All our tours share the same philosophy: our aim is to immerse you fully in the regional cuisine. You'll savor local specialties, meet food artisans, and learn authentic Italian cooking in hands-on cooking classes. We visit smaller destinations rather than large tourist centers, favoring small gems where you can really feel part of the fabric of Italian life. Whether you're tasting wines in the Tuscan hills, making fresh mozzarella in Puglia, honing your pasta skills in Sicily, or dining in Portofino, you'll savor every delicious moment of your time with us.
UPDATED August 29, 2023: We have limited availability on our cooking tours. We have very high demand now that travel has become safe once again and travel restrictions have been lifted.
Space is limited so don't wait to reserve your spots. Please contact us by email or call 347-566-2212 to book. If you are ready to travel with us, we suggest you reserve now; we unfortunately refuse about 25% of clients because the tour they want to participate in has filled by the time they call to book.
Our tours in a nutshell: you'll spend the mornings cooking Italian specialties with Dino and Micol, then savor a leisurely lunch before an afternoon of sightseeing and dinner at the region's finest tables. We guarantee plenty of food, wine, laughter, amazing sites, and memories to last a lifetime! Click here for an overview of each tour and be sure to watch our 3-minute videos of each region to decide which tour is best for you!
If you want to receive early exclusive notifications (a few days before the rest of our mailing list subscribers) about the tours to Italy we are planning, if you are interested in a customized tour for a group of 8 people or more, or if you have questions about our tours, please fill out the culinary tours early access form.Culinary Tours Early Access
You can use the same link to let us know what parts of Italy you want to explore, the times of the year that are best for you to travel, to inquire about custom tours, or ask any question about the tours you might have... There is even an option to be placed on a waiting list for sold out tours. We read every single email and we would love to hear from you!
You can email us if you have any questions. We are looking forward to cooking with you in Italy!
Italian food is extremely varied and deeply regional. From making fresh pasta by hand to kneading focaccia dough, roasting and braising meats, poaching fish, whipping up amazing desserts, and more, each class at the villa will focus on key Italian culinary techniques and will culminate in a full Italian meal. By week's end, you'll have perfected many essential culinary skills and learned dozens of Italian dishes. We even bring our sourdough starter on tour (he's been nicknamed Bob, Joe, and Stewy by tour participants thus far!) so you can learn to bake crusty sourdough loaves and focaccia!
We have selected restaurants in nearby towns where you can enjoy a taste of the local cuisine. Some restaurants are elegant, others cozy, but all will provide us with a memorable gastronomic experience. The only prerequisite is to bring your appetite, because the meals will be generous and wine is always included! (One repeat tour participant suggested wearing pants with an elastic waistband!)
All our tours, no matter the regions we visit, are a way to enjoy Italy through a culinary lens. The only prerequisite is a love of food and an appetite for pleasure (and maybe some pants with an elastic waistband). Group size varies depending on reservations and accommodations, but we max out at 25 participants, which makes for highly interactive cooking classes, fun meals, lots of laughter, and plenty of new, lasting friendships.
All our tours focus on smaller destinations; we figure you can visit Florence, Rome, Venice, and Milan on your own, so we include small towns and out-of-the-way villages in our itineraries. We always seek out local food producers who work on an artisanal level, and we reserve tables at each region's most characteristic restaurants (some fancy, others not so much). Our daily cooking classes are all about getting involved and hands-on: we make a full menu each morning, then sit and enjoy our culinary creations with wine before heading out to discover nearby towns.
These are the similarities, but there are some differences... Read on to see what makes each tour distinctive and what you can expect in each destination.
