Learning Holidays in Abruzzo Italy

In May 2013 Italia Sweet Italia had the enormous pleasure to host a group of ladies from the University of Third Age of Saltash (UK) who we created a special tailor-made learning holiday for. They spent a total of 12 days in our central Italian region, Abruzzo learning:

Italian * cooking *  painting *  pottery *  how to taste extra virgin olive oil * local dop wine-tasting * how to milk a sheep * how to make ricotta cheese * to sing local folk songs * how to preserve sun-ripened tomatoes

They also visited  some local religious and food festivals that Abruzzo is famous throughout Italy for as well as and music concerts held in a beautiful nineteenth century local theater. Below is their half board program which we have illustrated to show just some of the options available to you when booking a tailor-made holiday in Italy with Italia Sweet Italia.

This is their review on Tripadvisor. Italia Sweet Italia is proud of it! Thank you ladies!

“Learning Holiday in Vasto by Italia Sweet Italia”

“Our group came to Vasto to experience some artistic endeavours (painting and pottery) as well as traditional cooking, while experiencing Italian culture and learning about the Abruzzo region of Italy. Italia Sweet Italia created a superb holiday for us and exceeded our expectations. This family-run company gave us their personal attention throughout the 12-day holiday, providing extra touches on a daily basis that made the whole experience almost overwhelming. I would thoroughly recommend the company to any group of any age. They will give you more than you ask for – in effect more than you pay for”!

Day 1 Thursday 9th

PM

Pick up in Rome Fiumicino, check in at hotel in Vasto’s historic city center,  welcome to Vasto (ancient Roman town) 

Welcome dinner with local salami, peppers, bruschetta, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo red wine and other specialties such us stuffed artichokes and cheese and egg balls

 See more photos on Flickr.

Day 2 Friday 10th

After a leisurely traditional breakfast of freshly baked bread, whole fruit country-style preserves, cake, pastries, coffee, tea and freshly squeezed juice

AM

Pottery class in a laboratory in Vasto’s historic town center with Michela

 Exploring Vasto’s historic town center

 See more photos on Flickr.

PM

Leisurely lunch in a traditional restaurant  followed by an Italian class and free evening

Day 3 Saturday 11th

AM

Visit to Vasto’s colourful fruit and vegetable market with the famous Mamma Anna Maria followed by a cookery class with her

PM

Lunch and meeting with a local family 

See more photos on Flickr.

Singing local folk songs with Roberto, Rosa, Angelo, Zio Gino, Zia Maria, Mamma Anna Maria and Papà Angelo: “O campagnola bella = Beutiful girl from the countryside”

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVaq3v05V7g[/youtube]

Italian class and free evening

Day 4 Sunday 12th

AM

Visit to Madonna di Punta Penna to experience their food and religious festival

See more photos on Flickr.

Visit to the Punta Aderci Regional Marine Park

See more photos on Flickr.

PM

Open air lunch at the festival, followed by a free afternoon and evening   

See more photos on Flickr.

Day 5 Monday 13th

AM

Learning how to milk sheep and  cheese-making with Dino and Pina in their farmhouse

See more photos on Flickr.

PM

Lunch followed by a  free afternoon and evening 

See more photos on Flickr.

Day 6 Tuesday 14th

AM

Italian language class

PM

Free lunch  followed by a pottery class inside a local award wining winery with Michela

See more photos on Flickr.

Tour of  the vineyards

See more photos on Flickr.

Wine tasting and dinner 

See more photos on Flickr.

Day 7 Wednesday 15th

AM

Day trip to Castelli, the town of ceramics

A visit to the town’s museum of ceramics and the oldest pottery studio

See more photos on Flickr.

PM

Lunch in a traditional restaurant.  Free dinner

Day 8 Thursday 16th

AM

Painting class in Vasto’s historic town center with Antonio    

See more photos on Flickr.

PM

Lunch in a traditional restaurant  looking at the Adriatic Sea followed by  an Italian class and free dinner 

See more photos on Flickr.

Day 9 Friday 17th

AM

Visit to the historic bell foundry in Agnone which still manually makes church bells for the Vatican

See more photos on Flickr.

PM

Lunch in a farmhouse

See more photos on Flickr.

Visit  to an olive oil mill and extra virgin olive oil tasting with Giovanni. Free dinner 

See more photos on Flickr.

Day 10 Saturday 18th

AM

Painting class with Antonio on a trabocco (fishing house) that juts out from the coast into the  Adriatic Sea

See more photos on Flickr.

PM

A multi-course Seafood lunch followed by a lesson by Rinaldo in how to operate and get the best catch from a trabocco.

See more photos on Flickr.

Meeting with the University of the Three Ages of Vasto.

See more photos on Flickr.

