Italy Cooking Vacations in Norcia Umbria
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A Food Lover's Paradise in Norcia
Norcia, Umbria

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About the Location: Norcia, a town famed for its black truffles, its nestled in the center of the region of Umbria, historically enclosed by its 14th century walls and surrounded by the Monti Sibilllini Park. Having withstood a severe earthquake in 2016, the town has really rebounded with a sense of renewal. Many of the buildings (including the beautiful hotel Palazzo Seneca and its restaurant) were completely undamaged. Other buildings are being rebuilt and restored. The recovery has been remarkable and we are thrilled to be sending culinary travelers to Norcia once again. With a great culinary history, the area is known for its lentils, sausages, cheese, as well as the truffles. The region is rich with culture, Renaissance art, wine and gastronomy, as well as hand-crafted products.

Spend six magical nights at Palazzo Seneca, a hotel in an Umbrian palace. This charming residence dating back to the sixteenth century is located in the heart of Norcia. The fusion of design and tradition, simplicity and quality, is the secret of this elegant project realized by Vincenzo and Federico Bianconi, the latest generation of a family who has been offering hospitality and food service since 1850. The skilled restoration, the research of unique materials and objects, along with the work of the best Umbrian craftsmen, have made Palazzo Seneca a unique destination in its genre.

About the cooking lessons: Learn the secrets of Umbrian cooking using ingredients such as black truffles from the territory of Norcia, lentils from the plateau of Castelluccio, lamb provided by local farms situated in the Monti Sibillini National Park, Chianina beef from a pasture in the Visso area, pork from a small farm in Pieve Torina, Salumi prepared by a small producer according to the local tradition, one-year-old pecorino cheese matured in a cellar, and fresh ricotta cheese from a local producer. Classes are held either in the original house of the Bianconi family, or in the beautiful, well-equipped kitchen of the Vespasia Restaurant, which was awarded 1 Michelin star in November 2015.

Chef Valentino Palmisano took over at “Vespasia” in 2017. Neapolitano by birth, Chef Valentino has a wealth of international experience as well as training with such Italian masters as Alfonso Iaccarino, Bruno Barbieri, Pino Lavarra, and more. He was listed among the 10 best Italian chefs abroad by "Arbiter" magazine. He is excited to bring his own authentic and creative touch to Norcia.

A Food Lover's Paradise in Norcia Itinerary

Day 1

  • Transfer from the Rome Fiumicino Airport to Palazzo Seneca in Norcia.
  • This afternoon, enjoy a welcome drink and a short presentation on your cooking course.
  • This evening, enjoy a dinner at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Vespasia of Palazzo Seneca. Three course a la carte, excluding truffles. Selected wine and water included.
  • Overnight.

Day 2

  • After breakfast, at 9:30 a.m. meet in the hotel lobby. Your first cooking class will last about two hours and will be an introduction to Umbrian cooking. Sample menu, subject to change:
    • Castelluccio lentil soup with shepherd ricotta cheese and crispy bread
    • Saffron risotto and goat cheese
    • White chocolate panna cotta, orange soup with thyme.
  • Tasting lunch based on your efforts ends about noon.
  • At 4:30 p.m., go on a black truffle hunt. (In the summer, the truffle hunt begins at 6 p.m.) Picnic dinner to follow.
  • Overnight.

Day 3

  • Breakfast.
  • At 9:30 a.m., depart for an excursion to the legendary Assisi, the city of Saint Francis, with time on your own to explore.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • Afterward, at 2:30 p.m., it’s on to the famous town of Montefalco, land of the Sagrantino red wine, and a visit to a local winery where we will be invited to taste wonderful wines.
  • Return and dinner at Ristorante Vespasia.
  • Overnight.

Day 4

  • Breakfast, followed by your next cooking lesson at 9:30 a.m. Sample menu (subject to change):
    • Beef carpaccio, pinzimonio, and salted ricotta cheese
    • Tagliolini with Norcina sauce
    • Pan di Banana
  • Tasting lunch based on your efforts.
  • At 4:00 p.m., visit a local food producer where you will taste regional specialties (varies by season).
  • Rustic dinner at Granaro del Monte.
  • Overnight.

Day 5

  • After breakfast, the next cooking class begins at 9:30 a.m. Sample menu, subject to change:
    • Half moon of ricotta cheese with cherry tomato sauce
    • Egg noodle pasta with rocket pesto, cheese salt, and toasted pine nuts
    • Lemon cream with strawberry and mint salad
  • Tasting lunch to follow based on your efforts.
  • For those on the 4-night program, departure and transfer to Rome airport after lunch.
  • For those on the 6-night program, at 3:00 p.m., visit Spoleto, a bronze-age town located on the slope of a sacred mountain in the Apennines. Just one of their numerous ancient Roman and medieval sacred sites is the Duomo, which is home to Filippo Lippi’s last fresco cycle.
  • Return to the hotel. Ristorante Vespasia for dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day 6

  • Breakfast followed by your final cooking lesson at 9:30 a.m. Sample menu, subject to change:
    • Chianino beef with red onion and mustard misticanza
    • Stuffed chicken breast of lard with herbs and puree potatoes with lemon and spinach
    • Chocolate cupcake
  • Tasting lunch to follow based on your efforts.
  • Afternoon at leisure. At an additional cost, you will have the optional opportunity to shop for cashmere (Umbria is well known for its production of cashmere). Alternatively, you might want to visit a shoe outlet. Either of these optional excursions can be requested locally.
  • Tonight’s final dinner will be at Vespasia.
  • Overnight.

Day 7

  • Breakfast at the hotel, final farewells and depart for your transfer to Fiumicino Airport in Rome.