Italy Cooking Classes: Cooking Vacations in Lazio Italy
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Roman Countryside Discovery: Fall Olive & Wine Harvest
Castro dei Volsci, Lazio

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 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.

About the cooking lessons: The “Cuoca Ciociara” creates 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 professional chef Ivan Di Leo and assistant Nicoletta, the villa’s local cooks Anna Fabrizi and Pasqualina Zomparelli, and resident pizza maker Matteo 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: Fall Olive & Wine Harvest Itinerary

Day 1 - Sunday

  • Arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and transfer to your accommodations.
  • Check-in at the villa around 2:00pm, and take a short guided tour acquainting you with the small medieval town.
  • In the evening, head to the town of Pofi for a welcome dinner at a pizzeria.
  • Overnight.

Day 2 - Monday

  • Breakfast is served at the villa Taverna.
  • For those on the Olive Harvest, spend the day harvesting olives at a traditional olive oil mill (known as a Frantoio); you will view the process as well as partake in the making your own extra virgin olive oil. A light lunch in the olive grove will follow. You will also taste various olive oils and upon departure receive a bottle of Terra di Cicerone extra virgin olive oil to take home.
  • For those on the Wine Harvest, spend a day at the vineyard beginning with picking the perfect grapes. There will be a few stops for technical explanations and to allow you to enjoy the fragrances of the earth and wine. Take time to admire the flora and fauna of the National Park of Abruzzo and take some wonderful photographs. The visit ends in the cellar with a full explanation of the vinification process as well as a wine-tasting that is accompanied by appetizers made from wine jam.
  • Dinner is served at the hotel’s dining room.

Day 3 - Tuesday

  • After breakfast, visit a local farmer’s market to gather ingredients for your cooking class.
  • Before heading back, stop at a local cheese maker and sample provolone, buffalo mozzarella, and ricotta. We’ll also stop at the “Abbey of Fossanova” in the seaside town of Terracina. We’ll also have lunch here.
  • Upon your return, begin your first class and start off by preparing a variety of “Antipasti.” Bruchette, crostini, frittate, grilled peppers and eggplant, frittelle di zucchine, accompanied by the sampling of various fromaggi e olive, the preparation of a dolcetto tipico followed by dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day 4 - Wednesday

  • After breakfast, visit Pastroella to see how fresh sausage is made. We’ll also stop in the town of Guarcino at a Prosciuttificio, where prosciutto is made, for a light lunch of prosciutto or porchetta.
  • In the afternoon, begin another hands-on cooking lesson, where you will prepare a variety of “Primi Piatti” such as zuppa di pane, sagna con fagioli, fettucine con tartufo, and gnocchi al sugo.
  • Dinner to follow based on your efforts. Wine included.
  • Overnight.

Day 5 - Thursday

  • After breakfast, depart for Cantina Tullio, a vineyard in Val Comino, which is known for its Cabernet wines. After seeing their vineyards, tour the cellar and bottling plant, and take part in a wine tasting.
  • Next, visit the nearby town of Atina, known for its annual jazz festival.
  • Stop for lunch at a restaurant decorated in antique winery relics.
  • Back at the hotel, join a sommelier to taste another fantastic wine of the area.
  • Your day ends with another cooking class that focuses on “second piatti,” such as salsiccia con patate e peperuola.
  • Dinner to follow based on your efforts.
  • Overnight.

Day 6 - Friday

  • Breakfast.
  • In the morning, learn how to make your own pizza.
  • While the pizza dough rises, head out on a shopping excursion in Frosinone. Upon your return, top your pizza and fire it up in our natural wood burning oven. Enjoy your pizza for lunch.
  • Afternoon on your own.
  • Enjoy a farewell dinner at a local agriturismo, where their food is home grown, prepared, and served.
  • Overnight.

Day 7 - Saturday

  • Breakfast and departure.