Frequently asked questions here at The Awaiting Table Cookery School in Lecce, Italy
A: Yes. Our classes becomes chummy groups within minutes. Our students are well-travelled and out going by nature, from all over the world. Most classes stay in contact for years to come.
Q: Will I be conformable attending your class with my spouse?
A: Probably not. You really should have listened to your mother.
Q: What is your cancellation policy?
A: We have never cancelled a class for any reason, ever. Still, most want something in writing so we just followed the lead of other businesses. Should we cancel any class for any reason we will refund all tuition but will not be responsible for any travel expenses, etc.
Should you cancel in writing up to 60 calendar days before your class begins we will refund all your money. After that date we will not but we do allow you to reschedule your class for free at your leisure, whenever we have space. This is non-transferable. If you are one to schedule, change and cancel a lot of your travel plans we recommend travel insurance. And perhaps staying off your computer when you’ve been ‘chardonnaying’.
Q: How much do your courses cost? What is included? What isn’t?
A: Our half day courses are 145 Euro, full day 270 Euro and our week-long courses are 1995 Euro, regardless if we are in Lecce or at the Castle. By law we cannot include accommodation in our price (if anyone does they are either operating illegally or they are travel agents versus a school). There are a few times a year when a course requires extra expenses and we ask for supplement (such as bicycle hire / rental). These are clearly stated. We take payment through Paypal but should you require an alternative, write us.
There is no need to spend any personal money while on any of our cooking courses, with the exception of a single dinner on Thursdays during our week-long Lecce course. Those that do spend money do so on souvenirs during the breaks. Most of our students don’t even carry their wallet or purse while with us. We take care of everything.
Once you’re booked you’ll be given access to our Student Services, the password protected part of our site. It helps you book all of your travel.
Q: Which is the proper venue and course length for me?
A; Only you can answer this but we have seen a few tendencies over the years. Our day courses are for those that are already traveling in the region. They are designed to be short, succinct food and wine components of larger trips.
Those that attend our castle courses tend to be after fun, larger-than-life celebrations of food, wine and learning. While those that attend our Lecce course tend to seek smaller, more intimate classes in a more sophisticated urban setting (the historic centre of Lecce). Many of our students return and do a different course and they always say the same thing: Loved both, just for different reasons.
Q: Can we take your class in Lecce but stay in the castle?
A: No. Those that take our Lecce course stay in bed and breakfasts in the city of Lecce (we help you book all of it). The castle is not only an hour south of Lecce, it’s a completely different format for a class (those that attend classes at the castle stay at the castle).
Q: Who are the other students during my class?
A: We don’t know until they arrive. (Just like we know very little about you). So far we have had students from 54 different countries. Our students are open, curious and very well-travelled. Statistically, you’ll make life-long friends while you are here.
Q: How do I arrive from outside of Western Europe?
A: Most international destinations fly into Rome. In our fifteen years of experience, flying into Roma is by far the easiest way to arrive in Italy. Getting to Lecce from Rome is as easy as jumping on the high speed trains from Rome ’s primary train terminal (Termini station). The new, high-tech Freccia trains depart from Roma Termini for Lecce several times a day.
Flying into local airports has been problematic in the past, mostly for delayed arrival of luggage. As always, you’re free to arrive however you like and this information is only here to alert you of our past experiences over our history in the travel business.
Taking the train from Roma to Lecce is an easy, afternoon ride that cuts through Campania , and then down the gorgeous Adriatic coast, passing the sprawling grain fields of Northern Puglia into the olive oil country of the South. For many, the scenery is a highpoint of the trip. The train ride from Rome to Lecce is only about 5 ½ hours and it’s direct. Lecce is also the last stop, so you can sleep without fear of missing your stop.
Q: How to arrive from Northern Europe.
A: Depending upon the flights available from your point of origin, you might consider flying into Brindisi or Bari as opposed to Rome. This is particularly true if you are coming from London. Brindisi is a popular hub for many European airlines and is a 30 minute cab or shuttle ride away from Lecce. Flights from Stansted fly directly into Bari and Brindisi, although the days of the week vary with the seasons. Flights from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, France, Norway, Holland and Spain all now arrive and depart from Bari or Brindisi. And jet lag isn’t an issue.
Q: When do I need to arrive in Lecce?