We stay at a 4-star hotel by the sea in the northern Italian town of Sestri Levante; this means you can walk around town in the mornings before cooking class, or after dinner you can stroll and savor a gelato at an artisan gelateria. If you want to swim, there are two private saltwater pools at the hotel and a quaint beach a minute's walk from the hotel. The region is hilly but the towns we'll visit are mostly flat (except the Cinque Terre) so this is an easy terrain for walking. We visit towns like Portofino, Genova, Chiavari, Camogli, Santa Margherita, Rapallo, and more by private bus; some short train rides and scenic ferry travel is included. If you love the sea, this is the tour for you.Liguria Tour Details
We stay on an agricultural estate 30 minutes from Bari. The estate has a large pool and is surrounded by vineyards and cactus pears. All travel is by private bus, and the terrain is generally flat and easy to walk, though some towns are built on a hill. The tour touches on Puglia and nearby Basilicata, two beautiful southern Italian regions; highlights include visits to Matera, Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, and Ostuni. The food is gutsy, bold, and fresh pastas like orecchiette and cavatelli are often the stars of the meal. And the bread in this part of Italy is among the best you'll ever eat; it's mostly made from semolina, and it's amazing dipped in the local olive oil.Puglia & Beyond Tour Details
We stay in a private villa with a pool and a huge woodburning oven, 45 minutes from the art city of Arezzo. The villa is immersed in nature (there are olive groves and cypress trees as far as the eye can see). All travel is by private bus, and the terrain is generally hilly. Because the villa is located in Tuscany on the border of Umbria and the Marches, we visit all three regions, so you get to taste three distinct cuisines. Here you'll see the iconic central Italian landscape: rolling hills, vineyards, olive trees. We'll visit Gubbio, Montepulciano, Arezzo, Spello, Frontino, and other medieval towns. The wines in this area are second to none and include heavy hitters like the super Tuscans and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.Tuscany & Beyond Tour Details
This is essentially two tours in one: 4 nights on the eastern side of Sicily, and 4 nights on the northern coast of Calabria, both on a private estate with an amazing pool. Both regions are hilly (Calabria is downright mountainous), but Sicily is bright and vivacious, while Calabria is quaint and dramatic. All travel is by private bus except the short ferry ride that will bring us from Sicily to Calabria. We'll visit Taormina, Ragusa, Siracusa, Modica, Altomonte, Civita, and more.This tour will take you to destinations that are off the beaten path where you'll sample sesame-studded breads, hearty vegetable focaccias, handmade pasta with eggplants, roasted lamb, almond paste cookies, and much more.Sicily & Beyond Tour Details
|Region||Date||Duration||Per person cost
based on Double Occupancy
|Liguria – The Italian Riviera||September 17-23, 2023||7 days/6 nights||$4,550.00|
|Tuscany & Beyond||September 24-30, 2023||7 days/6 nights||$4,350.00|
|Sicily & Beyond||October 4-12, 2023||9 days /8 nights||$5,150.00|
|Puglia & Beyond||October 15-21, 2023||7 days/6 nights||$4,450.00|
|Liguria – The Italian Riviera||May 5-11, 2024||7 days/6 nights||$4,750.00|
|Tuscany & Beyond||May 12-18, 2024||7 days/6 nights||$4,550.00|
|Liguria – The Italian Riviera||September 1-7, 2024||7 days/6 nights||$4,750.00|
|Sicily & Beyond||October 2-10, 2024||9 days /8 nights||$5,500.00|
|Puglia & Beyond||October 13-19, 2024||7 days/6 nights||$4,650.00|
|Tuscany & Beyond||October 20-26, 2024||7 days/6 nights||$4,550.00|
This site, as well as our company, RUSTICO COOKING, is our baby.
Micol was born in Milan and moved to Montreal in 1977. Dino was born in Montreal. We've been together since our days at McGill University and married since 1995. Dino has a PhD in biochemistry and Micol has a culinary degree.
Micol has written three Italian cookbooks, including the James Beard-nominated Rustico: Regional Italian Country Cooking. Together we ran a cooking school in NYC from 2004 to 2020.
After many years of going back and forth from the US to Italy, we made our dream come true and moved to a small town on the Ligurian Coast in 2023, where we built a state-of-the-art kitchen and host day-long hands-on cooking classes for clients from around the world who are visiting the Portofino and Cinque Terre area.here.
Our company, RUSTICO COOKING, is small, so you can be assured that every detail of our culinary tours will be carefully planned and highly personalized. We can't compete with huge companies that offer dozens of trips annually to every corner of Italy... nor do we want to.
We would rather make every moment of every trip to Italy absolutely memorable for each participant... just read their testimonials.
We'll enlist local cooks, wine producers, cheese experts, and more to offer you a fragrant, tasty slice of Italy's regional treasures. And we'll be there every step of the way, experiencing the splendors of Italy with you.
On our tours, every meal is included, with wine at lunch and dinner. All culinary activities are included, ranging from hands-on cooking classes, olive oil tastings, wine tastings, and visits with local food producers. In other words, from the moment that you meet up with our group to the moment you leave, all of your culinary experiences are included.
An added bonus is that every tour participant will receive videos of their trip filmed by Dino; more than photographs, this memento of the tour will make you feel as though you are back in Italy!
