An introduction to Flavours Holidays

There are 2 things Mark and I both love - food and travel. So, when Flavours holidays invited us to experience one of their cooking holidays in Italy, we were delighted. Whilst I love food I’m not known for my culinary skills, Mark finds cooking relaxing whilst I have slowly fallen out of love with being in the kitchen. I was intrigued and a little apprehensive to see if this experience would inspire me back to cooking, and if I was up to the job. The fact that we were also going to experience all this in Venice was the icing on the cake.

Venice is without doubt, one of the most iconic and beautiful cities anywhere in the world.

Images of gondolas, ancient bridges spanning narrow canals, coffee shops, gelato vendors, restaurants, tourists thronging St Mark’s Square gazing up at the Basilica Di San Marco all spring to mind; it’s all this plus so much more. However, our first stop was not this world-famous city. We arrived at Venice Marco Polo airport and were picked up by our driver who took us to our Villa accommodation in Treviso , for the start of our culinary experience with Flavours Holidays.

We hadn’t tried this type of interactive holiday before and didn’t really know what to expect but were made to feel so welcome by our hosts Vanessa and Antonella and the other guests; it really was like meeting up with old friends. From the moment we stepped through the villa doors we were made to feel welcome and by the end of the first evening meal we had bonded with our fellow travellers. The group was a mixture of solo travellers and another couples, and we quickly got to know one another. We love meeting new people and it was interesting finding out more about their lives over the next few days together.

Waking up and opening the bedroom shutters to a beautful and peaceful garden was just perfect. A morning stroll around the garden soaking it all in and slowing life down was just what we needed. Our cookery teacher and owner of the villa Vanessa made us feel at home and welcomed us all in to the kitchen. This trip included 3 cookery lessons which were very relaxed with a good mix of demonstration and hands on experience.

The Veneto region is the birthplace of Tiramisu, so of course our first morning was spent learning how to make this delicious dessert. I’m not going to give away the recipe or any secret ingredients here but trust me when I say it was exquisite!

After a relaxing long lunch, we headed out to visit one of the many prosecco vineyards. A perfect opportunity to take in the beautiful surroundings as well as learning more about the origins of one of our favourite drinks. Prosecco originates from this area, produced from nine provinces known as a Denominazione di Origine Controllata; when you see DOC or DOCG on a bottle of Prosecco, you know it is from this region and can be sure of its quality. We visited the Giusti Wine vineyard in the afternoon to see the process of growing and producing wines and prosecco.

The tour was informative and fun with the opportunity to try different types of their wine grown in the local region.

Nothing felt like too much trouble on this trip and our Flavours holiday host Antonella took care of every detail so it never felt rushed, we could simply be in the moment and not worry about anything.

As you can imagine on a cookery holiday, there were many delicious dishes to try and Vanessa’s modern approach to old Italian classics were stunning, not only delicious but so beautifully presented. There is something special about experiencing food that is made by someone who is so clearly passionate about their cooking.

The day trip to Venice was something we had both been looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. One of the things I really liked about the Flavours holiday was how relaxed everything felt, there was no pressure to do everything as a group 24hrs a day. If you want to break off and explore Venice on your own there are plenty of opportunities. After finding our bearings in the morning, we enjoyed meandering the streets, exploring the many alleys and ancient bridges spanning the canal.

Stepping away from the tourist hot spots, we enjoyed lunch at a typical Bacaro, the Venetian version of tapas, in the heart of the city, where the locals like to lunch. Venice is as beautiful as you would expect, it really is like walking around an old film set, truly magical. In hindsight we wished we had pre-booked a visit to the Basilica di San Marco and the Doges Palace as the queues are very long, but unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time. We have a good excuse to go back and visit now though!

We left Venice in style as Antonella had organised a private speed boat for us to take us back to our car which was a real treat; the views of the city from the water are spectacular. This was a real highlight for the whole group, everyone loved it.

Our last evening meal was another gastronomical treat, it really felt like we were eating at a Michelin star restaurant. We loved the interaction between our Flavours Holiday host Antonella and chef Vanessa as they joined us at the table to share the experience as we found out more about Venetian and Italian life.

We both loved this experience and can imagine trying cookery holidays at different locations now as it’s such a great way to explore new places and meet like-minded people. We’re already planning to host an Italian dinner party and show off my new cookery skills, including Aperol Spritz Panna Cotta and who knew Shrimp and Strawberry risotto would taste so good!

A huge thank-you to Flavours Holidays for the invitation.

A Taste of Venice

 Mark & Rachel Peru

June 2024