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Cooking classes in Italy

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My husband and I are thinking about traveling to Italy in the next few months. I'd like to start the trip with a cooking/wine class/tour lasting approximately 4 - 6 days. We're planning to limit our visit to northern Italy, probably flying into Milan. We'd like to spend significant time in Genoa. Any experience with this?

I've been checking out some websites but I'd rather hear first hand experience from fellow eGulleters. Has anyone taken cooking classes while on vacation?

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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From Genova it is an easy drive to Tuscany so I would suggest taking a look at Divina Cucina (of our own eGullet member divina) or if you are thinking of very wine oriented travel in Piemonte take a look at my site listed below.

Just wondering why you are looking to spend extended time in Genova? It is a nice city, but much of it is very industrial.

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I've been on a culinary trip with Peggy Markel that was simply outstanding. While she does trips to Elba amongst other places, her base is Florence where she runs a cooking school.

Pamela Sheldon Johns also runs Food Tours/Workshops in various parts of Italy in addition to her Agriturismo in Tuscany, where she holds cooking classes.

These may be interesting options in addition to the fine ones presented above depending on your interests and the itineraries available.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Just wondering why you are looking to spend extended time in Genova? It is a nice city, but much of it is very industrial.

Shame on you Craig Camp! :wink:

Genova is AMAZING and very underrated. 1) The food is fabulous and cheap as chips, even compared with other major Itlalian cities which are already cheap as chips by UK, US and certainly French standards 2) the people are "real" - it's not high up on the tourist list (even though it should be) but I understand fully that people coming to Italy on their first, second, third and even fourth trip would go to Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan...in fact when I was there in October I heard nary an English word aside from present company. 3) fantastic for sightseeing, loads of tiny but opulent churches built by wealthy industrialists. 4) it doesn't wear its heart on its sleeve the same way other abovementioned Italian cities do (though I love those too) 5) European city of culture this year, shared with Lille, another underrated/undervisited city.

LEdlund - go and enjoy !!

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There was an interesting article on The Savvy Traveler about Genoa being an "overlooked gem".

Elizabeth Yates McNamee traveled along the Ligurian coast to Genoa, Italy, a city on the harbor many Americans only pass through on the way to Portofino. The city has had contact with different populations on the Mediterranean Sea, from Arab to Spanish to French and Flemish. Its commerce is highly developed, but not its tourism. Elizabeth checks out an overlooked gem.

The description appealed to my husband and I but I'm going to have to listen to the article again to remember why.

Thanks, Magnolia, for the vote of confidence!

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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  • 1 month later...

In expensive classes ( $50 or so???) can be had at language schools in Italy and are designed for college kids.. or just hanging aorund together.

Where will you be? and when?

Some farmhouses will give classes if you are staying there.

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Thank you for pointing me to Divina Cucina's classes. The one day is definitely less expensive than others we've seen. I had no idea of prices - never having taken a cooking class before.

We are not students, will be on our honeymoon, but still on a budget - will be in the Chianti Region during the second week of October.

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contact Bill Sutherland at www.tuscanwomancook.com ..... he runs a informal cooking school out of his farmhouse in montefalonnico. the school is taught by ladies (we called them local legends) from the surrounding towns. the classes are typically week or so long but we (about 8 of us) did a special one day class in his home and at a winery.

In montefalonnico there is a magnificient and well known restaurant called la chiusa, where the part owner and chef is named diana. She is reknowned in that region for her cooking. The lady (she was about 75) that cooked for us at bill sutherland's taught diana how to cook. Needless to say it was spectaular. although, i don't know how cheap it was, but i remember it being absolutely worth it. Correspond with bill sutherland as he is a nice guy and a wealth of information in that region...

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  • 4 weeks later...

A friend and I took a one-day class from Gina Stipo last month. She gives the classes in a beautiful villa overlooking the hills outside of Siena. Gina is American, trained in the U.S. and worked at several excellent Italian restaurants in NYC before moving to Italy 4 years ago. The class was E. 135 each, and we really enjoyed it. She is a master at pasta making. Her website address is www.eccolacucina.com or email ginastipo@yahoo.com.

I have also taken a class from Judy at Divina Cucina in Florence which was excellent!


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  • 1 month later...

I'll be in Bologna the first week of October, using it as a homebase to explore Ravenna, Parma, Modena, etc. I'd like to take a 1-day or half-day cooking class while in the area, to get the highlights. Any recommendations?


