook following the traditions passed down from his bisnonna, nonna and mother. His move to Italy brought him to the true source of these delicious meals. He has combined his family recipes with those of a professional chef and assistant, the villa’s local cooks, and resident pizza maker to give to you an “assaggio completo” (authentic sampling) of Ciociara traditions. Of course your experience here would not be complete without a toast from the Valle de Comino area’s famous Cabernet di Atina or perhaps a glass of a fine Cesanese.

Roman Countryside Discovery Itinerary

Day 1: Sunday

  • Arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and transfer to your accommodations. (Note that the transfer from Fiumicino leaves between 11AM and 12 noon; please plan to leave enough time to disembark and go through passport control before meeting it.)
  • Check-in at the villa followed by a welcome apperitivo and light lunch. After lunch, set off on a short guided walk to get to know the medieval historical village.
  • After some time to relax, head to the town of Pofi and the Pizzeria Borgo Antico for your welcome dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day 2: Monday

  • After breakfast, visit the town of Arpino, the birthplace of Cicero as well as the land of “olives.” You will visit a traditional olive oil mill, as well as hear how to make extra virgin olive oil, and get a taste of fresh olive oil at a local estate. A light lunch will follow.
  • On the return to the hotel, stop at “Meringo’s” for the best gelato.
  • Around 4 p.m, meet the pastry chef to start your class.
  • Dinner and overnight.

Day 3: Tuesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Start your day at the local farmer’s market to pick out the ingredients for an antipasto extravaganza.
  • Next, visit a local cheese caseificio, where you’ll sample fresh buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, and provolone.
  • Then it’s on to the “Abbey of Fossanova” in Terracina, a Tyrrhenian seaside town. After strolling by some shops and taking in a view of the sea, lunch at a seafood cooperativa.
  • Back at the hotel, some time on your own before your next cooking class that will focus on “antipasti,” including crostini, bruschette, grilled peppers and eggplant, frittate, and stuffed zucchini with a sampling of formaggi e olive. Enjoy your creations at dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day 4: Wednesday

  • Breakfast out at a coffee bar, followed by a trip to “La Pastorella” where you’ll see how fresh sausage is made.
  • Next, visit a “Prosciuttificio” in the town of Guarcino, where you will enjoy a picnic lunch of fresh hand-cut porchetta or prosciutto.
  • After returning to the villa, some time to relax.
  • Begin your third hands-on cooking class, where you’ll discover a variety of “primi patti” such as sagna con fagioli, zuppa di pane, gnocchi al sugo, and fettucine con tartufo. Dinner to follow based on your efforts, a bottle of wine included.
  • Overnight.

Day 5: Thursday

  • Breakast.
  • In the morning, head out for to “Cantina Tullio,” a vineyard in the Val Comino, which is known for it’s Cabernet wines. Here you’ll visit the bottling plant and cellar, see the vineyards, hear about the vinification process, and end with a wine tasting.
  • Depart for the town of Atina, known for it’s annual Jazz Festival.
  • Lunch at “Le Canardizie,” which was previously called “Old Cantina Visocchi” before it was restored with antique winery relics.
  • In the afternoon, a sommelier leads a wine tasting of another fantastic wine of the region. You will also prepare a variety of “Second Piatti,” including salsiccia con patate e peperuola and involtini, as well as a “controno” to accompany your dinner in the villa.
  • Overnight.

Day 6: Friday

  • Following breakfast, start a pizza making class by making the perfect dough. You will then top the pizza just the way you like it, cook it in the pizza oven, and enjoy it for lunch.
  • In the afternoon, after relaxing for a few hours, go shopping in Frosinone.
  • Your multi-course farewell dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.

Day 7

  • Breakfast and departure. Arrivederci!