As odd as it may first sound, the vast majority of Italy is still unknown to foreign travellers, even by those that have set foot on the Italian peninsula dozens of times. They stockpile on top of one another in a handful of cities, standing in front of the same monuments, waiting in the same turnstiles.
On behalf of our little cooking school in Lecce…..
Welcome to the rest of Italy. Welcome to Puglia, il Salento and Lecce-
We’re in Puglia- the ‘heel’ of the Italian ‘boot’- the long thin strip of fertile land kissed by both the Ionian and the Adriatic sea, a lush green garden and vineyard quite literally dangling down into the Mediterranean. This is where Italy comes to holiday.
Most students that come to our school take advantage of our perfect placement and spend the time before and after their classes exploring the rest of the region, which could easily be its own country, so varied the cultures, landscapes, foods and wines. From the trulli of Alberobello, the il Gargano peninsula, the stunning Val di Itria, le Murge and on and on, today’s more adventurous traveller is spoiled for choice here in Puglia
And we’re in the best part of Italy, the southern part of Puglia, Italy’s Salentine peninsula. While northern Puglia’s food is based on the heavy meat and starches of the Greek shepherds that settled the region, the Salento’s food favours the Mediterranean diet, which only a fraction of Italy actually eats (The Salento’s diet shines so much among other regions of Italy that it is now singled out by UNESCO, in other words, even inside Italy- a nation famous for its food- the food and wine of the Salento stand out, protected by law).
Rich dark-green greens, fish still dripping with the Med, whole grains, vibrant vegetables and some of the most famous pasta dishes in all of Italy, these will be the ingredients at your finger tips during your time with us. Over human history these ingredients have been transformed into the cooking of the Salento, which is exactly what you’ll be learning during your time with us.
And famous too is the wine of the Salento, which is based on three autochthonous (indigenous) red grapes- negroamaro, primitivo and susumaniello- and the whites- fiano minutolo and verdeca- all world class. (Each wine has been chosen with love, pride and tenderness by the school’s owner, a nationally certified sommelier here in Italy). The Salento also boasts the most famous (and oldest) rosès in all of Italy, il rosato di negroamaro, your new favourite picnic wine.
And even the landscape will surprise you, the red soil, the cacti, the millions of olive trees, the blue seas that are never far away.
If you’re lucky enough to come to one of our castle courses, we’ll go for a walks everyday among the millions of olive trees for which the Salento is famous. It’s not something you’ll ever forget, so bent with history the trees, each with a personal story to tell.
Lecce is just simply stunning. The city is considered a national treasure here in Italy, and seeing it as part of a classical Italian education (you’ll likely catch a group of school children on a field trip, as they come from all over Italy just to see the pristine architecture). Lecce is the region’s vibrant cultural capitol, with a famous university, two full-size Roman era amphitheaters and several of the most famous churches in all of Italy. A great walker’s city, ancient aristocratic palaces line many streets, a history that spans three thousand years.
View a detailed map of southern Italy here.
Lecce is something of a minor hub in southern Italy: it is easy to connect to both other Italian cities, as well as ferries bound for Greece. Many of our guests elect to spend a few days in the arrival city—inevitably Roma—then come to cook with us for the week, spending a few additional days in the south, afterward.
Once booked, you’ll gain access to our ‘Inner Sanctum’, the private pages on our site that are just for you; where to stay, what to do before and after your time with us, what to bring, etc. While it’s true we’re not travel agents, we have been doing this for nine years, so we do have a lot of valuable information to give out, but only to those that are successfully booked with us.
During your stay we will continually consult maps, guidebooks and personal contacts, helping you with your future travel plans. Not only can we recommend other cities but we would be happy to call ahead and book your stay, and even dinner reservations, if need be.
Please do not hesitate to contact us inquiring about any particular activity—the south has it all.