Apicius Culinary Institute, Florence, Italy

I spent my third and final week in Italy taking private cooking classes at Apicius Culinary Institute. I had spent a long time looking for another group class but just couldn’t find something that appealed to me yet didn’t cost a small fortune, and then I discovered that private classes were fairly competitively priced. For €1,060 I received

  • 4 private cooking classes (2-2½ hours) followed by lunch
  • 1 private and 1 group wine appreciation class (1 hour each)
  • Private gastronomic walking tour (2 hours)
  • 1 group cooking class (2 hours) followed by meal
  • Recipes before each lesson
  • Apron

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Convivio Rome, Toffia, Italy

The second Italian cooking program I attended in September was Convivio Rome. While it’s not a vegetarian program, I contacted the school ahead of time and they assured me that I would have something vegetarian to cook while the other students cooked meat. For €999, the program included the following:

  • 6 nights accommodation in a local cottage
  • Daily breakfast in the local café
  • 3 cooking sessions (2 hours each) followed by lunch
  • 2 dinners, including one with wine tasting
  • Guided tour of Rome
  • Visits to nearby villages
  • Olive oil tour and tasting session
  • Transportation to/from train station
  • Recipes before each lesson
  • Welcome gift (a lovely kitchen towel from a nearby village)

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Organic Tuscany, Certaldo, Italy

The first of the three Italian cooking programs I attended this past September was Organic Tuscany. While the school is not vegetarian, it offers week-long vegetarian programs a few times a year. For €1,300 (the price has since gone up), the program included the following:

  • 7 nights accommodation in a 19th-century villa
  • 4 cooking sessions (2-3 hours each) followed by meals
  • 5 additional meals
  • Baskets of breakfast items to be shared among the group
  • Guided walking tours of Florence and Siena
  • Visits to two local farms and a potter
  • Olive oil tasting session
  • Wine tasting session
  • Apron
  • Recipe e-book (after departure)

Participants are required to rent a car to get to the offsite visits, so that is another charge to keep in mind. The director helps arrange car sharing. Continue reading

September in Italy

Six months ago, my husband and I decided to spend most of September in Italy, though for the most part not together. He wanted to take some intensive Italian language classes, and I wanted to add to my Italian cuisine repertoire – specifically, fresh pasta and gnocchi. After a great deal of research, I found three programs that sounded like they would meet my needs (more or less) and that cost no more than 1,300 euros for the week, including lodging. There were a number of other great-sounding programs that cost upwards of €2,000 – and one that was nearly €5,000! Even staying in a 5-star villa, I can’t see how a week of cooking could be worth the better part of a year’s rent. So I chose from the cheaper end of the scale and, for the most part, I was fairly happy with my classes. I’ve written detailed reviews of the three cooking programs to help out anyone else who is considering a culinary vacation. There were some problems and disappointments, but overall, I loved it.

Program 1: Organic Tuscany (Certaldo)
Program 2: Convivio Rome (Toffia)
Program 3: Apicius Culinary Institute (Florence)