A: Our week-long classes for the school in Lecce begin Monday mornings at 12 noon. Our courses at the castle start (with your luggage) at 11 am at Porta Napoli for the trip to the castle. All of this is well-spelled out in our Student Services.
In order to accommodate the additional travel to the castle, our castle courses begin earlier in the day. We suggest that all arrive in Lecce sometime on Sunday and spend the day around the city. If staying in a family-owned B & B, alert them to your arrival time. Arrive at Porta Napoli with your luggage. We’ll send it ahead and then go to la casa di Silvestro for an open house for a light lunch before heading down to the castle.
Q: How and when do we meet?
A: For our Lecce courses, we meet under the statue of Sant’ Oronzo at 12 noon, Monday mornings. We have maps in our Student Services, but it’s the city’s most obvious point.
For our castle courses, we meet at 11 am at Porta Napoli, with your luggage. We’ll handle all the transportation, to and from Lecce. Should you insist on arriving by car, meet us at the castle directly at 1 pm. on Monday. Maps, GPS coordinates and more details are Student Services. Parking at the castle is free and not an issue.
Q: Do we need to hire a car? Can we arrive by car?
A: Hiring cars (rental cars) is ALWAYS complicated. If you plan to arrive by car, please be aware that we can not hold up or cancel a class to help you with any aspects of returning it. Via Adua at Porta Napoli is the best place to park.
Q: Where will we be staying?
A: You’ll be given access to our Student Services, which lays out all of your options, and in Lecce, there are hundreds. We have email addresses, websites and portraits of trusted hoteliers and even suggestions of where to eat and drink before your course begins.
If booking a castle course, we’ll be staying at the castle, an hour south of Lecce. For our castle courses, there are no alternative venues. We stay at the castle. Everyone loves it.
Q: When is the best time of year to come?
A: If you intend to swim, then the summer. Otherwise, the rest of the year is far better, especially if are coming for the food and wine. Puglia’s olive oil is justifiably famous, as are the deep-green vegetables- such as rape and la cicoria, all at their best over the winter. If you’re coming to work on your Italian with the people you meet, late winter and late autumn are ideal. As a school we are closed the month of August.
Q: My spouse will be coming with me but doesn’t want to participate. What to do?
A: 1) Spend the week apart doing separate things, 2) remarry, 3) pay 750 Euro and he or she can join us only for meals and outings. We lovingly call these folks ‘fannullone’, or ‘slackers’. We have information for them in Student Services but we don’t employ an concierge or guides (we don’t have anyone on staff to take them around town, etc).
Q: Do I need to be at certain cooking level to attend your classes?
A: Absolutely not. And anyway, that doesn’t really exist. We teach regional cookery, and wine which is how food and wine are made here. We go into the history, the culture, the local agricultural, why the wine is made the way it is, which problems are producers trying to work around, etc. Yes, you will take home lots of new skills recipes and ways of conceiving of food but everyone starts on the same level. This has never been an issue and our students overcome any willing feelings of inadequacy right away. Southern Italian food is about food as pleasure and as an expression of a place. And we’re all equal as we approach the table.
Q: If Lecce is such a nice city, how come I’ve never heard of it?
A: For all of Italy’s international fame, few foreigners really know that much about the nation, even those that tend to visit Italy every year. It seems strange, but it’s true. Take Tuscany, a region that everyone knows, but how many can list the regions that border it? How many of us could find the region of Molise on an unlabelled map. Or have ever been to Abruzzo, an enormous and stunningly-beautiful, central Italian region, just a few hours from Siena? Or even know, historically, which regions ate pasta? Or how many indigenous languages are spoken inside of the borders? Italy has always been a virtually blank map in the minds of most foreigners, with just a few cities receiving the millions of visitors a year. Things are slowly starting to change.
Q: What should we bring?
A: Pack light. Place everything you intend to take on a bed. Pack half of that into two suitcases and take only one of them. We can loan you a hair dryer. We have a wireless at the school, in the main piazza , in your bed and breakfast and at the castle, inside and out. In our experience, those that pack light have a much better travel experience, both arriving and departing. It’s also much more difficult to leave it all behind if you bring it all with you.
Many us rewear outer clothing a few times before washing it when home but suddenly change our behaviour when we travel. For a free preview of your upcoming trip, pack your bags and walk them around your city. You might think all those spectacular mid-meal wardrobe changes with back up dancers.
For everything else, just write us. We’d be happy to hear from you.