Category Archives: Cooking Classes

Michele Berlendis joins MaMa Florence as the resident Chef


MaMa Florence
is excited to announce the arrival of Michele Berlendis as the new resident chef.

Michele was born and grew up in Tuscany where he attended hotel school and during the weekends worked in a restaurant in his local town, where his passion for the kitchen was born.

His first significant experience in the kitchen was working with chef Filippo Saporito, who he considers his maestro. Together at ‘La Leggenda dei Frati’ Restaurant Michele refined his skill and experience.

He then moved to Berlin where he lived for many years working in the best Italian restaurant in the city ‘Boccadibacco’ . Also ,collaboration with other chef friends , ran the successful ‘Caffe Pfoertner’.

Michele’s approach to cooking is dynamic, he is passionate about experimenting with simple flavours and tastes reinterpreting them with imagination and flair.

Returning to Italy after the birth of his daughter, together with his partner they ran a restaurant in Umbria on an organic farm. During his time managing the restaurant Michele learnt to appreciate the importance of freshly grown produce and it’s seasonality.

Michele is now settled in Florence and is excited to share what he has learnt with the guests of MaMa Florence. He looks forward to teaching and sharing his personal experiences with those keen to learn some traditional Italian recipes, ready to try them  back home again for friends and family.

MaMa Florence offers a variety of cooking courses from Pasta, Pizza, Vegetarian, Meat, Fish, Desserts and more.
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In Milan for the Expo 2015? Here’s how to take a break!


Milan, best known for fashion and industry, will be home to the largest event on nutrition ever organized in Italy. As the expo will be running from early May through the end of October, you will find yourself in Milan during the best part of the year for participating in external activities, like a wine tour during the harvest season, or a cooking course to utilize seasonal ingredients featured in the Expo’s presentation of sustainable agriculture.

Some things to consider doing during your free time in the city could be a walking tour of the city, with a personalized guide that can show you the best (and lesser-known) sights in Milan, and should the whim strike, Bergamo, a nearby hidden gem of a city filled with art and architecture. Another idea, if you prefer to stay within the Milan city center, could be a Milan Wine Talk, to be led by your personal expert enologist.

If you’re more of a foodie, an exploration within Milan’s cafe’ and local gourmet speciality scene could be in order. Another fantastic idea would be a visit to a winery featuring Gavi wines, and to learn hands-on how to prepare the delicious Amaretti cookies, beloved throughout Italy. If you have a little more time on your hands, consider a cooking course either in a private Milan home, or in a professional kitchen setting within the Milan city walls.

Whatever your interests, Milan and the surrounding areas are bound to contain fascinating side-trips for your brain and your stomach during a break from the Expo. For more extensive travel and food ideas during the Milan Expo of 2015, be sure to contact the expert travel staff at Le Baccanti, and make the most of your time in Lombardy!


6 things to do near or on the Amalfi Coast


Have you been to the Amalfi Coast? Looking to plan a visit? Congratulations! You about to embark on one of the things one must see and experience while being on this planet. There is no other place like it, it is one of the world’s few treasured paradises. Visually you will be mesmerized forever by its beauty. Culturally you will be utterly charmed by the local people and food-speaking- you will be spoiled and brought to the verge of tears by how mind blowing the traditional cuisine is. If you have made one of the best decisions of your life to plan a trip to the Amalfi coast or to nearby zones like Sorrento, Naples or Pompeii we have 6 suggestions for things to do near or on the Amalfi coast that Le Baccanti Tours organizes:

1. Amalfi Coast Wine Tour

The Amalfi Coast vineyards spread out on daring terraces carved over the course of centuries out of the steep slopes that run down to the sea. Their cellars have been excavated since before Caesars times out of the solid hillside rock. White wines with strong personality are made here, whites with their own intense and unmistakable aromas, whites from vines teased and frenzied by the moist salty sea winds that never quite cease to ripple leaves. The reds, too, deserve attention: warm, intense . . . unmistakably Mediterranean. Spend a special day of leisurely wandering among vineyards and wine cellars, sampling white wines rich in sweet bouquets while feeling the cool breeze off the blue Mediterranean Sea sparkling below.

