Tuscan cooking course

I had the pleasure of attending a one-week Tuscan cooking course, Sept. 29-Oct. 5, ’02, given by the Aolmaia Country School, based in beautiful San Miniato, Italy. It offers courses in cooking and other Tuscan/Ligurian arts and subjects such as stained glass, mosaics, wine, the Italian language and Etruscan history, to name a few, at reasonable prices!

Based on one’s choice of course, prices range from €390 (near $447) a week, without lodging or meals, to €2,688 ($3,082) for six nights’ lodging at a 3-star hotel with cooking lessons and all meals included.

One has a choice of lodgings at reasonable prices, ranging from single and double friary rooms at €26-€36 ($30-$41) per day to charming hotel doubles at €95 ($109) per day, along with farmhouse rooms and apartments from €55 ($63) per person to €300-€490 ($344-$562) per week. Single supplements run €30-€180 ($34-$206) per program, based on choice of accommodation. Airfare is not included.

The story of the school’s coordinator is a delightful one. At 17, Pierpaulo Chiartosini convinced his parents of the value of his participating in his high school’s AFS program to improve his English in the U.S. His American host family welcomed him to America’s heartland: Ravenna, Ohio!

Pi’s American adventure adds greatly to the experience of participants in his Aolmaia programs because he speaks English very well. Because he grew up in the San Miniato area, however, his relationship with his town, his region and its inhabitants is warmly Italian. This relationship makes course participants feel welcome and comfortable.

The Tuscan cooking course encourages hands-on participation. Groups are kept small so that participants can prepare and enjoy eating delicious traditional meals with their gracious local hosts in charming Tuscan kitchens, which often are many centuries old.

Many people I know dream of such an adventure in Italy but are not quite sure how to make it happen. Pi has made it easy. Contact Mr. Chiartosini, Aolmaia Country School, via Cafaggio 12, 56027 San Miniato (PI), Italy; phone +39-571-408038, fax +39-571-466941, e-mail countrypost@aolmaia.com or visiit www.aolmaia.com.

La Jolla, CA