Think of Italy and images of food don’t follow too far behind. Italy is a country rich in dishes that have a broad regional variance, but one aspect of their cuisine remains constant—the use of garlic.
If you want to learn the best ways to feed your garlic passion, get packing for one of these Italian cooking vacations:
1) Tuscookany, Tuscan Hills near Arezzo, Tuscany
Tuscany is the original location for Italian cooking vacations, and with notions of rustic villas and kitchens filled with the aromas of garlic, this one-week course at Tuscookany won’t disappoint.
Chefs Paola Baccetti and Franco Palandra will take you through four popular Italian courses, allowing you to go home and cook up a full Italian storm.
Cost: from $3,100 per person
Sample dishes: gnocchi, wild boar, panna cotta
Accommodation: in one of two rustic yet modernized villas that date back over 100 years
Additional activities: excursion to a cheese farm and olive oil mill; wine tasting session
See the sunflowers in Toscana (Tuscany). Photo by Eric Perrone
2) International Cooking School of Food and Wine, Bologna
Italy isn’t just about pasta. It is also the home of great pizza.
Learn how to make traditional Italian pizza with professional chefs on this five-day course.
Classes take place in a private Renaissance-style palace in the heart of Bologna and include how to build and maintain a wood-burning stove fire.
Cost: from $2,595 per person.
Sample dishes: crusty Italian bread and bases, calzone, pizza topping, gelato
Accommodation: a choice of first-class or stellar-deluxe hotels in Bologna
Additional activities: visit the historic center and UNESCO heritage Duomo
Make your own wood-fired pizza. Photo by ifyouloveme.
3) Fontana del Papa, Rome
Aimed at slow living you’ll spend as much time wining and dining by candle light on this weekly course as you will cooking.
Including visits to local producers, Adria, Emma, Matilde, Luca, Andrea and Assuntina, who run the school, will have you fluent in Italian food in no time. Shorter courses are available.
Cost: from €1,200
Sample dishes: deliciously garlicky lasagna, pesto, handmade pasta
Accommodation: stay in the family home of a 16th century farmhouse in a secluded location
Additional activities: see the sights of the Eternal City
Website: Fontana del Papa
Understand the art of perfect pasta. Photo by topquark22.
4) The Awaiting Table, Lecce, Southern Italy
The Awaiting Table focuses on small, intimate classes. Located in the stiletto heel of Italy, Silvestro Silvestori’s one-week courses will take you through a traditional menu.
Try to book a course in the dramatic castle location where eating and drinking in grand surrounding offers a magical experience.
Cost: from €1,695 per person (excluding accommodation)
Sample dishes: fish soup, biscotti, picnic food including garlicky vinegar
Accommodation: a range of B&Bs and hotels will be recommended.
Additional activities: meet local butchers, bakers and fishmongers
Website: The Awaiting Table
5) Divina Cucina, Colle Val d’Elsa, Tuscany near San Giminano
“Everyone should try being Tuscan at least once a day,” according to world-renowned cooking teacher, writer and Italian life coach Judy Witts Francini.
This one-week course involves touring around the Tuscan countryside to procure produce as well as learning to prepare a four-course meal.
Cost: from €2,700 per person
Sample dishes: beef, fresh pasta and delicious sauces
Accommodations: Hotel Palazzo San Lorenzo
Additional activities: see crystal blown Venetian style.
Website: Divina Cucina
Wander through the walled city of San Giminano. Photo by MY LIU
6) Food Artisans, Sicily
Leave mainland Italy and head to Sicily where Pamela Sheldon Johns has compiled a series of workshops that will take you on a gastronomic food tour.
This five-day traveling course includes a moderate level of cooking with a heavy focus on meeting and observing Sicily’s cooking experts produce pastry, cheese and other artisan foods. Tasting is obligatory.
Cost: from €2,950 per person
Sample dishes: fish, chocolate, and get close to fresh garlic at local markets
Accommodation: various hotels over a number of locations
Additional activities: go hopping through Italy’s islands (extra charge).
Website: Food Artisans
Visit the food artisans of Sicily. Photo by Maggie Hoffman.
7) Chef Paolo Monti’s Cooking School, Lucca
If you’re looking for more than a basic course or already feel well versed in the art of Italian cooking, this school is for you.
Learn the art of gourmet cooking with Paolo Montio. During a seven-night course, you will be taught 60 recipes from classic to contemporary dishes.
Cost: from €1,590 per person.
Sample dishes: ravioli, focaccia, fish, seafood, risotto
Accommodation: Hotel Carignano, Lucca
Additional activities: visit Parma and Modena to see how cheese is made.
Website: Chef Paolo Monti’s Cooking School
Become a seafood expert. Photo by CyboRoZ.|
Learn the secrets behind a classic Tiramisu. Photo by Munduate.
8) Maria’s Cookery Course, Venice
Combine food, wine, culture and art with Maria, a local Venetian lady whose aim is to teach you the skills of good, healthy Italian food.
The small hands-on classes include visits throughout the area to meet local artisan producers.
Cost: from €2,160 per person
Sample dishes: classic Italian menu including fresh pasta and sauces sure to be imbued with garlic.
Accommodation: Tenuta Castel Venezze, a restored 15th century Venetian Villa complete with swimming pool
Additional activities: wine and salami tasting excursions
Website: Maria’s Cookery Course
If your taste buds are heading into overdrive, then get booking.
Have you been on an Italian cooking vacation? What’s your favorite garlicky Italian dish? Let me know in the comments.
If you liked this, you might also like: How to be a Fashionable Foodie in 2012.
Main photo: A serving of seafood by CyboRoZ.