Eating, drinking and living the good life in San Francisco

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If you are staying in an Agriturismo, most likely they can make a 'lesson' out of your dinner, etc. I would look into something like that. I am not aware of any formal cooking schools in Bologna for such a time period. Good luck and let us know what you made!



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  • 2 weeks later...
A Google search turns up CookItaly.comwhich advertises 1-day classes.

I did in fact Google, and came up with the same results -- I think I'll check that out.

Also, if anyone has any particular suggestions for dining in Bologna or any nearby cities (we're definitely going to Ravenna, am now deciding between the others, i.e., Ferrara, Parma, Modena), I'm all ears and taste buds.


Eating, drinking and living the good life in San Francisco

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  • 1 month later...
A Google search turns up CookItaly.comwhich advertises  1-day classes.

So I've just returned from my trip to Italy. I did in fact arrange a one-day class with Carmelita of CookItaly.com this past Friday, Oct 8. I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting the area. Carmelita is an absolute treasure trove of information on the food of the region; shopping with her through the mercato centrale is a phenomenal experience. Though not a native Bolognese, Carmelita knows everyone and everything in the market, and explains all of it in direct, erudite terms.

We tasted everything from straight-up lardo (herbed pork fat) to fiche carmelizzate e squaquerone romagnolo (caramelized figs with a fresh, loose cheese, kind of like cottage cheese), a popular dessert. She explained the differences between the various balsamic vingars, and we tasted several to compare.

Back at her place, a charming studio apartment in the center, just across a piazza from a lovely medieval church, we prepared panna cotta with fresh berries and raspberry coulis, polpettone bolognese (Bolognese meatloaf, spiced with cinammon and lemon zest) with caramelized onions, green beans and Roman broccoli with a cream sauce and, necessarily, handmade tagliatelle with mushroom sauce. My partner and I have made pasta by hand a number of times before, but had never achieved quite the right texture and flavor. This time, the pasta was perfect. Carmelita's techniques were simple and easy to follow, and we produced a massive meal for the three of us within a couple hours. It was all in all a delightful way to experience a different, more personal side of Bologna.

Off-topic, while in Ravenna, we had the best meal of our trip at a small place not far from the mausoleum of Galla Placida called Ristorante Osteria del Tempo Perso. We stopped for lunch, and ordered from the menu del giorno, splitting each an antipasto, first and second course. We started with thinly sliced smoked capon with pancetta lardons stewed in balsamic on a bit of rucola salad, then delicious capelleti (a type of stuffed pasta) with a faint yet always present truffle essence, and lastly strips of poached chicken tossed in a light sauce with roasted potatoes on the side. Fantastic, and very reasolably priced. Highly reccomended!


Eating, drinking and living the good life in San Francisco

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  • 6 months later...

My husband and I will be travelling to Florence and Rome in the fall. I have time for a cooking class. :smile: I am a fairly good cook and love markets. I have searched egullet and other sites and the new Bon Appetit and these 3 options stand out in Florence: Divina Cucina, Faith Willinger's Market to table and Cucina del Garga (at the trattoria).

What do you think? I'm having a hard time deciding, but must do so soon.

Pros and cons:

Divina cucina: small menu, but market tour

Faith Willinger: large menu, but only shopping for produce and eggs and wine. Her assistant has a separate market tour

Garga: no market tour, but I loved this restaurant years back

Any other classes or tours I should consider?

Edited to add: divina cucina also has a separate market tour. Another decision: cooking class vs market/shopping tour?

Edited by achevres (log)
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I don't know of any others, but I took (and recommend) Judy's (Divina Cucina) market/cooking class last March. Prior to going to the market, we discussed what we wanted to cook. While we were shopping, we made some last minute tweaks to the menu (changed lamb to kid). It was a treat to take another class when she was at Ramekins in Sonoma earlier this year.

As mentioned in this month's Bon Appetit, her class is the "Best Cure for the No-Kitchen Blues" - it is a great way to be able to shop and then to cook what one purchases without renting an apartment with a kitchen in Florence. Don't mind cooking a wee bit while on vacation but it IS a vacation.

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I am Diva of Divina Cucina.. and am the IACP rep for Italy.. so in Rome also know of several teachers. Maureen Fant does a walking tour and class ( 4th floor walkup)

Diane Seed sometimes has one day classes and Dana Klitzberg of Blu Abergine does market tour classes too.

Pick up this month's fabulous Bon Appetit with info on FLorence ROme and Venice, a true collectors issue!

Edited by divina (log)
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