July 13 – July 21, 2019
With Special Guest
Chance Morgan is the founder and owner of the Native Meat Company. An accomplished chef, he began producing his artisanal meats because of an interest in utilizing regionally raised animals and exploring traditional preparations in curing and smoking meats. A renowned craftsman in this practice, his production has been compared to the finest European cured meats. On the other hand, his knowledge of American traditions, such as boudin and andouille sausage making, is equally acknowledged. These factors make Chance the ideal guide with whom to explore the world of Italian – and Umbrian - Salumi, in its extraordinary diversity and sophistication. Participants in the course will make a variety of whole-meat, as well as chopped meat types and methods, beginning with butchering the whole animal (both wild boar and domestic pigs) to curing and preserving and aging the meats. The group will travel along with the Food and Wine Tour to Florence and to Norcia in order to experience Tuscan traditions as well as the “Mecca” of cured meats from which Italian “norcini” (butchers) get their name.
24/7 bilingual onsite support
Double occupancy accommodation at ICA
3 meals per day (*except as noted)
Itinerary as described with all ground transport and guide
Activities described in the itinerary
Not included in cost
International Airfare for participants
Travel Insurance with Emergency Evacuation coverage (required)
Health Insurance (required)
Meals on excursions
Snacks and beverages at stopovers in transit
Arrive in Monte Castello: Orientation
After leaving the Fiumicino airport at 11:30 AM, we travel about an hour and a half to Monte Castello where a delightful late lunch awaits us.
After lunch, participants are shown to their rooms and relax until we meet for a tour of the village at 5 PM. Afterwards, we meet at the Café Centrale to enjoy a glass of Prosecco and a spectacular view of the Tiber Valley. At 7:00 PM, we will move to the ICA terrace for a wine tasting. We will sample noteworthy wine from the region and develop an understanding of why Condé Nast called our area: “the top upcoming wine region in Italy.”
Next, we will enjoy a visit by Andrea Andreani, owner of the Ristorante L’Alberata. Andrea will introduce us to some of the unique cured and cooked meats as well as cheeses of the region. L’Alberata is particularly known for their creative combinations of cured meats, cheeses, and fruits in their antipasti and for their sophistication in pairing them with wine. It will be an informative and tasty introduction to this aspect of Umbrian cuisine and provide insights into a family business based on a love of Umbrian cuisine.
Introduction to the Environs of Monte Castello and Truffle hunt
After breakfast, we’ll experience an introduction to the kitchen by our chef, Katia Costanzi, who will introduce us to the flavors of Umbria and to the extraordinary ingredients she uses to prepare our delicious meals.
We’ll also meet some of the producers of the products that we use in our kitchen, such as: artisanal cheeses, sun-dried fruits and nuts, and ingredients from the forest including mushrooms, truffles, and wild game. We will meet Massimo Cappoccia, whose family has been producing some of the finest olive oil in the world for generations and sample some of their best production. Afterward, we will meet our friend Andrea Barcarotti, whose occupation is to seek out the rich treasures of the Umbrian woodlands. Andrea will introduce us to the bounty and diversity of truffles and mushrooms found in the forests that surround Monte Castello. We will follow his dogs Zara and Sasha into the forest and see just how it’s done. It is truly amazing to these incredible dogs scurrying through the forest and field fringes, discovering fresh and aromatic truffles.
Following lunch, participants will be introduced to the breakdown of carcasses of both a wild boar and a pig. Under the guidance of skilled Norcino (butcher) Chase Morgan, we will work with the whole carcasses, which will be split in two. The class will then break into two groups and undertake the process.]
At 7 PM, we’ll have an introduction to wines of the region and a tasting, accompanied by a representative from the local Conti Faina Vineyard ( https://www.contifaina.it/ ). This is one of the oldest and most venerable vineyards in our area and we will visit their ancient cellar later in the trip. Dinner will be at 8:30.
