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 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 – either in Lecce or at the Castle. Read about both options belowlecce kitchen herbs hanging

The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce

Located in the historical centre of the baroque city of Lecce, this experience is for those who are looking not only to master the food and wine of Southern Italy but for those who seek to go deeper – to take away more history, theory, and wine appreciation, to spend more time soaking in Lecce’s world-renowned architecture, and to take advantage of a smaller, more intimate setting to get to know the school’s owner, instructor and sommelier. We’ll stay in either B&Bs or an upscale hotel in the center of Lecce for our week, walking to the school as a group each morning, and enjoying everything the town has to offer while we are there.lecce group cookingHeld in the private home of the cookery school’s owner, and limited to eight students, you’ll use his knives, copper pots and family heirlooms to prepare your meals, the wine often coming from his private collection. We’ll spend time in the market using the local vendors’ wisdom to pick what’s best, we’ll make fresh pasta from scratch nearly every meal, we’ll grill homemade sausages and bake local biscotti. We’ll visit the fish market and demystify how to buy, cook and consume the fresh fish of the Mediterranean, all done perfectly in the local style.collage castle grounds

The Awaiting Table Cookery School at the Castle

For the Castle program, 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 weeks at the castle include a larger group, giving you the opportunity to meet others from around the world and make new friends.20111004-151627.jpgBecause 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.

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; 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, 8 nights in Lecce (for Lecce program) / 2 nights in Lecce and 6 nights at the Castle in Spongano (for the Castle program), 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 cookery school in Lecce or at the Castle (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.