Lead by Jerry Pellegrino, the chef/owner of Schola Cooking School in Baltimore, Maryland. The interplay between food and wine fascinates Chef Pellegrino, with his understanding of the two at the molecular level a direct result of his Doctoral work in molecular biology at Johns Hopkins University. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients that worked together with wine lists at all his restaurants; where diners could be swept up in Chef Pellegrino's passion for food and wine and discover the distinctiveness of ingredients and the way they work together. He is currently the co-owner of Schola, a private cooking school, located in the heart of Baltimore’s historic Mt. Vernon district. He and his partner, Chef Amy von Lange, teach hands-on classes to a variety of students covering a vast curriculum. For 15 years, Chef Pellegrino has served as the Vice Chancellor Culinaire of the Baltimore Bailliage of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers and often featured in cooking segments on local television. He is the co-host of the long running radio show on NPR 88.1FM, WYPR’s “Radio Kitchen”. He has been nominated various years as Chef of the Year, awarded by Baltimore’s Academy of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality and was named One of Maryland’s 50 Most Influential People in 2017. For a full list of awards and honors, head to www.scholacooks.com.
For more information, contact us.
International Airfare for participants
Travel Insurance with Emergency Evacuation coverage (required)
Health Insurance (required)
Meals on excursions
Snacks and beverages at stopovers in transit
11:30 Depart for Monte Castello
2:00 PM Arrive: Monte Castello Lunch/Orientation/Settle-in to rooms
3:30 – 6:00 Free to rest
6:00 Tour of village/Welcome drinks at Café Centrale
8:00 PM: Dinner
8:00 AM Breakfast.
After breakfast, meet in the kitchen for a discussion about the flavors of Umbria. Our chef, Katia Costanzi, will lead us on a tour of the kitchen and ingredients used in the cuisine of the region. Federico Lorenzini, whose company produces the dried fruits, jellies and jams we use at ICA will be on hand, as well as our sous chef, Samuele, who will explain when and where he harvests our delicious, local pine nuts and demonstrates the painstaking process of extracting them. Katia will also give us an overview of the wild game provided by her father and the mushrooms she forages from the forests around Monte Castello.
9:30 – 11:00 AM: We will meet our friend Andrea Barcarotti, whose occupation is to seek out the rich treasures of the Umbrian woodlands. Andrea will demonstrate how truffles are found in the forests that surround Monte Castello. We will follow his dogs Zara and Sasha into the forest and see just how it’s done. It is truly amazing to see these incredible dogs scurrying through the forest and field fringes, discovering fresh and aromatic truffles.
11:30 – 1:00: Afterward, we will do an olive oil and wine tasting with oil sommelier and owner of Passo della Palomba vineyard, Alessandro Gilotti. Sandro will give us an overview of his facilities that produce some of the regions finest olive oil as well as give us an overview of how olive oils are evaluated for quality.
1:00 PM: Lunch
2:30-5:30 PM Tour of the Art Studios and Workshop. Demonstration: Making the inks, quill pen, and paint.
6:30 PM Before dinner, we will have a wine tasting and a visit by Andrea Andreani, owner of the Ristorante L’Alberata and Andrea will introduce us to some of the unique cured and cooked meats as well as cheeses of the region. L’Alberata is particularly known for their creative combinations of cured meats, cheeses, and fruits in their antipasti and for their sophistication in pairing them with wines of the region. It will be an informative and tasty introduction to this dimension of Umbrian cuisine.
8:00 PM Dinner
9:00 – 11:00 Italian MasterClass: Charcuterie
2:00 – 3:30: Free
3:30 – 5:30: Italian MasterClass – The Wines of Southern Italy
5:30 – 8:00: Free
Depart Monte Castello 7:00 AM. En Route: Introduction to Italian Fast Food: Autogrill (price of meal is not included – plan on around € 8 per person, for fresh juice, sandwich, pastry, cappuccino, etc.)
10:00 – 11:00 AM: Vineyard producing Brunello di Montelcino, D.O.C.G. wine. One of the “kings” of Italian wine, Brunello is produced from 100% Sangiovese and is a dark “brown” colored wine, hence the name derived from, “bruno.” For sale, Brunello must be aged two years in the bottle before drinking, up to 20 years! Brunello “is a visibly limpid, brilliant wine, with a bright garnet color. It has an intense perfume, persistent, ample and ethereal. One can recognize scents of undergrowth, aromatic wood, berries, light vanilla and jam. To the taste, the wine has an elegant harmonious body, vigorous and racy, it is dry with a lengthy aromatic persistence.”
