Pesto, Pasta, and the Cinque Terre

Liguria may be known best for the Cinque Terre, but travel up the coast and you’ll discover a hidden gem: the charming surf town of Levanto, also known as ‘the northern door of the Cinque Terre.’ Similar to the Cinque Terre — or ‘five lands’ — Levanto is populated with colorful houses, 20th-century villas overlooking the sea, and small vineyards producing Sciacchetrà wine. The cuisine here too hails from the garden, sea, and woods, making any local dish a veritable feast of the senses. From seafood to honey, marmalades, and olive patés, delicacies abound. But don’t forget about the herbs — rosemary, sage, thyme, and most importantly basil — as they play an integral role in the regional cuisine, such as the famous Genovese pesto.


Latest Review

We gave this trip 5 stars
Richard & Charla
Ohio
We were totally satisfied with the location of the classes. The villa (Villanova) was beautiful and the grounds were perfect. The little Church really set the place apart from other places in Italy! Cant say enough about the owners and staff, so friendly and helpful and wonderful English. The mix of cooking, eating and hiking the villages was perfect for us, we have hiked there before but the additional of a guide was a great idea. The weather was perfect so hiking was exceptional. Levanto was a great little seaside village with a low tourist crowd, we were there at the end of the season so not sure about high season. Having car service included in package was a big plus!! We could not get the hang of the trains. Breakfast at Villanova was perfect and the terrace was fabulous. The rooms were very nice with a kitchen so you can bring back simple food to eat there, we bought all our wine from the villa. We ate the food from the classes or restaurants, there are many, in Levanto all but one night. Lunches were enjoyed in the villages. The International Kitchen staff: Chicago office was very helpful and we were happy with everything they did for us,, especially advising us the day before we left that the contact in Italy had notified them of a train strike that was to occur the day we were to go to Levanto. The car service in Levanto met us at our Hotel in Milan and drove us down. In fact we used a car and driver to go to Bologna at the end of our 5 days in Levanto then to Ravenna for Mosaic school for 5 days and on to Milan airport, we were gone 18 days in all. Thank you Chicago.

Trip Details

During your 2 hands-on cooking classes you will learn about Ligurian cuisine traditions with Chef Alberto, who grew up in the area and previously owned and operated restaurants of his own. Each of your two hands-on cookery courses will focus on typical Ligurian dishes featuring fresh and flavorful ingredients, many of which come straight from the agriturismo’s property.


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Itinerary

Day One

  • Arrive at Levanto train station and private transfer to the agriturismo, your accommodations for the week.
  • Meet the owner of the farmhouse and get an introduction to the estate and its organic products, olive groves, and vineyards.
  • Enjoy a welcome cocktail followed by a light dinner featuring typical Ligurian ingredients, wine included.
  • Overnight.

Day Two

  • Enjoy breakfast out on the enchanting flower-filled terrace.
  • In the morning, a private car will transfer you to Levanto to meet your private guide. In Levanto, visit the ancient church of Sant’Andrea — the symbol of the village with its black and white stripe facade; and visit the local food market to learn about the fresh vegetables and herbs that are a part of Ligurian cuisine, as well as the fish, olive oil, honey, and other typical products.
  • Light lunch in Levanto.
  • In the afternoon, attend your first hands-on cooking class with the chef of your accommodations. Chef Alberto will teach you how to prepare typical Ligurian recipes, such as foccacia in the Genovese style, vegetable quiches, and the region’s renowned pesto.
  • An aperitvo will be served out on the terrace followed by candlelight dinner based on your efforts.
  • Overnight.

Day Three

  • Breakfast.
  • Meet your guide in the morning for a full-day tour of the Cinque Terre. You’ll visit the villages of Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, and Manarola — these towns make up this stunning area of shoreline and rocky cliffs. Stop for lunch in a typical Manarola restaurant with wonderful views of the sea.
  • Dinner on your own. (Return transfer by private car included).
  • Overnight.

Day Four

  • Breakfast.
  • Meet your guide at the agriturismo, and then take a train to Corniglia. Once there, you’ll depart on a hike that follows Volastra’s Ring, passing through typical Ligurian vineyards (that produce Sciacchetrà wine), and ending in Manarola.
  • Your guide will make a recommendation for lunch (on your own).
  • Return to Levanto by train.
  • In the afternoon, attend your second hands-on cooking class, in which you’ll prepare such dishes as pansotti and pesce alla ligure. Dinner to follow based on your efforts.
  • Overnight.

Day Five

  • Breakfast.
  • Today is a day on your own. Perhaps take an excursion by train to Portofino and San Fruttuoso, rest at the agriturismo, explore Monterosso, or visit the other villages of the Cinque Terre. You may also rent a bike and take the bike trail that goes along an old railway from Levanto to the enchanting villages of Bonassola and Framura; biking along the sea, you’ll discover marvelous, untouched bays. (The bike route is very easy as it follows an old railway bed.)
  • A farewell dinner in a gourmet restaurant in Levanto, and transfers to/from the farmhouse.
  • Overnight.

Day Six

  • Breakfast followed by departure to Levanto train station.

