During your tour in the Northeastern corner of Italy, you will enjoy some true genuine hospitality and experience life in the less touristy areas, where the secrets of traditional cuisine and hand-craftsmanship are kept alive and passed on from one generation to the next.
You will be sleeping in a quaint village in Carnia, but from there you will travel every day to different areas of the region.
While food and wine feature centrally in the itinerary, your week in Carnia will be more than an Italian cooking course: it will be a hands-on cultural event! Some of the best and most innovative chefs of the area will explain the principles of transforming simple local ingredients into great cuisine. Both they and the women of our villages will guide you in preparing traditional dishes based on local products.
A wine expert will teach you the art of wine tasting and we will take you on a guided wine-tasting tour in the famous Collio region, where some of the best Italian white wines are made. You’ll have the chance to visit several local villages, see the traditional method of making cheese and smoking prosciutto (the traditional method for conserving food), go wild herbs or mushroom picking with experts (depending on the season and the weather conditions) and use these herbs, mushrooms and dairy products to make delicious but simple dishes you’ll be able to prepare at home for your loved ones.
Located in the north-eastern corner of Italy, bordering on Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east, the Alpine mountain community of Carnia is a little-known jewel of antique Roman origin. A predominantly agricultural society with extensive forests, this is a place where a proud heritage based on antique traditions and customs, skilled craftsmanship, attention to small detail, slow rhythms and warm hospitality have merged with periods of economic hardship and the need to make a living with locally available products. The result is a rich local culture, a solid community with an attention to quality and to innovation.
Here nature dominates, with the majesty of mountain peaks, the broad expanses of well-maintained and productive forests, hidden treasures such as waterfalls and canyons, and a rich flora and fauna. The dramatic peaks of the Dolomites also rise above numerous small ancient villages with their narrow lanes, their houses in stone and wood and large stone courtyards.
The strictly seasonal cuisine uses genuine local products which the mountain climate imbues with a special flavour. Developed over centuries, it has been jealously conserved in the mountains and valleys of Carnia, but it has also been renewed as new tastes and traditions have mingled with the old. Local wisdom in the hands of the people of Carnia is evident in the handicrafts, made of fabric, wood, iron or stone.
Groups are small (between 6 to 15 people), so that everyone gets a chance to try their hand at every technique, from making fresh gnocchi to lovingly stirring a wild mushroom risotto to perfection.
You will also have the chance to take mountain hikes, eat at local mountain refuges and gourmet restaurants alike. Local experts will explain the history, the architecture and archaeology of Carnia and will share their perspectives on this special place.
You’ll stay in well-appointed apartments of the “Albergo Diffuso di Comeglians” in Maranzanis and Povolaro, in the tastefully restored homes and barns of these little mountain villages. You’ll mingle with the locals and drink wine in the local “osterie”. In short, you’ll experience the culture of our territory.
“Entering our houses is like entering our history, our art and our culture. The quietness and the environment you can find here welcome you!”.
The poet Leonardo Zanier has reserved this welcome speech to the guests of Albergo Diffuso of Comeglians, in order to make everybody realize the purpose of this innovative touristic offer. The guest has at his/her disposal neither a simple room, nor a house. The aim of Albergo Diffuso is infact to let the traveller fully appreciate and experience the genuineness of this area, for him to enjoy the everyday’s life of the hamlet, and for him come in contact with the still unspoilt nature and traditions. Choosing to stay in an Albergo Diffuso, means having the opportunity to spend a holiday in the privacy of ones home, while enjoying hotel services. The reception functions infact exactly like a concierge and here you receive the necessary help and information in order to spend at best your stay in the village.
Saturday Arrival in Italy
You arrive at Venice airport.
We pick you up at the airport, and bring you to the town of Comeglians where you will stay in the “Albergo Diffuso”, which means a hotel, spread out in the tastefully restored 18th and early 19th century homes of the two adjoining villages, Maranzanis and Povolaro.
