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"A small group of friends and myself rented a villa in Umbria for a week to celebrate a 40th birthday. We scheduled a private cooking class with Nonie and Chef Tita which turned out to be one of the most wonderful memories/highlights of our entire trip!"

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Cooking lesson at a villa rental

We also hold cooking classes at private villa rentals in the area. Below you can read about one of these lessons to get an idea of how things are organized.

The owner of the villa we were renting near Perugia told us of the possibility of having a cooking class there. It was our first time in Umbria and with every meal we were discovering the pleasure of the Umbrian Kitchen. So, we were curious and up for an experience in getting to know the “art of cooking Umbrian.”

We contacted Nonie, one of the two partners in umbriacooks4u and were able to organize the lesson. Two days later, Tita and Nonie pulled up in a packed car and started unloading just about everything--rolling pin and board, blenders, mixers and these beautiful large cooking skillets.

They did not ask for help and needed no more than 30 minutes to set up for the lesson. They divided the kitchen into sections, putting the blenders and other electrical appliances in one corner, the rolling pin and board and flours in another corner, and all the kitchen utensils near the stove.

Nonie explained how the lesson would proceed, explained the various dishes on the menu, and gave everyone a printed copy of the recipes. Those copies made it much easier for us to participate, since we did not need to worry about writing the recipes down. The menu included Umbrian specialities and familiar Italian dishes. Throughout the lesson Nonie explained important techniques in basic Italian cooking as well as the Umbrian traditions for preparing the dishes we were making.

Tita had done all the preparation work before her arrival; therefore, all of the vegetables and herbs were washed, in bowls, and ready to be sliced. It was a hands-on-lesson; everyone had the opportunity to handle the food.

We spent the afternoon learning Tita’s cooking secrets, which her grandmother had passed down to her, and we exchanged tales about our own cooking experiences. Nonie and Tita seemed to be able to personalize the lesson to our group’s needs. By the time we were ready to have dinner, it seemed to us that we had always known Tita and Nonie.

We all helped to set the table but Tita insisted that we be seated while she prepared the dishes for serving. What a feast!!! Since arriving in Umbria, we had had one very delicious meal after another. But this meal was well beyond any of our expectations about what real Umbrian cooking could taste like.

I still can taste the “pasta e ceci” and smell the aroma of the fresh rosemary and herbs that filled the villa’s kitchen. I could go on forever, but let it suffice to say this was an experience that I would recommend to anyone--a combination of food, tradition, dedication, friendship and the joy of cooking.