Cooking at Fontana del Papa
Cooking classes are small and flexible with students having a say in what they learn to make. The day I visited, the class was making ravioli stuffed with ricotta and truffles. Each student made the dough and formed it into ravioli with assistance from the teacher. When one student couldn't quite get the hang of the ravioli, the teacher helped him turn his dough into pappardelle. She even made a quick sauce to go with his pasta so it could be served at lunch along with the ravioli. Whatever is made during the morning class is served for lunch.
Students come for 4-day or 1 week sessions. There's also a unique program where students can be picked up in Civitavecchia and spend the day at Fontana del Papa, cooking, eating lunch, and seeing a bit of the countryside. It's a great way to spend a day in port on your cruise or take a daytrip from Rome.
A Bit About Fontana del Papa
When Assuntina opened her doors to guests and started her cooking program in 2004, neighbors in Tolfa thought it was a crazy idea. They don't understand why anyone would go on vacation to learn how to cook. But Fontana del Papa has guests nearly year round, even at Christmas.
When's the best time to go? Assuntina says in the fall because the days are still nice but at night guests can sit inside and enjoy the fireplace. It's very romantic.
What Else Will I Do at Fontana del Papa?
Your stay includes a buffet breakfast and hearty Italian lunches and dinners. Much of the fruit and vegetables is grown in their own garden. You may get to watch as they cook pizza in a wood burning oven, or even learn how to make it yourself.
Claudio is a trained sommelier and one evening he'll share his knowledge about Italian wines in a tutored wine tasting. He'll explain how to taste wine, what makes a good Italian wine, and when to drink different wines.
The main attraction at Fontana del Papa is really to spend some time relaxing, enjoying the wild countryside, and experiencing Italian life with a family. You really get to know the people you're staying with rather than just being a guest at a hotel. Besides Assuntina's family, you'll meet other guests from all over the world. Many former guests stay in touch with Assuntina and her family.
Staying at Fontana del Papa
You can choose either a 4 day or 1 week cooking program, complete with meals including wine. Minimum stay for bed and breakfast is 2 nights. Assuntina said that one night is too short of a time for people to get to know the family and the area.
Fontana del Papa is in Monti della Tolfa, an off the beaten track part of Northern Lazio. The area is rich in Etruscan sites, wildlife, and natural beauty. Fontana del Papa makes a good base for exploring Northern Lazio, southern Tuscany, and Umbria.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. See our ethics policy.