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"I took the cooking class with my mother this past winter and it was the highlight of our trip to Italy! The food was amazing and Nonie and Tita were accommodating, warm and fun....not to mention wonderful chefs!"

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Virtual Tour: One of our typical private dinners

Read an account of one of our private dinners in Umbria to get an idea of what to expect.

This Spring, a group of us had a great experience: a delicious dinner with Tita and Nonie. We are four couples who spent a week in Umbria, and I must say the super dinner was one of the highlights of our trip.

Tita's country home is about 10 minutes away from Perugia, hidden within green hills and olive groves. In fact, Tita's backyard is full of olive trees, and I had never tasted an olive oil as exquisite as hers.

It was a bit chilly that evening but I could just imagine what it would be like to eat in her garden, surrounded by her gardenias, on a summer evening.

Tita has a lovely, elegant and warm home, and when you walk in the door the first thing you notice are the wooden beams, antique doors and a beautifully set dining table with a linen tablecloth, fine china and silverware.

When Tita offered us cocktails, Nonie told us that would be the only American tradition we would find that evening. Italians, she explained, do not drink before their meals, or at least not in Umbria.

Nonie gave us the details of the menu--a five course meal that made our mouths water before tasting the food. We talked about the various culinary traditions, the olive harvest, the grape picking, the dogs that hunt for truffles, the importance of pork in the Umbrian kitchen and how certain butchers are taught from the time they are young on the best method of seasoning the pork. She also gave us a detailed description of Umbria--the region and its people. Her apt descriptions made for a complete learning process. We still talk about how knowing so much about what we were tasting and where we were dining really added to the flavor of the experience.

We were invited to take our places at the table and from then on, it was simply heaven. I cannot remember all of the dishes, but I do recall that Nonie kept on insisting we not to fill up on the antipastos, that there would be two first-courses: a soup and a pasta dish, then a meat dish with a cooked vegetable, and of course, two or three desserts.

The evening was a dream come true: We were dinning in an Italian home with two lovely ladies who offered us the best meal we’d ever had, complete with some very good local DOC wine, the most interesting stories, and the chance to exchange the best of two cultures. It was an unforgettable evening. I said it before but I have to say it again: Our private dinner with Nonie and Tita was the highlight of the trip.