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“Love That Olive Oil”

Culture Discovery Vacations - Day Tours
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Half and full day cooking classes, winery excursions, olive mill tastings, and sightseeing excursions through Lazio, Tuscany & Umbria year round. All days start and end right in Soriano nel Cimino's main piazza.
Reviewed 19 July 2012

My friend and I just returned from a week at the Cultural Discovery experience. I am hard-pressed to relate what I found the most fun and rewarding part of the week. It could be the making of pasta in an Italian setting...a nice blend of ambiance and skill. It could be the family style of teaching...a warm feel of acceptance in the kitchen like Mom used to provide. It could be the visits to all the sites...what we usually come to Italy to do. I think I vote for the church at Orvieto. I am a retired math teacher and was gobsmacked, as they say, by the display of geometry and symmetry in the church structure. Even when I review the pictures since I've gotten home, its beauty overwhelms me. Loved the accommodations provided in the town of Soriano nel Cimino. We stayed in Brianna, exited our front door, and instantly walked into the piazza which always held some kind of surprise. One morning it was the concourse display of Fiat 500's. One morning it was a type of flea market with great shopping opportunities. One night we came home to a piazza full of people enjoying singing entertainment on stage. One morning the piazza was full of swallows darting every which way. You just never knew. One word of warning for those of you interested in joining a week's family at Cultural Discovery...bring VERY comfortable shoes as the walking to and from medieval sites is usually uphill or downhill. Brianna, by the way, has a very convenient clothes washer which sure came in handy considering the unusually high temperatures during our visit which I understand is not the norm in temps. I am 65 years old. I heard it said a few months ago that "you are never too old to enjoy the best day of your life." That has to be in Orvieto for me! Thanks to all the Cultural Discovery crew for a most memorable time. It must be rewarding for them to continue to make people happy week after week after week. ~Joan Seitz, McKinney, TX

4  Thank Picky47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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165 - 169 of 247 reviews

Reviewed 8 July 2012

Further to comments from Tony C - as one of the five blokes who went on the tour in late April and not quite sure what to expect, I can honestly say the week was a blast. My cooking hasn't improved that much but the week was great fun, plenty of interesting places to see and the farm at Soriano was a wonderful setting to hold the cooking courses. The CDV team were a great bunch and certainly rose to the challenge of trying to control a group that was definitely intent on enjoying their week by drinking plenty of Italian wine (& grappa) and not too bothered by timetables and the finer intricacies of cooking ! Thanks to everyone who attended our week. Cheers Mathew D

2  Thank Mathew D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 July 2012

I've dreamt of visiting Tuscany for years, specifically for a cooking type vacation, but thought I would have to put it off until my little one was a little older. My wonderful husband encouraged me to go with my sister, who also enjoys cooking. So I got on the internet and what popped up - Culture Discovery Vacations. I was intrigued and read through the whole site. When I watched the video, my eyes started to well up with tears. I knew this was the experience I was meant to have. I contacted my sister right away and we made our plans to go in June on the "Wine and Cooking Under the Tuscan & Umbrian Sun" trip. I wish there was a rating for "over the top" because seriously, that is what this experience was. Being the curious type, I had a few questions in advance of the trip and both Michael and Rocky were so responsive, even before meeting them! When we arrived in Rome, Rocky met us at the airport. Fantastic person and made you feel like family right from the get go. We travelled into Soriano on a luxury bus and the driver, Sergio was fantastic. In fact everyone we met was wonderful! Rocky escorted us to our apartment which was great – overlooked Umbria! Soriano is an incredible town filled with beautiful people. Each morning as we made our way to breakfast at Bar Roma, we saw several of the same residents who greeted us with “buon guorno!”. And the piazza was abuzz in the evenings, especially with the soccer finals on tv. The cobblestone streets were neat and I especially loved the different style doors to all the apartments. The group of 13 people all seemed to gel nicely and with a common interest (cooking), friendships were made. The cooking classes were amazing! Carla, Pierina and Rita were so fun and delightful but so very organized. They taught us how to make biscotti, lemoncello, panna cotta, pasta, pizza and so much more. The pizza is like nothing I have ever tasted. I have since been disappointed with so-called pizza at home! The food, wine and company was over the top wonderful! The excursions were eye opening. We saw fields of sunflowers as we drove to the various towns and beautiful cypress trees amid winding roads - just like photos you see in books. A few times I got emotional; like I’ve been there before (I know that sounds hokey, but I really felt a connection with Tuscany). I loved the small wineries and the olive mill we went to. They treated us like family there with a multi course lunch complete with wine. The food was always so fresh – a tomato actually tasted like a tomato (unlike Canadian ones!). In Deruta, we were able to purchase beautiful Deruta pottery which I shipped home (got it yesterday!!). One of my favorite villages was Civita di Bagnoregio, the Dying City. Perched high on a hill, no words can describe how beautiful is. Now to the CDV family. We had Linda, Rocky, Ian and Peta accompanying us on some of the tours/events. They were all so welcoming, informative and fun. And family is the only way I can describe them because they treated us like that. Michael and Paola, the owners of Culture Discovery Vacations – a note to you. You two have made my Tuscan dreams come true. There are no words to describe how grateful I am for this experience. I will treasure these memories for years to come and I consider you my extended Italian family (I’m sure I must have Italian in my background :) ). I will be back on another CDV trip - I can guarantee it!
Your friend,

