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Puglia & Lecce Cooking & Landmark Tour™

Cooking, Food Tours in Lecce & Gallipoli Puglia ~ 6 Days

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Tie on your aprons and join Italian Mammas Gia and Maya for a hands-on cooking tour in the historic city of Lecce.  Set in the region of Puglia, at the heel of Italy’s boot, Lecce is considered the capital of Baroque architecture, with its many Medieval castles, Renaissance churches, Roman amphitheaters, Greek ruins, and elegant courtyards. This cooking experience will not only let you discover why Lecce is known as the “Florence of the South,” but will also introduce you to the region’s culinary traditions that date back centuries and have made Lecce a prime destination for food lovers.

Like the rest of Apulian cuisine, Leccese food follows the philosophy of cocina povera, or cuisine of the poor, which emphasizes the delicious simplicity of rural home cooking with local, seasonal produce. Recipes are prepared with naturally raised local meats and fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh fish caught daily due to the region’s proximity to the bordering Adriatic and Ionian seas. Leccese recipes also often include olive oil, of which Puglia is Italy’s largest exporter and local wine – Negroamaro, Primitivo or Bombino Nero.

Lecce Cooking Classes 

On this tour, you will join Italian Mammas Gia and Maya in the kitchen for two cooking classes that will immerse you in the cocina povera, poor man’s style of cooking that dates back centuries. The hands-on cooking classes will blend flavors and traditions with professionalism and passion, transforming raw ingredients into delicious feasts.

In the first class, you will prepare traditional Leccese recipes, starting with antipasti such as pittule salentine, round and pillowy balls of fried dough stuffed with diced tomatoes and capers, rustico leccese, warm and melty puff pastries stuffed with mozzarella, tomato, and béchamel sauce, and pizzo leccese, a bread roll stuffed with tomato, olives, onions, and chili flakes.  Main courses wow with purpu alla pignata, fresh octopus seasoned with oil, garlic, tomato, parsley, chili, white wine, and potatoes, and tajeddha, layers of mussels, rice, tomato, and potatoes baked in a tray.  There are savory desserts like pasticciotto, a simple shortbread pastry filled with creamy dense custard cream, fruttone, a similar pastry as pasticciotto except that it’s filled with pear jam or quince and a rich almond paste.  There’s also copeta, a blend of almonds, honey, and melted sugar, and cotognata, a quince preserve thick enough to cut into pieces and eat with your fingers.

The second hands-on cooking class is devoted entirely to making fresh local pasta. Guided by our Italian Mammas, you will learn how to prepare handmade pasta dishes, such as the classic, orecchiette, homemade ear-shaped pasta typically served with either tomato sauce or cime di rapa, turnip top greens, and garlic, minchiareddhi, a barley flour pasta similar in shape to fusilli and seasoned with tomato sauce and grated ricotta cheese, and sagne n’cannulate, long spiral-shaped pasta that resembles the twisting Leccese architecture and served with a tomato and cacioricotta sauce.

Following each cooking class, everyone enjoys the food they prepared in the class with a toast of local wine such as Negroamaro, Primitivo or Bombino Nero.

Cantina Coppola Private Tour

Since 1489, Cantina Coppola has handed down the traditions of fine winemaking from father to son. The historic winery is located in Gallipoli, immersed among vineyards, olive trees, and a botanical garden with more than 100 species of trees. You will enjoy a private guided tour through the modern wine making property discovering the production and wine aging room, to the terraces, an art room and museum, and then to the cellar. Larn about this great family’s history, cultivation, and winemaking processes that has put Cantina Coppola on the map for more than 500 years. After the tour, you will enjoy a Chef’s three-course Tasting Dinner in the cellar restaurant, paired with three cantina wines.

Lecce Accommodations 5 Star

Check in and relax during your Cooking Vacations in a luxurious and charming 5-star hotel in the heart of Lecce. Erected in the late 18th century in the city’s historic center, and mere steps from the nearby Basilica di Santa Croce, the palazzo has been modernized with contemporary amenities for a high standard of guest comfort, while still retaining the classical charm of its roots. The rooftop terrace offers a breathtaking view of the city with many picturesque buildings and unforgettable sunsets, while the interior boasts works of art and furniture from Jacques Zwobada, René Letourneur, Ettore Sottsass, Gio Ponti, and other legendary artists and designers. Guests can also enjoy the Wellness Area with a natural stone hydromassage pool, Relaxarium spa, and massage room.

Each bedroom is spacious, warm, and carefully curated, and features amenities such as large comfortable beds, fine Italian linens and bedding, private en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, free WiFi, a safe, a minibar, a flatscreen TV, and hairdryer. A daily breakfast and maid service are also included.

