Discover Culinary Delights and the Sights of Southern Italy:
You will have the unique opportunity of travelling through Southern Italy with chef Cathy Whims, owner of Nostrana. The six-time James Beard Award finalist is excited to share her secret dining spots with you and introduce you to amazing chefs and local producers. You’ll witness true pizza-making in Naples, savour buffalo mozzarella in the countryside of Paestum, learn to taste olive-oil in the orchards of Valle d’Itria, and see how a traditional bakery works in Altamura. You will also savour several Southern Italian wines, including Mt. Vesuvius’ Lacryma Cristi and Apulia’s Primitivo, the Italian Zinfandel. Along the way, you will also visit ancient archaeological ruins, UNESCO protected sites and pristine landscape, in the company of an Italian Countess as your special guide.
About Your Host: Chef Cathy Whims:
A born-again Italian, Chef Cathy is a six-time James Beard Award finalist and one of the two Oregon chefs to be a part of the White House Diplomatic Corps of Chefs. Invited by the James Beard Foundation and the US State Department, Cathy represented the United States at the World Expo 2015 in Milan. In the course of her professional career, Cathy has studied with Marcella and Victor Hazan at their home in Venice, and Madeleine Kamman at the School for American Chefs. Co-owner of award-winning restaurant “Nostrana”, Cathy has cooked with Giancinto Albarello in Genoa and in his own kitchen at the Antica Torre Trattoria in Barbaresco, and with Marco Forneris at Osteria La Libera in Alba, both renowned restaurants of the Langhe. Her passion and never-ending curiosity for Italy takes Cathy there many times every year. She is excited to share some of her personal connections with local chefs and producers with you, and to return to some of the places close to her heart.
Fly from the US to Naples, Italy
Upon your arrival at Naples airport, you'll be picked up and transferred to your centrally located hotel. After check-in, the group will meet for a welcome talk and dinner. Sleep in Naples
Enjoy a walking tour along the greatest avenues of Naples with an experienced and entertaining local guide. The Duomo is the spiritual centrepiece of Naples. The grandiosity of this city’s countless royal buildings and grand churches is a great surprise to first-time visitors. We will also venture deep into the underground of Naples, visit local markets and ancient neighbourhoods, and hear some of the magical tales of Naples’ historical characters. In the afternoon, we’ll visit one of Cathy’s most beloved pizzaiolo (pizza maker) for a traditional pizza demo and, of course, a true experience of the ancient art of pizza. Sleep in Naples
No visit to Southern Italy would be complete without a visit to Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. After checking out of our hotel, we’ll head out to the slopes of Mount Vesuvius for a very special visit to the crater, followed by a wine tasting and sampling of local food specialties at a local producer. After lunch, we will make our way to Pompeii, the ancient Roman settlement that was destroyed in 79 A.D. by the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius and remained covered in thick protective ash until its excavation began at the end of the 1700s. Sleep near Sorrento.
This morning, we will enjoy a short cruise to the fabled island of Capri, where we will drive up the unforgettable winding road to Anacapri, a picturesque town of 5,000 that clings to the mountainside. For lunch, we’ll enjoy the local fisherman’s catch of the day and learn more about the local seafood and ways of cooking it. Sleep near Sorrento.
Today, we will drive down the amazing Amalfi coast and discover some of its most beautiful views and little villages. Amalfi will take your breath away with its grand cathedral and amazing views. In Ravello, you will be able to take in one of the world’s most talked about views from the gardens of Villa Cimbrone. You will have time to enjoy a glass of Ravello’s DOC wine or maybe some of the area’s world-famous Limoncello before heading down to picturesque Positano. Multicolored homes overlooking the sea, and a beautiful beach with the best gelato ever, will surely make your visit memorable. From Positano, we’ll drive to Paestum, which will be our home for the next two days. Sleep in Paestum
This morning, we will learn about local water buffalo farms and visit a great producer of buffalo mozzarella cheese. We will then enjoy a great cooking class and lunch, where we will also sample some of the mozzarellas produced earlier in the morning. In the late afternoon, we will tour the Greco-Roman city of Paestum. Here, the ancient temple of Hera, built in 550 B.C., has been painstakingly preserved through the ages. Hopefully we will be able to see the sunset there, which is a truly magical experience. Sleep in Paestum.
Today, we will reach the lesser-known, but incredibly beautiful, Basilicata region. In the recent past, this was one of the poorest areas in Italy, but also one of the most beautiful. Its capital city of Matera, which is a UNESCO site, will surely be one of the highlights of our journey. Its Middle Eastern appearance secured it as the setting for Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion” and many other biblical-era productions. You will learn about “Sassi,” or “stone” neighbourhoods, and will have time to delve deep into its most impressive buildings, churches, and tiny alleyways. We will also tour one of the cave homes furnished exactly as it was before the government moved the people out in the 1950s. At dusk, when the city's white stone turns to pink, a quiet walk on the cobblestone streets will take you back in time. Sleep in Matera
This morning, we’ll head to Altamura. This charming little town is famous for its cathedral, but not only that! The best local pastry shop is well worth a visit for a tasting of its local specialties, including Tette delle Monache. We will then step into a great bakery and learn about Altamura’s famous local breads. Made with durum wheat and ground semola from the surrounding area, Altamura bread has been part of the local food culture since Roman times and was recently granted a Protected Designation of Origin within Europe. In the afternoon, we’ll head to Gravina in Puglia to visit some of its picturesque rock chapels. Just outside of Matera, we will pay a visit to an incredible crypt excavated in the rock, whose walls were painted by ancient monks around 1,300 years ago in very beautiful and vivid colors. Sleep in Matera
Today, you will transfer to the famed trulli area of Apulia and the lush Valle d’Itria. Blanketed with vineyards and olive groves, this valley is dotted with hundreds of trulli, traditional dry-stone structures with conical roofs that were used by Apulian farmers. On the way, we’ll stop in Bari. Together with our local guide, we’ll walk in the historical centre where all of the local women make their fresh pasta (orecchiette) and sell it from their home windows. Before heading to our countryside hotel, we will pay a visit to St. Nicholas Basilica, where we will learn more about the saint, the grandfather of Santa Claus, and the miraculous column in the middle of the church. On the way to our countryside hotel, your home for the next three days, we’ll have the chance to see beautiful Polignano a Mare. Sleep in a charming countryside hotel in Valle d’Itria.
Your first stop today will be the charming village of Alberobello, a UNESCO site, where you’ll learn more about Trulli, the traditional homes of Apulia. These buildings feature circular, whitewashed walls and cone-shaped roofs that the locals constructed without mortar (in order to evade an ancient luxury tax!). A closer look at these “beehives” will reveal Paleo-Christian good-luck symbols painted on the roofs. In Alberobello, we’ll visit a very special olive oil producer and dive into the traditional cooking of this lesser-known region of Italy with a very special cooking class. Sleep in a charming countryside hotel in Valle d’Itria.
Today, you will enjoy amazing Lecce, the baroque Florence of the south. You will start with a tour of Lecce’s world-famous Church of the Holy Cross and then visit the monuments and buildings that make Lecce one of the most appealing cities in Italy. You’ll have your farewell lunch at the private palace of a local Marquis. The afternoon is yours to enjoy the city on your own and shop or relax. Sleep in a charming countryside hotel in Valle d’Itria.
This morning, you’ll be transferred to the Bari airport (please book your departure flight for after 11:00 am.).
2 nights in Naples
2 nights near Sorrento
2 nights in Paestum
2 nights in Matera
3 nights in Valle d’Itria
Total: 11 nights, 12 days
$ 4,950 per person in double room
$ 690 single room supplement