The idea of CookinItalia Culinary Holidays came when its founder, Luca Federici, was thinking of new projects while cooking in his restaurant. His passion for cooking has been with him from an early age, from his afternoons spent helping out in his parents’ pasticceria and restaurant bar. In fact, as soon as he finished school, he began taking courses and studied to become a gourmet chef. As time passed, he became a husband and a father, while continuing to improve his cooking skills, taking over his parents’ restaurant and transforming it into a place known for its good food. During this time the restaurant was recognized by Slow Food and is has been present in its guide for good places to eat for over ten years, together with special recognition for some dishes of Luca’s own invention. He also became very interested in regional cuisine and the use of local ingredients as a means of having the best, freshest, natural products for his restaurant while sustaining the local economy.
One day in the kitchen, Luca’s mind went back to two specific moments in his past. One was during a holiday he took to Prague, where he spent a glorious evening chatting to a chef and sharing local delicacies. Each dish had a story behind it that gave an insight into how they lived, why they did certain things and how they regarded themselves. It struck Luca that this was also the same for his own region, where in Ciociaria, they are very proud of their farming background and the many dishes that have become a part of their daily routine. Some time later, an American family touring Italy came to his restaurant and he spent the rest of the evening explaining Ciociaria’s own customs and traditions through their cuisine. He noticed how easy it was to do this, and also how interested the entire family was – how their curiosity gave birth to a million questions, and how they left that night feeling as though they had actually experienced the place they were visiting.
Tying these two occasions together, Luca realized what he wanted to do – he had found a way of sharing his love not only for cooking, but also of experiences and his own heritage. Thus, the idea of a culinary experience was born as a gateway to the culture of his region.
As he began researching this, he realized that there were a great deal of people in the world that thought the same way. That nowadays one of the main reasons for visiting a foreign country (or any place not in the immediate vicinity) is to experience another culture – and one of the things that gives you instant access is through their cuisine.
At this point it became easy, a locally renowned chef who has close relationships with the best local, authentic producers would have no problems in organizing a holiday package that lets people into the Italian culture, and even go as far as offer the chance to experience Ciociarian life. Using this as a starting point it then becomes simple to add to this with cultural visits to local tourist attractions. The area is rich in history, from pre-Roman Empire civilizations (the most ancient human remains in Europe were found just 2km outside Luca’s home town of Ceprano) through to the Roman Empire itself, medieval traditions and the growth of the Roman Catholic Church, to the battles that occurred in a very strategically important area during World War II.
So, with his family aboard, Luca converted his restaurant into a luxury Country Hotel complete with all the amenities that holidaymakers need to relax, enjoy and experience Italy. All in a place just one hour from Rome, one hour from Naples, 45 minutes from the Mediterranean coast and 50 minutes from the Apennine Mountains.
But above all, let’s face it, wouldn’t it be great to learn how to cook authentic Italian dishes from a locally renowned chef? Imagine your friends’ faces (and palates!) when you serve up a perfectly prepared authentic Italian meal in your home!