11:00 AM: Depart for Panzano in Chianti
Arrive 12:30 PM: Panzano in Chianti for a visit to the famous, Antica Macelleria Cecchini. Here, the famed butcher, Dario Cecchini will introduce us to his products and philosophy. In understanding Sig. Cecchini’s renown, it seems unnecessary to go further than the introduction to his website:
“My name is Dario Cecchini. I’ve been a butcher for eight generations, father to son.
I try to maintain the high values of my work and my family’s traditions.
I always say that a man is like a tree: he must have his feet, his roots, planted firmly in the earth, traditions; and his head, the crown of the tree, must be in the sky, in the contemporary world. Having respect of the animal, of it’s life, of it’s death, and using everything to the very last tendon with conscience is what I have been doing every day for the past 40 years. This is me: my name is Dario Cecchini and I’m a butcher from head to tail.”
Afterward, we will enjoy an early lunch at Sig. Cecchini’s Officina della Bistecca, but we will no doubt heed wisely his advice that “The Officina is not recommended for people of little appetite.” Lunch is included.
2:00 PM Depart for Modena
4:00 PM Tour of the famed, Giuseppe Giusti di Modena, the oldest and most venerable balsamic vinegar producer in Modena, founded in 1605. The museum here provides the opportunity to understand balsamic production and the history of its use. We will sample Giusti’s balsamic vinegars and have an opportunity to purchase products to bring home.
5:00 PM: Depart for Parma
6:00 PM Check in at the NH Parma Hotel. The overnight stay in Parma cost of hotel is included in the workshop fee, however dinner is not - this gives participants the opportunity to choose from the vast range of restaurants available in one of the true culinary capitals of Italy. We strongly recommend researching options and making reservations beforehand (ICA is happy to advise on choice of restaurant).
7:30 AM: After a wonderful breakfast at our hotel, we will depart for the Valserena Dairy, the oldest producer Parmigiana cheese in the region.
Arrive 8:00 AM: Here, the Serra family has been raising the rare, Sola Bruna cows since the 18th century. These graceful and inquisitive cows with furry ears, friendly faces, and a gentle disposition are relatives of the Brown Swiss, the oldest of all dairy breeds originating around 4,000 B.C. The cows produce milk of the highest protein to fat ratio of any dairy breed – that paradoxically is also the richest in butter-fat – perfect for cheese-making. Regarded widely as the best parmigiana in the world, each wheel of their cheese bears the seal of the Consorzio di Sola Bruna, adhering to arguable the most stringent criteria in the genre.
9:00 depart for a visit to Agricola Rosa dell’Angelo, in Rivalta.
Arrive 9:30: Here, the free-range animals raised here have been bred from the stock of an ancient breed that almost disappeared in Italy by the 1950s. As a result of their efforts, the Black Pig of Parma was officially recognized as a breed in 2016 by the Ministry for Agricultural Policies. At Agricola Rosa dell’Angelo these strong, robust black pigs are “left free to roam the fields and woods…” and feed on wild grass, berries, roots, and acorns in addition to barley, wheat, and broad beans grown in the fields, giving the hams they provide a deep red color and sweet flavor that is unequalled in a region famous throughout Italy, where it is regarded as the standard for prosciutto in the country where it was invented. This prosciutto contains more Omega-3 than any other, and while the distribution of intramuscular fat is very strong (giving a wonderful richness) there is significantly less saturated fat that that produced from more common breeds.
· We will tour the facility by jeep and observe the animals in their natural habitat before visiting the factory in Parma. Here, we will learn about the unique processes they employ in curing the meat, and have a chance to sample their wares in the Prosciutto Bar, accompanied by local Lambrusco wine of the region.
