Join us on the shores of Lake Garda for an extraordinary culinary experience with applauded Chef Gianluca, while staying at our 3-star boutique hotel overlooking the lake. Enter the city walls and the alleyways of Peschiera, where balconies overflow with pink & red geraniums and church towers peek out above the rooftops all with the hazy blue of the lake and surrounding mountaintops as the backdrop. Hands-on cooking classes on Lake Garda, a taste of local food and culture in Verona, and suggestions for the food lover’s visits on your own, are the perfect recipe for learning to cook in our Romeo & Juliet program.
Chef Gianluca & his wife Tina, your hostess, lead your hands-on cooking classes in their professional kitchen using seasonal regional products to create classic traditions. Hailed, mani d’oro, golden hands, Gianluca started his career at the Naples Istituto Alberghiero Ippolito Cavalcanti, and then entered the Association of the Academia Cucina Italiana. Learn to prepare seasonal antipasto such as grilled cuttlefish with zucchini, mint and balsamic vinegar, baked scallop in a creamy béchamel sauce on a half-shell, fresh pasta with tuna, cherry tomatoes and black olives, and risotto, specialty fish such as branzino, sea bass poached with cherry tomatoes, or lavarallo, lavaret, baked in a potato-crust and endless pastries, cakes, and homemade breads as Chef Gianluca’s Neapolitan roots make his desserts a true specialty.
Each hands-on cooking class starts at about 9:00am and includes the preparation of an appetizer, a main course and a dessert and lasts approximately three hours. Lunch follows at about 12 noon on the foods prepared in class. Cooking class menus vary to use the best fresh ingredients of the season and Chef Gianluca can accommodate food allergies, diet needs and special menu requests.
Your 3-star hotel is located just outside the ancient walls of the city along the pine-lined river that empties into the stunningly beautiful Lake Garda. A 10-minute stroll takes you to the center of Peschiera or continue along the Lungolago to the beach and beachfront restaurants. The breakfast room and lawn terrace are perfect for sipping a cappuccino and taking in the morning breezes. Daily breakfast includes Italian specialties such as croissants, fruit tarts and homemade cakes, as well as foods to satisfy the international clientele including cheeses, salumi, eggs, toast, cereals, and fresh fruit. Additional specialty breakfast items can be ordered at a surcharge. In the afternoon, head up to the rooftop solarium with Jacuzzi for 360-degree panoramic views, or reserve the spa for a relaxing afternoon.
Each bedroom includes private bathroom, air conditioning, satellite TV, wired Internet on request (Wi-Fi available at reception), hair dryer, safe, telephone and minibar. Each bedroom has a balcony with views that overlook the river, Lake Garda and surrounding hills.
Parking is available at a surcharge and many guests choose to rent bicycles to explore the tiny towns on easy bike paths that circle the lake.
Peschiera Del Garda
Lake Garda is surrounded by small beaches, winding roads with green landscapes, perfumed flowers and a palette of Northern Italian colors.
The climate is mild with silvery olive trees, fragrant herbs, fuchsia bougainvillea and citrus trees that are reminiscent of the verdant Mediterranean coasts. In fact, one of the tiny towns along the coast is named Limone, lemon, famous for its lemon groves and the northern Italian recipe for lemon liqueur, Limoncello. Numerous pretty tourist towns surround the lake with their little harbors, tiny colorful houses, gorgeous mansions and gardens.
Peschiera Del Garda was an important town during the Roman Empire and still today, on a clear day, you can see the castle & Roman ruins of Sirmione across the lake.
The center of Peschiera is surrounded by 16th century city walls that once protected the city. In the narrow streets of the town center there are small boutiques, restaurants, gelaterias and cafés. The wines produced in this area include Lugana, a crisp white wine that was one of the first Italian wines to earn the DOC certification. Legend has it that Lugana wine flowed from Peschiera’s main fountain in celebration of the first stay of King Charles V, who passed through Peschiera after his coronation in Bologna in 1530.
Summer festivals along the lake include sailing regattas, crew races, outdoor music concerts and food sagras. Take a seat on a lakeside bench with a paper cone of fried lake fish that you eat like popcorn or a gelato cone overflowing with flavors such as pink grapefruit, apricot, dark chocolate, mango, lemon, and more, and simply enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.
