In reality, there's no such thing as a 'typical week' at Casa Lucia - our recipes will change each time to reflect the very best of seasonal produce and local specialities. That said, we know you want some idea of what you'll be signing up for - so here's a general guide:
We'll discuss the best ways to get to your venue. Ancona & Perugia are the two closest airports, but other options are possible.
Lunch will be served by us and it’s a great opportunity to get to know one another and we’ll discuss your plans and wishes for the course. Later in the afternoon, we might visit a local winery for a short tour and a guided tasting. Or you can stay by the pool....it's your holiday, you decide.
Back at the villa, enjoy dinner and drinks cooked by us and start to get a flavour of ‘Le Marche’ cuisine.
Please do bear in mind that we may have to swap activities, visits and days to take account of local availability, festas, (local holidays), etc.
Day 2 - Sunday
Sunday will be a relaxing day - there will be a substantial brunch and time to relax before a cookery session later in the day.
Dinner tonight will feature some classic Le Marche pasta dishes with seasonal sauces and a variety of fillings. When it comes to pasta, the combinations are endless, but we’ll make sure we include a variety of pasta types, like ravioli with oozing eggs, smoked salmon and griddled asparagus, or tagliatelle with pecorino, pear and pancetta sauce – guaranteed to wake up the most jaded palate! Fancy making your pasta completely by hand? Our large and airy prep area means that there is plenty of room to roll your pasta out in a wafer thin sheet before turning it into any number of wonderful shapes and flavours – just like Nonna used to make it. How does pasta with walnut and sage sound, or with beetroot, spinach or tomatoes for a wonderful multi-coloured array of dishes?
As well as pasta, you’ll make some delicious bread and bread sticks and there’ll also be a chance to turn some freshly picked garden ingredients into traditional anti pasti which we’ll enjoy before dinner - maybe steamed artichokes with lemon salsa, polenta with cheese or sweet, tasty balsamic onions and mushrooms.
And we haven’t forgotten dessert. Maybe a light and fluffy zabaglione? A layered mocha torte or simple poached pears in wine and local speciality, Vino Cotto dessert wine?
Day 3 - Monday
After breakfast, depart by minibus for a guided tour of the remains of Roman town Urbs Salvia – accompanied by a local guide. The Roman history will influence today’s menu….Urbs Salvia used to be a Roman stronghold and is located on an old Roman road straight to the Capital. No wonder there are many Roman influences in Le Marche cooking.
We’ll have lunch at a wonderful local restaurant - Le Logge in Urbisaglia where ‘La Famiglia Tombolini’ will treat you to local food, beautifully cooked – their menu varies constantly depending on what’s good at the market, but always focuses on traditional recipes with a very modern spin.
Later in the day, Chef/Host Andrea Tombolini will talk about how they choose their menus and share some of their cooking secrets and then we’ll prepare a Marche dinner of our own.
Tonight’s meal will incorporate some of the ideas and techniques we saw at Le Logge, maybe featuring chicory with anchovy dressing, a twist on traditional beef carpaccio with a tangy lime and mustard dressing or baby artichoke hearts with mint. On a hot day, Mama Tombolini’s signature savoury milk ice cream soup is an unusual way to start any meal and a rare treat as well.
Our main course might be stuffed pork or maybe a game bird if in season, accompanied by a salad of mushrooms, parmesan and celery with some toasted pine-nuts and local olive oil. How does deep fried goats cheese with a red pepper sorbet sound? Anything is possible!
For dessert, a white ginger cheesecake may just hit the spot, or maybe a warm pear and orange cake served in milk chocolate soup – or maybe both.
Day 4 - Tuesday
Breakfast, then it’s off to Civitanova Marche to visit a traditional fishmonger and see what’s looking good. There will also be time to stroll along the elegant streets or the promenade and take in the sea air!
We’ll stop for a snack en route, then back to the Villa to turn our ingredients into a fabulous dinner – the focus on fish will give us a chance to learn and practice fish filleting and preparation, as well as different cooking methods. And seafood like squid, which can seem a bit daunting to prepare, will be on the menu too.
Dinner tonight will celebrate fish and seafood and we’ll be looking for something to make a tasty filling for ravioli, (maybe sea bass or bream) and perhaps some squid or local shellfish to turn into a tasty main course - all are plentiful in the Adriatic waters, (depending on the time of year). Maybe we’ll make light pancakes filled with ricotta and salmon or snapper – delicious with lemon sauce, baked in the oven. The abundance of good, fresh vegetables will give us lots of inspiration for side dishes, (known as ‘contorni’ in Italian). We might also pick up ingredients for Tiramisu – made with local sweet wine Vino Cotto.
Day 5 - Wednesday
After breakfast at the Villa, we’ll make dough for tonight's pizza and prep a few toppings as well.
Then we'll head to the nearby town of Loro Piceno, home of Vino Cotto, (the local sweet wine) and also famous for black truffles. Sweet wine, local desserts and tasty treats. We’ll visit famous butcher Peppe Cotto, (he’s appeared on UK TV with Heston Blumenthal). Peppe will treat us to an aperitif the like of which you’ll never have seen or tried before! Then there will be time to stroll around Medieval Loro Piceno – maybe taking in the local museum of Vino Cotto – a glimpse of the history of this traditional wine and buy some to take home too.
We’ll have a light lunch back at the villa and after some time to put your feet up and relax, we’ll have a cookery session with guest chef Francesco. Originally from Naples, (home of pizza of course), Fran now lives in Le Marche and specialises in ‘dough and desserts’ and will teach you some amazing recipes.
Weather permitting, (and it usually does), we'll head over to the fabulous Casale delle Rondini where Fran will share a few tricks of the pizza trade and we'll cook using the outdoor oven for an authentic wood-fired pizza.
Day 6 - Thursday
Today will be a relaxed day - no trips, but time at the villa to try out variations on recipes we have already tasted and also make some sweet treats to take home.
Lunch will consist of dishes requested (and made) by you - and we'll have some suggestions to throw in as well.
At dinner, we'll enjoy some freshly rolled pasta with sauces featuring whatever is fresh at the market and depending on the weather, maybe we'll fire up the outdoor BBQ and cook some local le Marche meats and sausages too.
Day 7 - Friday
Today will include a visit to a local farm.....a small family cheese business where the fabulous Ricotta and Pecorino are made on site, you'll be able to buy some to take home and we'll have a picnic lunch with freshly made cheese! Curds and whey are not only for Little Miss Muffet!
Then it's back to the villa to enjoy a bit of down-time before our final celebration dinner. Our last night together will be very special – a real celebration of all things Le Marche and a true treat for the senses. We’ll be heading to one of our 'hidden gems' - restaurants off the beaten track, and not widely known in Le Marche, (or not yet, anyway).
We really think this will be an unforgettable evening and a great way to round off our cooking week.
Day 8 - Saturday
Time to say goodbye! A last breakfast and a chance to say farewell to fellow cooks.