Of all the trips we've been on since retirement (not enough to be sure) our Italy trip with you was the best, hands down. The beautiful countryside, the stellar accommodations, the delicious food, the many many many bottles of wine, not to mention the fab hosts was an 'Over the Top' experience. In need of repeating. Patricia & Bob K., Middle Village, NY
I'm writing to formally tell you how much I enjoyed our trip to Tuscany and Beyond... You made everyone feel comfortable and welcome. Your ability to teach us as much as you did in two short hours of cooking a day was amazing. It was like a choreographed dance, and we all got to participate. And the food was so delicious! The daily tours were fascinating, beautiful, and tasty too. Not to mention the incredible multi-course dinners we had each night at a different and exceptional restaurant. And the value was more than I anticipated. You gave us a huge bang for our bucks! Your warmth, patience, kindness, and caring made the trip extra special and unique. It was a trip I will hold dear forever... You are amazing hosts and teachers with the warmest hearts. Every detail was perfect. I can’t wait to prepare your recipes to share with my family and friends. I am still in awe of how you both orchestrated the tour. I know how much work goes into organizing and executing it. You were responsible for the well-being of everyone, and you did it with love and care and expertise. Having you as our guides was the absolute greatest and perfect way to experience Tuscany and Beyond. Nina S., Northfield, NJ
Grazie mille for an unforgettable experience in Tuscany. The trip was everything we thought it would be and more. Your attention to detail and warm and welcoming personalities were so appreciated. We will be dreaming about all of our wonderful meals for a very long time. It really was the perfect vacation: beautiful scenery, perfect weather, great people and delicious food. Thank you again for making the trip so wonderful!Mike W. and Deb. K., Old Forge, PA
Thank you for such a wonderful culinary tour of Tuscany and beyond. It was both educational and rewarding to meet fellow food aficionados, participate in the cooking lessons, tour the various towns, and learn about regional specialties through the local artisans who are using traditional methods to keep their culture alive. I loved that the featured restaurants showcased both traditional and modern twists on regional cooking and ingredients, and I appreciated the opportunity to try new things with an open mind. Thanks again for all of your hard work and effort in putting this together. I enjoyed it immensely. Kristel S.C., Brooklyn, NY
I send the most grateful thank you for our recent Tuscany & Beyond tour. Every single aspect of a successful cooking and touring experience was met with great knowledge and enthusiasm from our gracious hosts Micol and Dino. The hands on cooking classes were well organized and explained at levels for different skill sets so that no one felt left out depending on each of their abilities. From chef Micol, I learned many new ways involved in cooking Italian food which I can't wait to share with friends and family. The villa was lovely, very comfortable in an understated way, with a spectacular view! The choice of touring destinations and unique restaurants was so very well thought out and appreciated for its small villages and dining that ranged from excellent to superb! I look forward to more culinary and travel experiences with Dino and Micol as soon as possible!Carolyn C, Somers Point, NJ
You are such a sweet couple and we truly felt your heart and desire to make everything so special. This will definitely be one of our favorite vacations ever! The trip was just the right amount of cooking class, touring and sightseeing, shopping and great dinners in wonderful restaurants... There are definitely other parts of Italy we would like to visit or spend more time so we look forward to going back with you on a future trip.Chris T., Decatur, AL
Micol...I just wanted to tell you what a fabulous time I had in Italy touring with you. It was amazing! I knew that Italy was going to be fun... but being with the people you picked to join our tour and the places we visited well, it went so far beyond all my expectations. I wouldn't have changed a thing about the trip... well maybe that we all could have stayed longer. Again, I can't that you enough for making my Italian experience so wonderful. Greg M., Durham, NC
Thank you for an exquisite week in Liguria. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed our tour - it was absolutely the best vacation I've ever had! Haven't stopped talking... or thinking... about the trip. I understand now what people mean when they say that Italy "gets under your skin." Am already planning a return visit. Count on me to be among the first to sign up for next year's trip! Nancy S., Alexandria, VA
Wow! We were on your first Liguria tour so we were aware of the excellence of your tours. The bar was set very high. We were blown away that the Puglia/Basilicata tour was even better. Each restaurant that invited us into their kitchen was proud and eager to share their consummate culinary skill. It was an honor to be served the wonderful dishes that demonstrate the heart and soul of the region. The gelato (to die for) demonstration was a blast. The espresso speciale served by the very Italian bar that rarely opens WAS special. It was a very memorable experience with the group and with two special, sensitive leaders. Mille grazie and kudos to you and Dino for all your efforts, attention to detail, and caring attitude. Liguria was the first "tour" we were ever part of. Puglia/Basilicata was the second. Your "tours" have the feeling of a family joining relatives for meals. It was a pleasure to be part of your family. Ron & Kathryn C., Madison, WI
