1. Veneto: Amarone Cooking and Tasting Experience in a Villa
Head off on a beautiful journey into the countryside of northern Italy and discover the best food and wine the region has to offer, served in one of the most sumptuous Renaissance surroundings. At one of Verona’s most distinguished villas, encircled by the vineyards of Valpolicella, you will not only taste the gourmet delights of this top Italian kitchen, you will get a chance to cook them. See the ancient, well-stocked cellars and taste Amarone, the rich, dry red wine made from partially dried grapes. Start with a guided tour of the best Valpolicella wine cellar before moving onto Amarone vineyards, owned by one of the most renowned wine makers in Italy and set in the beautiful rolling hillsides surrounding Verona. Here you will learn all about the characteristics of the various grape varieties and the viticulture behind Valpolicella wine. Then, continue to one of the finest examples of Renaissance buildings just 30 minutes from Verona. The villa is famous for its magnificent fireplaces, featuring stone-carved recherché creatures that are both a wonder and a mystery to behold. The villa’s architecture is typical of sixteenth-century Italy, symmetric but versatile, and designed to revive the Golden Age. While there, you will learn how to cook some of the dishes traditionally served in this region, as the villa’s head chef takes you through a late-morning cooking class entitled, "The Pearls of our Cuisine: Pasta and Amarone." Learn the fundamentals of fresh pasta-making in all its different forms and find out about the delicious sauces and condiments that traditionally accompany it. You will also be shown how to make braised beef with Amarone and, to top it all off, the chef will introduce you to sbrisolona, the delectable, crumbly Italian sweet. The chefs of the villa will do their best to please you with fine, traditional cuisine complemented with the best local wines. Taste several kinds of Amarone and learn to recognize it by its slightly spicy bitterness, which is reminiscent of roasted almonds. Indulge in the gourmet lunch before the monstrous fireplaces in one of the spectacular halls of the villa. Finally, digest your meal with a stroll in the idyllic and mesmerizing landscape surrounding the villa. Gaze out onto the vineyards that spread out for miles under the Italian sun, as they have done for hundreds of years.