Announcing Cooking with Michele in Italy for 2016

September 18, 2015  •  Italy, Lecce, Otranto, Puglia, Rome, Spongano, The Awaiting Table, Travel

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. Next year, because so many have asked for this sort of trip, I will be taking guests on a special trip that includes biking in the south of Italy. For those of you who really can’t decide between a trip focused on biking through southern Italy or a cooking school, this offers the best of both worlds. These trips fill up quickly, so if you are interested in joining me on this once in a lifetime adventure, please contact me soon. I take care of all of the planning – you just show up and enjoy a wonderful vacation in Italy. Read on for all of the details of next year’s trip!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 three and a half 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 days 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 our week of biking and cooking. Cycling will be between 3 and 4 hours a day, mostly flat terrain. This course was designed for ‘Sunday cyclists’ versus those that take pleasure in riding up the sides of mountains after blood transfusions. We start every morning at 10 am, and those that want more time on the bike can ride early mornings. This is a school rather than a tour, so we’ll return to the castle each day to learn, cook, drink, laugh and sleep. (Don’t feel like cycling – no problem. Hang at the castle, walk among the olive groves, or just relax while your friends are out biking that day.)20111004-151627.jpgA few days during your stay with us we’ll send the staff ahead to set up tables and chairs amongst olive trees to lunch in the countryside, the giant cauldrons of pasta water just coming to a boil as we arrive, the wine long on ice. Other days we’ll make pasta, cook, eat in the castle and then take to the bicycles to leisurely tour olive country between meals. We’ll learn all about the local wine and olive oil varietals, grill whole rabbits and chickens, stir giant cauldrons of fresh local greens and cut into gorgeous and crusty loaves of bread the size of car tires. We’ll discuss the fascinating and world-class local wine, always poured with generous and ready hands.

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.

September 2016 Itinerary
(12 Days and Nights in Italy plus 2 Travel Days)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 Depart for Italy to arrive on Thursday (or you may arrive earlier or later as desired – ask for pricing if you want a different schedule)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 Optional and casual touring through Centro Storico to adjust to time change with lunch along the way; group dinner

Thursday, September 8, 2016 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, September 9, 2016 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, September 10, 2016 Morning train to Lecce; check into hotel; afternoon tour of Lecce; pizza dinner in Lecce

Sunday, September 11, 2016  Free day in Lecce for resting, shopping, touring, photographing

Monday, September 12, 2016  Meet up with Silvestro; transfer to the castle in Spongano; welcome dinner at The Awaiting Table

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

Sunday, September 18, 2016 Farewells at the school; transfer to train in Lecce; return by train to Rome

Monday, September 19, 2016 Departure (for home or other travels)

Estimated Trip Cost* – $5,500 (double occupancy), $6,000 (single)
$250 Bike Rental Fee (optional – you can join this trip and opt out of biking!)


  • Hotel room for twelve nights – 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 in Rome
  • Roundtrip first class train from Rome to Lecce
  • Welcome reception at The Awaiting Table in Lecce
  • Luggage transfer to and from the train 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
  • Guided tours: Jewish Ghetto in Rome, Lecce, and Otranto
  • Bike rental and touring in Puglia

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 to and from the airport 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 of $2,500 ($3,000 for single) and your bike rental fee of $250 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.

Click HERE for Italy Trip FAQs
Please click HERE to contact me about the upcoming
trip or to organize a private group trip.

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