Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Cacio e Pepe

A true Roman cuisine classic, the Cacio e Pepe sauce recipe has been my family's favourite for generations.  During our Italian cooking classes, many of our cooking guests request for this additional easy-to-make recipe. It is very quick to prepare and uses pecorino romano cheese as a base. This cheese immediately acquires a creamy consistency as soon it's mixed with a little boiling water from the pasta pot.

Chef Guido's Tip:
A popular finishing touch is a little lemon zest on each plate, to lighten the flavour.

Cacio e pepe sauce
Ingredients: 50 g of grated pecorino romano, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest.

In a bowl: make a sauce by mixing a little water from the boiling pasta with pecorino and black pepper, quickly stirring for a few seconds. Mix in sauce with cooked ‘aldente’ pasta. Serve with a little lemon zest on top.
(Pasta shapes traditionally used: spaghetti, rigatoni, mezze maniche)

Culinary Vacations and Day Italian Cooking Classes, 
plus Olive Tours:
Half Day Rome Wine Tours:

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Discount Offer on your Convivio Rome Italian Cooking Holiday - Video

Book BEFORE February 28, 2019 for 10% discount OFF
3 & 5 night Convivio Rome Italian Cooking Holiday

Live-like-a-local in an ancient Italian village, , , + much, much more. The medieval village of Toffia, with just over 1,000 residence is a near in . All accommodation and all/most meals are included in your Italian cooking holiday package.
Learn more, email us on:
Website link:

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Convivio Rome Italian Cooking Holidays WON!

We are so excited and proud to announce that we WON

We won, we won, we won ..... the Luxury Travel Guide Award 



"The Luxury Travel Guide Awards champion the very best in their respective fields; therefore to come out on top is truly an achievement you should be proud of. We are delighted to pay tribute to and commend all those who have excelled in the industry. This year has seen an unprecedented number of shortlisted companies, providing strong competition in every category."

Thanks to all who voted for us and have continued to show support over the years.  
We have great plans for 2019 and 2020, and would love to get you involved! 
from Guido and Sally, 
Convivio Rome

Thursday, 24 January 2019

The beautiful Sabine Hills captured - Guido's story.

Sabina, the Sabine Hills, a non-touristy area close to Rome, is quintessential Italy.

Every time I look out from my kitchen window, I am captured by the magic of this ever changing view I have before me. The vast expanse of agricultural land, medieval hilltop villages, ancient monasteries, olive groves, change in clarity and colour within one day and with the seasons.
View of our home, olive grove and valley below
I fell in love with the Sabine Hills ('Sabina') area when I was a child. When I was young, my father used to take me around the Roman countryside on weekend excursions to locate the finest cheeses and wines. Baskets of fresh ricotta were prepared in front of us by the local shepherd and loaves of wood-fired sour dough bread were bought hot from the bakery. It was an incredible education. 

Sunset as seen from our home terrace in the Sabine Hills
These experiences led me to return to this area to buy a home, in the medieval hilltop village of Toffia, to settle with Sally, my Australian wife, and our daughter. We have been living here in the Sabine Hills for over 13 years, and my passion for this region lead me to share this area with guests from all over the world. We have been offering Italian cooking classes and cooking holidays, wine tours and olive tours, within this area since we moved here, opening our family home in hope that you too, will be captured by the magic of this beautiful  and non-touristy countryside that is only 40 minutes away from Rome, yet feels like worlds away. 
Selected images from Instagram : conviviorome.Italy
More information about our Cooking Classes, 3 and 5 night Italian Cooking Holidays , Half Day Olive Tours and Half Day Wine Tours, in the Sabine Hills can be found on the following websites. If you wish to ask me anything about this beautiful area or any of the activities, experiences or holidays we offer, please just contact me:

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

La Ribollita - perfect winter soup

Ribollita soup, thanks to Taste for this image

It's finally winter here and this is the perfect time for comforting soups, such us Ribollita ('boiled again'), so called because it's even nicer you have it heated up the day after. It's a very traditional dish in Central Italy and it's sometimes called Acqua Cotta ('cooked water'). I made Ribollita yesterday and had it today for lunch with a bunch of friends. Delicious! Here is the recipe. You'll need a big pot.

Ribollita (serves 6 or more)
800g of fresh borlotti or cannellini beans (or 300g of dried borlotti or cannellini beans), 400g of fresh, ripe tomatoes or tinned tomatoes, 1 black cauliflower (almost impossible to find!) or 1 quarter of a regular one, 1 quarter of a cabbage, 500g of beet (similar to spinach but milder flavoured), 1 carrot, 1 celery stick, 1 red onion, parsley, basil, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, parmigiano reggiano (parmesan) cheese.

If you are using dried beans, they need to be soaked for 24 hours, then boiled in 2 litres of water, a pinch of salt and a little olive oil. Finely chop the onion and fry in oil until translucent, then add tomatoes, beans (if fresh with 1 litre of water, if dried add with its own cooking water). Chop all the remaining vegetables roughly and add the to the soup. Add salt and boil for at least two hours. Add more water if necessary. Serve in a bowl on top of a slice of toasted country bread. Finish off with parmigiano, a little olive oil, pepper and chopped parsley and basil (if available). E' Pronto!

