HOME > Chowhound > Italy >


Italy Travel Advise

My wife and I are discussing a trip to Italy for our 20th anniversary in 2009. We both love cooking and we've heard of culinary vacations to Tuscany, for example. Our dream trip would be to go to a week-long school where we can learn how to shop in local markets, cook the food, drink the wine; you know...how to live. Has anyone done something like this, or can anyone point us in the right direction? We're open to any and all suggestions.

Thanks everyone!

Bon Appetito!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Plenty cooking stuff in the link below


    Re. lodging, you didn't mention budget. If budget is not an issue, the d'Este properties are a must for a 20th:


    1 Reply
    1. re: RicRios

      Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful suggestions I appreciate your help.

      Buon Natale!

    2. 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 and some of the others 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 am thinking of doing it again. I considered it great value for the money.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MakingSense

        Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful suggestions I appreciate your help.

        Buon Natale!

      2. My friends went to Villa Delia in Tuscany - it's run by a well known Vancouver BC restauranteur (Umberto Menghi)

        Here's a link


        1 Reply
        1. re: ElizabethS

          Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful suggestions I appreciate your help.

          Buon Natale!

        2. My husband and I took a trip last October (2005) via Mama Margaret and had the time of our lives. Great itinerary through Tuscany that "stepped up" in complexity as the trip unfolded. Self-guided, a great blend of free time, exploration, and learning.


          1 Reply
          1. re: suzanne0115

            Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful suggestions I appreciate your help.

            Buon Natale!

          2. Badia a Coltibuono is fabulous. It is owned by a family that are descendents of the Medici's. The son runs the winery and when you look at him you will think you have stepped back in Biblical times of Christ; the resemblance is amazing.

            Very kind people, and a very wonderful cooking school and accommodations, too. I took a class there and we enjoyed the fruits of the course for a wonderful lunch. The gardens are magnificent, as are the wines and the olive oil (accessible in the US). The winery sits on a the top of a hill overlooking the valley. Absolutely stunning views.

            I also recommend, as I did to another poster, to look up Dario Castagno (www.blackroostertours.com), author of "Too Much Tuscan Sun". He is a guide for custome tours and is serious about his food and wine. He also presses his own olive oil. He always appreciates visitors who take the time to understand and appreciate the culture and history, as well as the cuisine. The book is a light, entertaining read.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SanseiDesigns

              Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful suggestions I appreciate your help.

              Buon Natale!

            2. try checking out

              Lots of posts there on cooking school experiences in Italia.

              Also look at:


              buona fortuna,

              1. If you've got time and it fits into your holiday programme, you could spend a day or two in nearby Emilia Romagna, home of the Parmesan cheese, Parma Ham, Balsamic Vinegar and Lambrusco (the real thing). Try www.europemadeeasy.com and staff@parmagolosa.it for food tours.

                1. I just posted a question myself about this service/organization in Italy whereby you go into the home of italian cooks instead of dining in a restaurant. If you and your wife are into culinary experiences, you want to do this - I'm hoping to just trying to get a bit more info perhaps from chowhounds who've done it. I saw it on Gourmet's food show Diary of a Foodie http://www.diaryofafoodie.org/episode...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: vino_y_cafe

                    The organization you're talking about, vino y cafe, is called Home Food. I wrote it about here:


                    I've signed up in the past, before trips to Italy, but the calendar of dinners never matches my travel plans. I'm on the mailing list, though, which is a great motivator to get back to Italy and make it happen!

                    1. re: andiamo

                      thank you for that andiamo. I too signed up an hope to get some answers to the questions I submitted along with my application - one being my time line events occurring while I'm there. From reading your Italylogue, you seem to have a handle on Italian info - can you tell me anything about any food experienced in Grado? That's where I'll be for the summer.

                      1. re: vino_y_cafe

                        I've not been to Grado, I'm afraid - the list of places I haven't been in Italy is way too long for my taste. :) As for the Home Food calendar, the site used to have a calendar you could look at online to see what was coming up; if it doesn't have that feature anymore, you should be added to the email list and receive updates about what's coming up by month.