Probably not. You really should have listened to your mother.
We have never cancelled a class for any reason, ever.
In a post-COVID-19 world though, this is now our policy. If you write us one calendar month before your course is held, you can switch dates for free, as long as we still have space. This credit is non-transferable between people but it never expires. Come whenever you can. If you book a date by mistake,write us and we’ll switch you to the proper date you intended, no problem (no need to cancel payment and rebook).
In light of the pandemic, we recommend travel insurance. Southern Italy was barely touched by the virus but we do not offer refunds for any reason once you book.
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).
We don’t know until they arrive. (Just like we know very little about you). So far we have had students from 59 different countries. Our students are open, curious and very well-travelled. Statistically, you’ll make life-long friends while you are here.
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.
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.
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. Take a moment and reread this. We handle everything but it’s important to understand how we go about it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1) Spend the week apart doing separate things, 2) remarry, 3) pay 995 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).
Absolutely not. And anyway, that doesn’t really exist. We teach regional cookery and Southern Italian wine, which is how food and wine are made here, in this part of Italy. 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 regional food and wine but everyone starts on the same level. When we visit other regions of Italy, we are the students. 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.
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.
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.