Cooking with Michele in Italy

The 2017 trip is currently full. If you are interested in future trips, 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.Cooking Trip to Italy 2013Have 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. 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 Navonna, 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 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 you will have some free time for relaxing and shopping before we head to our week at the cooking school.collage castle grounds

The Awaiting Table Cookery School

On Monday, we’ll meet up with Silvestro Silvestori, the director of  the The Awaiting Table cookery school and will transfer to a castle in Spongano, our home for the week, just south of Lecce, for the school’s birthday celebration and our week of cooking. During this special week at the castle, the students work with the school to make the annual tomato sauce. It’s an all day affair, with ice cold beer providing the inspiration to keep stirring the giant cauldrons of simmering tomato sauce as we work in teams at the bottling stations, producing enough sauce for the school for the entire year.20111004-151627.jpg

During this once a year special week, we grill out a little more than our other courses and of course we linger over the meal in the baron’s wine cellar, the chill a welcome break from the late summer sun. We’ll make fresh pasta from scratch nearly every meal, we’ll lunch on intriguing local summer salads, and take to roasting local DOP potatoes until they perfect little roasted nuggets, perfumed with the local extra virgin. We’ll simmer summer fruits in sweet wine and serve them over impossibly-fresh ricotta, and linger over the local sparkling wine, deep in the refreshing cool stone of the baron’s private underground olive mill. If cooking in a castle and finishing your meals by bobbing in the baron’s pool sounds good to you, this just might be your perfect course.

Return Home

On Sunday morning, after saying your goodbyes to everyone, you will head back to Rome on the train where you’ll spend Sunday night before departing for home the next day.

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

Wednesday Depart for Italy to arrive the next day (or you may arrive earlier or later as desired)

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

Friday 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 Morning train to Lecce; check into hotel; late lunch with group; pizza dinner in Lecce

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

Monday Meet up with Silvestro; transfer to the castle in Spongano; welcome dinner at The Awaiting Table

Monday – Saturday The Awaiting Table Cookery School with day trip to Otranto

Sunday 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 Departure (for home or other travels)

Estimated Trip Cost*

$5,500 double occupancy, $6,000 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
  • Lunches 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 cookery school in Lecce (including all food, wine, lessons, transfers, and excursions)
  • Day trip to visit Otranto
  • Day trip to Ostuni with lunch
  • Airport transfer to Brindisi
  • 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.
  • 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.