We love to reflect on our trip... it's so interesting to hear what comes out of my own mouth as the highlights... and it's even more interesting to hear what comes out of David's...!!!! i loved the pasta ladies... the sharing, connecting with tradition... i loved the gelato...seeing it made from scratch... the pride of ownership... sampling what had been made before our eyes... and oh my god... how do i ever go back to ice cream again... and her coming to the restaurant for an uproarious ovation... i loved knowing about vincotto made exclusively there... We loved your trip... it was filled with love and thought... and fantastic experiences... Patty A., Chevy Chase, MD
What a wonderful time we had on the tour. Great Food! Great Itinerary! And Great Hosts! We watch a lot of travel shows on television, and can't help but notice that Puglia is quickly becoming more and more popular. We are delighted that you showed it to us while it is still real and less commercialized. It was amazing that the people truly seemed delighted to have us frequent their establishments. We tried to list the highlights of the trip, but were unsuccessful as the entire trip was a highlight. The only low point of the trip was having to say goodbye to you and our new friends. We would like to thank you both for a wonderful culinary experience and we look forward to joining you for another trip. Joe & Marianne B., Punta Gorda, FL
Jim & I haven't stopped talking about our week in Italy with you. Our friends are already trying to make reservations for dinner at our house due to the rave revues we have given them about our gourmet dining & cooking experiences. Thanks once again for the memorable trip, your kindness & genuine concern for everyone. You're the best!! Suzanne S., St. Louis, MO
Just wanted to say a big THANK-YOU for making our first trip to Italy a memorable one. We had a blast, all of our senses were on overload. You certainly made everyone feel very relaxed... I certainly don't think anyone could have covered as much territory on their own. Your knowledge and expertise on the local food and customs made us enjoy the experience so much more. It certainly was the most memorable experience, one I will look back on with fond memories of all the delicious food, the cooks and all the people in our group. Audrey L., Boise, ID
When we left you... started our car and drove off, we immediately had "group withdrawals." Fausto had given Susan an U' Giancu musical CD. We hoped some music would help us from missing our group so much. Is it possible that the rental car did not have a CD player?! We were not even one block away, before we agreed to pull off the road. Susan was on her hands and knees looking for a place to put the disc. Sam was trying to read the Italian driver's manual. Where is Micol when we need her? With no music, just fond memories of the fabulous travel companions that we had said arrivederci to, we traveled on... It has been difficult to reenter the real world... searching for a great dish of homemade pasta in the California foothills. Oh how we loved all the special regional foods you introduced us to. We promise to announce when we settle down and actually attempt to cook some of our new recipes... stay tuned. We are especially grateful for our anniversary celebration at Ristorante Rosa. Thank you for the beautiful and magical evening. We throw you a kiss every time we walk past the very special dish that you gave us that night... in closing, we thank you again for helping to make wonderful memories... We will have fond thoughts of you for many years to come. Sam & Susan P., Placerville, CA
Micol and Dino... The week was wonderful and so special being together again. Liguria is a beautiful part of Italy and so different from other places I've visited. The cooking was so much fun, especially Fausto, and the food scrumptious. I've already made delicious pesto sauce (and used my pignoli nuts and olive oil from Italy)... I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience Italy with all my senses...especially taste, with both of you. Arlene L., Great Neck, NY
Just want to tell you how much Lorrie and I enjoyed our tour with you. Incredibly I had no idea what a treat you had in store for us. Lorrie and I each were delighted with you local knowlege, how well everything was organized, and your warm and loving attention to all in our group... There are many "Tours", but yours are really the way I imagine they should be. And now that we have experienced yours, we know there are none better. You impart a special and intriguing personal level to everything we experienced, bringing a delightful sense of intimacy to each event, whether it was a bus ride or cooking with the incredible Fausto. You are there to arrange everything, to meet and greet and look after all the people that make the tour so interesting: the restaurants, wineries, and olive oil producers, making us all part of your extended family. That is how we felt like we were being tutored as part of your family in the specifics of pasta making or olive oil tasting. When I asked a question I was answered directly, and enthusiastically, with no hesitation. You encouraged each and every one of us to participate at whatever level we were comfortable. I can't help but smile when I think of our trip, the warm wonderful people, Sam and Susan, Capt and Susanne, Fausto's assistant (so good with a knife), her mom, Ed, and everyone else who was so interesting and such fun to be with. The FOOD!! and WINE!! which was much more than generous, and we loved the beautiful Italy you showed us. We are happy to extend a warm invitation to all in our group to come and visit us anytime you are in the Hamptons! Ed T., Hampton Bays, NY
