Sperlonga – a Seafood Heaven
Sperlonga, located midway between Rome and Naples, is easily accessible by both train and automobile. Yet, the charming hilltop town – featuring a maze of steep passageways and arches that open up suddenly to views of the deep blue Tyrrhenian Sea – is reachable only on foot.
Accommodation is comprised of double rooms in Sperlonga’s top hotel, that’s been family owned and operated for many decades. Breakfast is served daily overlooking the sea.
Sperlonga and its neighboring villages are renowned for their flavorful seafood dishes such as Seppie con Carciofi (a local dish of cuttlefish and artichokes), Zuppa di Cozze (a delicious soup made from the succulent mussels from the Gulf of Gaeta), and Fritti Misti di Mare (a mix of tender deep-fried seafood). Additionally, this region produces the bulk of Italy’s fresh produce, including luscious tomatoes, plump purple eggplants, succulent lemons, spices and much more. Glistening black olives, found in markets throughout the peninsula, come from the nearby town of Gaeta, which is acclaimed also for its outstanding seafood market.
Lazio’s famous fresh cheese, mozzarella di bufala, is abundant in this region. Made from buffalo’s milk and sold floating in its own buttermilk, it is a most unique flavor of Italy. Serve it sliced with fresh tomatoes, olive oil and basil, and you have one of Italy’s tastiest summer dishes.
Cooking classes will take place in signora Giovanna’s home; she and her family are steeped in the local culinary tradition. She uses the finest local ingredients and traditional regional recipes, but adds her own creative touch to each and every dish. Consequently this is undoubtedly the best spot for your culinary adventure!
Day One: Today you arrive by train at the Sperlonga station, settle in at your accommodation, then relax or go for a stroll before enjoying a welcome cocktail and informal dinner.
Day Two: Your culinary experience begins with a morning cooking class. This afternoon we’ll visit some local sites, including the Grotta di Tiberio, which dates to the first century BC. Come along for a late afternoon olive oil tasting at a century-old olive oil press.
Day Three: Today we’ll visit the colorful and vibrant Gaeta fish market and learn the ins and outs of buying fish. You will browse among the local fish vendors to select ingredients for today’s lesson: zuppa di Pesce. We’ll return to Giovanna’s home where you will prepare this luscious seafood chowder and then sit down to a fabulous lunch in her home! The afternoon and evening are yours to do as you choose. For those interested, we will visit a local jewellry artist where you can purchase some handmade gifts to take home.
Day Four: Another local specialty is lined up for this morning’s class. After lunch, we’ll visit the nearby town of Circeo and tour the Cantina di Circeo, producer of one of the more flavorful of the local wines.
Day Five: The morning will be dedicated to another cooking class. Following lunch we will visit a local mozzarella di bufala production facility to see how this fabulous cheese is produced. After you sample some of the product we’re sure you’ll agree that its flavor is incomparable!
The afternoon’s highlight is a gourmet outing to a local producer of olive oil, tiella or formaggio di fossa cheese, depending on the season of your visit.
Day Six: Today’s Sperlonga experience begins in the town’s quaint main square. You’ll have breakfast with pastry chef Filippo in his pasticceria, then take in the fresh sea air and sunshine as he explains the traditions behind the region’s desserts and pastries. Afterwards with Filippo you’ll learn how to make a few of these specialties.
Day Seven: Following breakfast we’ll explore Sperlonga’s outdoor market and learn about the local gastronomical specialties offered by the vendors. You may then browse around on your own before our farewell lunch and the presentation of course certificates, recipe booklets and commemorative hand-painted ceramic platters. Later, we’re off to the train station for your departure to Rome.
Note: The itinerary may vary depending on the season and availability of purveyors and venues.