These are charming self-contained apartments, managed by the Cooperative of the albergo diffuso. We’ll help you get settled in to your apartment where you’ll find a basket filled with local products for your enjoyment and tomorrow’s breakfast, prepared especially for you by the ladies of Maranzanis.
We’ll give you a map of the local area where you can take a walk or a short hike. We can arrange transportation if you want to explore further.
Join us for an informal presentation of the history and culture of the mountain community of Carnia with a local expert and a welcome aperitif at the restored antique osteria and conference room Casa Boter in Povolaro, where we have set up an exhibition of works of art by local artists.
Dinner in the ancient town of Pesariis at “Sot la Napa” housed in the exquisitely restored 17th century home, built on a 15th century foundation. The restaurant and agritourism is run by the Bruseschi family and uses only the organic products grown here.
Chef Eliana Bruseschi will introduce you to some of the local seasonal specialties such as mountain radicchio which grows wild at 1000 metres altitude and higher and is picked just as the snow begins to melt in the spring, or bleks, a hand made pasta of buckwheat flour.
Sunday “Le Malghe” (from mid June to mid Sept)
or “Wild Herbs or Mushrooms” (in Spring or Autumn)
Between mid June and mid September the cows, sheep and goats are transferred to the Alpine mountain pastures and cheese production begins, using traditional techniques and some modern equipment. These summer dairy farms are known as “malghe” and are at the centre of much of the productive life and traditions of the mountain community in the summer months. Many of these have been restored and sell their products directly or, in some cases, even prepare simple dishes.
Guided visit to Malga “Pozof”, on Mt Zoncolan, where a variety of cheeses and butter are produced and you can see the traditional method of smoking ricotta cheese (a fundamental pasta condiment in these parts) over the open circular fireplace, called a “fogolar”. Those who are a bit energetic can take an easy hike up to Monte Talm before we meet back at the Malga for lunch of simple traditional dishes and a sampling of their dairy products.
NOTE: If you travel in spring or autumn, when the Malghe are closed, the progamme includes a walking guided excursion with the wild herbs or mushroom expert and the return to Comeglians before lunch which will be at your leisure. The ingredients you will manage to pick during the excursion, will be used by our chef Lorena for tonight’s dinner.
Have a free afternoon to rest or wander up the hill to Braida and Clavais, a delightful village looking out over mountain peaks and the Val Pesarina. We can provide you with maps and information and transportation can also be arranged.
Join us for a cooking demonstration by Lorena Palmano in the dining room of the Albergo Diffuso in Comeglians.
Informal Dinner at Albergo Diffuso in Comeglians with Chef Lorena
Monday “The wines of Collio”
Morning at leisure
After a free morning and lunch, we leave for a visit to the south eastern region of Friuli. We’ll stop at Cividale del Friuli, to see the extraordinary mediaeval square and have a short walk around.
Our final destination is the Collio wine region where we’ll see the process of wine production and try out ourwine tasting skills at Villa Russiz Vineyards.
The Collio wine region is a hilly area on the north-eastern tip of Friuli Venezia Giulia bordering on Slovenia and famous for its excellent wines, especially white wines. The combination of its terrain and climate produce the acclaimed Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Picolit and other wine using grapes indigenous to this area. This wine area is home to hundreds of small, family-run state-of-the-art wine producers, many of whom regularly win national and international awards every year.
Three course dinner at “Osteria La Subida” in Cormòns, the main village in the Collio region.
La Subida is an 18th century bourgeois rural home transformed into a residence and restaurant, where the mixture of German and Slavic origins is apparent in the cuisine, accompanied, of course, by a vast selection of wine from the proprietor’s personal cantina, exclusively from local producers.
The Osteria is sister restaurant of La Subida Trattoria, voted amongst the best 101 places to eat in the world on Newsweek-August 2012.
Tuesday “Smoked prosciutto of Sauris” and the Malghe
(Malghe are open only from mid June to mid Sept)
We leave for Sauris, a village of German origin. We’ll take a tour (by quad or jeep) up the mountain to the malghe that continue to produce cheese using traditional methods, where during lunch we can taste their products.
