In my opinion, recipes are some of the best souvenirs that you can bring home. It’s a great way to share your travels with your family and friends! When you’re looking at which cooking classes in Italy to take, make sure to read about traditional Italian foods to see if you’re going have the opportunity to learn a local or regional specialty! We always try to find classes that use seasons ingredients or focus on something unique to our destination!
This post is designed to share some of the Italian cooking classes we’ve taken in each city or region, rather than focusing on overarching cuisine. These are hands-on classes that include recipes. We’ve enjoyed using these skills for holidays and special occasions with our family and friends.
In addition to cooking classes, I definitely recommend taking advantage of regional wine tastings in Italy and food tours. One of our first tasting experiences was a olive oil and wine tours in Tuscany, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Today I’m focusing on the hands-on cooking classes that include recipes.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for tours and products I love at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Bologna Cooking Classes
Fresh Pasta Class in Bologna
In what would prove to be a most memorable trip to Italy in June 2021, we booked a cooking class with Delicious Bologna as part of our Emilia Romagna itinerary! This pasta factory is located in the heart of Bologna, a short walk from all the major sites. Martina, Consuela, and Mattia were excellent hosts. We’re already looking forward to booking a Bologna food tour with them in November! (They don’t allow us to link to their website, but you can google Delicious Bologna to find their tours!)
We learned to make the pasta dough by hand, fill and shape tortellini and tortelli, and cut tagliatelle by hand. Martina explained how to create fillings that will work for the various pasta shapes. We used ricotta and Spinach for the tortelli and a blend of meats and cheese for the tortellini. There were a lot of laughs as we learned, which made the class even more enjoyable.
One of my favorite parts of this class was being able to try tortellini in brodo (broth), which is a typical holiday meal in Bologna. (You can find totellini in brodo in Florence at Trattoria Sostanza!) The flavors is so rich and absolutely delicious. Martina whipped up a quick butter and tomato sauce for our tortelli and sprinkled it with parmesan. Again, absolutely delicious. Lastly, we enjoyed a tagliatelle al ragu, which was incredibly savory. What I love about learning to make pasta in Italy is that the sauces are generally very light, so you don’t feel overly full, even if you try three different pastas for lunch!
We also tried Pignoletto, a sparkling white wine from the area. It’s a perfect, crisp wine for a summer day.
Cinque Terre Cooking Classes
Making Pesto in Liguria
On our first trip to Cinque Terre, we grabbed our Cinque Terre card and hopped a train to Levanto. After a short walk from the train station, we found ourselves at a pesto cooking class! In addition to the class, the shop owner prepared an elaborate spread of olives, olive oil, bread, pesto, and wine. We first observed a demonstration of how pesto is made using traditional marble and wooden tools. (We even learned how to take the veins out of garlic!) After the demonstration, we were able to try the pesto with toasted bread.
The second part of the demonstration is to learn to make pesto by doing it. There are 4 main ingredients in pesto: basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, and you add a bit of olive oil. Everything is fresh. Everything is tasty. Tom likes parmesan, so we went a little heavy on the it but it still turned out delicious. It’s incredible how the pesto turns bright green once it is ready. And, we ate every last bit of the pesto.
La Nicchia sells many local Ligurian products. We were able to taste a bit of everything, including cioccolatini sciacchetrà, which is a chocolate filled with sweet wine. They also ship things back to the states, so I sent several jars of sauce and different pastas home. Everything arrived perfectly intact.
Bonus Cooking Class Suggestion: Some day I’m going to be in Manarola when these cooking classes are being taught.
Florence Cooking Classes
Fresh Pasta Class in Florence
This pasta making class is absolutely delightful. It takes place in an actual culinary school in the Oltrarno on a small street that is easy to miss. The class is limited to 12 and taught by a master chef. In this particular class, students make three pastas and three sauces. We learned to make an egg pasta, a water pasta, and a potato tortelli, which is a lot like ravioli. In addition to the pastas, we made a traditional dessert as well. Surprisingly, panna cotta takes less than 10 minutes to prep.
Since both the water-based and egg-based pastas needed to rest, we used that time to create the fillings and the sauces. All the sauces we made never very light. No heavy cream sauces here. Everything had an olive oil base and were supplemented with tomatoes, herbs, or mushrooms. Once we finished putting the sauces on to simmer, we were able to turn our attention back to the pasta. Thankfully we used pasta machines to roll, stretch, and cut the pastas. For the tortelli, we used a hand tool.
