Off the Beaten Path–Central Italy


Cassino Italy may not be a regular stop-over destination for travelers hitting the highlights of Italy, when the most popular destinations of Roma, Firenze, Venezia and Milano are the first to come to mind.  I recommend Cassino as a 1/2 day diversion from the other popular sites because of the slice of life of central Italy it offers.

If you are a World War 2 aficionado, you may be familiar with the battle of Monte Cassino as a strategic battle point in Italy.  The Monastery which overlooks the valley below can be seen by most vantage points in the city.  A minimal fee for access or a tour through its museum is well worth it.  The drive up the mountain is worth the view in and of itself.

This is a regular destination for my family because my husband’s family originated from there and several aunts,uncles, cousins and family friends remain there.  It is a mere 90 minute drive from Rome or two hours by train.  Fair warning to train travelers:  there are no first class options so when traveling in the summer, fresh air will be your air condition.

Expansive gardens of vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees abound.   Many residents in the more suburban areas still press their own olive oil from family orchards and the majority continue to process their grapes for their own delicious table red wine.  Its hardly difficult to eat well here but also eat healthy as well.

The slower pace of life is evident  as compared to the bustle of the larger cities.  Keeping a schedule is just a suggestion and appropriate to delay if it in some way cuts short a social conversation over a gelato or cappuccino or glass of wine.








To give you a sense of this mindset, my sister-in-law relayed a story about the ‘BoFrost Man’ she observed while on an extended stay in Cassino several years ago.  Italians are slowly converting over to the concept of frozen, ready made meals and there was a frozen food service that started that would travel to the neighborhoods selling frozen pasta and other items.  Because of the social nature of Italians, the driver was often invited in for espresso and biscotti which often extended 1/2 hour or more that he never seemed to finish his route.

If you find yourself off the beaten path. and want to relax…..Cassino Italy a recommended spot.




A Taste of Italy via a Cooking Class

One of the many things my family enjoys about traveling to different places is experiencing a regional flavor through one’s stomach. When my husband recounts his travel experiences it usually involves the experiences recounted via his ‘eating tour’.

In many parts of Europe ‘foodies’ can easily locate cooking schools to provide you with the hands-on experience of the process and the enjoyment of many flavors of local cooking.   Most regions of Italy will feature local ingredients in their cuisine and for an extra cost; some will offer a wine tasting to be paired with the meal.   Some cooking school links I Iooked at in my planning research are listed below:

Prices and packages vary widely depending on the experience.  In our case, since it was a family adventure, I choose a moderately priced class for the ‘novice chef’ to experience.    Whatever venue you decide, I recommend and always check for feedback on Trip Advisor because anyone can be creative and make an experience sound fabulous, but other traveler reviews or lack of traveler reviews speak volumes.

In our trip to Italy this past summer, we located a Cooking School offered through the Esperdi Resort in Sorrento, Italy. 

Our menu consisted of:

  • Pizzettes (essentially appetizer pizzas with tomato and basil or garlic and oil)
  • Gnocchi with tomato sauce (a potato based pasta dough)
  • Sea Bass with lemon
  • Tiramisu

On a scale of 1-10, my family would give it a 8.5 only because not everyone likes eating Sea Bass at 11 in the morning.    However, the experience and time with the family…….priceless.

We all unanimously agreed that the next trip abroad will include another cooking class.