Olive Harvest & Truffle Hunting Cooking Vacation
Have you ever wondered why some bottles of olive oil or anything prepared with fresh truffles are sold for what seems like the price of gold? During this nine-day, eight-night cooking vacation in autumnal Umbria, two unique events (the fall olive harvest and the hunt for the elusive black and white truffle) will grow your appreciation for these revered food products.
On this Italian cooking vacation we visit a select group of hill towns, local markets, and cultural centers. With visits to a Tuscan pecorino cheesemaker and a highly-prized winery in Montepulciano, you will gain an appreciation for the culture of Italian craftsmanship. Interspersed throughout the trip are five hands-on cooking classes in our fully-equipped teaching kitchen. You’ll share the fruits of your labor with likeminded people. Return home with recipes you can recreate in your home kitchen, an appreciation for the art of the Italian table, and great memories of your culinary holiday in Italy.
Our truffle hunting and olive harvest vacations take place annually in October. View our annual calendar here.
Olive Harvest, Truffle Hunting, & Cooking Vacation Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival in Rome. Transfer by train to Chiusi Chianciano station, where you will be greeted and shuttled to the farmhouse. You will have time to relax and explore the property before joining the full group for dinner at a nearby family-run Osteria specializing in traditional Umbrian cooking.
Day 2: Cultural Tour of Perugia, Wood-Fired Outdoor Grilling Class
Perugia (a historic city dating back to BCE) is home to the world-famous Umbrian jazz festival in summer and Eurochocolat Festival in autumn. Perugia is also home to the popular Baci confection produced by Perugina Chocolate.
During the Renaissance, it was home to artists Perugino and Raphael. The architecture of Perugia reflects its rich history from the Etruscan period. Walking through the town, you will witness such remains as an Etruscan arch, a fortress from the 1500s, and the Fontana Maggiore, designed in the 1200s to celebrate the freedom of the commune of Perugina.
After a walk through this historic city center, you will enjoy a pizza lunch. In the evening, we will light our outdoor wood-fired grill and enjoy our first cooking class at Cucina della Terra. The menu will celebrate Italian grilling traditions, featuring authentic bruschette (made with olive oil harvested on the property), as well as Umbrian sausages, beefsteak, small game, local vegetable dishes, and dessert, or “dolci.”
Day 3: Our Farmer's Lunch, Once-a-year Olive Picking
Today, you’ll experience firsthand the racolta: the harvesting of olives from trees surrounding Cucina della Terra. After participating in this time-honored tradition, you will enjoy a rustic farmer’s lunch of soups, salads, and various egg preparations. In the evening, the group will dine in a wonderful family-run restaurant in nearby Tuscany, where the chef prepares local cuisine with a modern flair.
Day 4: Pienza Tour, Visit to our exceptional Cheesemaker and end the night with our much-loved Pasta-Making Cooking Class
In the morning, we’ll visit a local olive mill and watch the process of turning olives into precious liquid gold. From there, we’ll continue to Pienza, a town in the province of Siena and UNESCO World Heritage site. Pienza sets the stage for a delightful stroll overlooking the verdant Val d’ Orcia.
Postage stamp shops overflow with Italian-made linens, handcrafted ceramics, leather goods, and the famous pecorino cheese of Pienza. Meet a local artisan who specializes in these outstanding raw milk wheels and ricotta to deepen your knowledge of the process behind these two unique products. In the evening, we will return to the kitchen at Cucina della Terra where we will learn to handmake pasta with a lusty wild boar ragu and a ravioli stuffed with sheep’s milk ricotta and topped with a seasonal sauce.
Day 5: The Castiglione del Lago Greenmarket Tour, How to Make Gnocchi, and Rustic Roasts
Wednesday is the open-air market day in Castiglione del Lago, just five minutes from Cucina della Terra. No words can adequately describe the social atmosphere and the warmth of small-town life as we meander shops overflowing with the renowned salumi, cheeses, balsamics, lentils of castelluccio, the ancient grain farro, beans of Lake Trasimeno, and olive oils. For those looking for a “deal,” this is the day to buy from the street vendors!
