Rome is one of the most wonderful places in the world. Where else can you experience the grandeur of the ancient world, the splendor of the Renaissance, and la dolce vita 21st century style, all in the same day? It is a city of incomparable pleasures — not least of which is the food.

The best way to experience Roman cooking, aside from eating in all those fabulous Italian restaurants, is to do it yourself at one of Rome’s lively cooking classes. Not only will you learn to make Italian foods like fried zucchini blossoms, risotto, and panna cotta, you’ll also make new friends and have a terrific meal.

From a half-day cooking class to a week-long culinary program, there are plenty of options to choose from. And many include field trips to local food purveyors.

Diane Seed has written several best-selling Italian cookbooks, including The Top 100 Pasta Sauces and Roman Kitchen. Although British, she has lived in Rome for 30 years on the top floor of a Renaissance Palazzo overlooking the Forum.

She knows Rome and Italian cooking inside out, and her students rave about her delightful insights into Roman culture.

Tomatoes at Campo dei Fiori market

Her morning classes include a visit to the Campo de Fiori market and lunch prepared by the students. Her five-day courses run from 10:30AM to 2PM on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and from 6:30PM to 9:30PM on Wednesday. Two- and three-day classes can sometimes be arranged. Details are available at http://www.italiangourmet.com/index2.php?cPath=21

Torre di Babelle is a language school that also offers cooking classes in Rome. Students in their three-hour course prepare an aperitif, appetizer, first course (usually a pasta), second course, vegetable, and dessert. Get more information at http://www.torredibabele.com/cooking.htm.

Chef Andrea Consoli teaches 3-4 hour classes at La Fate restaurant in the Trastevere neighborhood. Students prepare a four-course meal in the kitchen of the restaurant and then enjoy it together. Andrea is a real charmer, and at just 50 Euros per person, his classes are a real bargain.

Tagliatelle Carbonara

For something more spontaneous, casual, and personal, consider a Food Culture of Rome jaunt with American author Maureen Fant. She’s a classical scholar who wrote the Rome edition of the Williams Sonoma Foods of the World series and has lived in Rome since 1979.

The day begins with a trip to the market in the Testaccio quarter and a visit to the Volpetti shop. There’s no menu planned for the class — students just pick up whatever looks best at the market and then take the bus back to Maureen’s place, where they prepare lunch together. Contact her at info@maureenbfant.com.

Those who don’t want to cook but want to learn more about dining in Rome can take one of her Eat Like the Romans Eat offered by Context. Find out more at http://www.contexttravel.com/rome/tours/cuisine/

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