12 Online Cooking Classes for Travelers Dreaming of Italy

From how Michelangelo ate to an eggplant-intensive course, there’s one for everyone

An array of pasta fresca shapes
Fresh semolina pasta from a Domenica Cooks Pasta 101 class. Photo: Domenica Marchetti

For those of us missing Italy, sipping Chianti or gesticulating with Duolingo might soothe withdrawals, but a cooking class led by an Italian professional could work even better. Here are a dozen virtual food and drink experiences — from a course about Michelangelo’s eating habits to a two-day eggplant intensive — that bring a bit of Italy to you.

1. Pasta and preservation with Domenica Cooks

The multi-part Pasta with Domenica Cooks series, taught by Virginia-based Italian cookbook author Domenica Marchetti, is well underway, with workshops on stuffed, hand-pulled, and whole-wheat pastas, plus more. Some classes have sold out as of this writing, but the series will restart later in the fall or winter (and you’re free to join in the middle). In the meantime, learn about preserving fruits and vegetables, inquire about a private lesson, or check the schedule for updates, such as a sweet and savory baking class to be added later in the fall.

2. Sicilian flavors with Anna Tasca Lanza

Spend the weekend in rural Sicily with cooking school Anna Tasca Lanza, where classes spotlight specialties from the island. This month, kids can try almond thumbprint cookies and cavatelli with tomato sauce, while adults can spend two days learning all about the eggplant, from how to preserve it in oil to transforming it into dishes like caponata and pasta alla Norma. Check the calendar periodically for updates. If you miss a class, you can buy a downloadable recording to access any time.

3. Florentine food and drink culture with Curious Appetite

Food, art, and history collide in Curious Appetite’s weekly lessons, all taught by experts in the Renaissance city of Florence. On Tuesdays, learn how Caterina de’ Medici inspired the invention of gelato, or ruminate on the feasting habits of Da Vinci and Botticelli on Thursdays. Other options are beverage-focused; join a local sommelier for wine and cheese pairings, a mixologist for the perfect spritz or negroni, or a barista for an examination of Italian coffee culture.

4. Michelin-starred meal with the Authentic Italian Table

Cook at home but feel like you’re in a 3-Michelin-star restaurant in Milan through a virtual experience with Enrico Bartolini, one of Italy’s most-awarded Michelin chefs. Before meeting Bartolini, you’ll receive a box of government-protected Italian ingredients and use them to cook two of his recipes (with video instructions) on your own time. On September 15, you’ll chat with the chef about your successes, questions, and the importance of Italy’s DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) products. The one-time experience is open to Los Angeles County residents only, as ingredients will be sourced and shipped by local chef Steve Samson.

5. Party in the kitchen with The Tiny Italian

Nights in can indeed be wild, especially when a “sexy sausage ragu” is part of the crew. Private cooking classes with Italian Londoner Paola Maggiulli, who writes a food blog called The Tiny Italian, are just as much about fun and togetherness as they are about cooking, so expect drinks and dance music while you and friends master the art of risotto or lasagna.

6. True Tuscan cooking with Juls’ Kitchen

Cook along with food writer and cookbook author Giulia Scarpaleggia as she demonstrates step-by-step instructions for traditional appetizers, fresh pasta, mains, sides, and desserts from her kitchen in the Tuscan countryside. Pay once for access to 20 video recipes, such as the fried sage leaves that begin many Tuscan meals and the occhi di bue sandwich cookies found in nearly every coffee bar in Italy.

7. Southern Italian specialties + wine and cheese club with Casa Mia Tours

Casa Mia’s cooking classes focus on regional Italian dishes and just might introduce you to something new. Taste the flavors of Sicily as you twirl twisty busiate with cauliflower and saffron sauce, or learn about the island of Sardinia while stuffing fresh culurgiones with potato, pecorino, and mint. The tour company also hosts a virtual wine and cheese club with a different theme for each session, including best-value wines and bottles for Thanksgiving.

8. Dinner and music with Opera in the Kitchen

Sommelier, saxophonist, and Tuscan cook Lucrezia Cannito’s award-winning Airbnb Experience has gone virtual. As the name suggests, participants will cook generations-old family recipes, like tagliatelle alla Bolognese and apple cake, and then be treated to entertainment by an opera singer performing right in Cannito’s farmhouse in the Chianti countryside.

9. Breads, sauces, and themed menus with Divina Cucina

California native, pastry chef, and travel guide Judy Witts Francini shares cooking tips learned over more than 35 years in Tuscany. This month’s classes include a tutorial on four classic pasta sauces, a Florentine mother’s favorite three-course lunch, and Dough 101, which means fried pizza, Tuscan flatbread, and more.

10. Family recipes with Nonna Live

Nonna Nerina, her granddaughter Chiara, and a rotating crowd of family members bring you stories, wine recommendations, and a glimpse into their kitchen in Palombara Sabina, a small town outside of Rome. Each two-hour class spotlights one of Nonna’s up-to-100-year-old family recipes, like ravioli with butter and sage sauce and fettuccine with rich ragu.

11. Colorful comfort food with Cook Italy

Carmelita Caruana teaches clients how to make vibrant seasonal dishes from her home kitchen in Bologna. Support her work by buying a digital cookbook, which contains 30 recipes that you can discuss with Caruana during a weekly Facebook live session. Alternatively, you can contact her to book a private class or follow her on Facebook and Instagram, where she posts regularly about upcoming Zoom lessons.

12. Snacks, desserts, and a meal in between with Cooking with Foodie

You’ll find all the recipes you need to begin and end an Italian meal on Cooking with Foodie, which hosts classes from a variety of teachers. Salty fans can fry Sicilian arancini (crispy stuffed rice balls) or prepare Tuscan chicken-liver crostini; dessert lovers can bake a lemony torta Caprese; and others will be happy to choose meat, seafood, and pasta dishes to enjoy in between.

Freelance food and travel writer. Living in LA and usually thinking about Italy. Work at saracagle.com and food pics @caglecooks

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