2. Irpinia Wine Tour from Naples

The Region of Campania is well established on tourist maps but, curiously, not on those of wine lovers. Yet these noble and mellow hills have long presented the world with superb products, many of them derived from Ancient Greek grape varietals: little-known “blockbuster” reds and fragrant, delicate whites. The names Greco, a white varietal, and Aglianico, both mean “Greek” the latter deriving from hellenic. The Roman naturalist and historian Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) described both of these grapes in his Encyclopedia. Staying in Naples? You’re in luck because just a few kilometers inland from Naples, a true wine paradise awaits for those seeking a different off-the-beaten-track Italy: Irpinia. Cult wines such as Mastroberadino, Feudi di San Gregorio and Galardi among others are a feature of this terrific wine region.

3. Sorrento Cooking Class on Farm

Just a few miles from the heart of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, are small, charming farms that descend toward to sea. Italian farm agritourisms have lots to offer including amazing cooking classes. A culinary class may begin with a walk through the farms extensive vegetable gardens to collect together the seasonal vegetables to use in your cooking class. You’ll be delighted by delicious smells and tastes of the local produce before heading into the kitchen. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves, don your apron, and kneading the dough for homemade pasta and watch in amazement as this dough takes form and becomes pasta. After all cooking classes in Italy, you’ll sit down and enjoy the meal you have created during your cooking class accompanied by wonderful local wine, water and followed by a sample of one of the farm’s famous liquors. Cooking classes are the perfect activity for food lovers and cooks of all levels visiting Italy.

4. Amalfi Coast Private Boat Tour from Positano

It’s not just the landscape, the villages, the clear waters, the food, the sun and the sea air…it’s also the people that make the Amalfi coast unique. Take a private boat tour of the Amalfi Coast in Positano or Praiano and enjoy a lovely morning or afternoon with a bright and sunny young local who has was born and raised in Positano, on the Amalfi coast. See the lovely and historic Amalfi Coast from your boat, on route to the fabled islands on which, ancient tradition would have it, the Sirens dwelt and sang their songs to lure sailors to their doom. More recently, the unforgettable ballet dancers Leonide Massine and Rudolph Nurejev lived there. Today these islands are part of a natural reserve.
After a swim in waters rich with marine life, and a Sorrentino gozzo boat tour around the Li Galli islands, have a dip in one of the pleasant fresh-water creeks. Whether you visit the Emeral Grotto, other less famous yet equally beautiful grottoes, water falls and fishing villages around the Amalfi Coast, a boat tour is the best way to explore the region.

5. Pompeii Private Walking Tour

When the nearby volcano Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, Pompeii was buried under up to 20 feet of ash and pumice. It was not discovered again until 1700 years later in 1749. Pompeii has been carefully and thoroughly excavated in the over 60 years since its discovery by archeologists thrilled at the chance to see how people lived during Roman times in Southern Italy, nearly 2 millenium ago. The forum, the baths, many houses, and some villas remain well preserved and give a snap shot into daily life. Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist spots in all of Italy with over 2 million visitors a year. Get away from the crowds as your own personal guide takes you back in time for this two hour tour through the maze of streets in Pompeii and you learn about and explore this Roman city frozen forever in time.

6. Amalfi Coast Gourmet Tour

Taste all the best foods the Amalfi Coast has to offer Mozzarella, limoncello, gelato, pizza, olive oil! A gourmet tour includes several tastings, lessons in cheese making, olive oil farm visits (if booked in the fall a live olive pressing!), learning how to make pizza and gelato! If you are a serious foodie visiting the Amalfi coast and love from scratch food production, this tour was made for you!

Are these options not enough? Contact the expert travel staff at Le Baccanti to learn more about how you can have the Amalfi Coast vacation of your dreams!