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Toffia, Toffia, Toffia: my discovery of this medieval village in the heart of the Sabine Hills

Many of our cooking guests, ask me, Why Toffia? How did you discover Toffia? Why did you choose to settle here? Yes, it is a beautiful medieval hilltop village close to Rome, but is it also one of many in the Sabine again, why Toffia?
Toffia, dates back to 930AD and is perched on a ridge. Absolutely breath-taking
My Story: Being born and brought up in Rome, and living on the northern side of Rome, my family used to travel to this area for excursions to purchase the famous Sabina DOP extra virgin olive oil, the cured meats and the wonderful arrange of pecorino (sheep) cheese. So my introduction to the Sabine Hills started when I was young and always related to the wonderful quality food that was found in this region.
The beautiful and very green Sabine Hills, peaceful and relaxing, great for country walks
My discovery of Toffia came later when I took Sally,  who later became my wife, on excursions to rediscover the wonders of Sabina and the Rome countryside. On one of these many excursions we stopped to visit the historic centre and to enjoy a pizza making festival. I always had fond memories of that day, and how the village seemed so alive and the locals so friendly.
Toffia has many food and music festivals from May to October
So eventually, when we were looking to purchase a home near Rome, we settled on Toffia. We bought an apartment in the heart of the historic centre, near the main church, perched on one of the higher parts of the historic village, with amazing views over the olive groves, mountains and unspoilt valleys below. It was just magical.
View from our home, your accommodation, in Toffia
Spectacular views over unspoilt valleys from Toffia
We now use our home as accommodation for our 3 and 5 night Italian Cooking Holidays, in hope that our cooking guests will also discover the magic of this ancient Italian village, only 40 kms from Rome.

Toffia is one of the most unspoilt, lively and better kept medieval hilltop villages in Italy. It is conveniently situated between Rome and Umbria and is full of  ancient restored palazzos, churches and small piazzas  from which it is possible to admire sweeping views of olive groves and vineyards in the surrounding valleys. As other villages in the region, Toffia’s beauty has not been yet discovered by mass tourism and retains all its authenticity.
Toffia was built in 930 AD on a ridge and it raises dramatically above two very green valleys. In medieval times two rival Roman aristocratic families, Orsinis and Colonnas, fought over Toffia for centuries. Our accommodation, Casa Convivio Rome, stands on the side once ruled by the Colonna family! Toffia is within Sabina or Sabine Hills, a region famous for its excellent 'DOP' olive oil. Many festivals, including art and music festivals, are held in Toffia between May and September.
Toffia, inside the historic centre
When you join us for a 3 or 5 night Convivio Rome Italian Cooking Holiday: We offer a free pick up and return service from our local train station, called Fara Sabina-Montelibretti
View from our Cooking School and home over the Sabine Hills, near Rome
General Information on Toffia
Travel times and transport to Rome: 
- By car: 35 minutes to the Rome's ring road (metropolitan area) via A1 motorway or 50 minutes to the very centre of Rome (Spanish Steps).
- By car and train (park and ride): 15 minutes to Fara Sabina Train Station, then 37 minutes to central Rome (Tiburtina Station).
- By bus from Toffia + train:  about an hour in total.
Travel times to Umbria:
-  By car: 30-40 minutes to the Umbrian "border".
Services in the village: mini supermarket, post office, pharmacy, doctor's studio, butcher shop, hardware store, theatre, infants and primary school, free afternoon child care, linen shop, library.
Theatre: it's set in a restored former 14th Century church and offers regular performances, live music, cinema, art exhibitions, poetry reading and various courses.
Just in case, you never wish to leave: The following courses and classes are available at the theatre: yoga, ceramic, dance, theatre, music classes for children and adults.
Sports field (covered): available for different sports, including free volleyball and football classes for children.
English speaking community:  The authenticity and natural beauty of the Sabina region and the village of Toffia and its close proximity to Rome have recently started to attract a small number of English-speakers as full-time residents and holiday makers.

Convivio Rome conduct 3 and 5 night cooking holidays in Toffia, all year round. For more information:

Planning ahead: If you are planning a trip in 2019 or 2020 and cannot find suitable dates, please contact us via email on:

Convivio Rome also conduct One Day and Half Day Italian Cooking Classes, Half Day Olive Tours and Half Day Wine Tours.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Rome Day Trip: the Sabine Hills

The Sabine Hills: a perfect day trip from Rome 
Only 35 minutes from Rome's outskirts and just north of the Capital, perfect for a day out in the countryside or a longer stay as part of a relaxing holiday, the Sabine Hills (Sabina) will reward its visitors with ancient medieval history, unspoilt landscape, renaissance palaces castles and monasteries, cultural events, art exhibitions, hiking trails and of course the 'Sabina DOP' extra virgin olive oil from its olive groves.
Toffia, 930AD is the oldest medieval village in Sabina (the Sabine Hills)
Dating back to 1200's, this medieval hilltop village is a hidden treasure
Unspoilt countryside
The way the Sabine Hills are still today very rural and unspoilt is almost miraculous, despite its vicinity with a big city like Rome. The landscape of Sabina is quintessentially Italian, with its rolling hills covered by olive groves and fruit orchards and dotted with medieval hilltop villages and castles. Because of the olive trees and other evergreen mediterranean plants, the Sabine hills are always very green, all year round. A visit to one of the many hilltop villages in the area, will reveal beautiful views over valleys and mountains in the far distance. 

