Secret Garden™

Positano ~ Cooking Classes On The Amalfi Coast ~8 Days™

Cooking Tours
Prices & Dates

Join Chefs Filomena, Fortunata, Giuseppe, Raffaele, Carmine and Emilio for cooking classes on the Amalfi Coast in Positano’s Secret Garden on the splendid Amalfi Coast. With them you will learn how to make regional antipasto, fresh pasta, local fish, meat or pizza in the heart of Positano. This program features our Chefs’ seasonal and regional recipes based on the healthy Mediterranean diet. Our Secret Garden program takes you on a culinary tour of the famed Amalfi Coast and its Mediterranean cuisine with our team of chefs, all while you soak up the culture and visit fun artisan food stops and landmarks.

We welcome you to our professional Mediterranean kitchen for hands-on cooking classes where you will create a series of authentic recipes using different recipes, techniques and styles.  This one-of-a-kind cooking program brings you up close and into the kitchen of the Amalfi Coast’s most celebrated chefs – the ideal tour for the real foodie.

Positano Cooking Classes

Our program includes three hands-on cooking classes (you may always add-on more if you like) with lunch or dinner following. Our chefs learned the secrets of Italian cooking from their grandmothers and in culinary school. In each cooking class we use only fresh organic products that are seasonal. You will experience southern Italy’s cooking styles, foods and wines in this unique food lover’s program.

In each cooking classes you will make regional recipes starting with antipasto: fiori di zucca ripieni – stuffed squash flowers, arancini, crochette di patate, involtini di melanzane, polpettini di melanzane, pasta: gnocchi, ravioli Capresi and scialatielli, a main course: spigola al limone, pesce all’acqua pazza, vitello Positanese, pollo con le erbe e limone, and dessert: torta Caprese, torta Vesuvio, babà soaked in limoncello, gelato and crostate, to name a few.

During the week, you will also learn the technique of making authentic Neapolitan pizza with our award-winning pizzaiolo, pizza-maker, who learned to make la vera pizza Napoletana, real Neapolitan pizza, in Naples. This authentic pizza making class shares the secret recipe for mixing, kneading and stretching delicate pizza dough and baking it at a high temperature in a wood-burning oven for a perfect crispy crust.

If pasta is your favorite, you can choose to add on our Pasta Making Workshop where you will make additional fresh, hand-made pasta with seasonal sauces. Fresh pasta making is an art in Italy, and in Positano you will learn to make it step-by-step! Believe it or not, Italy boasts over 1,000 different types of pasta, including gnocchi, ravioli, tortellini, cannelloni, orecchiette, casarecci, and garganelli, to name but a few.

If you are an advanced cooker or chef, we can offer the same Secret Garden Cooking Tour with advanced cooking classes and make it a tailor-made menu for you. Just let us know.

After each class, everyone enjoys eating the food that was prepared in class accompanied with a glass of red or white wine.

The Secret Garden Positano™

Our charming Secret Garden™ Positano program is hosted at your choice of accommodations:  a B&B, 3, 4 or 5 star property located in the center of town and overlooking the sea. Cool ceramic tiles line each bedroom, with a private bathroom and shower in each room. Additional amenities include: hairdryer, safe, refrigerator, and air conditioning. Breakfast is served each morning, and daily maid service is provided for your convenience.  Positano is filled with flowered pergolas and greenery, vertical cliffs jut from sea and its one winding road circles the town.

The Secret Garden™ is truly a magical setting, terraced with lemon trees, and plush green gardens and set under spectacular bougainvilleas overlooking the sea. Guests can sunbathe on the beach or relax at one of the cozy sidewalk cafés with a freshly squeezed lemonade. Step out your door and stroll past cafés, bookshops, and trattorias that spill onto the sidewalk. A panoramic view spans Li Galli Islands and the Amalfi Coast. The Tyrrhenian Sea is literally at your feet, and the beach is just a short walk away. As the sun sets, sit back on your terrace and watch the world-class yachts and local fishing boats ripple through the cerulean waters. Shuttle boats connect from each of Positano’s beaches and sail along the Amalfi Coast. From Positano’s port you can also take a water taxi or a private boat service to Sorrento, Ischia, Capri, Amalfi and Naples.

