Cooking classes in Tuscany or Umbria
I am planning a trip to Italy for April, 2007 and am interested in a 3 day cooking class in Tuscany or Umbria. Any recommendations?
I had a good experience in Summer, 1999, with Aolmaia Country School in San Miniato (Tuscany) which I found almost by accident. I chose them over the fancy Hazan in Venice, etc. because my daughter was studying nearby in Orvieto.
The primary advantage was that we cooked in an old villa and in people's homes so we saw how real people cooked rather than a demonstration with 3 prep helpers and a clean-up staff, using ingredients that might not be obtainable back in the US.
It was very hands-on, I learned an incredible amount in one week and still use my hand-written notes and the recipes I learned.
I checked www.aolmaia.com and they're still there but the courses are more structured and the staff is different. The home page has references - and I think some had email addresses - so you should be able to check more recent experiences.
The same school also has Italian language, art, etc. classes so much of this was integrated into the cooking lessons. Not just food but why Italians eat what they eat and live as they live.
We visited vineyards and ate at wonderful non-tourist restaurants. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would do it again. I considered it great value for the money.