Trips and tiramisu
The whole package to Lake Garda proved to be full of interesting opportunities to enjoy what this region of Italy has to offer to mature travellers. The package for half-board accommodation (which included a carafe of wine with dinner each day) at Hotel Continental and four excursions was good value at just over £1000 per person.
Trips included in the package were to Verona, Venice, wine tasting and learning to cook Italian style.
Learning to cook pasta and tiramisu
After a good breakfast, we joined the minibus and collected other participants along the route to arrive at Tinazzi winery for our Italian cookery course. However, we also appeared to have acquired some extra passengers who thought they were going to Verona! It worked out in the end and our group of 12 worked in pairs to produce what we would ultimately eat for lunch.
We started with preparation of tiramisu as this had to be chilled. We soon found we had six different approaches to breaking 2 eggs into a bowl! The chef was very helpful and our professional-looking desserts were marked with our names and taken to be chilled.
Pasta Italian style resulted in heated discussions later about whether we would dig out the unused pasta maker in the back of the kitchen cupboard (alongside the fondue set and yoghurt maker) or just buy a packet of dried pasta. Congratulations to Sarah and Mike who bought one.
It is an easy process that requires muscles, a steady table when kneading it into submission, and two of you to stop it falling on the floor as you roll it thinner. We finished with a huge mixed vegetable stir-fry to go with the pasta. After a break, we sat together for a freshly-prepared tasty lunch and exceptional Bardolino red wine alongside a smooth, soft white wine produced by Terazzi.
This was a fascinating experience that we all enjoyed with everyone fully involved throughout the day. Lunch was a prolonged affair, of course, with too much food that none of us could finish (except for the tiramisu and wine). Then, clutching the gift of the beautiful black aprons we had each used, we returned to the hotel along Lake Garda – blue skies and sailing boats against a stunning Italian mountain skyline.
Wine tasting in Valpolicella
Our coach picked us up at lunch time and we travelled to north-west of Verona known as the Valpolicella valley famous for its red wine (no white wine from this region). The valley is also famous for different coloured high-quality marble sold around the world. Our tasting was taking place at Ugalini winery, only recently making its own wine rather than just selling their grapes to others.
This was a new venture for them as they usually have 5-6 guests for a wine tasting sharing three wines – a Classico Superior, Repaso which is a mix of Superior and part-dried skins from Amerone, the full-bodied Amerone which is aged at least 5 years in French oak barrels (so more expensive). Each wine was stronger than the previous one and was served with home-made bread, salami, hard cheese and some warm bread drizzled with olive oil.
It was very interesting but a coach of 60 people is too big to organise and control – some were helping themselves to a second glass while the host was talking to guests! It should be a much smaller group, no more than 20, especially as they only have a single toilet available. They were beautiful wines but it was a poorly-organised tasting with no leaflets or brochures given to participants to tell you about the vineyard and the wines. As a new venture, they need to rethink and arrange it more efficiently.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Cosmos Tours and Cruises.