Cooking with Michele in Italy

I am currently accepting guests for the 2018 trip! If you would like to join us, or would like to schedule a private group trip, please click HERE to contact me. Click HERE for frequently asked questions about the Italy Trip.Have you always dreamed of a glorious trip spent in Italy, learning to cook like the locals do, while enjoying some of the greatest food, wine, and sights? Each year I take a group of guests on a special food and wine adventure to Rome and southern Italy and I would love for you to join us!
Traveling to Italy to attend a cooking school is an incredible experience. I love Rome and the Puglia region and the people so much I take groups on culinary adventures each year. In 2018, the trip will combine biking the countryside around Puglia with the cooking school at the castle for the best of both worlds!

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. You’ll receive monthly newsletters from me beginning 9 months prior to our travel full of information to help you learn about the trip and to whet your appetite, both literally and figuratively!


We begin our adventures with two days in Rome, my favorite city in the world, adjusting to the time change, sipping our espresso macchiato, seeing the sights with a culinary slant, dining in the local home of a friend of mine 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 Navona, the Pantheon and Il Vittoriano. We share a guided tour through historic Campo dei Fiori and the Jewish ghetto, essential to understanding much of the culinary history of Rome. Optional guided tours are available for St. Peter’s Basilica 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.


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 beautifully preserved Baroque town of Lecce. We’ll spend two nights right in the center of the preserved historic city. We’ll enjoy seeing the sights through a short guided tour of the town and you will have some free time for relaxing and shopping before we head to our week at the cooking school at the Castle.

The Awaiting Table Cookery School at the Castle

After our weekend in Lecce we will transfer to a 16th century castello in Spongano, our home for the week, just 40 minutes south of Lecce. Our week long cookery course at the castle will feel like a larger than life celebration – imagine yourself at a long table enjoying extravagant country lunches, overflowing with Southern Italian familial tradition. Each meal, you’ll learn the history and culture of the region and how that drives the cuisine, then we move into the kitchen and cook together. Whether it’s making fresh pasta from scratch nearly every meal, grilling sea bass over olive wood embers or covering impossibly ripe fruit with impossibly fresh ricotta, it’s always hands on learning. The castle kitchen is enormous, the tables long, and the week at the castle includes a larger group, giving you the opportunity to meet others from around the world and make new friends.Every day we will bike together, usually departing the castle around 10am. Cycling will be about 3 hours a day, on mostly flat terrain. This course was designed for ‘Sunday cyclists’ and anyone wishing for more vigorous rides can depart earlier in the morning. Because this is still a cooking school, we’ll return to the castle each day to learn, cook, drink, laugh and sleep. During your stay at the castle, the staff just might head out ahead of the group to set up tables and chairs amongst olive trees for a special lunch in the countryside.Because we’ll be staying in a working castle, you will get a rare, first-hand glimpse into the life of former European aristocracy. You’ll cook in the baron’s impressive stone kitchen, dine on his Bougainvillea covered loggia and drink plenty of local, world-class wine from oversized goblets in his underground olive mill – each lunch going well into the afternoon, each dinner late into the evening. The time around the chalkboard learning about wine, in the kitchen putting your knowledge to work, and at the table on the baron’s stone loggia will leave you with memories you cherish, and Southern Italy will never be the same for you again.

Return Home

On Sunday morning, after saying your goodbyes to everyone, we will head to Ostuni for a few hours of sightseeing in the beautiful “White City”. We’ll sit down for a big Sunday lunch, visit the cathedral, and then fly from Brindisi to the airport in Rome. To make departures easier, we will spend Sunday night at a hotel at the airport and guests will return home the next morning.

2018 Itinerary
(11 Days and Nights in Italy plus 2 Travel Days)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018  Depart for Italy to arrive the next day (you may also arrive earlier or later)

Thursday, September 13, 2018 Arrive in Rome; optional, casual touring through Centro Storico to adjust to time change with lunch along the way; group welcome dinner

Friday, September 14, 2018 Guided tour of the Jewish ghetto followed by lunch; optional guided tours of the Borghese Art Gallery, Ancient Rome, or Vatican in the afternoon if desired; group dinner in a private home in Rome

Saturday, September 15, 2018 Morning train to Lecce; check into hotel; late lunch with group; pizza dinner in Lecce

Sunday, September 16, 2018 Free morning in Lecce for resting, shopping, touring, photographing; late afternoon group tour of Lecce; group dinner

Monday, September 17, 2018 Meet up with Silvestro; welcome dinner at The Awaiting Table

Monday – Saturday Biking and Cooking at The Awaiting Table Cookery School with day trip to Otranto

Sunday, September 23, 2018 Farewells at the school; day trip to Ostuni for sightseeing, shopping and lunch; return flight from Brindisi to Rome in the evening; hotel at the Rome airport

Monday, September 24, 2018 Departure (for home or other travels)

Estimated Trip Cost*

$5,200 double occupancy, $6,200 single occupancy


  • Hotel room for 11 nights – 2 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Lecce, 6 nights at the castle in Spongano, 1 night at the Rome airport Hilton
  • All breakfasts and dinners (including wine), including one dinner in a private home in Rome
  • Lunches in Rome, including one at an historic restaurant in the Jewish Ghetto
  • Lunch on arrival day in Lecce
  • First class train from Rome to Lecce
  • Economy flight from Brindisi to Rome
  • Luggage transfer to and from the train/plane in Lecce
  • Six days at The Awaiting Table at the Castle (including all food, wine, lessons, transfers, and excursions)
  • Day trip and tour in Otranto
  • Day trip to Ostuni with lunch
  • Airport transfer to Brindisi
  • Guided tours: Jewish Ghetto in Rome, Lecce’s centro storico, and Otranto

Not included:

  • Airfare is not included, but I am happy to provide assistance booking flights or advising how to use miles.
  • You are responsible for any incidentals billed to your hotel room.
  • Optional tours will be offered in Rome for the Ancient City, the Borghese Art Gallery, and the Vatican – the cost for these tours will be shared by the guest participating in the tour and you will pay these directly to the tour guide.
  • Transfer from the airport upon arrival in Rome and taxis in Rome are your own responsibility.

Reserve your spot today!

*To hold your spot in the trip, a deposit of $3,000 must be paid. The balance is due 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. According to the terms and conditions of The Awaiting Table, you may reschedule your week at the school one time only with no penalty.