One of my favourite ways to experience a destination is to take a course with a local teacher.
I have always loved being a student and even now that my school and university days are well and truly behind me, I still look for opportunities to learn from people who have different skills and longer experience than me: I love being part of a class, the reassuring feeling of being led by a teacher towards new discoveries and I love to think that, when I travel, what I learn will stay with me and will accompany me back home.
Courses are also a great way to connect with the local culture: nothing makes you feel part of a place more than having a day routine of your own and if the course you are taking is specific about your location, then you know the cultural experience is guaranteed: slow travel at its very best!
Personally, there are 4 kinds of courses I usually look for, when travelling: Cooking classes, language classes, photography classes and yoga lessons.
In this page, you will find a selection of courses in Italy I love and recommend: I started compiling this last year, when I decided to be a tourist in my own wonderful Italy and so I selected courses that are delivered through English or, in the case of language courses, are designed for foreigners. My hope is to add many more locations and countries: I hope you come back here periodically to see what is new!
Activity holidays in Italy: courses
Cooking classes. Few things define a culture as strongly as food does and breaking bread (or pizza, or roti or rice) with someone is a bonding experience that transcends cultural boundaries, languages and age. Preparing a meal together brings this connection to the next level and give you a skill that keeps giving: you can even impress your friends back home with what you learn – that is surely worth your cooking sweat!
I personally like and recommend:
Please note that I have no connections with these schools and only recommend them on the basis of my personal experience.
In Rome, ‘Cooking classes in Rome‘, with classes in beautiful Trastevere
In the Rome area, in beautiful Tuscia, ‘Convivio Rome‘ offers hands on cooking classes and food tours
in Umbria, Let’s cook in Umbria, a lovely agriturismo near Perugia: you can read our full review here
In Sicily, ‘Love Sicily‘ has beautifully organised cookery holidays
In Venice, your go to person for anything food related is food and Venice lover Monica Cesarato
Language courses: I am a huge lover of languages and linguistics. I love to learn where words come from, their etymology and history and I find great satisfaction in expressing myself in a different language (as incorrect as I may be: it’s all in the effort!). In my never ending quest for fluency in other languages I have so far taken classes in English, French, Spanish, German, Arabic and Irish and while I only succeeded in being fluent in English, I took so much pleasure in it that I keep challenging myself with new ones! If you want to learn Italian, my favourite schools are in Rome, Florence and Bologna
Photography holiday: Photography workshops are one of my favourite ways to connect with the scenery surrounding me. A photographer is a great guide: with their amazing eye for the beautiful and the unexpected, a photographer can help you discover spots you might otherwise miss and will teach you how to bring home that perfect shot – I find it the perfect balance between a mindful approach to travel and the drive to bring home a keepsake. My favourite provider of photography holidays in Italy is Camera Etrusca, based in orvieto but offering workshops in several locations.
Yoga and wellness holidays: my favourite kind of break when I need to relax and get some quiet and clarity in natural surrounding. In Italy, a great provider of yoga courses is the environmentally conscious Sunflower Retreats with holidays in Casperia (country) and Sperlonga (sea)