Mediterranean gardens and lemon groves dot the Amalfi Coast, and gardens grow almost all year long producing red cherry tomatoes, plump eggplant, zucchini and sweet oranges. Olives also grow in abundance thanks to the warm Mediterranean climate, fertile volcanic soil and salted sea breeze, all of which provide perfect growing conditions. Organic herbs of basil, sage, parsley, oregano, rosemary and mint, line gardens and fill pretty terracotta pots set on terraces. The local organic herbs that we grow in our garden are used in our cooking classes, along with our own first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.

Positano ~

“Positano bites deep, it’s a dream place, that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”  John Steinbeck.

John Steinbeck lived in Positano in 1953 and wrote, “Positano bites deep, it’s a dream place, that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”

Over time, Positano has attracted artists, writers, and photographers who came to capture its magic. It is a little Moorish-style village that was discovered by American and British troops at the end of World War II. Positano’s small winding streets are filled with tiny cafés, terraces, and artisan shops selling ceramics, limoncello and antiques. Take a walk along the stone pathway, the one little street that leads to the beach. Visit the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta in Piazza Flavio Gioia, a Romanesque structure that was completely rebuilt in 1700. The people of Positano celebrate the town’s feast day every August 15th, when the locals carry the statue along the beach with a parade of musicians. A spectacular firework display follows.

In the 10th century, Positano was part of Amalfi’s Maritime Republic, and rivaled Venice as an important mercantile power. It was an important center during the 16th and 17th centuries, when its ships traded in the Near and Middle East, carrying spices, silks and precious woods. The advent of the steamship in the mid-19th century led to the town’s decline; and some three quarters of its 8,000 citizens left for America, with most settling in New York. Gracing the pathway is the Palazzo Murat, originally built by Prince Joachim Murat, whom Napoleon designated as King of Naples in 1808. Murat wanted to lead the simple life, yet built a grand palazzo. He was killed in battle and never enjoyed his palace.

The majolica dome, Positano’s landmark, is that of the Chiesa Madre, or the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta. It has a green and yellow majolica dome, topped by a cupola. It was built on the site of a former Benedictine Abbey of Saint Vito, a 13th-century Romanesque structure, and was almost completely rebuilt in 1700. The church has a carved wooden Christ, a masterpiece of devotional religious art. At the altar, is a 13th-century Byzantine painting on wood with the Madonna and Child, known as the Black Virgin. Legend claims that the painting was once stolen by Saracen pirates, who, when fleeing during a raging storm, heard a voice from the heavens, say: “Posa, posa!” “Put it down, put it down.” When they placed the statue on the beach near the church the storm calmed, as did the Saracens. Positano was saved, and the town’s name was established. Others claim the town is named after the god Poseidon.

On Positano’s famous beachfront is Tre Sorelle Ristorante, and Music On The Rocks. This lively area offers great people-watching opportunities. The footpath, Via Positanesi d’America, follows the sea and connects the Spiaggia Grande with Fornillo Beach. Three Saracen towers watch its shore: the most famous ones are, La Torre Trasita, La Sponda and Torre Di Fornillo, all from the 14th century. Set in the sea just a short distance away, are the mysterious islets of Li Galli. Legend has it that they were once mermaids and now have turned to stone.

Itinerary: 8 days, 7 nights

This program is scheduled from Saturday to Saturday, however you may check in and start your program on any day of the week. If you do start on a day other than Saturday, you will start your activities on that day, and all activities described will be included during your program.

Saturday: Benvenuto & Chef’s Tasting Dinner

  • Pick-up and transfer from Naples airport or train station to the property.
  • Arrival & check-in. Refresh and relax on your private terrace with an aperitivo. Read over the contents of your Welcome Bag including helpful information that will acquaint you with the area, and go over your itinerary for your cooking program. Also included is your Chef’s apron and general information and notes on landmarks, and our “Hot Pick list.”
  • Later in the evening, you will be served the full course Chef’s Tasting Dinner at our favorite local restaurant. Dine on award-winning southern regional Italian food set in charming surroundings that overlook the panoramic Amalfi Coast. (Wine, drinks, grappa and an assortment of after dinner digestives are not included, and are available at a surcharge).