Trip Details

Included in the 5-Night Trip

Accommodations

5 nights in a junior suite at a farmhouse in Levanto

Food & Beverages

  • Daily breakfast
  • 2 lunches
  • 3 dinners
  • Local products tastings on day 1 (wine included)

Classes & Instructors

During your 2 hands-on cooking classes you will learn about Ligurian cuisine traditions with Chef Alberto, who grew up in the area and previously owned and operated restaurants of his own. Each of your two hands-on cookery courses will focus on typical Ligurian dishes featuring fresh and flavorful ingredients, many of which come straight from the agriturismo’s property.

Excursions

  • Half-day guided visit of Levanto: the church of Sant’Andrea and a local market
  • Full-day tour of the Cinque Terre
  • Half-day visit of Corniglia and hike of ‘Volastra’s Ring,’ ending in Manarola

Transfer Details

  • Private transfers between Levanto train station and your accommodations on arrival and departure

Miscellaneous

  • Return transportation from dinner on day 3
  • Train ticket to Corniglia

Not Included

  • Beverages with meals (except where specified)

Accommodation Information

Located just a short drive from the Cinque Terre and 1.5 kilometers from the sea, this 17th century agricultural estate was once the summer home of a Baron. Today, guests can relax on the 15 hectare property, admiring views both of the surrounding olive groves and vineyards but also of a variety of villages in the valleys. Guests from The International Kitchen will stay in junior suite accommodations that feature elegant decorations and antique furniture. Amenities include satellite TV, telephone, heat, and room safe; some rooms have air conditioning. Each and every room has their own garden or terrace with beautiful panaromic views.

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Pricing & Tour Dates

Looking for tour date information?


2019 Pricing:

based on 2 people

5-night Program
US$2800 per person based on double occupancy
  • Subtract US$350 per person when booking 4 or more people

30% deposit due to confirm booking.
Balance payment due 60 days prior to tour start date. Questions? Please contact us!

Single occupancy: please inquire.


Tour Dates

Available the following dates March through October for a minimum of 2 people. Other start dates possible, please inquire.

Closed November through February.

2019
March 3-8
March 10-15
March 17-22
March 24-29
March 31-April 5
April 7-12
April 14-19
April 21-26
April 28-May 3
May 5-10
May 12-17
May 19-24
May 26-31
June 2-7
June 9-14
June 16-21
June 23-28
June 30-July 5
July 7-12
July 14-19
July 21-26
July 28-August 2
August 4-9
August 11-16
August 18-23
August 25-30
September 1-6
September 8-13
September 15-20
September 22-27
September 29-October 4
October 6-11
October 13-18
October 20-25
October 27-November 1

Pricing & Dates

Class Pricing

Reviews

We gave this trip 5 stars
Richard & Charla
Ohio
We were totally satisfied with the location of the classes. The villa (Villanova) was beautiful and the grounds were perfect. The little Church really set the place apart from other places in Italy! Cant say enough about the owners and staff, so friendly and helpful and wonderful English. The mix of cooking, eating and hiking the villages was perfect for us, we have hiked there before but the additional of a guide was a great idea. The weather was perfect so hiking was exceptional. Levanto was a great little seaside village with a low tourist crowd, we were there at the end of the season so not sure about high season. Having car service included in package was a big plus!! We could not get the hang of the trains. Breakfast at Villanova was perfect and the terrace was fabulous. The rooms were very nice with a kitchen so you can bring back simple food to eat there, we bought all our wine from the villa. We ate the food from the classes or restaurants, there are many, in Levanto all but one night. Lunches were enjoyed in the villages. The International Kitchen staff: Chicago office was very helpful and we were happy with everything they did for us,, especially advising us the day before we left that the contact in Italy had notified them of a train strike that was to occur the day we were to go to Levanto. The car service in Levanto met us at our Hotel in Milan and drove us down. In fact we used a car and driver to go to Bologna at the end of our 5 days in Levanto then to Ravenna for Mosaic school for 5 days and on to Milan airport, we were gone 18 days in all. Thank you Chicago.
We gave this trip 5 stars
Virginia & Nancy
Massachusetts
Trip taken May 2015
We had a wonderful experience! Alberto, our chef, greeted us upon arrival and made us feel welcome from the start. Our room was upgraded to a junior suite which was a nice bonus. The classes were fun and informative and the results delicious. Andreas, our driver was wonderful and was very responsive to our transportation needs. Julia, our guide in Levanto was great adjusting the schedule to accommodate us. She was also very knowledgeable about Cinque Terre and provided much local color. The only disappointment was the dinner at the Tratteria Cavour on the last night of the program. While the staff was attentive and the service was great, we were somewhat disappointed in the food. We had plenty of food to sample but it wasn't as good as some of the food at other restaurants where we had eaten in Levanto. I'd say the highlights were our meals on the terrace at the Agriturismo Villanova. The setting was so beautiful. Regarding The International Kitchen staff: The staff was very responsive to questions and requests, especially with regard to post planning. I loved everything. Alfredo is a delightful person. We had a lot of fun. The villa is beautifully located. Room was great, very comfortable. Giulia, our guide, was knowledgable and personable. Having cab service was a big help. [Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] It was all fabulous - class, teacher, location, food. The Baron and his staff were courteous, warm, and friendly.