12:30 PM: Tour of the Duomo (Cathedral) of Parma, followed by free time in Parma
1:30 Depart for Borgo Val di Taro
2:30 Arrive at Agriturismo Ca’Bianca, where we will spend the night. Famous for its woodland specialties, here, we will sample the most famous Italian mushroom, the Borgotaro Porcino PGI, while fungi of this species are found throughout Italy, only in this region are mushrooms of this designation found – in fact, this region represents the only PGI designated mushroom in Europe! Weather conditions permitting - and with the help of the fates - we will make a brief woodland tour, in order to search for these sought-after mushrooms and experience the forest and crystal-clear rushing rivers. (In our opinion, it would be wise to pick up a jar of these mushrooms to take home preserved in olive oil, before we go!) Afterward, we will enjoy a delightful and rare opportunity to experience the fruits of these mountainous woodlands at dinner at Agriturismo Ca’Bianca. [Note: another option for accommodation is Albergo Roma: we will firm this up before the session begins]
3:00 – 6:30 Tour of the woodlands with guide in a search for these famous mushrooms.
6:30 – 8:30 Free
8:00 Depart for Pieve Fosciana, Lucca
10:30 Arrive Caseificio Bertagni. Here, owner Verano Bertagni, himself coming from a family of shepherds, understands well the Garfagnina Sheep, an ancient native breed, of which he was a principal protagonist of saving from extinction. He writes: “Our great satisfaction is that, thanks to the studies conducted in collaboration with various university laboratories, we can be sure of the origins of this sheep that is beginning to repopulate the high Apennines of Garfagnina.” Feeding on fresh mountain grasses, the sheep produce a sweet milk that gives the cheese a unique flavor, that itself retains the scent of the earth of Garfagnana. Its delicate flavor and unmistakable fragrances make it a rare treat and a testament to the culinary richness provided by biodiversity.
11:30 Time permitting: Depart for Borgo a Mozzano to admire the Devils Bridge – Ponte del Diavolo arrive 12:00 PM
12:00 – 1:00 PM Early lunch
1:00 Depart for Chianti area vineyards.
On the route home to MCdV, we will try to visit 2 vineyards within the Chianti triangle as well as a Montepulciano vineyard – time permitting.
3:00 PM (proposed) Arrive Castello di Nipozzano
4:00 PM Depart for Barone Ricasoli Vineyard (proposed)
4:30 PM Tasting: Felsina Vineyard
5:30 Depart On the route home to MCdV
7:00 PM Arrive Monte Castello
8:00 PM Dinner
8:00 AM Breakfast
2:00 – 3:30: Free
3:30 – 5:30: Italian MasterClass — Wines of Northern Italy
8:00 AM: We will leave immediately after coffee and pastries at our own Café Centrale on our trek through the spectacular Sybillini Mountains, to one on the true Mecca’s of cured meats – certainly the most famous location in Italy – Norcia. On our return, we will follow along the Sagrantino Trail and here we’ll see some of the finest vineyards in Umbria, where the robust and aromatic red wines that include the unique Sagrantino grapes are produced. These are an excellent accompaniment to the delicious cured meats of the region.
In less than thirty minutes drive from Monte Castello, we find ourselves in a unique world! This is the part of the region that is most well-known for its luxuriant vegetation and medieval villages. Our path itself follows the routes familiar to the ancient Umbra people and then later by the Romans. We’ll explore a spectacular landscape that includes abandoned castles, ancient hamlets, and extraordinary vineyards. Passing through the rolling mountains on our route, we pass through ancient villages such as Gualdo Cattaneo, Bevagna, Montefalco, Giano dell’Umbria, Castel Ritaldi, Bettona, Cannara. On our return, the sight of the vineyards and olive groves cloaking these rolling hills - on the opposite side of the mountain range in the late afternoon light is unforgettable! In this landscape you can truly see Umbria as the “green heart of Italy”.
Here you find arguably the most Umbrian of Umbrian landscapes. You’ll also arguably find the most Umbrian of Umbrian wines: Sagrantino di Montefalco D.O.C.G., Torgiano Rosso Riserva D.O.C.G., and Montefalco Rosso D.O.C.
The full-day tour today takes us on a broad overview of the area, and we will see a number of spectacular sites. En route, we will pass by the famous mineral water sources of San Gemini and Aquasparta - the other magnificent great drink of Italy! At the base of the mountains, we will see one of these springs, well known to the ancients: Fonti del Clitunno. Through the majestic limestone cliffs around the valley, rainwater filters down through the earth and pulses to the surface in these crystal-clear springs. As one writer describes these waters: [some of these underwater] "craters…seem to give access to the earth's center.” Ancient writer, Pliny the Younger wrote of: “many and different veins” [that] “give life to a pond so pure and crystalline that you could count the coins thrown into it or the stones glistening at its bottom.” We’ll pause only briefly at the beautiful spring, but long enough to sample its water (the Romans believed drinking these waters would make one a good orator) and to enjoy a leisurely cappuccino on its banks. Along the way, we will also see one of the most truly impressive sights in Umbria, the Ponte delle Torri, outside of Spoleto. The 230-meter-long and 90-meter-high medieval bridge has a little-known history. As Domenico Pacieri, writes: “If you ask the story how, by whom, when it was erected, the story remains silent.”
