Arts and Crafts Lessons in Italy

Everyone loves to bring home a unique souvenir from a memorable trip, and travelers to Italy are no exception. Shopping is one of the joys of visiting this country dominated by small, family-run businesses. Everything from food and wine to traditional artisan wares and custom tailored clothing make excellent gifts for loved ones or mementos for yourself.

There is no better souvenir from Italy, however, than the memories of authentic experiences with welcoming locals. We love to arrange personalized tours and visits with local experts and artisans so travelers to Italy can come home with a true understanding of this country's culture and people.

arts-crafts-florence-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

With an arts and crafts lesson, these two aspects are perfectly combined: under the patient guidance of a traditional artisan, you have the opportunity to learn a new skill in its historical and cultural context...and you leave with the most unique souvenir possible: a unique handcrafted item or piece of artwork that you have made yourself!

Arts and crafts lessons and courses have become increasingly popular among travelers to Italy over the past few years for this precise reason, and there are a variety of private lessons and group courses available across Italy to suit a range of interests and skill levels. Here are a few of the most interesting:

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Italy's Beef from Ranch to Restaurant

As far as national identity goes, Italy is more associated with pork than beef. From prosciutto to lardo di colonnata, the lion's share of Italy's most recognized charcuterie and grilled cuts are made from its domestic pigs. Pigs are less expensive to raise and butcher than beef, and pork is one of the pillars of the country's historic “cucina povera”, or rural cuisine, tradition.

IMG_0388(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

The postwar boom brought both wealth and urbanization to Italy, and average Italians began sitting down to a large steak for the first time in the country's history. Even Dario Cecchini, Italy's celebrity butcher and proselytizer of the famous Fiorentina, ate his first steak at age 18 to celebrate his birthday. As a modest family of butchers and laborers, the Cecchinis' diet was based on the cheapest cuts of pork and beef, offal, and charcuterie, which Dario remembers fondly and continues to prepare in his shop and restaurant.

beef-pienza-cr-brian-dore (Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though the more prestigious cuts of beef have not been a historical mainstay of the Italian diet, the beef raised in Italy today is among the world's finest, using heirloom breeds, open grazing, and limited and strictly regulated pharmaceuticals. If you are hankering for an excellent cutlet or tartare the next time you're in Italy, here are a few facts about Italian beef to help you choose the most mouth-watering cut.

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The Palazzi Museums of Rome

Italy is home to so much of the world's great art and architecture. Some are found outdoors in public spaces, visual delights to happen upon while wandering the streets of Florence or Rome, and some are located in the churches and cathedrals for which they were first commissioned centuries ago. But most of Italy's artistic treasures are kept in the country's hundreds of museums.

doria-pamphilij-rome-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though there are certainly great museums which were built specifically to house the vast collections accrued by princes and popes over the past 500 years, like the Vatican for example, Italy's public museums are often located in repurposed public or private palaces, villas, and palazzi. These are especially interesting to visit, as the artwork is displayed against a backdrop of ornate historical halls and salons, featuring original decor and furnishings, and surrounded by elegant gardens and grounds.

palazzo-barberini-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Nowhere is this more true than Rome, which is home to a number of exceptional museum collections housed in sumptuous buildings which were once private aristocratic, diplomatic, or papal residences and are now owned by the city of Rome, the Italian state, or, in rare cases, the original family. Here are a few of the most interesting, both for the art on display and for the halls in which it's shown:
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CNT Editor's Itinerary for the Amalfi Coast

Last Call! When Conde Nast Traveler invited us to create an Editor's Itinerary for their readers in July of last year, we were happy to share some of our favorite picturesque destinations, unforgettable experiences, and expert guides in one of the most spectacular areas in Italy: the Amalfi Coast.

amalfi-coast-boat-tour-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Our custom Amalfi Coast Editor's Itinerary includes a four night stay in one of our favorite hotels, a private boat tour along the coast, a cooking lesson with one of Sorrento's most acclaimed chefs, and a guided tour of Pompeii.

monastero-santa-rosa-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

You'll explore the famed fishing villages along the Amalfi Coast, the dramatic countryside above the coast along the fabulous “Path of the Gods” hiking trail, and the vibrant city center of Naples, with its historic artisan workshops and tailors. Let our personally vetted local guides and experts share with their insider knowledge of one of Italy's most beautiful corners.

Untitled(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

A few spaces remain for this exclusive Amalfi Coast Editor's Itinerary, so take advantage of the personal service and years of experience that come with our private custom travel services at an unbeatable price. Savor a few days on the coast with this itinerary for a short break, or extend your trip by adding other Italian destinations.

amalfi-coast-boat-tour-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Contact us for more information about this Editor's Itinerary, or click the CNT link for additional details and to book. We hope to share the best of the Amalfi Coast and its history and culture with you!


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See our custom Amalfi Coast Editor's Itinerary


So, You Want to Take a Multigenerational Family Trip to Italy...

It probably came up during a big holiday reunion dinner or weekend, when grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and grandkids were all happily gathered around the table: why don't we all vacation together this year? How about Italy?

Young travelers at a vineyard, Tuscany(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

It's a wonderful idea - and will make for the trip of a lifetime for everyone - but also involves some tricky logistics and careful advanced planning to make sure that the vacation is unforgettable for all the right reasons! If you are considering a family trip that includes everyone from grandparents to the newest arrivals, here are some tips from our years of experience arranging successful multigenerational Italy trips:
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