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2017: Spoleto Picture a Day 13

Posted by: Christine Ragusa | June 5, 2017 Comments Off on 2017: Spoleto Picture a Day 13 |

by: Bret Lott

Creative Writing Professor Bret Lott is leading the summer, 2017, study abroad program in Spoleto, Italy.


I know I say it too many times, but really, really, THIS is the best day. Though there are two of them, actually. So, one of two of the best days.

This is the day the students take cooking classes with Andrea Leonelli at Locanda Rovicciano, his country inn in Castel Ritaldi, a few kilometers outside Spoleto. Set in a 15th century farmhouse he restored himself, the restaurant is a place where students every year come to spend a day making all kinds of genuine Italian food, all of it basic and simple and fresh. Then, miracle of miracles—urrà!—they all sit down and partake of what they’ve made.

Andrea is a world class chef—I am not overstating this; his having been the lead chef in service to the Italian delegation to the United Nations in New York for two years is testimony enough. But there’s plenty more—training in Spain and London and New York and, of course, his home town of Florence. But he is an absolutely regular guy, funny, humble, smart and patient, and the students always learn more than they thought they could about cooking, and how easy it really is to prepare fresh and delicious Italian food (and to impress their friends when they get back home). All while having an amazing day in the country, and eating that food!

Today’s feast included ravioli with ricotta and rocket in sugo di pomodoro with crispy pancetta, strongozzi with fresh pesto and fried sage just then plucked from Andrea’s herb garden, a stew of guinea fowl and fresh vegetables, and for dessert panna cotta with sautéed peaches. Oh, and there was a cheese break in the middle of the morning, four different aged goat cheeses with fig jam, balsamic vinegar and local honey. With a little glass of vino muscato to make things perfect.


Pasta and pasta and pasta. They made all this!

The happy chef: everyone is working. This isn’t a staged shot—they’re all at work!

Sous chef Emilano and the full stovetop: sauteed peaches, then guinea fowl stew, then fresh pesto, then sugo di pomodoro, and the strongozzi on the boil, all with Emiliano’s approval.

The team just before plating: Chef Andrea, Kara, Mary, Brett, Nick, McKayla, Alex and Chris.

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