Itinerary: 6 Days, 5 Nights 

Check in Saturday and check out Saturday. Other check-in days may be available upon request; please call for details.

Day 1: Benvenuto and Check-In

  • Transfer from the airport to the property in Lecce.
  • Check in. Relax and enjoy your Cooking Vacations’ welcome bag with Prosecco toast.
  • Later in the evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner on the property, featuring local cuisine with an antipasto, fresh pasta and sauce, main course, and dessert. Wine is not included.

Day 2: Cooking Class 1 – Handmade Pasta

  • Breakfast is served.
  • After breakfast, tie on your apron for your first hands-on cooking class, preparing local pasta dishes such as orecchiette and sagne n’cannulate.
  • Lunch follows with the food prepared in the class, with a toast of wine included.
  • Following lunch, feel free to relax at the property, or explore Lecce sites, such as the Anfiteatro Romano, an ancient amphitheater, or the Basilica di Santa Croce, a centerpiece of Baroque architecture.
  • In the evening, enjoy dinner on your own with suggestions provided.

Day 3: Lecce Food Tour La Fiermontina and Wine Tasting Tour

  • Breakfast is served.
  • After breakfast, meet with your guide for a Food Lover’s Tour, a walking culinary tour of Lecce. First, visit a historic market to buy fresh basil and seasonal vegetables. Next, stop by a Lecce café to savor caffé leccese and pasticciotto. Following that, taste the rustico leccese, a cornerstone of Lecce streetfood.
  • The last stop will be a local winery for an informal wine tasting of organic Negramaro wine and a local rosé, along with traditional light foods such as polpette, meatballs, D.O.P. capocollo, cold cut of cured pork neck, and bombette pugliesi, fresh pork meat rolls.
  • After the tour, return to the property.
  • In the evening, enjoy dinner on your own with suggestions provided.

Day 4: Cooking Class 2 – Traditional Lecce dishes

  • Breakfast is served.
  • After breakfast, tie on your apron for your seconding hands-on cooking class, preparing classic Leccese recipes such as pittule salentine, pizzo leccese, minchiareddhi, purpu alla pignata, tajeddha, and copeta.
  • Lunch follows with the food prepared in the class with a toast of wine included.
  • Following lunch, feel free to relax at the property, or further explore Lecce, including the Duomo di Lecce, a Baroque church, or the Museo Faggiano, a private archeological museum.
  • In the evening, enjoy dinner on your own with suggestions provided.

Day 5: Cantina Coppola Private Tour & Chef’s Wine Tasting Dinner

  • Breakfast is served.
  • After breakfast, relax at the property or continue to explore Lecce.
  • Lunch on your own with suggestions provided.
  • In the evening, meet with your driver for transfer to Gallipoli for a private visit to the Cantina Coppola. Tour the facility and learn about their history and winemaking process.
  • Following the tour, enjoy a 3-course tasting dinner with 3 pairing wines in the vineyard’s cellar restaurant. Extra wine, dessert, and after-dinner drinks and coffee are not included.
  • Return to the property after dinner.

Day 6: Arrivederci!

  • Breakfast is served.
  • After breakfast, check out and transfer to the airport.
  • Arrivederci!

Program Price

  • 6 days and 5 nights in Lecce in the luxurious 5 Star hotel in the heart of the historic district.
  • Welcome Dinner featuring a Chef’s Tasting Dinner with a four-courses – antipasto, fresh pasta, main course, and dessert. Wine not included.
  • 2 hands-on cooking classes preparing local recipes. Lunch follows with the food made in class with a toast of wine included.
  • Walking culinary tour and winery tasting in Lecce.
  • Private tour of winery in Gallipoli with a 3 Course Wine Tasting Dinner Transfer to and from the airport.
  • Cooking Vacations Welcome bag with Prosecco and recipes.
  • A copy of Lauren’s book, It’s A Dream Place – Stories & Recipes of Food, Love and the Amalfi Coast.
Program Prices

$4,295 per person, based on two guests in a 5 Star luxury property.

For Single Guests: If you are traveling on your own, please call us for the best group price. We are happy to welcome you into an already scheduled group.  A traditional cooking class may replace the artisan bread making experience for a supplement.  Train station pick up is Conversano.  Airport pick up is at Bari Airport.

Check Availability

2024 Dates: This program is available throughout the year and cooking classes are held every day. Cooking classes begin at 5pm and are approximately 3 hours. Rates are subject to change, based on currency exchange. Call for updated rates. Airfare not included. Group transfers for any cooking tour or tours that include transfers, are for the group and are not private. Transfers before, after or to another destination outside of your cooking tour are not included in the program price. If you would like to add on a private transfer or transfers, let us know and we will send you pricing.