Bicycling, Cooking & Wine in an Italian Castle
Bici / Cucina / Vino al Castello
We took European bicycle tourism and we turned it on its head.
Bicycle-based holidays tend to be about logistics- unpacking and repacking only to unpack again-, fumbling for the steps and light switches in unfamiliar hotel rooms, trying to get your bearings, each day, every day, for a week. We did away with that right away, preferring to stay in a single location, in our case, a castle in the centre of an Italian village, the briny Adriatic close enough to smell.
The fixed location allows us to focus more on learning about food and wine, going deeper than you might expect. You’ll learn that the earth beneath your bicycle rims is composed of the cadavers of millions of years of clams, mussels, coral and animals that no longer exist. And that affects the wine, fixing colour deeper in the pinks and reds. You’ll learn about the importance of prickly pears, even if no one ever ate them. And why the Mediterranean seas have no tides, and how that affects the fish and shellfish we pull from them.
Yes, you’ll learn how to make perfect pasta, (without eggs) grill vegetables like an Italian grandmother and to keep your extra virgin away from the kitchen. But you’ll also learn to conceive of fish as either flat or round, feeling at ease in any language, at any fish market in the world. You’ll learn to taste wine, never overspending on the mediocre again. You learn to taste extra virgin critically. And how to prepare everything from scratch, improving your diet in ways that will make your doctors very happy that you came.
We start the day with breakfast in the castle’s impressive main hall before we gather around the chalkboard to talk about each ride’s focus. (Ex. How to prune grape vines and olive trees, or how eating weeds was civil disobedience against the nobility —but now, the foundation of The Mediterranean Diet), etc.
We’ll head out for the morning, never repeating our course. You’ll begin to see the terrain as the natural larder to the kitchen, rather than the thing you drive past on the way to the shops and stores. And to view wine- not as rend or fashion—but as a profound expression of a cultural, a climate and a place. We’ll head back a few hours later, have time for showers before a family-style, 4 course lunch with local wine and olive oil, lovingly prepared by local ladies from the village.
After lunch you’ll have time to nap, read, swim in the baron’s impressive pool (in season) and walk the nearby olive groves. At 6 we’ll have a chalkboard talk towards synthesis of that morning’s landscape and what we about to do in the kitchen. You’ll learn to master the local pasta from scratch, have a lesson before prepare our massive dinners together.
And then out on the baron’s stone loggia (sprayed with Mediterranean flowers) or in the recently restored underground olive mll, we’ll dine long into the evening.
And then wake up, and do it all again, each day’s lesson serving as the foundation for tomorrow’s.
We designed this course for Sunday cyclists, as opposed to those that enjoy blood transfusions after cycling major mountain chains. We do map out extra trails for those that want to cycle before breakfast (but luckily our groups never woefully under drink at dinner) and so far, no one has ever really used them.
If this course sounds like a food and wine holiday for those that love to bicycle, make and eat great local food, and learn about the place that produces it all, then you’ve grasped the concept completely.
The Logistics at a Glance.
Where: At the Castle, an hour South of Lecce.
When: Three dates in 2018. See Calendar.
Taught in: English
Where you sleep: At the Castle. 95 € single /110 € double a night.
How much? 1995 € Euro. With a supplement of 195 € for bicycle hire and guide.
Best way to arrive, depart, maximise your time with us: Everything is spelled out in our Student Services. You’ll be given access about booking.
Who thrives: Anyone fit enough to cycle for a few hours over mostly flat terrain. Anyone that wants to balance the week, half cycling and half cooking. Those curious of where their food comes from.
Who doesn’t: Extreme cyclists. The highly competitive. Anyone looking to spend all of the week in the kitchen. Those with poor overall health, although this has almost never been an issue.