Choice of cooking classes in Tuscany


Le Baccanti Tours organizes Italian vacations that dreams are made of- but did you know we specialize very much so in cooking classes, too?  We offer cooking classes in Italy’s top destinations like Milan, Venice, Genova, Palermo (Sicily), Sorrento and we have a wide arrange of options for cooking classes in Tuscany, too. Most people visit Italy for food, as Italian food is one of the most beloved world cuisines. Tuscany has a wonderful food culture and culinary history. Tuscan is most popular for the “peasant cuisine” which was developed during times of austerity in the region affected by war and economic depression. Traditional foods in the cucina povera are cabbages, bean soups, bread salads, offal (like tripe), tomato based sauces, pastas (pasta fagioli is a staple of the genre) and olive oil cakes. Modern Tuscan cuisine has taken a turn for more luxurious tastes while still paying homage to scarce times with the addition of cured meats, wild boar, aged cheeses, robust wines and rich steaks. The best meal in Tuscany should involve artisan salami and prosciutto, sheep’s milk cheeses, wild honey and jams, slow cooked ragùs and hand made pasta, roast meats and seasonal vegetables like kale or rosemary baked root vegetables. Why not go deeper into the cuisine with a cooking class during your visit in Tuscany? Here are our current cooking class options to help you decide on the best course for you:


Cooking with Anna- This cooking class is possibly our most popular class as our teacher is a Sicilian “nonna” and gives classes on simple, Tuscan cuisine in the privacy of her own home. After cooking with Anna, you might want to become apart of the family and never go home! This course is perfect for individuals, groups and families. You’ll have a true, rustic culinary experience with Anna in Florence.

Patrizia’s Central Day Cooking Class- With Patrizia, you are able to experience the farmer’s markets in Florence and have a market-to-table cooking class. Patrizia is an internationally recognized food and wine journalist and she speaks a few languages, including very fine English. Patrizia is originally from the Emilia-Romagna region, which is famous for pastas. Patrizia can make virtually any pasta by hand including small tortellini. This cooking class will includes wine pairing for the prepared meal as well.

Vegetarian Cooking Class with Cinzia- Cinzia is a warm, hospitable Florentine native and knows the real Tuscan cuisine, even dating back to the Renaissance era. She is one of the most talented chefs in Italy and she can teach students everything about Tuscan cuisine without the use of meat for our travelers who do not eat a meat or diet composed of animal products. The unique aspects of Cinzia is that she can teach you how to make tofu or seitan from scratch and use it as a meat substitute for traditional Tuscan dishes. These classes are also given in the comfort of her immaculate home and you will take home a friend in addition to an invaluable cooking class.


Pasta making in Chianti- Learn how to make several pastas by hand in a quiet town of Chianti, just 45 minutes from Florence. This class is perfect for those intending to do a wine tour in the afternoon.

Cooking class in a Winery- This winery is apart of an historic estate and they produce fabulous wine and olive oil With this cooking class, you will learn traditional Tuscan cooking on a small piece of history but you will also have the option to tour the winery and the olive groves.

Pizza making in Chianti- This class you do not want to miss if you are a pizza lover. This is a pizza class given by one of the best pizza chefs in all of Italy. Our pizzaiolo comes from the pizza capital of Naples and has been spinning pies since he was a small chap. The best part of the class involves you making your own pizza of course, but you are welcomed with prosecco to enjoy the rolling Tuscan panoramas on the rooftop of the pizza kitchen. This course teaches you about traditional neapolitan pizza and the importance of good ingredients and patience for your dough.

Cooking with Chianti Chef Cecilia and Massimo- If you fancy learning high-level Tuscan cuisine in a rustic Chianti setting, this cooking class is for you. This course is led by 2 chefs in their own restaurant. During your cooking class in Chianti, you will prepare a full Tuscan menu from mouthwatering appetizers all the way to a delicious dessert! A guided tasting of local extra virgin olive oil with Massimo is apart of the course. When you have finished your lesson, Massimo will take this occasion to lead you through a guided tasting of three outstanding local wines he has personally selected that compliment the plates you have created. As with all authentic traditional Tuscan and Chianti cooking, the menu will be based on seasonally available products.


Duccio’s Cooking Class- Your cooking class with Duccio begins when he arrives at your Tuscan villa with farm-fresh ingredients. Together you prepare a full-course meal. You will learn the tips and techniques that Master Chef Duccio has spent a lifetime cultivating through his own classroom time and endless hours in intense, high-end kitchens across Italy. You will also learn about elegant yet trendy plate presentation and how to show off the dishes you have prepared. After your time in the kitchen you will all dine on this delicious food together, accompanied by wonderful, quality Tuscan wines.

In additon to these many options, we offer cooking classes in Montepulciano, San Gimignano and in a castle estate near Siena.

For more information, please contact us or visit our website for more options and activities for your dream vacation to Italy.