Views over olive groves and hilltop villages in the Sabine Hills

The Sabine Hills offers magnificent views over unspoilt countryside
Sabina is an ancient land where civilisation started way before Rome and the local archaeological museum in Fara Sabina tells a story of walled cities, powerful kings and the development of fine art, pottery, jewellery and elaborate bronze manufacts from 2,600 years ago. Three of the seven kings of Rome, Tito Tazio, Numa Pompilio and Anco Marzio, were from here. 
During the middle ages, Sabina was part of the Holy Roman Empire and thanks to Charlemagne and his land donations, a local monastery called Farfa became a huge economic and military power in the area. The Farfa monastery owed its wealth to olive oil production for many centuries, as it was the largest landowner in Central Italy and it become an independent city state, its borders reaching well into modern Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche.
500 year old streets run between the ancient monastery and artisan shops in Farfa

National parks such as Monti Lucretili and vast conservation areas allow those passionate about hiking or mountain biking to explore the area using ancient  trails, walking through green valleys, woods and cultivated land. However, even just visiting some of the villages in Sabina will be an experience in itself. Medieval villages like Toffia, Castelnuovo di Farfa, Fara Sabina, Farfa, Bocchignano or Montopoli have impressive defensive walls, beautifully decorated renaissance palaces and ancient churches.
Toffia, one of the most beautiful hilltop villages in the Sabine Hills
A maze of picturesque alleyways, archways and little piazzas will welcome the visitor, almost resembling a movie set, without the mass tourism of other Italian regions. Impressive medieval castles can be seen in Rocca Sinibalda (Castello Cesarini, 1084 AD) and in Frasso Sabino (Castello Sforza, 955 AD).
Medieval streets and picturesque doorways in Castelnuovo di Farfa
 Great photo opportunities lie within the medieval streets
Today, Sabina is well known for its art and music festivals which are organised throughout the year. Toffia is famous for its "Festa del Centro Storico', an art, music and street theatre festival which lasts for 5 nights in mid-August and attracts more than 3,000 people every night. Toffia is also known for its very active theatre, run by 'Officina 33'. In Fara Sabina there is an international Jazz Festival in July and Casaprota hosts the interesting art and music 'Arterie festival'.
A local music trio, called 'Lamorivostri', keeps traditional music alive, with frequent concerts in the Sabina area and in Rome.
Sabina is well known for its music and art festivals 
Sabina is famous for its extra virgin olive oil, the very first in Italy to receive the DOP denomination. Olive oil has been produced here for millennia (there is an olive tree that's 2000 years old) and is known for being light and flavoursome at the same time. The area is also well known for pecorino cheese, olives, salami and of course guanciale (cured pork cheek), necessary for any amatriciana or carbonara sauce. Cooking Holidays are run in Toffia. One day cooking classes, as well as olive oil tours, and wine tours are also offered in the Sabine Hills area.
There are many Restaurants to choose from in Sabina. For an interesting combination of traditional dishes with a touch of creativity there is 'La Taverna del Corsari' in Montopoli.

How to get there from Rome
Fara Sabina is the best place to begin to explore the Sabine Hills. There is an excellent direct train departing every 15 minutes from many stations in Rome (Ostiense, Trastevere and Tiburtina, for example) to Fara Sabina Station. It takes 39 minutes to get from Rome Tiburtina to Fara Sabina. Here there are buses to many different villages in the Sabina area. By car, the direct way is via Rome-Florence (A1) motorway, Fiano Romano exit, then following signs to Rieti and Via Salaria, then to Fara Sabina.
If you join any of our Convivio Rome Culinary Holidays, or activities such as our cooking classes, olive tour and wine tours, we include a free pick up and return service to our local train station.

Cooking Classes:
Train information: can be found on site
Bus information: can be found on
© Guido Santi, 2018
Additional background information on Guido: Guido Santi is an eighth generation Roman who has a passion for cooking traditional Italian cuisine and for local, fresh, organic food and wine. As a follower of the Slow Food philosophy, he supports and promotes local farmers and the 'zero kilometres' philosophy. Guido runs "Convivio Rome" with his Australian wife Sally, offering cooking classes, 3 and 5 night culinary holidays, plus olive oil tours and wine tours in or nearby the medieval hilltop village of Toffia, Sabina (Italy), just north of Rome. You can follow Convivio Rome on Facebook and on Instagram
View from Guido's home and the Convivio Rome Cooking School