Free dinner

Day 11 Sunday 19th

AM

Learning how to preserve sun-ripened tomatoes to last all winter making traditional delicious bottles of passata and pezzetti with Mamma Anna Maria overlooking the Adriatic

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxIGYW-uizU&feature=c4-overview&list=UU8F__TirHYMBd3bIpCR5SQw[/youtube]

 

See more photos on Flickr.

PM

Lunch, presentation of attendance certificates.  Free dinner   

See more photos on Flickr.

Day 12 Monday 21st  

AM

Arrivederci and drop off at Rome Fiumicino

Read more about our tailor-made holidays.

All About Saltash U3A – Autumn 2013 Magazine

This is an article published on University of Third Age of Saltash  Magazine by Pen Foreman, one of our kind guests that we thank a lot!

Italia Sweet Italia

In May a group of members visited the central Italian region of Abruzzo. The tailor-made learning holiday was created for us by Fabrizio Lucci of Ita-lia Sweet Italia. Our base was the town of Vasto on the Adriatic, due east of Rome; our aim was to experience the local culture including its food and wine, traditional arts and crafts, and to generally enjoy the visit. Thanks to our U3A organiser, Den, who had broken her leg and could not come with us, we occasionally got more than we had bargained for.

As we travelled east from Rome we saw the mountains and national parks where we would later spend some time. Our ‘Welcome’ meal that evening set the scene for all of our dining experiences throughout the holiday: 4 or 5 courses of local, in-season specialities including salami, artichokes and bruschetta, accompanied by Montepulciano d’abruzzo wine and liquors.

Our learning activities began with one of two pottery painting classes: the first was held in a studio in the centre of old Vasto; the second, some days later, took place at a vineyard in the surrounding countryside. While our efforts did not quite match the majolica we saw at the region’s oldest pottery studio in the mountain village of Castelli, they were better than we might have hoped . At Castelli, we saw more examples of local and inter-national ceramic art: the interior of the tiny church of St. Donato – completely composed of painted tiles; the Ceramics Museum of Castelli; and the region’s art school. This latter houses the truly stunning Collection of Inter-national Contemporary Ceramic Art.

Back to the food. Fabrizio’s mother, Anna Maria, took us to Vasto’s colour-ful local market to shop for ingredients prior to ‘lunch with a local family’ which took place at the country home of Fabrizio’s extended family. Here we made pasta outside in the sunshine, surrounded by lemon trees and distant views over the sea. At lunch, we were served the pasta; fourteen of us sat at table; and, later, a neigh-bour, who was famed local-ly for his folk singing, also joined in. We agreed that an ordinary package tour simply could not offer time spent like this.

Aunt Rosa was a member of the Universita delle Tre Eta del Vasto (U3A to us), and we were invited to their annual open day by chairperson, Roberto. He explained, in faultless English, that their membership of 600 was made up of a range of ages because they accept anyone over the age of 16yrs.

We were lucky to see a traditional event of the area, the Punta Penna cele-bration. A statue of the Madonna was transported by sea, and then carried in procession to bless the fishermen and their boats; quite a moving cere-mony and one treated with reverence by the locals. Afterwards, the chair-person of the Mare Nostrum (fisherman’s association) joined us at an open-air seafood lunch on the cliffs above.

As one would expect, seafood plays a large part in local cooking. One of our water colour classes took place on a trabocco along the coast. Trabocci are fishing decks, complete with small houses, constructed on stilts on the shoreline. While those remaining are now used as small restaurants, the trabocci look very picturesque, and provided us with a great opportunity for painting – and an introduction to the local speciality seafood stew, cooked on site and containing an incredible mix of fish and crustaceans: not for the faint-hearted.

Another food-themed day was spent making sheep-milk ricotta cheese at a local farm. Having to actually first milk the sheep, we decided that, since our U3A organiser could no longer run, she had better learn to hide before we got home! We were served some of the cheese at lunch and given some different local cheese to take away.

Our final attempt at producing traditional Italian fare was the making of passata, again under the tutelage of mamma Anna Maria and papa Angelo. Although, as explained by Fabrizio, the best time would have been in August when the tomatoes are sweeter, we came away with our own produce – which we agreed was better than one can buy in England.

It is impossible to cover everything we experienced on this holiday – the charming and historic town of Vasto; the palazzos; piazzas; ancient and modern sculpture and paintings; the local bars. And then there is the time we spent visiting, for example, the ancient bell foundry in Agnone, which makes bells for the Vatican – each one taking three months of skilled crafts-manship to produce. We did, however, each have a favourite reminiscence of the trip: for Carole, it was the Rossetti Theatre’s music festival; for Betty, the sense of inclusion and welcome we had from all of the people we met during various activities. My own is a snapshot of Brenda, blithely bathing her feet in the Adriatic – while one of her shoes floated out to sea. Priceless!

Pen Foreman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *