Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why haven’t I heard of Santarcangelo di Romagna?
When tourists come to Italy they want to see the places they’ve heard about or studied: Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples, Cinque Terre, etc. Of course these are all very worthy destinations, but at a certain point you want to get off the beaten track and find workaday Italy—the Italy where people live their lives surrounded by all that history and art.
2. What are the accommodations like?
First off, go ahead, unpack and make yourself at home. We are here for the entire week; Santarcangelo is ideally situated so that all our activities and excursions are just a short distance away. Prepare yourself for Italian sophistication in a medieval setting. Our four star hotel is the beautiful Hotel Il Villino, a 17th century villa right in Santarcangelo.
The property was restored and renovated to create a perfect balance between the atmosphere of the past (with the original stonework, barrel-vault ceilings and wrought-iron balconies) and the luxuries and conveniences you expect today. The beautiful large garden full of trees, shrubs and flowers, invites you to find a spot and relax. Weather permitting, we can enjoy breakfast or a glass of wine outdoors in the garden. Guests love the hotel and in particular single out the staff as extremely friendly and helpful. All this just two minutes walking from the lively center of Santarcangelo, where you’ll find little piazzas, cobblestone streets, shops, wine bars, and cafès.
3. Who teaches the cooking classes?
The two classes where we cook our four-course lunches are held at a beautiful country house in the Romagna hills. The warm welcome by the owner, Marzia, starts our day. She’ll introduce us to Alba Rosa, whose merry demeanor and cooking expertise have been delighting students for over ten years.
Together we’ll learn the steps (and secrets) to making the pasta, meat dishes and Italian desserts that we then enjoy at a typical Italian pranzo/lunch.
Our pizza making is guided by Ciro, who hails from Naples, the home of Italian pizza. Ciro will show us how to make the perfect dough, we can top it according to our desire, then bake it right there in his pizzeria.
4. What if my husband/wife/friend doesn’t cook, what can they do?
The cooking lessons are not designed for cooks per se, but for people looking to understand and experience Italy—and food, of course, is quintessential Italy. The lessons are engaging, hands-on, and most of all, fun.
In our experience even those who have never donned an apron find the lessons delightful. One can participate to the degree they wish, or just help out on the sidelines. The lessons aren’t mandatory of course; if one prefers, there is a pool and a garden at the villa; one can take a stroll, or nap, and join up for the feast when it is ready. It is impossible to be bored in Italy!
5. Do I need to be a good cook?
Absolutely not. The lessons will be enjoyed by those who have never set foot in a kitchen, as well as by those that spend half their time there. There is nothing competitive about the experience, it’s aimed at deepening one’s appreciation of Italian cuisine. The lessons are fun and the results memorable.
6. Is there any downtime on this tour?
Buonjourney Italy has designed this tour so you can have a wide range of Italian experiences. We have activities planned for most mornings, afternoons and evenings. We understand, however, the need for time for yourself.
Built into our week are opportunities for downtime whether it’s an hour or two at ‘free lunch’ times in a small town, or a couple of hours back in Santarcangelo before going out for the evening, or a morning for exploring the weekly market on your own. It’s your vacation, and if you want to take a day or afternoon off, there are always options. Our goal is for you to have a truly memorable vacation.
7. Is there a minimum age for this tour?
The tour is not geared for participants younger than 18. That said, if...
...you would like to bring a family member who is not yet 18, please contact us. We can also accomodate a family group of a range of ages, for example a family reunion, providing there are a minimum of eight participants.
8. What is the average size of your group?
The groups range from eight to twelve people. Groups of this size allow for a sort of intimacy and flexibility not possible with larger groups.
9. What if I don’t speak any Italian?
Non è un problema!
Our guides are all bilingual, and when we make new friends among the locals, we can translate if necessary. But we’ll also teach you some basic phrases so you can order your own coffee and wine, and of course once you start using your hands as the Italians do, you’ll find there are no communication barriers at all.
10. What about food allergies? Can you accommodate vegetarians?
In the past number of years Italy has become very sensitive to the issue of food allergies. For example, restaurants can accommodate gluten-free requests, and our tour leaders always confer with the chefs if there are any particular allergies they need to know about.
There are a few exceptions to this: for example, we may not be able to accommodate problems with cross-contamination, and if you are allergic to every one of the staple Italian foods (say pasta, pork, cheese and tomatoes) you will not be able to enjoy Italian cuisine at its best. Please contact us about your concerns.
For the vegetarians, there are always a variety of meat-free options.
11. I eat Italian food all the time at home. Is it pretty much the same?
No! (It’s better here.) The Italian food in the US, for example, is a cuisine originally brought over by immigrants a hundred years ago. This cuisine changed over the generations to reflect American tastes, ingredients and habits.
For example, there is no such thing as fettuccine alfredo in Italy, and no one here dips bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar before a meal. You will, however, discover the real flavors of authentic Italian cooking which, due to your lessons, you’ll be able to duplicate for your family and friends once back home. Plain and simple, Italian cuisine is seasonal, based on using the freshest and ripest ingredients available, prepared in a manner to highlight their freshness.
12. How does tipping work in Italy?
You do not need to worry about tips while you are with us. Buonjourney Italy pays our various vendors well and additional tips are not expected. In fact, tipping is nowhere near as common in Italy as it is in other countries.
Waiters for example make a decent salary and do not depend on tips to round out their wages. However, you will certainly receive a large smile if you leave a euro per person to indicate that the service was excellent.
People ask us if they should tip the tour leader at the end of the week. If you would like to show your appreciation for the work they’ve done, yes, a tip is always welcome, though by no means mandatory. The amount is up to you.