Sunday: Capri, Italy’s Glamorous Seaside Island and The Blue Grotto

  • Breakfast is served
  • A full-day visit to the Isle of Capri, where you can choose to see the Blue Grotto – the Eighth Wonder of the World or stroll along the port. The Blue Grotto has a special cavern entrance where the sunlight reflects on the water in the cave, tingeing it a dramatic Mediterranean cerulean shade of blue. Capri is Italy’s most popular and well-known seaside island and is just twenty minutes away. Once in the port of Capri, you can choose to take the funicular up to the famous Piazza Umberto. The square, better known as ‘la piazzetta’ , is perched high above the sea and offers a panoramic view of the Bay of Naples and Ischia. At the main Piazza, you will find many designer shops and luxury boutiques or you can simply sit at a café and enjoy a gelato or Prosecco Mimosa.
  • A favorite place on Capri is Anacapri. This old world village that once captured the hearts of writers, artists and poets is dainty, delicate and quiet. Anacapri, the highest point on the island, virtually carries you back in time. Walk through narrow streets lined with Grecian-style whitewashed villas, ancient churches, and small bookshops. From Anacapri, take the chair lift up to Monte Solaro; pass the castle of Barbarosso, fields of Capri flowers and marvel at a clear blue sky that seems to turn 360 degrees above you.
  • This full day excursion departs from Positano port at 9:00am, the boat continues around the island and you will be able to see the Natural Arch, White, Green and Blue Grotto lasting approximately 3 hours, and then docks in Marina Grande approximately at 12noon and you have 4 hours on the island to explore on your own.  Your Captain will explain your meeting point please be on time for your departure.  (If you suffer from sea sickness let us know and we will put you on the Positano Jet which takes 25 to 30 minutes each way, without the Capri Island tour by boat).

Add-On A Driver

While on land in Capri and if you want to see all the sites with ease, we suggest that you reserve a private car tour with Signor Costanzo our favorite driver. Costanzo will drive and guide you to each point of interest, while pointing out fascinating historical sites and facts along the way. He will drive to the highest peak in Anacapri, and to hidden gardens and villas where emperors once reigned. A 4-hour excursion in the driver’s sporty Capri Car is available from 1 to up to 6 people, upon request (The Capri Car driver’s fee is extra).

  • After your stay on the island, re-embark on board with your Captain for a sail around the island. The boat tour includes a stop at the Blue Grotto (if open and weather permitting), and a swim by the White Grotto.
  • Evening free and on your own. Suggestion – dinner at Taverna dell Leone. Please tell them you are from Cooking Vacations; they will suggest a food lover’s menu and delicate desserts and gelato to follow. After dinner, take a walk to the beach and visit dance club and music bar, “Music On The Rocks”, which is carved in a natural rock formation, dance under the stars, or sit outside one of the café tables by the sea.

