Breathtaking panoramas, authentic hands-on cooking and the very best Ligurian food and wine – this is what our Secret Liguria program brings to you. We created this program especially for guests who are looking for something different, a new way to experience the beautiful region of Liguria – a way to get straight to the heart of the region’s cuisine.
Your mentor on this culinary journey is charming Chef Luca, and a sommelier, whose cuisine ably combine tradition and innovation making creative use of fresh, local seasonal ingredients. Rather than considering your time in the kitchen as a cooking class, Chef Luca encourages you to give full expression to your curiosity and creativity, discovering and experimenting the region’s first class produce and exploiting your chef’s knowledge and enthusiasm. Luca is passionate about championing the very best local ingredients, and can tell you exactly who grew the vegetables he uses, who fished for the catch of the day and just which hives the honey comes from. When you’re not busy in the kitchen (or at the table!), take time out to explore the marvels of the surrounding hills and coastline, from Levanto & Bonassolo to the handsome villages of the Cinque Terre. You can even hike to these destinations if you like. If you love nature, the surprise of discovery and straying off the beaten path, this is the program for you.
Liguria Cooking Classes
Cooking sessions with Chef Luca are a unique experience. They are customized and hands-on, and more than anything, attempt to convey the heart of soul of Liguria through the creation of its traditional dishes. Both Chef Luca and his staff are deeply attached to their region’s culinary heritage, but are also inspired by the never-ending innovation of the Italian culinary scene.
Learn about the area’s famous mix of greens and herbs, the fresh made artisan cheeses and how to create smooth yellow sheets of hand-made pasta you’ll transform into traditional pansoti or ravioli. Your chef will explain how Liguria’s geography and climate contribute to its top quality ingredients: pine nuts that come from the mountainsides covered in pine trees; mushrooms and game that arrive from the nearby forests; and how the mild Mediterranean weather creates the perfect conditions for producing a variety of vegetables and herbs (think pesto!), and light, fragrant extra virgin olive oils. Menus vary based on the seasons and locally sourced fresh ingredients. Lunch follows on the foods made during class – and, weather permitting, is served on the panoramic terrace. The property also has a judicious wine list, so ask your chef to recommend a local wine to accompany your meal.
Check in to our historical 16th-century which set off the beaten track in the hills of Liguria, perched in a village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the Levanto Valley – just a few kilometers from the Cinque Terre. Time stands still, cocks still crow in the morning, men set to work in the fields at dawn and the sounds and scents of the Ligurian countryside accompany you throughout your journey.
The property, an officially listed palazzo, dates back over one thousand years. Thoughtfully renovated by owners Fabio and Angela, this boutique property offers 4 rooms, and a gem of a restaurant. Rooms offer relaxed elegance and spectacular views overlooking the Levanto valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Each has an attractive blend of antique and “made in Italy” design furnishings and décor with beautiful marble or mosaic ensuite bathrooms. Particular care was taken during the renovation to use local materials and work with local artisans. All rooms are non-smoking and have air conditioning, heating, a safety deposit box, a fridge, a hairdryer and free broadband internet connection. Breakfasts offer a selection of local products, from homemade breads and focaccias to yoghurts and local cheeses, all accompanied by tea, coffee, hot chocolate and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Santa Margherita is the elegant seaside town set on the Riviera and is just 35km south of Genova. Close to Portofino and Rapallo, Santa Margherita is a little gem with an enchanting coastline boasting sea views and a backdrop of rolling green hills! Originally a fishing village, the town is now a charming beachfront destination with excellent restaurants, cafes and artisan shops. The harbor is host to luxury yachts and the small local fishing boats. For the active minded, there is sailing, water-skiing and scuba diving, all in the turquoise Golfo di Tigullio. Santa Margherita is the perfect size town for exploring on foot, so there’s ample opportunity to take in one of the historic villa visits or stroll around the Parco Comunale di Villa Durazzo, a lavish Italian garden with colorful exotic flowers, plants, statues and winding footpaths.
Portofino is the famous Italian fishing village on the Riviera. It was first discovered by the Romans, who had named it Portus Delphini, or Port of the Dolphins because of the dolfins that lived in the Tigullian Gulf. Then the sleepy fishing town became an international attraction with jetsetters from around the world. The small harbor, however, still holds its charm. The Gulf is filled with small wooden boats that are owned by the local fishermen who still make a living with their daily catch. Pastel palazzos stand tall around the piazza that has not changed over time. Small cafés, family owned trattorias cooking up fresh seafood and hand-made pasta, and artisan shops still producing the famous Ligurian olive oil, line alongside the center.
