Autumn Road Trip Through Southern Italy

Confetti & Agrumetti (Sorrento, Italy)

Confetti & Agrumetti (Sorrento, Italy). Here I am with the owner, Antonio. He is one local artisan that will entertain and sing for you as you shop.

Ciao friends! This October, I’ll be taking a road trip through Campania and Calabria in southern Italy. The purpose of this trip is to gather and research food destinations that best showcase the tastes and flavors of these regions.  In order to create something very special, I’ll be tapping into the culinary contacts and land tour connections I’ve made during the past twenty years of my career. While on this trip I will be visiting some old and new friends as we formulate unique hands-on culinary tours.  This is a whole new adventure and you’re all invited. 

On the way to Napoli!

On the way to Napoli!

Autumn is a fabulous time of year for cooking and countryside road trips through southern Italy to see the local food scene in action. The goal is to plan a “foodie” itinerary that will thoroughly cover the true Italian farm-to-table culture of the area that we explore.  My mission is to deliver an educational and culinary experience to all who participate.

I’ve been on countless tours throughout Europe and on plenty of land tours offered by cruise lines.  These tours were usually very well put together as far as learning about the history, art and culture of particular countries and their regions. But, as a chef I always wanted to be immersed into the gastronomy of these areas and to learn by doing some hands-on cooking.

A cooking class in Tropea, Italy.

A cooking class in Tropea, Italy.

I don’t just want to walk through a market, watch a person make a pizza, shape mozzarella, or cook a plate of homemade pasta. This is all nice to see, but I want to roll up my sleeves and get my hands in there to create the regional delicacies with a local expert. For me, there needs to be more involvement to truly satisfy and invigorate the appetite of a “die-hard foodie”!

The entire purpose behind these trips, is to give you a chance to really explore the food cultures of different regions in Campania and Calabria with as much hands-on education as possible. You will certainly learn from the locals and see how the ingredients change as we travel!  You’ll pick up age-old techniques, be able to ask questions and, most importantly, you’ll connect to the food culture in a BIG way by meeting the local food artisans to guide us through our adventure. It will be a cultural submersion that will be absolutely educational, yet fun and delicious at the same time.  And most importantly, as a foodie, you’ll be doing what you really want to do in Italy: COOKING, EATING and having FUN.

Now this is my kind of trip!  And, it’s exactly the kind of “foodie tours” I intend to put together for you.  If you enjoy cooking, consider yourself a foodie, are passionate about fresh ingredients and secret cooking techniques, or you just like to eat, you and I are on the same page; this kind of experience is definitely for you.

Here we have nduja. A spicy, spreadable pork salumi, a specialty of Calabria.

Here we have ‘nduja which is a spicy, spreadable pork salumi and a specialty of Calabria.

A true understanding of a cuisine comes from the knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation. Cooking tours based on hands-on participation with the locals will  absolutely enhance your culinary skills and bring you close to those who truly understand the cuisine of the region.  Equally as important, it will increase your awareness of how things are truly made and the best way they should be served, in keeping with the traditions of the region.  Gaining this insight is a key factor to enhancing your culinary skills and overall knowledge of a region’s gastronomic traditions.

Hand made _____with nduja sauce.

Handmade fileja with ‘nduja sauce.

As  mentioned before, these will be hand-selected culinary tours with a focus on Campania and Calabria. People of all cooking levels are welcome, from professional chefs to the kitchen novice.  The only prerequisite I ask is that you be a full-fledged FOODIE!

Oh wait, we’re not finished yet!  It’s impossible to visit Italy and not make mention of famous works of art, museums, ancient ruins, the natural beauty of the landscape, mountainous plateaus, castles, and the many beaches.  My intention is to carefully weave some of the non-food activities throughout our culinary itinerary as well.   This way we’ll touch upon other important facts about the region we visit, which will in many cases shed an even greater light onto the food culture that we’ll be exploring.  So, if you’re interested in the nature, (fauna and flora) of these beautiful regions, you will be pleasantly surprised too. 

Capo Vaticano (Calabria, Italy)

Capo Vaticano (Calabria, Italy)

There are many great locations in these regions to, perhaps, spend an afternoon grilling in the great outdoors, foraging in the nearby woods, or simply soaking up the Italian sunshine on the beach.  There will be something for everyone, so if a nature walk is not your thing, that’s okay, you might like an afternoon at the beach or visiting a castle instead.  Food will always be in the mix, so no matter what we plan to do on a day of exploration, you can be certain that your appetite will be satisfied.

The tours will be a blend of real cooking with locals, short explorations in beautiful nature, and educational talks about the fabulous history, art and culture that southern Italy has to offer.  This October will lay the foundation for what’s about to come, Franco’s Culinary Tours.

Our Autumn Southern Italian Road Trip

Itinerary: (October 22nd to November 3rd)

All destinations are for researching culinary and cultural points of interest and short explorations.

Calabria bound

  • Oct 22nd- Arrive in Naples, and drive (3 hour, 20 minutes) to Cosenza.
  • Oct 25th- Drive (30 minutes) from Cosenza to Altomonte.  
  • Oct 27th- On the road again.  This time (1 hour, 30 minutes) ride from Altomonte to San Nicola Arcella

Campania bound

  • Oct 30th- Drive (2 hours) from San Nicola Arcella to Paestum
  • Nov 1st- Paestum to Sorrento (1 hour, 45 minutes)
  • Nov 3rd- Sorrento to Naples (2 hours)

Please stay tuned to my Facebook and Twitter pages to follow along.  I will be sharing photos, travel tips and videos along the way. Ciao for now!

Mention the word mozzarella and I get excited! And if you do too, then I have some great places in Campania to share with you.

Mention the word mozzarella and I get excited! If you do too, then I have some great places in Campania to share with you.