Cooking Class 1 ~ Traditional Neapolitan Cooking Class

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Monday: Discover Positano ~ Cooking Class 1
  • Cooking Class 1 Tie on your aprons and get ready to cook! You will be slicing, dicing and preparing, hands-on antipasto, pasta, main course and dessert. Follow your chef, step by step, and create your first delicious, authentic Italian meal. Lunch follows and everyone enjoys the foods that were prepared in class. Toast with a glass of local red or white wine and end with a sweet dessert, included.  Additional wines, beverages and after-dinner digestives available at a surcharge.
  • Mozzarella, Fresh Artisan Cheese: Italian Cheese, made by artisan hands, is always an important part of our Regional cooking. Learn how to use local regional mozzarella and caciotta uniquely in appetizers, pasta and main courses with your chef who has learned the art of cheese making from their family business for many generations.  Cheese making on the Amalfi Coast, where the focus is on fresh cheese made daily, is an ancient art and is used in the local regional cooking in many ways.
  •  Explore Positano & Visit Sorrento
  • After lunch, take a walk to the beach and watch the sun sets Discover Positano, and stroll through the cobblestone streets, visit the 18th-century courtyard of the Palazzo Murat.  In the piazza at the beach, see our friend and local artist Pasquale Volpe, who paints the people and landscapes of Positano in delicate watercolors.
  • Hop on a bus, water taxi or hire our driver, Rino for a visit to Sorrento, as a suggestion.  It you opt to take the local blue SITA bus or the Positano-Sorrento Water Taxi. (You will need to buy your round trip bus tickets in the Mulini Café in the Piazza Mulini or at Bar International.)  Explore Sorrento the city of song, dance and the Tarantella on your own. Visit Piazza Tasso and the famous Fauno Café, walk through the cobblestone streets and see artisans make shoes, leather bags, ceramics, confetti and wedding candies. Visit the artisan soap maker who produces lemon soap from the essence of the Sorrento lemons. Visit the famous limoncello maker and see how this delicious local drink is made, complimentary tastings included. Stop at the artisan “Confetti & Agrumeti,” and watch Antonio toast the almonds and then coat them in chocolate, orange zest or lemon. Complimentary tastings of the sugarcoated almonds are available. Walk to Marina Grande in old Sorrento and visit the Church of Saint Ann – the patron saint of the marina – sip a Prosecco at the Fauno Café, or stroll along the famous Corso Italia.
  • Dinner is on your own, your Restaurant Hot Pick list will offer you lots to chose from.

Tuesday: Cooking Class 2

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Morning is free. Suggestions: Limoncello Making Add-On Class or Fornillo Beach.
  • You may want to add on the Limoncello Making Class on the villa terrace overlooking the sea. The Positano lemons used in making authentic DOP Limoncello, blossom and bloom four times per year. We start off the class with an informal discussion on the history behind the lemons and how they made their way on the Amalfi Coast. Learn our secrets on cooking with the Amalfi Coast lemons. Get peeling and watch the famous lemon liqueur come alive before your eyes. As the lemons bathe in the magic mixture, we fill your glass with an ice cold Limoncello. Tasting of limoncello included.
  • Or, take a walk through the winding streets of Positano on your own, and venture off to Fornillo at Ferdinando’s Beach. Ferdinando’s, lined with colorful beach chairs and umbrellas, is where the locals go. Guido will guide you to your beach chair, while Mamma Celeste is in the kitchen preparing the specials of the day. Stay for a bite, take a swim or sip a limoncello. Walk the sands where Diane Lane’s love story took her in the film “Under The Tuscan Sun.”
  • Cooking Class 2: Tie on your apron and get ready for your second hands-on cooking class. Start with our antipasto, then get busy creating pasta, a main course and dessert. Lunch or dinner follows on the foods prepared in class after the cooking class. Toast with a glass of red or white local wine, and end with a sweet dessert, both included. (Additional wines, beverages, after dinner drinks and more are available at a surcharge).
  • Enjoy the evening at one of the many wine bars, cafes or dance clubs.

Wednesday:  Cooking Class 3 ~ Lemon Lifestyles

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Cooking Class 3 Lemon Lifestyles: Tie on your apron and get ready for your third hands-on cooking class using the local lemons. Alongside the chefs, create a traditional antipasto, first course, second course and dessert. Lunch or dinner follows on the foods prepared in class after the cooking class. Toast with a glass of red or white local wine, and end with a sweet dessert, both included. (Additional wines, beverages, after dinner drinks and more are available at a surcharge).
  • Afternoon & evening free and on your own. Suggestion – wander round Positano’s hidden backstreets and piazzas. Choose a quiet little café and spend a pleasurable half hour watching the world go by.
  • Dinner is on your own, your Restaurant Hot Pick list will offer you lots to chose from.

Thursday: The Amalfi Coast & Ravello Excursion ~ Olive Oil Discussion & Tasting

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Drive along the famed Amalfi Coast headed to Amalfi and the hilltop village of Ravello. Along the way, stop to visit our artisan ceramic maker. You will see old-world ceramics like table tops made of volcanic rock and hand painted in soft colors with seascapes, grapes and lemons, romantic angels and Mediterranean scenes. This family-owned producer of ceramics also ships worldwide.

