Unless you are new to my blog (in which case, a warm welcome to you!!!) it won’t come as a surprise to hear that I absolutely LOVE cooking classes.
I love the atmosphere when you put a group of people around a table to create a meal from scratch, I love the giggles and the mix of fear and anticipation about the result. Of course, I also love eating all together at the end of the cooking session and that sense of friendship that only kneading pasta dough together can truly give you!
Cookery class in Umbria: a morning of cooking and eating
Every time I go to Italy I make the point of experimenting at least one cooking class and the last time I went to Umbria, to an agriturismo just outside Perugia called ‘La volpe e l’uva’. I discovered the agriturismo on the web and immediately had a good feeling about it. I liked its tone, the photos, the overall approach and so I made contact with the owner (who by email turned out to be as lovely as her website, an impression confirmed when I met her) and planned a day out.
Perugia and the beautiful countryside around it deserve well more than a day trip, but I didn’t have a lot of time on this occasion and so I went there just for the class, driving up from Rome. The distance between Rome and Perugia is about 180 km (motorway most of it) so I made a move early, getting my mum and my 4-year-old son to come with me with the promise of a cornetto in autogrill along the way. Autogrill… you can’t go to Italy without stopping in one. Next time I’ll take a picture and write a post about them: the quintessential experience for the Italian road trip!
Cornetto-stop aside (which also became a cappuccino-stop, an orange-juice stop, a toy-car-from-the-toy-aisle-stop) we made it to Perugia in no time and we soon found ourselves on a country road climbing up a hill literally covered in olive trees. What an amazing place! The hill and the agriturismo are just 5 km for Perugia, but the way it is set among the olive groves makes it feel really peaceful and remote: you just have trees everywhere and you fell like you stepped in an olive-green landscape.
The agriturismo itself is set in a truly beautiful spot. Its grounds are one several levels and from the main house and lawn, you can see the fields below and the beautiful swimming pool that takes up part of the garden.
The cookery lesson
When I arrived, I was welcomed by Raffaella, the owner, and while my mum and my son got to explore the garden (and the toys there), I joined the other participants in the cooking class. My little group was made by me, an American couple and a family of two grandparents and 10-year-old child – my son was too young to enjoy the class, but it was lovely to see so many ages were welcome.
The cooking lesson takes place in Raffaella’s house, in a beautiful room with a big fireplace and a lot of interesting artifacts, mixing local aesthetics with ethnic influences.
Raffaella told me that she periodically thinks of building a separate kitchen for the cooking classes, but that in the end she never does because her clients love the idea of being in her house. Actually, I couldn’t agree more! Her house is beautiful and I can’t imagine a better setting for the class.
Our group was made of about 5 people (all ages, the youngest being about 12 and the less young in their 60s) and we followed the simple instructions the teacher gave us to make a full meal: pasta (from scratch of course), a roast with the most delicious juniper sauce you can imagine, bread, salad and of course cake. We then patted each other on the back while feasting on it all in the shade of the patio, while sipping the wine from the estate.
Final considerations about my cookery class in Umbria
180 km are a long way to go (and it took me a couple of good cups of coffee to get the energy to drive back) but it was really worth it for me. Many things made this agriturismo special but if I was to pinpoint the one that really made it stand out for me, it’s this:
In Italy, there is no shortage of agriturismo and you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to staying in the country. But I often feel that some more touristy structures have reinvented themselves to fit what they think tourist expects, in particular, the stereotypical idea of a Tuscany landscape and retreat, and have therefore lost part of their charm. They are luxury, but they are a bit boring… if you forgive my honesty.
In la volpe e l’uva I didn’t feel any of this. The place is beautiful, so well-kept, so clean that you are sure to have a lovely stay here but it also has a personality and it doesn’t make you feel like you stepped into a movie about Italy. It makes you feel like you actually stepped into … Italy! At its best, I might add.
If you are interested in joining one of their cooking classes or cookery holidays in Umbria, or might want to join one of their many local tours, please find info here