Our Castle Course
Moderation isn’t our strongest virtue.
Most of the year we offer tiny and intimate courses- such as those held in our owner’s home in the historic centre of Lecce. But on a few special occasions throughout the year, we move our entire staff to our second venue, where we offer exactly the opposite.
Unapologetically festive and over-the-top affairs, our castle courses are Southern Italian celebrations, of a large group of new friends working together to put lunch on the table.
We take over an entire castle for the week, just off the Adriatic, an hour south of Lecce. The larger group allows us to add a theme to the week each time we are there.
- Bicycling, Food and Wine
- Winemaking, Food and Wine
- Food Writing, Food and Wine
- The Jewish Cooking of Southern Italy
- Olive Oil Making, Food and Wine
Whether it’s bicycling the countryside as an extension of the classroom, to really grasp the local agriculture practices, or stirring our annual tomato sauce with a spoon the size of a boat oar- we usually make it in 500 litre batches- our castle courses delight through exaggeration: 19 new friends around a table among the olive trees in the Italian countryside, the metallic flashes of 22 knives transforming Mediterranean plants into vegetables for dinner.
Grilling octopus. Studying wine. Cutting loaves of bread the size of the wheels of a FIAT. You’ll still learn a lot, cook a lot and in general, spend a lot of time around the Southern Italian table, but read on to see what else you’ll be doing your week with us.
(Click above links to the course descriptions with logistical information).
Held in a 16th century castello 40 minutes south of Lecce, our week long cookery courses at the castle are larger than life celebrations – imagine yourself at a long table enjoying extravagant country lunches, overflowing with Southern Italian familial tradition. Each meal, you’ll learn the history and culture of the region and how that drives our cuisine, then we move into the kitchen and using your own hands, turn theory into practise. Whether it’s making fresh pasta from scratch nearly every meal, grilling sea bass over olive wood embers or covering impossibly ripe fruit with impossibly fresh ricotta, it’s always hands on, all the learning re-enforced by doing.
And because we’re staying in a working castle, these courses represent a rare, first-hand glimpse into the life of former European aristocracy. You’ll cook in the baron’s impressive stone kitchen, dine on his Buganvillea sprayed loggia and drink a cascade of local but world-class wine from oversized goblets in his underground olive mill – each lunch going well into the afternoon, each dinner late into the evening. In the warmer months, we’ll finish our evenings bobbing in the castle’s impressive pool with local bubbly in our glasses. If it’s cooler, we’ll gather around the baron’s stone fireplace with freshly split firewood from recently felled fruit trees.
Daily, you’ll visit the herb garden, and depending on the season, fill your cradling apron with rosemary, lavender, bay, sage and basil. You’ll pick fruit from the baron’s hundreds of fruit trees and we’ll burn off lunch by walking the stone walls among the nearby olive groves, a neighbour’s overly-friendly dog tagging along with us.
What often surprises our guests is that the castle grounds make up a quarter of the historic centre of a small Southern Italian town – exit the kitchen door and you’re at the fountain in the main piazza. You’ll get to know Serena our greengrocer, Armando the butcher, and we’ll visit our local olive oil producer in her gorgeous palazzo, giving you a chance to take some extra virgin olive oil home with you.
But it will be your time around the chalkboard learning about wine, in the kitchen putting your knowledge to work, and at the table on the baron’s stone loggia that you’ll cherish most. You’re likely to find your next favourite grape here. You’ll make friends from foreign countries. And Southern Italy will never be the same for you again.
We’d love to have you in the kitchen with us, and around The Awaiting Table at the Castle.
Festive. Over the top. Inclusive. Gregarious. More fun that we should be having as adults.
When: Courses are held throughout the year, see our calendar to find a date for your visit.
Where to Stay: During the course, you’ll stay at the castle. Rooms are 95 Euro for a single, 110 Euro for a double. Once the course is booked, we will provide you with the castle booking information in our password protected Student Services. And once booked, our Guest Services coordinator will be in touch to help with each aspect of your arrival, departure and comfort while here.
Who thrives: Those that like feasting at long tables, meeting people from all over the world and laughing in the kitchen while making pasta. Each meal is out of an Italian film, with a large group gathered, elbows on the table, tearing crusts of bread for the last drops of sauce, the conversations going on for hours.
Who doesn’t: Anyone who adores the word ‘exclusive’ will better enjoy courses in Lecce. And the most obvious part is just that: those that don’t like bicycling shouldn’t sign up for a bicycling week. Nor teetotalers for a wine course.