Cooking with Michele in Italy: The 2015 Trip!

May 8, 2014  •  Europe, Italy, Lecce, Otranto, Puglia, Rome, Spongano, The Awaiting Table, Travel

Traveling to Italy to attend a cooking school is an incredible experience and on Sunday I’ll depart for Rome to guide a small group of eight on an incredible food and wine adventure, and my fifth visit to The Awaiting Table. I do all the planning and preparation for these trips, and help you organize everything from how to pack and what to wear to how to book your flights and how to manage jet lag. If you decide to join me, you’ll receive monthly newsletters from me beginning nine months prior to our travel full of information to help you learn about the trip and to whet your appetite, both literally and figuratively! Read on for all of the details for next year’s trip, in May of 2015 and contact me if you’re ready to sign up!.Rome: We begin our adventures with three days in Rome, my favorite city in the world, adjusting to the time change, sipping our espresso macchiatos, seeing the sights with a culinary slant, dining in a local home of a Cesarina in Rome, and practicing our Italian. I lead the group to all of the Centro Storico highlights in Rome, including the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navonna, the Pantheon and Il Vittoriano.We share a guided tour through the Jewish ghetto in Rome, essential to understanding much of the culinary history of Rome. Optional guided tours are available for St. Peter’s and the Vatican, the Borghese Art Gallery, and Ancient Rome. Our hotel is the Albergo Santa Chiara, perfectly located smack in the middle of the historic center of Rome, within walking distance to everything you’d want to visit.Lecce: After our short visit in Rome, we travel south by train to the region of Puglia, located in the very southernmost heel of Italy, to the Baroque town of Lecce for the weekend. We’ll stay at a lovely boutique hotel right in the center of the preserved historic city. We’ll enjoy seeing the sights through a short guided tour of the town and will have plenty of time for shopping and enjoying this charming town. We’ll also have dinners together.The Awaiting Table at the Castle: On Monday morning, we’ll meet up with Silvestro Silvestori, the director of  the The Awaiting Table cookery school and after a short welcome, we’ll head south to a spectacular castle set in the sleepy little town of Spongano, where we’ll spend our week cooking.The week-long program provides the perfect mix of cooking, food and wine, sightseeing, relaxing, and generally becoming one with the place. You’ll be awed by the beauty of the castle and warmed by the friends you will make during the week.Return Home: On Sunday morning, after saying your goodbyes to everyone at the castle, you’ll be transported back to Lecce. I’ll escort you to the train station to make sure you are on the train safely to send you on your way back to Rome where you’ll spend Sunday night before departing for home the next day.

Two Week Schedule (12 Days and Nights in Italy, 2 Travel Days)

Tuesday, May 5, 2014 – depart for Italy to arrive on Wednesday (or you may arrive earlier or later as desired – ask for pricing if you want a different schedule)

Wednesday, May 6, 2014  optional and casual touring through Centro Storico to adjust to time change with lunch along the way; group dinner

Thursday, May 7, 2014  guided tour of the Jewish ghetto followed by lunch; optional guided tours of the Borghese Art Gallery, Ancient Rome, or Vatican in the afternoon; group dinner

Friday, May 8, 2014  optional guided tours of the Borghese Art Gallery, Ancient Rome, or Vatican; free time for shopping and sightseeing; group dinner in a private home in Rome

Saturday, May 9, 2014  morning train to Lecce; late pizza dinner in Lecce

Sunday, May 10, 2014  sightseeing, shopping, and enjoying Lecce; late afternoon tour of Lecce; group dinner

Monday, May 11, 2014  meet up with Silvestro in the morning, transfer to the Castle in Spongano and get settled; welcome dinner at The Awaiting Table

Monday through Saturday  The Awaiting Table Cookery School; day trip to Otranto

Sunday, May 17, 2014 farewells at the Castle and return to Lecce, return by train to Rome (dinner in Rome on your own)

Monday, May 18, 2014  departure (for home or other travels)

Estimated Trip Cost* – $5,500 (double occupancy), $6,250 (single)


  • Twelve nights hotel rooms – 4 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Lecce, 6 nights at the castle in Spongano
  • All breakfasts and dinners (including wine), including one dinner in a private home in Rome
  • Lunch at an historic restaurant in the Jewish Ghetto
  • Roundtrip first class train from Rome to Lecce
  • Welcome reception at The Awaiting Table in Lecce
  • Transfer to and from the castle in Spongano
  • Six days at The Awaiting Table cookery school at the castle in Spongano in Puglia (including all food, wine, lessons, transfers, and excursions)
  • Day trip to visit Otranto
  • Guided tours: Jewish Ghetto in Rome, Lecce, and Otranto

Not included:

  • Airfare is not included, but many past participants used miles for free flights. I am happy to provide assistance booking flights or advising how to use miles.
  • Because guests will usually be separated at lunch time in Rome, lunches (except for lunch in the Jewish Ghetto) are on your own.
  • Dinner on the final night in Rome before you fly home will be on your own.
  • Incidentals billed to your hotel rooms will be billed to you after the trip.
  • Optional tours will be offered for the Ancient City, the Borghese Art Gallery, and the Vatican – these are paid directly by the guests to the tour guide if you participate in a tour.
  • Transfer to and from the airport and taxis in Rome are your own responsibility.

Reserve your spot today!

*Trip Cost is based on hotel rates and exchange rates at the time of this posting; if rates change significantly, the price may change. To hold your spot in the trip and to lock in the price, a deposit of $2,750 ($3,500 for single) must be paid. The final $2,750 will be billed 60 days prior to the trip. It is highly advised that you obtain private travel insurance if you have any concerns about canceling as all fees are nonrefundable.

NEW FOR 2015: If you are unable to take a full two weeks off but would like to attend the cooking school at the castle during this week, you may arrive in Italy either Saturday or Sunday before class starts at the castle, and join us for The Awaiting Table school only. I’m happy to help you coordinate your trip still, including train reservations, any days in Lecce with my group, hotel in Lecce if needed, and the final night hotel in Rome if needed. Let me know on your specific plans and I will calculate a custom trip price for you.

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