We will depart at 7 AM for our trip to Florence, and have breakfast en route at Autogrill (breakfast today is not included). The quintessential Italian highway rest stop, Autogrill is nothing like the 7-11 type food stores or fast food one finds at highway rest stops in the United States, for example. Established after the Second World War as a state-owned enterprise, Autogrill certainly has fast service - the preparation of an exceptional cappuccino, for example, in the blink of an eye is amazing! However, the range of delicious sandwiches and sweet rolls, excellent coffee, and fresh-squeezed orange juice is extraordinary!
After our brief stop, we will exit the Autostrada and pass through the heart of the Chianti Classico territory. Here we will stop at vineyards producing Chianti Classico, before arriving in Florence. In this way, we will have a real hands-on experience of the wines we will sample in the city famous for art, food, and of course, wine.
Once in Florence, we will begin a walking tour of the historical city, passing by such landmarks as the church of Santa Croce (where Michelangelo, Galileo, and other great Florentines are buried), the Duomo (one of the world’s great architectural masterpieces), and Piazza della Signoria (original site of Michelangelo’s David and of many significant events in the history of Florence). Nearby, we’ll enjoy a late lunch at the fantastic Mercato Centrale (Central Market). The building was constructed in 1874, when Florence was the capital of Italy. The building was re-designed by Giuseppe Mengoni with the addition of one of the world’s great food courts, in 2014 to celebrate the 140th anniversary of its iron and glass architecture.
Also called, the San Lorenzo Market, it also offers a fascinating glimpse of the everyday life of Florentines as they shop for fresh fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other products. The lunch today is not included in the trip price as so many options are available to visitors. However, we strongly advise sampling the bollito (boiled beef) sandwich at the iconic Da Nerbone sandwich stand. (Don’t miss the spicy green sauce and a glass of the red table wine to complete the experience.) Upstairs, you’ll have the opportunity to sample one of Florence’s culinary masterpieces, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, as well as fried rabbit, in addition to a selection of seafood, breads, pastries and wines- thus showcasing the range and diversity as well as the richness of Florentine cuisine. (Here you will also find an excellent range of draft beers with many Italian options.)
We will depart Florence about 6 PM and en route to Monte Castello, at 8:30 we will stop for dinner of fresh fish at Ristorante Da Faliero ( www.faliero.it ) on the beautiful shore of Lake Trasimeno, virtually on the spot where Hannibal defeated the Romans at the famous Battle of Trasimeno.
We will be back in Monte Castello by 11.
Whole Muscle Salumi
The day will be entirely devoted to considering whole muscle salumi as well as cooked and cured hams. We will discuss different seasoning and spices used and also the different methods that can be used to cure meat. We will also consider food safety and hygiene providing an overview of dangerous microorganisms and how to prevent them through proper handling and sanitation throughout the production process.
Traditional Umbrian forms we will sample and discuss: Budellacci, Pancetta, Capocollo, Lombetto, Guanciale or Barbozzo, Barbozzo di Cinghiale, Spalla, and Spalla Cotta, Prosciutto di Norcia: (both the typical Norcia type, aged for up to a year and the “Antico di Norcia,” aged for two years), Prosciutto Nostrano, and Speck (cooked ham)
Methods of production we will cover:
Salt Curing, N'duja, Capocollo, Prosciuttino, Culatello, Lardo di Colonnata, Ciauscolo, Figatelli, Lucanica, Strolghino
Brine Curing, Fritture di Maiale, Guancia, Culatello di Maiale, Piedi di Maiale. We will also discuss brine curing of vegetables.
We will produce as many of the above as time permits. However, it is important to note that the aging of the meats above can, in some cases, take up to a year – perhaps even longer. With this in mind, we will not be able to sample our own production of a number of these salumi in the course of the workshop. Special rates will be in effect for those who return next summer for our Master class as well as the opportunity to sample the aged, 2019 production.
At 6 PM, maestro muratore (master mason) Sandro Tomassi, will provide a tour of the village and will discuss the ancient techniques of muratura tradizionale in pietra (traditional stone masonry). Sandro is a resident of Monte Castello – as his family has been, since the 18th century (and likely before those records). His family has practiced masonry nearly as long, maintaining the traditions handed down from the ancient Etruscans. Sandro will point out some of the interesting features of the village, including the infamous“doors of the dead,” seen around the village. Afterward, he will demonstrate the technique of cutting stones by hand and laying walls in the traditional way.
