From Foreign Language to Lingua Franca: Italian Immersion Programs in Italy

I have a confession. Despite having lived in Italy for nearly three years and having studied Italian off and on for a number of years, I have a long way to go before I can consider myself fully fluent in the language.

There has been one time, however, when I felt really confident about my Italian skills. That was the time I took an Italian immersion course.

Continue reading From Foreign Language to Lingua Franca: Italian Immersion Programs in Italy

Learning Vacations in Italy

Continuing on the topic of New Year’s resolutions: one of the things that people resolve to do with the arrival of a new year is improve themselves by learning a new skill. Italy holds numerous possibilities for the traveler looking for self-improvement (and not just fitness-wise). So here are a few ideas and tours to get your imaginative juices flowing.

Culinary Travel
I’m going to paraphrase a very famous saying here: “If you give a man an Italian meal, you will feed him for today. Teach a man to cook an Italian meal, and you will feed him for a lifetime.” Indeed, eating your way through Italy is easy. But mastering the art of la cucina italiana is a gift that will keep on giving. I’ve profiled a few cooking schools on this site before, but there are a number of culinary travel packages and food-focused tour companies that you should know about. Continue reading Learning Vacations in Italy

Get Cooking On Your Italy Vacation

I am now catching up on summer magazine reading and just came across Gourmet’s May issue, which has tons of information on cooking schools in Italy and elsewhere. So, I wanted to give you the lowdown on the schools I found in the magazine as well as a couple others I’ve read about in the interim.

Academia Barilla
Parma, Emilia Romagna
1-866-772-2233 (U.S. number)
“Biggest Surprise: ‘How easy it was to customize a class – via email – based on what I actually liked.'”

La Vetrichina (a villa available for booking through Homebase Abroad)
San Casciano dei Bagni, Tuscany
781-639-4040 (U.S. number)
Classified by Gourmet as a “relaxed” cooking vacation

Regaleali Vineyards (book through absoluteitalia.com)
between Agrigento and Palermo, Sicily
011-39-0934-81-46-54
“everything from roasted hen and fresh stuffed sardines to…fritto misto, cassata, and strawberry sorbetto

Enrica Rocca Cooking School
Venice
011-44-7762-167900 (UK number)
“What I Learned: ‘To add stock to risotto only when no more liquid is visible.'” Also, Enrica Rocca Cooking School is based in London.

Rhode School of Cuisine*
Vorno (Lucca), Tuscany
011-44-1252-7902-22 (UK number)
“Prosecco and pastries in the morning…four course banquets – accompanied by copious bottles of Chianti and Brunellos – late into the evening”

Villa Ravida*
Menfi, Sicily
011-39-0925-71109
“regional recipes that range from stuffed swordfish with pine nuts, lemon, raisins, herbs…to almond and pistachio gelato”

*info and quotes from NBreview.com

Photo by Carpe Feline

Win An Italian Cooking School Vacation

If the price of an Italian vacation has you down, here’s your chance to win one. Through October 1, 2008, you can register win an Italian Cooking School Vacation from La Cucina Italiana. The winner gets:

  • Round-trip airfare for two to Italy*, with transfers to and from the airport.
  • 4 nights accommodation in a 4-star hotel in the center of Milan, including daily breakfast.
  • 5 hands-on cooking sessions at La Scuola de La Cucina Italiana.
  • A fabulous Tuscan-themed dinner and wine tasting.

We’re not quite sure why guests will learn to cook Tuscan food in Milan (which is, of course, in Lombardy), but it sounds like a nice time, nonetheless. No purchase is necessary to register for the prize. But, if you love to eat and cook Italian food, a subscription to La Cucina Italiana can be a prize in itself.

Be a Renaissance Man (or Woman)

It may sound like the latest droll tour to capitalize on the wildly popular Dan Brown thriller. But, happily, the Da Vinci Capers is a unique tour package for men and women looking to tap into their inner Leonardo.

As the trip packager’s website announces, the Da Vinci Capers is “an experience, not a tour.” Indeed, the Da Vinci Capers experience gives travelers the opportunity to enjoy the Italian countryside with activities such as painting and photography workshops, cooking lessons, sculpting classes, and even philosophical chats over cups of espresso.

Travelers can choose from two locations for their learning vacation. The Tuscany tour is centered mostly around Lucca (though, curiously, not in Vinci, Leonardo’s home town), while the other tour goes to Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast, with a side trip to Pompeii.

These tours will take place in the fall, but are already filling up fast. For more information, see www.davincicapers.com.

Study in Florence

Looking to sharpen more than just your senses on your next trip to Florence? Gridskipper has put together a fine list of schools for learning about the fine art of Italian cooking, wine, photography, painting, and more.

Where to Study in Florence (and Actually Learn Stuff)