Sauris is also famous for its smoked pork products: prosciutto, speck, salami. In fact, with the chronic shortage of salt, smoking became the typical way of preserving pork. We’ll visit the local smoking houses and ham factory and the Zahre artisan beer factory. In Sauris we’ll see also the revival of traditional skills such as fabric weaving and wood carving.
Before leaving Sauris, we will drive to the hamlet of Lateis where we will pay a visit to the Schneider family’s Riglarhaus restaurant overlooking Lake Sauris. Here, chef Paola Schneider interprets her mother Caterina’s recipes based on ancient local culinary traditions such as sauerkraut, cooked ricotta with polenta, crepes with wild mountain asparagus, wild herb soufflé, dishes with prosciutto of Sauris and other delights. For us she will prepare some tea and cakes based on the local wild fruit production.
NOTE: If you travel in spring or autumn, when the Malghe are closed, the programme includes a more relaxed visit in Sauris, a visit to the Prosciuttificio, a guided excursion in quad or jeep over the paths around Sauris and lunch at the Riglarhaus Restaurant with Chef Paola Schneider revealing her cooking secrets to you. This lunch will replace the lunch in the malga and the afternoon tea.
Return to Comeglians by latest 6.00pm
Dinner prepared by with Chef Lorena Palmano in the Albergo Diffuso Dining Hall
Wednesday “Full day excursion with destination of your choice”
Today the minibus and driver will be at your disposal.
There are many interesting destinations you can reach. We suggest a tour across the three borders of Italy, Austria and Slovenia, or maybe some shopping in the world-famous Town of Cortina, the queen of the Dolomites.
In order to leave you complete freedom to choose your time schedule, we have not organised any meals for today. If you however return before evening closure, we suggest the Pizzeria Tomasin in Comeglians.
Alternatively we can organise demonstrations of “Boiled wool” or “Hand Tufting” techniques with the local artisans in Comeglians.
Thursday “Carnic Arts and Traditions” and farewell dinner with famous Chef Cortiula at the Ethnographic Museum
Morning at leisure
After a morning spent at leisure, we’ll visit in Villa Santina the traditional textile weaving factory “La Tessitura Carnica”, where they still use hand looms and use traditional designs to make exquisite linens in cotton, linen and wool.
We then leave for Tolmezzo, capital of Carnia.
In Tolmezzo where we’ll visit the Arts and Crafts Museum of Carnia with a local guide. After the museum you will enjoy some time at leisure to wonder through Tolmezzo’s historical centre and maybe do some shopping before returning to the Museum.
We meet back at the Museum of Arts and Crafts where a wine expert will guide us through a wine tasting during the dinner prepared by Chef Daniele Cortiula, a famous local Chef who has won many Italian TV cooking competitions, by cleverly mixing the genuine ingredients you can find in Carnia. Despite the fame, he has remained loyal to his territory and we are very proud of him; he is very active in promoting the Carnic cuisine and it will be an honour for him to share with you some of his tips and recipes.
Friday Departure (unless you choose to extend one day in Venice)
08.30 am Departure for Venice.
Our driver will accompany you to Venice Airport.
The journey will take approximately 2 hours.
Good bye and see you soon!!
For those who would like to extend their stay in Venice
we can assist you with booking the Venice hotel and a personal guide who will show you the best locations.
Once at Venice Airport, you will be able to take a public transport/taxi motorboat to the hotel.
A local tourist guide will meet you at the hotel at 2.00pm and will guide you for half a day through San Marco Square, the Basilica, the Churches, the Palazzi, the narrow roads, the bridges, the museums and the squares of this beautiful city.
Lunch and dinner are at leisure.
We recommend that before going to sleep, you ask the concierge to book the airport taxi boat for tomorrow.
Overnight in a 3 star hotel
Saturday (if you have chosen to extend one day in Venice)
Time at leisure until departure by taxi boat to the airport
Good bye and see you soon!!
Prices are available upon request for the following combinations:
– 6, 8, 15 participants
– including/excluding transportation
– including/excluding Venice
Contact us for more info.