Dinner at 8.
At 7:00 AM we depart Monte Castello for a 9:00 AM tour of the fantastic water gardens at Tivoli (http://www.villadestetivoli.info/storiae.htm ). The sixteenth century garden--a UNESCO World Heritage Culture Site--is a true marvel of engineering and its magnificent sixteenth-century fountains are completely powered by gravity. Our two-hour visit will focus on Villa d’Este.
After a brief lunch we continue to the next site, Sacro Bosco (Sacred Wood, or Sacred Grove) or Parco dei Mostri (Park of the Monsters) just below the village of Bomarzo. Designed and built by Pier Francesco Orsini in the sixteenth century as a means of coping with his grief over the loss of his wife, the enormous mannerist sculptures of fantastical beasts that inhabit the park are carved from the living rock of the hillside.
From 3:00- 5:00 we will visit Marmore Falls (http://www.marmorefalls.it/?lang=eng ). This, the tallest waterfall in Europe, was actually made by the Romans, around 250 BC as means of draining the nearby swampland. It is one of the great natural sites of Italy, and was called by the poet, Lord Byron: “the most beautiful waterfall in Europe”. Today, the falls are used to produce hydroelectric power and the water is diverted for certain periods during the day – being at the site to see the enormous volume of water begin tumbling down the mountainside is an unforgettable experience. Be sure to bring a raincoat. During the hour and a half visit, we suggest walking up to observation platform: “Lovers Balcony” to see the unique, circular rainbow.
At 5:30 PM we will depart for the return to Monte Castello. Along the way, we’ll stop at the Signae Vineyard outside of the village of Bastardo to meet the owner, Luciano Cesarini, to hear his remarkable story about the founding of his vineyard and winery – and of course, to sample his wonderful wines! We will be back in Monte Castello in time for dinner
Assisi/ Deruta/ Madonna del Bagni/ Arnaldo Caprai
This morning we will explore traditional forms of Salumi Insaccati, including: Salame Milano, Salame Napoli, Salame Genova, Salame Brianza, Salame di Fabriano, Salame di Felino, Salame di Mugnano, Salame Gentile, Finocchia, and Sopprasetta.
Our workshop focus, from a pragmatic perspective, will be on utilizing the rest of the carcass in triturazione (chopped meat) preparations in which the ground meat and spices are then encased (insaccati) in natural casing made from intestines. In addition to salt cured and brine cured salumi, we will also make fresh salsicce (sausage) using the famous Monte Castello salsicce recipe. In addition, we will compare a few classic fresh sausages of American traditions - Cajun Boudin and Andouille.
Lunch is served at 1 PM
At 2:30 PM we depart for Assisi. Upon arrival, we’ll be dropped off at the Church of San Francesco, UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the most impressive churches in Italy, and one of the most important churches in the Roman Catholic Church. We will discuss its architecture and its artistic treasures. We will tour the church as a group and point out important monuments and allow time for individual exploration and contemplation. Afterwards, we will Depart for Deruta to see the renowned Nulli Majolica pottery studio (http://www.maiolichenulli.com), where those who are interested can try their hand at pottery throwing on the wheel. After, a brief stop for amazing homemade pastry and gelato in Deruta (cost of pastry, gelato, and other refreshments is not included).
As we continue, we’ll visit of the town of Montefalco, home of the world famous Sagrantino Wine, which is grown nowhere else on earth. We will stop at one of the most famous vineyards in Europe, Arlando Caprai, to enjoy a fantastic wine tasting. While here, we will learn about the history of this famous vineyard that did so much to cultivate and refine the renowned Sagrantino grape, taking it from lowly origins to one of the most celebrated and unique wines in Italy. We return to Monte Castello for dinner at 8.