Amalfi

The town of Amalfi is rich in culture and history. The small town, perched on the coastline, is dominated by Amalfi’s Cathedral and its main streets are lined with small shops and elegant bars. Merchants display their wares outside and nothing could be more pleasant than browsing through stalls of herbs and spices, jewelry, shoes, the beautiful handmade Amalfi paper, and local lemon specialties such lemon soap and lemon liqueurs. Suggested is a stop in at one of the oldest and most famous pastry makers in southern Italy – dating back to the 1800’s. A look inside reveals a sweet showcase of chocolate drenched eggplant flavored with pine nuts, liqueur and orange; fragrant ricotta pear tarts; candied lemon and orange dragged in dark chocolate; or festive pastries of the day! Whatever you decide to order, take a seat outside in the piazza at one of the small café tables that overlook the greatest people-watching site on the Coast.

Ravello follows. This quaint town, often called the city between ‘Sea & Sky,’ is suspended high above the coast, with sweeping views that span everything from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the mountains inland.

Ravello

Ravello is hailed the ‘International City of Music’ and is known for its precious panoramic view from the gardens of Villa Cimbrone. The town is perched 350 meters over the rocky spur of the Amalfi Coast separating the Valle del Dragone from the Valle del Regina. Today, Ravello is world-famous for its outdoor music concerts. Visit Villa Cimbrone, once the residence of Greta Garbo, wander through the lush gardens and the Terrazza Della Rosa, or stroll down the path that leads to the Terrazzo dell’Infinito (Terrace of Infinity). This natural balcony is adorned with imposing marble busts. From this unique vantage point you can see the distant Cilento Mountains and the Licosa beyond the sparkling sea, the lush Amalfi Coast, its distinctive terraces of colorful lemon trees, and the typical whitewashed houses that cling to the rugged coastline. Stroll along the streets and alleyways and discover little gems of churches, chapels, and noblemen’s residences. Also see the Cathedral, Villa Rufolo, San Giovanni del Tauro, and Santa Maria.

Add-On Anna, Our Guide for A Market Visit & Food Lover’s Tour Amalfi and Ravello Landmark Tour

You may also reserve our private English guided tour with Anna and Alessio, native Ravello residents and eloquent food lover and art history experts who will take you on a Market Visit & Food Lover’s Tour Amalfi and Ravello Landmark Tour to the two towns, Amafli & Ravella, gardens, pathways, villas, shops, artisans and churches of the town.  If  you love food and wine, Angela offers insight and history.  The walking tour starts out with introduction to the historical city of Amalfi, and then moves on to all the best stops for food, produce, wine, pastry and cheese. As we make our way through the beautiful seaside towns, we make a couple of tasty stops along the way, meet local producers of wine, cheese, bread and more, and learn about the seasonal fruits, vegetables, fish & cheese of the Amalfi Coast. Tastings included. (Guide’s fee is extra, please reserve in advance.)

  • Olive Oil Tasting. Join us for a tasting of our locally produced Extra Virgin Olive Oil. At Cooking Vacations we make our own first-cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from healthy olives that have been tended and cared for all summer long. We use only the first cold press Virgin olive oil. It means that the oil we bottle is pressed only one time giving it a clean fresh taste. Virgin means it is pure and not mixed with anything else. It is DOP-Denominazione di Origine Protetta, ‘origin protected’ domain of production-and “made on site in Italy.” Grown under the warm Mediterranean sun, in rich volcanic soil, and with salt sea winds, our olives make perfect olive oil. We respect the old world process of picking just at the right time, just in October and not too late in the season. Always organic. Our olive oil it is made without chemicals or preservatives, we promise. The informal tasting provides a bit of insight into tasting, buying and using olive oil.
  • Dinner is on your own, your Restaurant Hot Pick list will offer you lots to chose from.

Friday: Pompeii Excursion~Discover This Ancient Roman Civilization

  • Breakfast is served.
  • After breakfast, begin your day with an early morning excursion to Pompeii. Visit the famous seat of this ancient Roman civilization near Naples whose ruins date back to 79AD. Discover and explore the ancient city that was covered by the eruption of Vesuvius, and unravel the ancient mystery of the Roman Empire. Visit Pompeii’s open-air museum and explore the labyrinth of paths that lead you through the ruins of the buried city. Take time out for a panino in the café near the forum.
  • Our professional guide is available for the Pompeii tour. Please reserve in advance. (The guide’s fee is not included in the excursion.  Museum entrance tickets not included).
  • Dinner is on your own, your Restaurant Hot Pick list will offer you lots to chose from.

