Truffle Hunting & Cooking Vacation
Experience the excitement of unearthing a prized culinary treasure in the boschi (forests) of Umbria, Italy. Transport yourself to an Italian farmhouse for an eight-day, seven-night retreat in verdant Umbria. On this culinary vacation to Italy, you will tour UNESCO landmarked hill towns, local markets, and cultural centers. You will also visit cheesemakers and wineries and gain an appreciation for the culture of Italian craftsmanship. On this culinary vacation in Tuscany and Umbria, you will train in rustic regional home cooking, from risotto to gnocchi, and seafood to small game. Finally, hunt for the elusive and valuable black and white truffle with an Italian local and his trained dog. You will return home with recipes that you can recreate in your home kitchen, an appreciation for the art of the Italian table, and beautiful memories of your culinary holiday.
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: Cortona Tour, Wood-fired Outdoor Grilling Class
Best known as the picturesque hill town in “Under the Tuscan Sun,” Cortona is bustling with small boutiques selling unique artisan leather, textiles, clothing, jewelry, art, and food. After a morning of wandering the town, we’ll retire of for a lunch of pizza and regional fritte. In the evening, we will light our outdoor wood-fired grill and enjoy our first cooking experience at Cucina della Terra. The menu will celebrate Italian grilling traditions, featuring authentic bruschette (made with olive oil harvested on the property), Umbrian sausages, beefsteak, small game, local vegetable dishes, and “dolci” (dessert).
Day 3: Pienza Tour, Visit with Cheesemaker, Pasta-Making Cooking Class
In the morning, we’ll visit a local olive mill and witness the process of turning olives into precious oil. There, you’ll have the chance to take home a bottle of Umbria’s celebrated “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, a leather craftsman, and the famous pecorino cheese of Pienza. Meet a local artisan who specializes in these outstanding raw milk wheels (and ricotta!) and deepen your knowledge of the process. In the evening, we will return to the kitchen at Cucina della Terra where we will learn to handmake make pasta and a lusty wild boar ragu and a ravioli stuffed with sheep’s milk ricotta and topped with a seasonal sauce.
Day 4: Wine Tasting in Montepulciano, How to Make a Creamy 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 vineyards wines: Vin Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano, and two more of their select labels. In the evening, our cooking class will feature traditional risotto technique, and the Italian art of pan-sautéed proteins and vegetables.
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. Nothing can adequately express the social atmosphere and the warmth of small-town life you’ll feel 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 unstructured relaxation before returning to the cucina for a night of crafting one of Italy’s most beloved foodstuffs and our most sought after gnocchi dish: gnocchi & mushroom ragu.— We’ll also have a master class in the techniques of roasting.
Day 6: Cultural Tour of Orvieto, 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, leather, clothing, and jewelry shops. We’ll stop for lunch in an authentic trattoria before returning home to prepare a healthful feast of fish and seafood from the Mediterranean.
Day 7: Hunting for the Black Truffle in Umbria
No 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. Then, 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, cured meats, regional cheeses, and fruit.
Day 8: Early Morning Departure by Train to Rome
A farewell breakfast and transportation to Chiusi Chianciano station.
**The above is a sample itinerary. Each trip's schedule may vary slightly to highlight the finest products of the season **
Cost of Tour
$3895 per person
Included with Tour
7 nights lodging in a Umbrian farmhouse (based on double occupancy)
7 Italian-style breakfasts, including espresso, , biscotti, pane, patisserie, yogurt, fruit, and juice
7 lunches, either prepared on the property or part of local city tours
1 dinner at regional restaurant
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
Travel insurance for medical coverage
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 10 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 or check made payable to:
Cucina della Terra, LLC
333 East 30th St. #7K
New York, NY 10016
To reserve your spot fill out the information below:
You may contact Chef Gerri Sarnataro directly at:
New York: 1.646.761.8037