From here we will continue along the valley to the extraordinary town of Norcia. Renowned since the middle ages, the village was a center for surgeons, and also for butchers. Its cured meats are among the most famous in Italy, and as we stroll through the city we will tour the various shops and sample their delicacies – and bring along some samples for a great-picnic lunch in the mountains! We will take time to not only sample the wares, but to also learn about the production of these meats.
As we leave Norcia we will continue to ascend into the mountains to the ridge, from which we have amazing views. Crossing over, we enter the Piano Grande of the Sibillini Mountains. The great plane itself is a large plateau, that boasts one of the most spectacular displays of wildflowers in the world in June and July! Ascending on the other side of the basin, we arrive at a spectacular high point, from which – on a clear day – it is possible to see both east and west shores of Italy! Around you, a place with a remarkable and mythic history - you’ll see in the distance, the Cave of the Sybil, and Pilates Lake (believed to turn blood-red at certain times) – the valleys in the distance were home in the middle ages to magicians and necromancers. We’ll pause at this mystical and beautiful place and enjoy a picnic lunch of cured meats and cheeses from Norcia as well as some of the other local produce – such as the renowned truffles and mushrooms – all accompanied by the wines of the vineyards we will visit on our return home.
After lunch, we begin our journey to Montefalco — about an hour-long drive. As we see Montefalco in the hills above us, we’ll tour vineyards producing the Sagrantino grape, which in turn, produces a unique and luscious red wine. Among the vineyards, perhaps our most unique stop will be the Cantina Fongoli. Owned by the same family for generations, the cantina is one of the most atmospheric – and oldest – in the region. We will talk with the oldest member of the family and experience both the breadth of his knowledge of — and connection to — the wines the family produces, as well as his perspectives on the challenges of bringing an artisanal product, and a family heritage, into the contemporary market.
We’ll be back in Monte Castello in time for dinner, and a reflection of what — will no doubt have been — a remarkable day!
8:00 AM: Breakfast
10:30 – 12:00 Pasta Making with Katia Costanzi, ICA’s chef
3:30 – 5:30 Italian Masterclass – The Sparkling Wines, Dessert Wines and Distillates of Italy
5:30 – 8:00 Free
8:00 PM Dinner
8:00 AM: Breakfast
9:00 AM: Depart for Perugia
9:30 Stop: San Venanzo
11:30: We will visit the nearby hamlet of San Venanzo to see the famous Macelleria David Salumi. We will have a chance to sample their local production of hams and other cured meats.
9:30: Visit Marsciano and our friends at the Caseificio Artigianale Nestore. Here we will see the we will see the place where the artisanal cheeses and yogurt that we serve at ICA is produced. Time permitting, we’ll have a brief tutorial on their mozzarella production.
10:00: After, we’ll stop at the town of Deruta, famous for its beautiful and intricate, Majolica pottery traditions. Before we experience them however, we’ll stop for a taste of the fresh pastry and gelato at a local bakery. From here we will visit the renowned Maioliche Nulli ceramic studio. We will see exquisite examples of traditional pottery and meet the family that has been producing them for generations. Members of the group can actually try their hand at throwing a pot if they like, under the tutelage of Ronaldo Nulli, master potter.
11:30 PM Depart for Perugia
12:00 PM: Arrive Perugia and a walking tour of the city center
1:00 – 2:30: Free for strolling, shopping, etc.
2:30: Visit the famous Sandri dal 1860, one of Perugia most venerable chocolatiers.
3:30: Depart for Monte Castello
4:00: We will stop briefly at the hamlet of Fratta Todina to see some of the most magnificent views of Monte Castello from the vantage point of their adjacent mountain. Here, we will sample the wonderful wines of the Conti Faina winery and visit their ancient cellars.
5:30 PM: Return to Monte Castello
8:00 PM: Farewell dinner
7:00 AM Depart via private bus to the Rome/Fiumicino (FCO) Airport (flights departing NO EARLIER than 11:00 AM)