Cinque Terre ~ The 5 Villages
The Cinque Terre brings you into Nature’s wonder of winding green paths, the sound of the sea, and the intense perfumes of myrtle, oleander and lemons. Step into the five villages and discover a treasure of culture and cuisine. The entire area, hailed the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, or the National Park of Cinque Terre, is a little corner of Paradise, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first village is called Monterosso al Mare (when coming from Genoa). It is the only village with a large beach and promenade connecting its historical center to the new Fegina quarter. Then there is Vernazza, located at the mouth of the river, and naturally protected from the sea by a rocky cape. Next, onto Corniglia, which is nestled on a hill surrounded by vineyards with its own sweet country appeal. Then Manarola and Riomaggiore, both clinging to rocky cliffs with multi-colored houses overlooking the sea. Both villages are the most typical and unspoiled villages of the five.
From the property it’s a short ride or an enjoyable hike to the seaside village of Levanto which is known as the Gateway to the Cinque Terre. Stroll around the old town with its pastel colored houses, visit its perfectly conserved medieval castle and the 13th-century Ligurian Gothic church of Sant’Andrea. There are wide, open beaches and, for sports lovers, a series of water activities including canoe or paddle boat hire and boat rentals. Surfing is also popular here, and equipment can be hired locally. From Levanto, take one of the regular ferries to the Cinque Terre, Portofino or Genova or simply explore the myriad paths that link the various villages of the Levanto Valley through vine filled terraces and olive groves.
Itinerary ~ 5 Days, 4 Nights
Check in and start your program on any day of the week
Day One: Check in & Welcome Dinner
- Arrival & Check in. (Between 2pm & 6pm.)
- Chef’s Welcome Dinner, beverages not included and available at a surcharge.
Day Two: Cooking Class
- Breakfast is served.
- Morning free and lunch on your own.
- In the afternoon, wine tasting. Swirl and sip and learn about the wines of Liguria. Tasting included.
- Following the tasting, head to the kitchen for your cooking class with your Chef & sommelier Luca. Bring your enthusiasm and curiosity and prepare to discover the wonderful world of Ligurian cusine. The class will cover the creation of a three different dishes, all based on local seasonal ingredients. In-depth discussion on local products and culinary traditions included. Dinner follows on the foods made during class – and, weather permitting, is served on the panoramic terrace. Beverages not included and available at a surcharge.
Day Three: Cooking Class 2 & Olive Oil Tasting
- Breakfast is served.
- Morning free. Suggestion: head to Levanto where you can take a boat or train to visit the wonderful Cinque Terre with its five pastel villages lined along the coast. Take in the breathtaking panoramas of the Cinque Terre villages with views from paths high above the sea. In one of the villages, pick out a little trattoria and stop for a relaxing bite (not included).
- In the afternoon, extra virgin olive oil tasting – learning about Ligurian oil made on the property. Following the tasting, head to the kitchen for your cooking class with your Chef & sommelier Luca.
Day Four: Portofino & San Margherita Guided Tour
- Breakfast is served.
- In the morning, meet up with your guide and transfer to Levanto Train Station where you will meet your English-speaking guide. From Santa Margherita you will take an excursion boat to Portofino. Sail along the Ligurian Coast and soak up the beauty of villas, lemon groves and olive orchards. You will arrive in Portofino, a picturesque port that attracts tourists and celebrities from around the world. Small cafés spill out onto the cobblestone Piazzetta, setting of the film La Dolce Vita, along with trattorias, restaurants and cafes. Your guide leads you through history, food notes and questions.
- Then your guide will bring you back to Santa Margherita via boat where you will have a couple of hours on your own to sip a wine, shop or sit back and watch the boats go by.
- Return on your own to Levanto train station where you driver will meet you for your return to the property. English-speaking guide & train tickets included. Free for Dinner, Suggestion: check out your Restaurant Hot Picks list for our top choices.
Day Five: Check out & Arrivederci
- Breakfast is served.
- Check out and arrivederci!
- 5 days/4 nights accommodation, based on double occupancy. Click to view!
- Daily breakfast and maid service.
- Welcome dinner on your first night, beverages not included.
- 2 cooking classes with Chef Luca. Lunch follows on the foods prepared during class. Wine not included, available at a surcharge.
- Olive Oil Tasting
- Wine Tasting
- Excursion to Portofino & Santa Margherita with English speaking guide
- Welcome bag with chef’s apron and recipe book.
$2395 per person, based on double occupancy in historic country inn.
Please call for single pricing so we can secure the best and lowest rate having you join a small like minded group.
** Please note this program is suited for active, discerning guests who are looking for a small, authentic property offering great food and wine in a country hamlet. The hotel is accessible by a footpath and the nearest parking area is 80 meters from the property. Not suitable for guests with huge amounts of luggage or those looking for a busy hotel with conventional services.
2020 Dates: This program is available from April 17 to October 11. Check in and start your cooking program any day of the week. Check in is between 2pm and 6pm – other times available on request. 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.