The Sibillini Mountains and the Vini del Sagrantino Trail
We will leave immediately after breakfast on our trek to the spectacular Sibillini Mountains, along the Sagrantino Trail and here we’ll see some of the finest vineyards in Umbria. Our path itself follows the routes familiar to the ancient Umbra people and then later by the Romans. We’ll explore a spectacular landscape that includes abandoned castles, ancient hamlets, and extraordinary vineyards. Passing through the rolling mountains on our route, we pass through ancient villages such as Gualdo Cattaneo, Bevagna, Montefalco, Giano dell’Umbria, Castel Ritaldi, Bettona, Cannara. On our return, the sight of the vineyards and olive groves cloaking these rolling hills - on the opposite side of the mountain range- in the late afternoon light is unforgettable! In this landscape you can truly see Umbria as the “green heart of Italy.” Here you find arguably the most Umbrian of Umbrian landscapes. You’ll also arguable find the most Umbrian of Umbrian wines: Sagrantino di Montefalco D.O.C.G., Torgiano Rosso Riserva D.O.C.G., and Montefalco Rosso D.O.C.
The full-day tour today takes us on a broad overview of the area and we will see a number of spectacular sites. We will pass by the famous mineral water sources of Sangemini and Aquasparta. We’ll pause only briefly at the beautiful spring, but long enough to sample its water (the Romans believed would make one a good orator) and to enjoy a leisurely cappuccino on its banks. Along the way, we will also see one of the most truly impressive sights in Umbria, the Ponte delle Torri, outside of Spoleto. The 230-meter-long and 90-meter-high medieval bridge has an obscure history . As Domenico Pacieri writes, “If you ask the story how, by whom, when it was erected, the story remains silent.”
From here we will continue along the valley to the extraordinary town of Norcia. Renowned since the middle ages, the village was a center for surgeons, and also for butchers. Its cured meats are among the most famous in Italy, and as we stroll through the city we will tour the various shops and sample their delicacies – and bring along some samples for a great-picnic lunch in the mountains! As we leave Norcia we will continue to ascend into the mountains to the ridge, from which we have amazing views. Crossing over, we enter the Piano Grande (great plane) of the Sibillini Mountains. The great plane itself is a large plateau that boasts one of the most spectacular displays of wildflowers in the world in June and July. Ascending on the other side of the basin, we arrive at a spectacular high point, from which – on a clear day – it is possible to see both eastern and western shores of Italy! Around you, in the distances, you see a place with a remarkable and mythic history- you’ll see in the distance, the Cave of the Sybil, and Pilates Lake (believed to turn blood-red at certain times) – the valleys in the distance were home in the middle ages to magicians and necromancers. We’ll pause at this mystical and beautiful place and enjoy a picnic lunch of cured meats and cheeses from Norcia as well as some of the other local produce – including renowned truffles and mushrooms – all accompanied by the wines of the vineyards we will visit on our return home.
After lunch, we will return to Montefalco - about an hour away. As we see the town in the hills above us, we’ll tour vineyards producing the Sagrantino grape. Perhaps our most unique stop will be the Cantina Fongoli: owned by the same family for generations, it is one of the most atmospheric – and oldest – cantinas in the region. We will talk with the oldest member of the family and experience the breadth of his knowledge and his connection to the wines the family produces, as well as his perspectives on the challenges of bringing an artisanal product, with a familial heritage, into the contemporary market.
We’ll be back in Monte Castello in time for dinner, and reflection on a remarkable day.
Final Day in Monte Castello
On our final day in Monte Castello we will have time for packing and enjoying the beauty and serenity of the village, and for finishing up workshops or shopping. Katia has a special lunch planned and for dinner, we will enjoy our porchetta in context of a fantastic farewell dinner.
Having brought home some truffles fresh from the forest on Day 6, we will make variations of salumi we have made with the addition of fresh truffles: Salame al Tartufo. We will also discuss purees, and the use of less noble meats and meat products such as: Coppa di Testa (Head Cheese), Mazzafegati, Umbrian Mortadella, Robba and Sanguinaccio
We will cook some of our sausage and prepare a Porchetta- a whole pig, de-boned, filled with spices and internal organs and slow roasted in a wood oven. We will enjoy the porchetta on our farewell dinner after a lengthy, slow cook. In the evening, we will invite the village to sample our sausages in a gathering in the square accompanied by an outstanding local blues band.
Departure for Rome Airport Sunday morning at 7 AM.
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