If desired, you can visit the Palace of the della Corgna family and walk through the narrow passageway of the fortress to get a better feeling of defense centuries ago. Our afternoon lunch provides a taste of the famous porchette sandwiches and torta al testo of Umbria. The afternoon allows time for a swim, a walk through the hills, or relaxation before returning to the cucina for a night of cooking school. We’ll be crafting one of Italy’s most beloved foodstuffs and our most sought-after gnocchi dish, gnocchi & mushroom ragu, as well as a master class in the techniques of roasting.
Day 6: Cultural Tour and Wine Tasting in Montepulciano, How to Make Risotto, and the Italian Way to Sauté
High in the hills of Tuscany, overlooking the olive groves and vineyards of the Val di Chiana, sits Montepulciano. You’ll discover this historic wine town by first visiting a select group of artisans. Most notably, our tour will bring us to a top winery for visit to the cellars, vineyards, historical library, and finally a tasting of the vintar’s wines: Vin Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano, and two more of his select labels. In the evening, our cooking school will feature traditional risotto technique and the Italian art of pan-sautéed proteins and vegetables.
Day 7: Cultural Tour of Orvieto and Mediterranean Fish-Cooking Class
The former papal state of Orvieto sits atop a large butte of volcanic rock called “tufa.” At the base of the town, a necropolis bears the remains of Etruscan tombs, while in the town center, a 175-foot deep well (designed in the 16th century) remains a feat of engineering. At the top of the town lies a glistening Gothic cathedral, built in the 1300s and housing magnificent frescos, mosaics, and stained glass.
Those seeking gifts and exquisite craftsmanship will enjoy a wide range of ceramic, olive wood implements, hand-loomed scarves, leather, and jewelry shops. We’ll stop for lunch in an authentic trattoria before returning home for a cooking class featuring a healthy selection of Mediterranean fish.
Day 8: Hunting for the Black Truffle of Umbria
No autumn trip to Umbria would be complete without a day in the forest searching for this prized tuber. Early in the morning, we will board a chartered bus for a ride into the Umbrian hills where we will meet our truffle hunter, Matteo, and his dog for a firsthand look at truffle-hunting culture. Afterward, we will enjoy a long farmhouse lunch. Later in the evening, we’ll reconvene at the cucina for a sampling of schiacciata, a seasonal flatbread stuffed with tiny grapes and honey, as well as some cured meats, regional cheeses, and fruit.
Day 9: Early Morning Departure by Train to Rome
A farewell breakfast ends this unique cooking vacation experience. Following breakfast, guests will be transported to Chiusi Chianciano Station.
**The above is a sample itinerary. Each trip's schedule may vary slightly to highligh the finest products of the season **
Cost of Tour
Included with Tour
8 nights lodging in an Umbrian farmhouse (based on double occupancy)
8 Italian-style breakfasts, including espresso, biscotti, pane, pastry, yogurt, fruit, and juice
8 lunches, either prepared on the property or part of local city tours
8 dinners either in our cucina or in local restaurants
5 hands-on cooking classes, followed by dinners paired with local wines
All transportation to and from daily tours on a chartered bus
Scheduled ground transportation to and from Chiusi Chianciano station
Airfare and ground transport to and from Rome Fiumicino airport to Chiusi Chianciano station
Personal expenses including phone, tips for staff, as well as heating at the property. (Ambient temperatures are personal, and we prefer to leave the choice up to our guests. Costs run approximately 17 euro/night.) There is an addition 5 euro state tax per person paid directly to the innkeeper
We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment and put your mind at ease. There are a number of good agencies that will reimburse your costs should you need to cancel a trip because of unanticipated personal reasons.
A $500 deposit is required to secure your reservation. The Balance is due 90 days prior to departure. You may pay with Paypal
To reserve your spot fill out the information below:
You may contact Gerri at:
New York: 1.646.761.8037