Once the pastas were cooking, we were ushered down the basement for conversation and to drink wine. The creations are plated and served family style. I think that sharing a meal with people from all over the world is one of the best things about cooking classes. Here’s another fresh pasta class in Florence that we enjoyed, too!
Bonus Cooking Class Suggestion: There are a lot of tours that include a trip to the local market and focus on recipes made with fresh food found that day. We have really enjoyed these cooking classes in Florence, and it introduced us to a lot of great local merchants.
Pizza and Gelato Cooking Class in Florence
This is actually the first cooking class in Italy I ever took. My mom and I took it together in 2010! (Should I give her credit for helping me realize that this is the best travel experience ever??) Like the pasta class, this class is limited to 12 students. You learn to make the pizza dough from scratch and while it’s resting, you prep the gelato. We used what was in season and made a peach sorbet and a cream gelato. Once you put the gelato in the freezer, you return to make your pizza. My mom was a natural at pizza tossing. I, however, was not as confident as she was. We used market fresh ingredients to finish off the pizzas before putting them in the wood-fired oven. Like the pasta class, we headed to a community table to enjoy wine and conversation before devouring our dinner.
Pro Tip: If you wanted to create your own one day cooking class, you could book the fresh pasta class for the morning and the pizza and gelato class for the evening. You would have a slight break in between, which would give you a chance to wander the Oltrarno and walk off the calories. I’m just saying.
Fresh Pasta with Seasonal Ingredients
For Thanksgiving 2019, my mom, Tom and I took a gourmet fresh pasta class that utilized seasonal ingredients. If you’re an adventurous eater and enjoy trying new flavors, this Florence cooking class is perfect for you. The recipes are less rote and the flavors are more interesting. In this class, we made 2 egg-based pastas – fettuccine and pumpkin ravioli, as well as a gnocchi. All of the pastas are made by hand and using a manual pasta machine, so you’ll get your work out in during this four-hour class. To accompany the pasta, we made a meat sauce, a vegetarian-friendly sauce, and butter-sage sauce. We made individual cups of tiramisu for dessert.
We were fortunate to be in a group where everyone enjoyed flavor. The other group had someone who didn’t like garlic. Literally, someone was talking a cooking class in Italy, and didn’t want to use garlic in her food! (Imagine our disappointment when they mixed all of our pasta together.) There was also a couple that couldn’t use coffee in their tiramisu, so they showed us how to use a berry substitute. (I wanted to try that!) I was really impressed with how well the cooking school staff was able to navigate the different dietary requirements on the fly!
My mom and Tom both enjoyed the gnocchi. (My mom got very into throwing the dough. She even told another member of our group to “throw it like you mean it.”) I preferred the ravioli with the sage sauce. (The butter sage ravioli is a Florentine specialty. I’ve seen it on several menus in Florence. The red wine served with our meal was delicious.
This class is a little outside of the city center. You can certainly walk there, but make sure you give yourself enough time to get there!
Rome Cooking Classes
Pizza Making Class in Rome
This pizza class is coupled with a walking tour of Rome, which we really enjoyed!
Unlike the Florence pizza class, this class takes place in an actual restaurant near Campo dei Fiori. The chef only spoke Italian, so our guide served as a translator. Since this is a working restaurant, the dough is prepared in advance. We did learn the proper way to roll it out and prepare it for cooking. From there, we were able to top it with our favorite toppings. Tom opted for Quattro Fromaggi and I did a spicy salami. We were even able to try a dessert pizza topped with nutella. It was really rich, but it was delicious! (We ended up spending Christmas Eve in Rome at this restaurant in 2019!)
Taking More Cooking Classes in Italy
Through my extensive research for our trips, almost every region of Italy offers cooking classes. Some classes are in offered in a Tuscan farmhouse or agriturismo. Others may include truffle hunting in Umbria. Some may focus on the art of the aperitivo. Even still, others make focus on a particular shape or type of pasta. (I was so disappointed we didn’t end up learning now to make orecchiette in Apulia!)
Cuisine in Italy is regional and every time we take a cooking class, we come away with new knowledge for the kitchen. Whether it’s knife skills, how flavors work together, or how to make pasta from scratch, we always learn something new. Truthfully, these classes are one of my favorite things we do when we travel. Because of what we learn about cuisine, I feel like we’re always prepared when we go to restaurants or to the supermarket.