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Trip Report Top Chef Abruzzo! - A Week in an Italian Cooking School (+ Rome)

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I am finally getting started on my trip report, as requested! Did I research and ply the boards with questions for this trip? Amazingly, no! This was a different type of adventure for us – planned by a palazzo owner in Italy and, other than airfare, everything, and I mean everything, was included. Transportation from Rome, cooking classes, all meals, wine, excursions, more wine! We sat back and let it all happen. Now, for someone who loves to spend all my pre-trip time reading up, it was incredible that I would survive a trip without spending months researching. Luckily I had 3 days in Rome to plan, but more on that later.

February, 2012: The Golden Baby

How did we end up in the middle of non-touristy Abruzzo, an area I had never heard of? Well, it started last winter a few months after I had booked a family cruise, and had spent considerable time persuading said family to cruise together. The cruise was a done deal when I received my daily email from Groupon. This particular deal featured the picture of a beautiful town with quaint tiny stone houses spilling down the side of a mountain and describing a week of cooking, touring and eating. I don’t usually read the travel Groupons, but this hilltown was so beautiful that I opened it up and read about an amazing opportunity. Darn that cruise that I had already booked! We are a one-vacation-a-year-family, but nevertheless, I showed the Groupon to my husband…for dreaming’s sake.

And he said, “Book it!”

“Yeah, right”, I replied, “did you forget the cruise?”

He repeated it and off I went to a Mardi Gras party, keeping that beautiful picture firmly tucked in the back of my mind.

As is always the case, I headed right for the wine :D , and much to my surprise, there, smack in the middle of half a dozen normal size bottles of wine, was a huge double size bottle of wine labeled ABRUZZO! Honestly, I had never even heard the word Abruzzo before, and here it was staring me in the face, daring me to book this trip! I enjoyed telling my friends about this ‘sign’ for the rest of the evening. To top it off, I bit into my piece of the Mardi Gras Kings’ cake at the end of the night, and what did I see? The little golden good luck baby looking back at me from my slice! OMG! Another sign! Now, who could ignore a golden baby! By now my friends were all excited and wishing me luck so I went back home and explained that I had received a couple of important signs. I heard the magic words ‘book it’ once again, warned ‘If you say that one more time, I will’. And the next day, I did!

Turns out this was the most popular trip Groupon had ever offered. They were overrun with calls and it was difficult to get through for a while. Apparently, there were a lot of golden babies out there that month!

June 8:

We live in Pennsylvania, but drove to JFK for our $900(!) flight, after a quick detour in Manhattan for brunch and a quick visit to the new Laduree store for macarons. The AerLingus flights to Dublin (which was in an excitable state for an upcoming soccer tournament), and then Rome, were uneventful. We were on our way!

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