The shores of Lake Garda are spotted with beautiful towns such as Sirmione on a peninsula that juts into the lake with the Grotte Di Catullo, roman ruins filled with olive trees and perfumed with rosemary hedges throughout. Spend at day at the Terme, thermal springs that are just below the villa with its therapeutic sulfur water flowing naturally into the lake. The charming center of Sirmione is filled with gelaterie, gelato shops, the Scaliger Castle surrounded by a swan-filled moat, and we suggest as stop at Erica’s tiny shop for an olive oil tasting of Lake Garda’s most famous olive, casaliva.
Other towns along the lake include Salo’, Bardolino, Malcesine and Limone. Buy a daily ticket and tour the lake as all the towns are easily accessible by battello, the little ferry boats that circle the lake regularly. You can even bring a bicycle on board!
The lake’s islands include Isola del Garda, Isola di San Biagio and the 3 tiny islands of Isola degli Olivi, Isola di Trimelone, e Isola del Sogno, aptly named the ‘dream island.’
Itinerary ~ 4 days, 3 nights
Check in and start your program Sunday to Wednesday. Other check-in days may be available upon request.
Day 1: Arrival & Chef’s Tasting Dinner
- Arrival and check-in.
- Spend the afternoon at your leisure and explore Peschiera Del Garda, Lake Garda and its surroundings. Staff is at your disposal to suggest some brief excursions or a relaxing treatment at the spa.
- In the evening, stroll over to Tina and Gianluca’s restaurant for your Chef’s Tasting Dinner. Chef Gianluca serves up seasonal specialties for an appetizer, first course, second course and dessert. Wine and beverages not included and Tina will suggest wonderful local wines such as the Lugana to compliment your tasting menu.
Day 2: Cooking Class 1 & Guided Walking Tour Of Verona
- Breakfast is served.
- In the morning, head into the kitchen with Chef Gianluca for your first hands-on cooking class. Lunch follows on the foods prepared in class. Toast with a glass of local red or white wine, included, additional wine & beverages not included.
- Take the train on your own to/from Verona – only about a 15-minute ride on the fast train to meet your guide in Verona for your walking tour in the city of Romeo and Juliet.
- Begin your tour in Piazza Bra, a huge open space dotted with open-air cafes and endowed with a pleasantly provincial atmosphere. Gaze up at Verona’s amphitheater, the Arena, that was built in the first century AD and is still home to operas, concerts and events in the summer months thanks to its fabulous natural acoustics. Then head into the alleyways to see Juliet’s famous balcony, Piazza delle Erbe’s colorful daily market and City Hall’s imposing medieval facade. Continue your walk along the river to Arco dei Gavi, a monumental gate in the city walls. End at the beautiful church of San Zeno, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture.
- During the tour, stop in a couple of typical osterie to enjoy the taste of two of the most famous local wines, Recioto and Amarone della Valpolicella, with finger foods called cicchetti.
- Return to Peschiera Del Garda in the evening at your leisure.
- Dinner on your own.
Day 3: Cooking Class 2, Vineyard Visit & Wine Tasting
- Breakfast is served.
- Return to the kitchen with Chef Gianluca for your second hands-on cooking class. Lunch follows on the foods prepared in class. Toast with a glass of local red or white wine, included, additional wine & beverages not included.
- In the afternoon, visit to a local vineyard just a few minutes outside of Peschiera Del Garda to learn about the local Garda wines, Lugana. Stroll the vineyard and learn about the land that was once under the water of the lake, and now the fertile soil makes wonderfully fragrant white wines with the Trebbiano Di Soave grape. Wine tasting follows paired with local cheeses and salumi.
- Return to the hotel & dinner on your own.
Day 4: Check Out & Arrivederci!
- Breakfast is served.
- Check out and departure on your own. Arrivederci!
*Note: This schedule may vary due to inclement weather, saint days or festivals. All activities, in the event of rescheduling, are always included during the week.
- 4 days, 3 nights accommodations in Double Room with lake view balcony, based on double occupancy. Click to view!
- Daily breakfast.
- 2 hands-on cooking classes with lunch following on the foods prepared in class. Toast with a glass of local wine, included, additional wine and beverages not included.
- Dinner for your first evening including Chef’s Tasting Menu. (Wine & beverages not included).
- Visit to local vineyard with informal discussion and wine tastings. Transport to and from the vineyard included.
- Walking tour of Verona with English speaking guide. Tastings included. *Transport to and from Verona not included, we suggest the fast train.
$1,495 per person, based on double occupancy.
$2,400 per person, based on single occupancy in non-lake view room.
*An Italian visitor tax may apply in some cities and must be paid directly on site at check out.