Nothing brings back a moment like the memory of fabulous food and wine, taken in some unbelievably beautiful places - and also some very humble abodes. The extra magic is in meeting the people and local producers who strive to keep the rich traditions of the land alive and the sheer joy is in tastes and aromas that stay with you forever.
The planning stage is a very exciting process. Choosing your travel dates first will determine the type of journey, whether in the midst of a hot July/August, in the more tranquil Spring & Autumn, or the quiet of Winter travel. The main focus & content of your journey is the next most important thing to decide, so browse, dream and thenAsk Us How!
Tales abound of special, hidden away gems but pinpointing locations and knowing how to get there can be a problem. With nearly 20 years of living, working and travelling in Italy we love discovering some new fabulous site or following a lead to some miraculous view, stumbling across the best local, home-cooked unfussy places to eat and, we love sharing it all with you.
Truffles in Umbria are that black, earthy gold so sought after by chefs world wide. What better way to understand where that precious indefinable taste comes from than to arise early and trek through the wonderful Umbrian woods in pursuit of the hunter and his trained truffle dogs. Then, hopefully, returning to the farm with canvas bags full, ready to savour the smells and tastes of fresh truffles being cooked for your breakfast. An experience like no other.
All Umbrians have an abiding love of food and traditions, inherited through the generations from a typical childhood connected to small country villages, immersed in the green countryside. Here is a place, still, where every family grows their own vegetables and breeds their own farm animals. For many, the love of cooking comes naturally, especially with such inspiring teachers as their mothers and grandmothers, passing down recipes that have been part of the family tradition for years. For these genuine cooks, the love of cooking for family and friends transcends all other pleasures. Part of their inspiration in teaching others the culinary arts is to share the pride and joy they feel in their heritage.
The riches of art, history and culture can be explored through the wonderful cycles of frescoes that abound through Central Italy. These colourful narratives can be found across all ages and serve as a starting point to get below the surface of everyday to understand the people, the politics and the society. A favourite is the cycle at Mt Oliveto Maggiore telling the story of St Benedict, first by Signorelli (who left to begin his own famous work in Orvieto), then Sodoma, who depicts the life with his own quirky character and humour. Another is the fabulous Piccolomini Library in the Siena by Pinturicchio, yet another is Benozzo Gozzoli's life of St Francis in Montefalco and, not forgetting the giant of them all, the Giotto cycle in Assisi, and so many more.
The countryside around Orvieto hides some beautiful pastoral locations where you can find the best Umbrian cheeses, from goat's cheese to the famed "da bufala" and even more famous sheep's cheese or pecorino. Each venue provides a heady opportunity to visit the farms, see the cheeses in the making (using modern methods these days but sticking always to traditional forms and recipes) and, best of all, you get to taste them all, as well as purchase some of your own to enjoy later.
The best way to learn a language is not only in honing your grammar but in USING YOUR LANGUAGE on a day to day basis, in REAL SITUATIONS. In these classes, days of theory are interspersed with days of practice activity that include some great venues, produce tastings and general shopping time, a perfect way of working through the challenges of effective language acquisition AND, is great fun. We can also offer classes for those with a higher level of Italian language with an accredited language school to get you to a professional or tertiary entry level. We believe the ONLY way you can truly learn a language is if you also learn to embrace every part of its culture, food included. Our language programs are based on this as an absolute principle and are therefore formulated to make language learning a real joy.
There is nothing like the precious liquid green gold that is the extra virgin olive oil of Umbria. We may be biassed but who's to say. Whether you choose a city tasting or a delightful meandering drive to a local oil mill, the tasting will be the same, memorable deliciousness.
Umbria may be known more for its white wines, especially our own Orvieto Classico, but it also boast some of the best red wines. In particular is the sagrantino grape produced in the valley around Montefalco. The wineries we include in our visits are typically family owned and run, producing wines to the highest award winning standards. Apart from sampling the produce and visiting the production and cantina, some visits may also include a lunch or a cooking class.
Group travel can be great fun when you are with friends and associates who are interested in the same adventures as you, whether it is in arts and culture, language learning, regional cuisines and cooking classes, walking in the footsteps of history OR some other special focus. You make the group, we plan the itinerary and arrange it all - according to your budget.
Umbria is one of those enticing regions, with its abundance of saints, spectacular medieval cities, ragged vineyard and olive groves planted in traditional haphazard rows, long-reaching traditions of peasant food - celebrating simple flavours and combinations, famous wines and, most importantly, the most warm-hearted, welcoming people.
Painting your own Venetian mask will give you a far greater insight into this ubiquitous of all Venetian souvenirs. There are more than 50 paper maché forms for you to choose from and all the materials required are provided including the final touches where you can add gold and silver metallic paints. In this class you will learn about the traditions and techniques and be guided through each phase in a true artisan workshop with a master craftsmen to help you with step-by-step instructions and explanations. By the end, you'll have had a wonderful hands-on experience making these special works of art and, best of all, you can take home your decorated mask. This is for all comers but is especially fabulous for family groups.
It is not only Belgium and Switzerland who can make claim to mouth watering chocolate, Umbria too has its traditions and specialities. In this super indulgent tour it is possible to visit the home of the famous "Bacio" chocolate, on the outskirts of Perugia, and see how these delicious treats are still being made today. The tour typically includes a visit to the museum, learning how a cocoa bean is transformed into rich chocolate, and also to learn about the early days of Italy’s most famous chocolatier - and to taste, of course!! It may also be possible to do a special focus cooking class with one of our own home-grown chocolatiers in Orvieto - yum!
What could it have been like to be an Etruscan living in the age of Volsinii/Velzna (now Orvieto)? What association was there between neighbouring groups? How did they live, and love? Seeing a sense of lively and cheeky humour in artefacts leads to an emerging understanding of these people as humans, intelligent humans, who have some perspective on life and themselves as part of that life. But faith and death are entirely foreign concepts to our contemporary way of thinking. How can we get to understand more? This is the fascinating journey we can take together, to retrace some of the steps of those great inquisitors like D.H.Lawrence and George Dennis, but armed now with a much greater understanding of the origins of these ever fascinating, highly accomplished people of Etruria.