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ITALY IN RED

By Yvonne Williams of Wheel Destinations http://www.wheeldestinations.com

This has to be the ultimate cooking holiday for petrol heads.

Cooking vacation specialist www.cooking-vacations.com who provide holidays throughout Europe and Italy is offering a fabulous holiday for car lovers and cooks.

Their four day cooking and self drive holiday gives you the chance to drive your own late model Ferrari whilst cooking up a storm with accomplished Italian Chefs. You also dine out at Michelin Star restaurants and stay in five star luxury accommodation.

Transfers are by limousine and your first night is spent in the heart of Rome at the Hotel De Russie located between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo on the via del Babuino. Built in 1816 this grand five star establishment had a total renovation in 2007 and now retains its original splendour with strikingly elegant touches like the sumptuous pool and day spa.

The first night allows you to soak up the sights and sounds of Rome before the next day and your prancing horse encounter.
Day two you are taken to Civitavecchia’s Riva di Traiano a little harbour on the Roman coast. At Riva di Traiano there is a magnificent marina and Sporting Yacht Club where you are treated to refreshments before your dedicated Ferrari briefing.

Prior to the briefing the Ferrari’s are parked on the marina for your inspection.

A Ferrari expert briefs you on the models you will be driving – 599 GTB Fiorano, 430 Scuderia and 430 Spider, plus the 612 Scaglietti. You will also be instructed on the finer points of using the F1 paddle shift common to the 8 and 12 cylinder Ferraris.

Once allocated your vehicle and most importantly comfortable about driving it, you head off on the mythical Mille Miglia route, passing through Tarquinia, Viterbo, Bolsena, Acquapendente and Radicofani.

During the drive all participants are in radio contact with the tour leader, which is a comforting thought should any issue arise or you get lost (and who wouldn’t like to disappear in a 430 Scuderia)!

After a picturesque driveyou finally arrive at Lake Bolsena for lunch at La Pineta restaurant. From Lake Bolsena you drive on to Pienza the birthplace of Pope Pius II for some sightseeing and finally to the Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort for the night.

The Spa Resort is a fully restored Medicean residence richly decorated in the Renaissance style with ample terraces overlooking verdant fields and hills.

It is at Fonteverde where you commence your first cooking class with the resort chefs who take you through the delights of starters to desserts.

Dinner that night is a highlight in La Frateria Di Padre Eligio the Convent founded by St. Francis in 1212 and it is a most memorable dining experience.

The morning of day three is your final session of cooking with the Fonteverde Chefs.

In the afternoon you really get to drive your Ferrari – 300kms through Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio visiting ancient towns and villages along the way.

One such stop off is the medieval city of Orvieto. An Etruscan masterpiece, it was a seventh century BC commercial centre at its pinnacle until the city was invaded by the Romans in 264BC.

Finally you head for the Roman coast passing through Orte, Tarquinia and Ladispoli. Once in Ladispoli you will check in to the five star La Posta Vecchia hotel once the home of Paul Getty, this magnificent Relais au Chateau sits on the Tyrrhenian sea.

That night you will dine in the Cesar restaurant where you will no doubt swap Ferrari driving stories over dinner. La Posta Vecchia is more like a grand private residence and guests can chill out round the indoor pool or take a swim at the hotel’s private beach.

All good things come to an end – unfortunately you will have to hand your Ferrari back. But all is not lost – you can take away a DVD of your trip with the Ferrari.

For dyed in the wool petrol heads it would almost be worth spending the kids inheritance on such a once in a lifetime trip.

Cooking Vacations have a host of unusual holidays so do check out their web site on:
http://www.cooking-vacations.com