Giovanni’s Tour of Italy Snapshot
This is a unique tour of Italy led by our friends, Chef Giovanni Graziani and his wife Paula, owners of the Caffé Graziani restaurant in Salem, MA. They are going to take you to Giovanni’s home town of Piglio for an unforgettable, behind-the-scenes culinary adventure.
Tour Price: $4,799
Tour price includes:
- Roundtrip airfare from Boston Logan to Rome Fiumicino
- 9 nights’ accommodation in small hotels of character: Rome *** (3 nights); Serrone/Piglio ** (3 nights); and Sulmona, Abruzzo **** (3 nights)
- All (9) breakfasts; (4) dinners; and (6) multi-course lunches with wine (these meals include (4) hands-on cooking lessons and/or cooking demonstrations)
- Private guided tours of Rome, the Colosseum and the Vatican; Monastery of St. Benedict in Subiaco; the Cathedral in Anagni; Piglio; and Sulmona (Abruzzo)
- Visit to an open-air market in Piglio; pasta-making demonstration in Piglio
- Visit to Giovanni’s cousin’s olive farm with a lunch of local specialties
- Wine-tasting lunch at a gorgeous family-run Piglio winery
- Full-day farm-to-table cooking and eating experience at a sheep farm in Abruzzo; visit and tour of a “Confetti” candy factory in Sulmona
- All transportation as described in itinerary
- Group transfers from/to Rome airport
We start our tour of Italy in Rome, where our comfortable centrally-located hotel is within easy walking distance to many of Rome’s architectural and historical treasures. For those who are not too jet-lagged, we will have a leisurely guided walking tour in the afternoon to some of Rome’s iconic spots: the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona. Tonight will be a free evening, in order to catch up on our sleep!
Today, we have two very special guided tours: In the morning, we will visit the epicenter of ancient Roman civic and political life: the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Our expert local guide will provide us insight into life during those fascinating times. After lunch on our own, an optional visit to the Borghese Gallery will be offered; otherwise we have a free afternoon to explore bella Roma! We return to our hotel for some downtime before enjoying a wonderful dinner of traditional Roman specialties at a neighborhood restaurant.
Today is a day we will never forget: With our local private guide, we will visit the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. See sculptural, architectural and other artistic masterpieces within the largest basilica in the world. We then have a free afternoon until reconvening for a group dinner this evening.
We depart Rome this morning for our next stop on our tour of Italy – Giovanni’s hometown of Piglio, an ancient Etruscan village dating from the 1st century BC. We will visit the grotto of the church of St. Lorenzo, followed by a guided walking tour of Piglio. We will make our way to an historic house in town, where we have leisurely wine-tasting luncheon. If we’re lucky, we will run into several of Giovanni’s friends and family during our walk. After some free time in Piglio, we then head to our rustic hotel in Serrone, where we check in and relax before our cooking demonstration and multi-course dinner this evening.
Today we’re in for a real treat: After a visit to the small outdoor market held every Friday in Piglio, we head to nearby Anagni, the City of the Popes. Not only was Anagni home to four popes (Innocent III, Gregory IX, Alexander IV and Boniface VIII), but it was also the summer residence of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the center of politics during the Middle Ages. We will have a private guided tour of the crypt within the Cathedral. The walls and vaults of the crypt are completely covered in medieval frescoes (1237 AD) and are one of the best-preserved in Europe!
It’s then back on our wine trolley to the olive farm of Vincenzo Afilani, Giovanni’s cousin. Vincenzo will tell us about his olive groves and olive-oil production, and he and his family will then treat us to an olive-oil tasting plus a sumptuous lunch of pasta, meats, cheeses and olives fresh from his farm. We may also get a chance to help make polenta the old-fashioned way!
We continue our tour of Italy with a visit to the Cantina Sociale di Piglio to sample some local wine, including the DOCG “Il Cesanese del Piglio,” a red wine that is made with the special Cesanese Lazio grape, cultivated only in this region. The production of wine in Piglio is an ancient tradition dating back to Roman times. Dinner tonight is on our own in Piglio.
We begin our tour of Italy this morning with a visit to Subiaco, where will we have a tour of the Monastery of St. Benedict, which enshrines the cave (Sacro Speco) in which St. Benedict lived as a hermit before he organized his first monastic community. The sacred cave dates from about 500 AD, while most of the monastery buildings date from the early 13th Century.
We will have worked up an appetite, so we head next to Cantina Martini, an intimate vineyard owned by a personal friend of Giovanni. Andrea, the owner, will tell us about his wines and then treat us to an extensive wine-tasting lunch. This experience has been a highlight of our tours in both 2012 and 2013! We can stay at Andrea’s for as long as we want—even roaming the vineyard—while we drink the cantina’s delicious wines.
Time permitting, we head to the spa town of Fiuggi for free time and shopping. We return to our hotel in the late afternoon, pleasantly satiated, for a free evening.
We say goodbye to Giovanni’s hometown and head to the next stop on our tours of Italy, Sulmona. Sulmona, in the Abruzzo region of Italy, is situated in a large valley within the Apennine mountains. The historic town center is enclosed within ancient walls, and many interesting monuments can be seen while walking along the narrow streets.
After checking into our spa hotel, we will have a private guided walking tour of the most important sites in town. The tour will end at a local restaurant for a group luncheon. We are then free to spend the afternoon and evening as we please, either exploring the streets and shops of Sulmona—or even heading back to the hotel spa for a massage.
Today will be filled with unique experiences, as we head to a local sheep farm to learn first-hand how pecorino is produced and also to have a hands-on cooking lesson, utilizing the farm’s freshest ingredients. This half-day program will culminate with a delicious luncheon of our own creation! We head back to our hotel for a free evening.
We have a full schedule today, starting with a visit to a confetti factory, producer of those multi-colored sweets more commonly known as Jordan almonds. At this factory, we can see a multitude of confections, sweets that have become synonymous with special ceremonies and festivities throughout Italy. We then head to an award-winning bee farm, to learn how honey is produced, and of course to taste some of the golden goodness.
Weather permitting, we have a picnic lunch within the Maiella National Park and then head back to our hotel for a little downtime before our cooking demonstration and grand farewell dinner at the hotel.
Today, sadly, our tour of Italy comes to an end as we depart bella Italia for home. Transfer from Sulmona to Rome Fiumicino Airport.