4  Thank Momonet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 July 2012

Food, friends and fun, is how I would describe our week spent with CDV. After reading the reviews of those who have also taken this tour, I feel it has all been said, but I will add my voice to the accelades anyway: It really is all inclusive; the accommodations in Soriano are lovely; the villa and its surounding countryside is truly beautiful; Michael, Rocky and the rest of the team know just how to create a relaxing, welcoming atmosphere there that makes it so much fun to cook and socialize with everyone. In fact, my husband and I were very impressed with the way everyone at CDV quickly turned a bunch of strangers into a bonded group who cooked and travelled so well together.

Our tour guides, Linda and Spartaco, regaled us during the travel segments with wonderful stories about Roman, Etruscan and papal history, while also making us laugh...A LOT!! We loved all the sites they chose to show us. The only regret was that we wished we had more time in each place.

We particularly enjoyed our days spent cooking with Carla and her crew at the villa and despite the relaxed atmosphere of the classes, we really felt we learned a thing or two about cooking authentic Italian dishes. Even more importantly, perhaps, was how much we enjoyed eating what we cooked! Learning to make ricotta cheese, grappa, and limoncello was also great fun. And since returning home, we have made several of the dishes for family and friends to super reviews!

When the tour was over, my husband and I had time to reflect on the week as our amazing trip through Italy continued. What we were most surprised and so pleased to discover was just how much we had learned about Italian culture, from each member of the Culture Discovery family!

Thank SheC_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 July 2012

IMPORTANT: Culture Discovery's Italian vacations have known to be addictive!

In June 2012 I took my 3rd Culture Discovery cooking vacation, this time to Sicily. I knew this trip was going to be good, but Michael and Paola have outdone themselves again. This trip was truly amazing on so many levels: the scenery was beautiful; the experiences authentic and unique; the people were warm and welcoming; and the food, well there are no words good enough to describe the food.

The scenery – Our home for the week was at, Nido del Pellegrino, on Favignana, an island off of Sicily. Nido was right on the water only a matter feet away from the bluest water you have ever seen. Betta, Ivan, and their staff made us feel so at home, we were continuously calling Nido a little piece of heaven on earth. Just when you thought the island couldn’t get any more beautiful, it did.

The experiences – In how many vacations can you harvest salt, sunbathing on several inches of solid salt, had a midday snack inside a running, functional windmill, help local fisherman put out and pull in their nets and I haven’t even gotten to the cooking classes. I could go on about some of the other cool things we did, but you’ll need to discover some of them for yourself :-).

The food - We were taught how to cook a lot of the dishes Sicily is famous for like caponata and one of my favorites, the cannoli. We also learned how to make ricotta cheese, sausage, arancini and more. And when we weren’t cooking something good, we were eating something really good like pesto made with pistachios or Sfincione (Sicilian pizza) off a street cart in Palermo or Tagliatelle pasta which is so good, you don’t waste time using a fork. Talk about some fun food!

The people – Of course there is Michael, Paola, and Spartaco from Culture Discovery who will feel like extended family by the end of the trip. They introduce you to such personable, warm, and interesting people that make you feel like you are part of the Sicilian community. Along with Betta and Ivan, there is Scipio whose amazing stories and insights entertained us as he guided through Sicily. And our different instructors all brought a different flavor and flare to our cooking classes. I am not sure what I did more of cook, eat, or, laugh.

There is a term in Italian cooking “quanto basta” that means “as much as is needed” which we used a lot during our time in Sicily. When asked how many times I plan on traveling with Culture Discovery, I tell them “quanto basta”. If you want to have a unique vacation that will have your Facebook friends drooling over? Do you want an authentic Sicilian experience? If so, Culture Discovery is the way to go.

5  Thank Missa652
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
mkovnick, Owner at Culture Discovery Vacations - Day Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 20 July 2012

Wow!!! What can I say :-) Thank you sooooo much. We all had such a blast!!! And how many times do I wanna see you guys again? "Non Basta Mai" :-) :-)

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