We have talked and talked about our wonderful experiences in Rapallo and throughout the Liguria region. Thank you Micol, for sharing with us such an exceptional experience of Italy - we couldn't have had a better time! The restaurants you picked, the towns we visited, our extra-ordinary afternoon in Fausto's kitchen - were more than we could have hoped for! Paula is convinced that it was the best vacation she's ever been on! Thank you, thank you!! You poured your heart into the week and it showed. Susan B., Fort Worth, TX
Once again, thanks so much for all the hard work you put in to make the tour a real pleasure and one I'd repeat in a heartbeat. Pat B., Durham, NC
Micol: We loved Italy- the trip was terrific - we have not stopped talking about it. Thanks again for the wonderful trip. You really took good care of us. I loved Umbria, the mountains, the old Roman construction, the architecture, the people, the kitchens and the inspiring chefs, the restaurants, the streets, our beautiful hotel in Spoleto and THE FOOD! Tuscany was beautiful also, the rolling hills and the wineries - beautiful. Thank you, thank you for taking such good care of Charley and me. Would you ever let us come again? I want to see and taste more of Italy. Sunny M., Glendora, CA
I just want to thank you so much for being so thoughtful in creating a wonderful, unforgettable experience for us! I'm already trying to figure out when I will be able to go again with Bob. Words are hard to describe the most treasured vacation. Betsy L., Boise, ID
Happy thanks for a sensational trip from beginning to end. It's hard to imagine that our week was only the second such tour you had conducted, so smooth, seamless and effortless did the results appear. I know full well the many hours and months of preparation it takes to assemble a project such as this. Effortless it certainly is not!! But it had the effortless illusion of pure fun!! Richard N., New York City
We cannot thank you enough for a wonderful, flavorful, and really fun week. You have thought of everything to make your guests feel at home. We hope to see you on another trip.Missy W. and Lois H., Chagrin Falls, OH
Thank you for all your hard work arranging such a WONDERFUL tour. We left no sight unseen or morsel uneaten! We had a fantastic trip!Judi H. and Maureen W., Tequesta, FL. and New York City
Doriann and I are still smiling about our trip with you to Italy. What a wonderful experience - it certainly is leaps ahead of the "commercial" tours... the care and effort you put into helping us participate in all of the events and sights was certainly above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you, thank you. Sandy C., Sands Point, NY
Jerry and I are so looking forward to seeing you again next year! We had such an unforgettable experience with you in Umbria & Tuscany, and are anxious to see another region in Italy and taste that region's specialties with you. Sherry & Jerry H., Winston-Salem, NC
I would like to thank you for a WONDERFUL experience. I enjoyed every moment. (Even the 5 pounds). I look forward to seeing you again. I will try to plan my buying trips around your cooking classes! If you ever come to Montreal please look me up. Lina B., Montreal CANADA
What a grand and glorious time we had. Each night we spent in Italy after we left you we tried to imagine what was happening with your second group and knew they were not near as much fun as our group!!! You were the perfect leader and so much fun I just cannot begin to tell you how much we enjoyed our time. Karen J., Austin, TX
I had a great time and you did a superb job in leading the group! Thanks again for a marvelous vacation. Elaine S. Arlington VA
Micol, you are just the "coolest" person, I have ever met. So sharp and caring. Your tour was just the greatest - all because of you - and you gathered up just the neatest people to take part. Please know that we all love you and all the effort that you put into the tour. Genevieve B., Fort Worth, TX
I never enjoyed myself so much in a tour. I cannot thank you enough! I learned not just about food and Italy but I learned so much from you and everybody. It was truly a memorable experience. Deedee T., Metro Manila, Philippines
We are still luxuriating in the recollections of our trip. Micol, it was a fantastic trip, exceeding all of our expectations. You put so much effort into ensuring that each member of the group was comfortable and as involved as they wanted to be. We so enjoyed the hands-on experiences and personal explanations of the establishments we visited. I think that the memories of the trip will remain with each of us for a long time. Again, it was marvelous. Ron & Kathryn C., Madison, WI
Thanks, Micol, I really had a great time with everyone, and particularly you. Your kindness and enthusiasm was really great. Marcy Y., Philadelphia, PA