The actual itinerary for the CookinItalia Culinary Holidays varies slightly throughout the year. This is accountable to seasonal changes so that we can offer the ultimate culinary and touristic experience. The course is designed to go from Sunday to Sunday, however it is cyclic and so can be easily modified to begin on different days.
There are also special additions for certain times of the year, such as the wine harvest around September and the olive harvest approximately one month later. These alternatives are available upon request, together with any other preferences our guests may have that can be integrated into the program.
Each package includes not only all meals from arrival to departure, soft drinks during meals and wine at dinner, but also the following organized activities:
- SIX cooking lessons, each one tackling an individual theme or dish;
- FOUR trips to local traditional producers, where guests can taste fresh produce and gain insights into choosing the finest ingredients;
- FIVE touristic trips to see the hidden treasures of this relatively unknown area;
Plenty of opportunities to relax within the hotel complex, using the amenities on offer (large outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, wellness center, etc.) or to stroll around the town of Ceprano.
We can come and collect you directly from either Rome (FCO or CIA) or Naples (NAP) airports and take you to La Vignola Country Hotel. We can also arrange to pick you up from Ceprano-Falvaterra Train Station, which is on the Rome-Cassino Line. Once at the hotel you will be greeted by our staff and given the time to unpack and unwind. Depending upon the time of arrival of all the guests, lunch will be offered either in the restaurant, in your room, or even as a buffet on the sun terrace (weather permitting also).
In the late afternoon, we all get together for a lesson on the making of local liqueurs (limoncello, ratafià, amaro, etc.), followed by a short hands-on session on pizza dough.
After which, it’s off for a relaxing dinner prepared by the hotel chef and the choice of an after-dinner drink or an early night.
After a leisurely continental breakfast at the hotel, it’s off for the first culinary visit of the week. We will be heading inland towards Ciociaria’s hills and valleys that lead to the Appenine Mountains and the Abruzzo National Park. Our first stop is a traditional mill, where we will see the making of flour and a quick chat with the staff. After which we head to Casamari Abbey to see the classic monastery that was founded in the 9th century. A walk around the lovely gardens and elegant buildings is coupled with the chance to buy mementos and products made by the monks themselves. Then it’s back on the road towards the medieval town of Alatri to visit one of Central Italy’s most renowned olive oil producers. Why not taste that freshly squeezed oil together with other local products whilst chatting with the owner about authentic olive oil? Who knows? Maybe he’ll let you in to a secret or two!
After lunch it’s up to the mountains for a guided tour of Certosa di Trisulti, another ancient monastery with a quaint church and a perfectly preserved medieval pharmacy.
On returning to La Vignola you will have some free time. You can play tennis; swim in the large outdoor pool; have a sauna in the hotel’s wellness center (massages are also available at an extra charge – prior booking is required); take a stroll; or even relax on your own private terrace or in your air-conditioned room.
Around 7pm, it’s time to take out the dough prepared earlier and make your own pizza with Chef Luca. Here you will learn how to make the perfect Neapolitan pizza and cook it in an authentic wood fired oven. Be careful though, what you cook will be the main course of your dinner this evening!!
Your pizza will be served with accompanying dishes, water and a bottle of wine recommended by our sommelier.
After breakfast, get ready for a tourist adventure which changes according to the time of year and weather conditions. It could be a walk in the mountains; a boat trip to one of the zone’s many islands; a guided tour of Naples or one of a host of amazing attractions that this land can offer.
Our day begins at 9am with a visit to Ceprano’s Archaeological Museum, where we learn about Argil, the oldest man in Europe. After which we go to Fregellae, the archaeological site of an ancient town that dates back to at least 330BC.
Then it’s back on the road to visit a local cheesemaker. As well as tasting varieties such as ricotta and the world-renowned Mozzarella di Bufala, we will go into how they are made and what makes them good!
Back to Ceprano for some lunch in the central square and a chance to live life at the locals’ pace (Cepranese people are very friendly, and not even a simple barrier such as the language will dissuade them from striking up a conversation and making friends!). Returning to the hotel is entirely up to you – we can take you back in the bus or you can take a stroll and get back when you want.
Later in the afternoon there will be a cooking lesson using the most typical dishes of the region of Ciociaria, a land known for its simple yet tasty recipes made from local high quality ingredients.
Dinner will be the fruits of your wares accompanied with local wines, traditional music from Ciociaria and various customs from the province (who will be brave enough to challenge the cannata?!?)
Another relaxing stroll after breakfast as we visit Ceprano’s food market to buy some locally grown fruit and vegetables, before we head back into the kitchen for another lesson.
Here we will tackle the famous gnocchi and accompany them with some vegetable starters, followed by fresh seasonal fruit.
Now it’s time for some real relax. You’re welcome to use any of the hotel’s facilities (swimming pool, tennis courts, wellness center, etc.) for a free afternoon of whatever you feel like doing.
At around 7pm, Regina, Luca’s mother, will hand down some of her 60 years of experience as a pasticciera before we head off for dinner either in the central square or at the hotel itself.
You’ll be glad you relaxed the day before as we head off to the Monastery at Montecassino, a Benedictine structure that also played a fundamental part in World War II with a famous battle that lasted for many months.
Then it’s off inland for a visit to the town of Atina, known for its cannellini beans and its excellent Cabernet wine. We’ll have lunch in an authentic cantina, where I’m sure we’ll be able to try a glass (or two)! Back to La Vignola for some free time before Luca takes us through how to cook great fish, which of course we can savor at dinner.
The morning is completely free for you to do what you like. The streets of Ceprano become a huge market, bustling with people and sounds. Luca will meet you at lunchtime in the central square where he will prepare your meal.
After an espresso, we’ll take the 15 minute journey to visit the Caves of Pastena & Falvaterra, a network of karst caves that provide beautiful and mesmerizing structures.
Some more free time in the afternoon is followed by our farewell dinner. Here Chef Luca really pulls out the stops to make a meal that is fit for a King. The evening includes music, dancing and relaxing fun. The ideal way to celebrate a holiday to remember!
Out with the handkerchiefs!
It’s time to say goodbye and go back to everyday life. Just remember though, that arrivederci literally translated means “until we see each other again!”