Saturday: Check Out & Departure

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Departure transfer to airport or train station. Ciao e a presto!

*Note: This sample itinerary schedule may vary due to inclement weather, saints days; festivals.  All activities, in the event of rescheduling, are always included during the week.  Please note that museum tickets are not included in program price.

 

Program Includes:

  • Eight days/seven nights accommodations, based on double occupancy in a villa-style Bed & Breakfast with private bath-and sea view. Click to view Accommodations Options & Upgrades!
  • Daily breakfast
  • Three hands-on cooking classes, with lunch or dinner following. A toast of local wine included, with additional wines, beverages, after-dinner liqueur and caffè available at a surcharge.
  • Full course Chef’s Tasting Menu on your first night arrival. (Wine, beverages, after-dinner liqueurs and caffè available at a surcharge).
  • Excursion to Amalfi and Ravello with private driver. (Private tour guide available on request).
  • Capri boat trip. (Private tour guide available on request).
  • Excursion to Pompeii with private driver. (Private tour guide available on request).
  • Olive Oil Tasting with informal discussion and tastings.
  • Welcome bag with chef’s apron, recipe booklet and information booklet.
  • Welcome Prosecco cocktail.
  • Round trip group transfers from Naples Airport or Naples Train station to Positano. *
  • * Wi-Fi internet connection available.
Program Prices

$2,995 per person, based on double occupancy with sea view.  Italian VAT included.
Click to view Accommodations Options & Upgrades!
$730 starting price for single supplement.

$2,695 per person, based on double occupancy with mountain view.  Italian VAT included.
Click to view Mountain View Option!
$300 starting price for single supplement.

Check Availability

2018 Dates: This program is available throughout the year. Check in is on Saturday, but you may check in and start your cooking program any day of the week. If you check in on any other day besides Saturday, you simply start your program on that day and pick up that day’s activities. You will have all your activities included. This program is available 12 months per year. 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.

***Positano has many stairs throughout. People who do not like to walk or have health problems are advised to read up on the landscape of Positano and reserve the 3-Star~By The Piazza or 4-Star option. We suggest walking shoes, sun block, and a hat for Capri and Pompeii.

ROUND TRIP TRANSFERS

*Round trip group transfers from Naples Airport/Train to Positano and from Positano to Naples Airport/Train are included in your program.  1 transfer per group each way.  ARRIVAL-Arrival transfers from Naples Airport going to Positano are at scheduled 1:00pm and 4:00pm; and from Naples train station to Positano at 3:00pm, in consideration of international arrivals. Departures leave promptly at the scheduled time. For single travelers not arriving on a Saturday, an additional transfer fee will apply.  Please call us if you have any questions about your airline and train itinerary.

If you cannot make the scheduled group transfer time, a special transfer can be reserved and the cost is 130€ per car; 165€ if after 6pm. All transfer fees are payable directly to the car service. Please call us if you have any questions.

DEPARTURE-Departure from the property in Positano to Naples Airport/Train are at 4am and 10am (in heavy traffic conditions, departures may start 30 minutes prior). 10am is the official property check out time on the morning of your departure. If you would like an earlier or later departure transfer, a special transfer departure can be reserved and the cost is 130€ per car; 165€ if before 8:00am.

For single travelers not arriving/departing on a Saturday, an additional transfer fee will apply.  All extra add on transfer fees are payable directly to the car service.

City taxes, which vary, are not included and must be paid by each guest on site at the time of check out.  Please call us if you have any questions.

Additional Cooking Classes

Classes can be added on to your program at an extra cost. You can add on additional classes during the week to the 3 that are already scheduled. We are always at your service to answer questions, and add on extra cooking classes.

Learn To Make Traditional Limoncello

Pasta Making Positano

Italian Pastry Making

Italian Desserts, Gelato & Sorbetto

Positano Fish!

Advanced Cooking Class Positano

Chef Maria’s Cooking Class Capri