Bologna Cooking School
Bologna Cooking School
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A real Bolognese home cooking school in Bologna from "native Bolognesi." The better way for being able to appreciate the "Cucina Bolognese."
Suggested duration
More than 3 hours
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133 reviews
Very good

Matthew R
Rockville, MD11 contributions
Jul 2015 • Couples
This was excellent. To be clear, it's taught by an Italian family in their home. I see some reviews complaining about their English. We did not find there to be any significant language barrier. Luciana, who teaches the pasta making portion, has learned excellent English for what she's teaching you. If you want to debate politics or sports with her, she won't have the vocabulary, but she knows the right English for teaching you how to make pasta.

She's a strict taskmaster, but you wind up learning how to do it right. She won't hesitate to stop you when you're making tortellonis and say "no, is no good... " and then show you what you're doing wrong. But at the end, your tortellonis look like tortellonis, not like little misshapen blobs.

She and Carlo are very friendly and pleasant, and the meal is excellent. I learned a lot and expect my own cooking to improve because of it. It was like renting an Italian grandmother for a day.
Written July 6, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sheldon K
Calabasas, CA1,365 contributions
Jul 2014 • Couples
My wife took a full day cooking class with Chef Carlo and his staff. I tagged along for the shopping and the the eating parts. We started out with a two hour plus walking tour of the old town market area. We picked out the choicest products at his favorite stands. Chef Carlo explained what he was looking for as we passed on quality produce for even better fruits and vegetables. We discussed the menu for the day and modified our purchases to fit our tastes. We obtained the pork products at Bruno e Franco. We tasted wonderful mortadella and culatelo as we were shopping. Before going to the butcher for the beef, we stopped at Terzi for a refreshing cappuccino. Macelleria Dalla Pioggia was a butcher shop run by a real professional. After Carlo asked for 300 grams of the meat from the cow diaphragm, the butcher cut and ground the beef by hand and weighted it out precisely within 2 grams. The shopping in old town was both fun and a great learning experience. We then walked to Carlo's kitchen where the class began. Everything was hands on. There was no difficulty with communication. There were breaks for lunch and a short afternoon break. My wife learned how to prepare the dough for gnocchi, tortellini, tortelloni, and tagliatelle, along with the sauces. She baked tomatoes and fried zucchini blossoms. For dessert, she made tiramisu. We were taught the hows and whys for the many dishes in a light and friendly manner. And of course, in the end, we all sat down for dinner to taste our creations, complete with wine pairing. It was great fun.
Written August 16, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

21 contributions
Apr 2013
Loved Big Carlo and sister for their passion to showcase what Bologna food is about. We were picked up from our hotel, taken to thearkets where we bought the days provisions, had the best cappucinno, bought heaps of thongs from the markets and went
back to his place to start cooking
and pasta making. Everything is
so well thought out and planned. The food was so simple and amazing, excellent treat for any foodie.
Written July 27, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Los Angeles, CA10 contributions
We should have trusted our first gut instincts (which was to turn around and walk out without taking the class and without paying) when we walked into to Carlo's apartment in the morning but alas, we did not and have huge regrets. We read the stellar reviews on Trip Advisor which now I cannot understand, and had hoped this day would be the highlight of our trip, as we spent A LOT of money on it and are people who love to cook. Given how opposite of an experience we had from others on Trip Advisor, I feel compelled to write this review to help people get a clearer picture of this "school".

First, do not be fooled by the name Bologna Cooking School. It is not a school in any way. Carlo (estimate in his mid-70's) is the owner and teacher who lives with his sister (estimate in her mid-80's) who teaches the pasta making portion. The class takes place in their apartment, which feels like the apartment of an 80 year old, because that's exactly what it is. The cooking class takes place in their living room. It didn't feel particularly clean, at least not up to my expectations of some place I'm cooking and eating. I witnessed some hand dishwashing, also not up to snuff. There were multiple hairs in the food dishes, he was blowing his nose and never, even after the market tour, did he wash his hands while handling all our food. We just sucked it up and wiped off the hairs and moved on since we were stuck in their apartment. We felt we couldn't just walk out as it was really socially awkward with just the two of us. Also, it was HOT in there. Bologna was about 90 degrees that week and it wasn't much cooler in their apartment.

Second, Carlo was nice but Carlo is not a chef; he's a retired financial advisor. His only claim to food knowledge is having lived in Bologna his whole life and in a family that cooks a lot, though I get the impression most Bolognese families fall in this category. His English isn't great and his sister speaks no English, which made learning and asking very specific food/cooking questions difficult. Since we do cook, we wanted detailed information and didn't receive many satisfactory answers. After the market tour and kicking off the cooking, he handed us over to his non-English speaking sister to teach us to make pasta and left. He was absent for at least half of our session. We are two 30-something women and wanted a fun, informative class. We were left in silence much of the class due to lack of ability to communicate. Very awkward.

Third, we added on the market tour (which is an extra cost) and found it to be completely worthless. We basically followed him around the market; "tour" is an exaggeration. There was no education about why certain stores were chosen, why certain products chosen over another, and contrary to the description on the website, not a lot of tasting happened. We tasted the proscuitto and mortadella, but no cheese/oil/vinegar. Before the tour, we mentioned one of was a vegetarian and yet he didn't modify the menu while shopping and later claimed we should have mentioned it earlier. My belief is he does the same routine of menu items and cannot deviate because his skill isn't up to it without a recipe.

Finally, the cost is an outrage. Given all these issues, to then spend over $200 per person for a half day class is completely offensive.

The only upsides were that we were asking him about gelato places and he went out and bought us gelato during the class (I guess that's where he was part of the time he was absent) to have with dessert which was kind of him and making pasta for the first time was fun, but I could have done it at home for a lot less money. Frankly, we debated whether we thought he was intentionally taking tourists for a ride or whether he's an honest, albeit inadequate, guy trying to teach tourists some Bolognese dishes. We settled on the latter as he seems sincere, but it was a pretty terrible experience and our only huge regret of our otherwise wonderful trip to Italy.
Written July 8, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

italy3 contributions
Nov 2010 • Couples
My husband and I had been living in Rome for 2 years for my husbands job. We are a young couple, and wanted to finish our stay in Italy with a cooking class. I had wanted to go to 'la vecchia scuola Bolognese' which is run by Alessandra Spisni (a very popluar chef on the daily cooking show 'la prova del cuoco'). [--]

However, at the time they only ran courses on Saturday mornings, and our train was not arriving in Bologna until midday. Our only option was the Bologna Cooking School, where we could have an afternoon session.

I was apprenhensive, as from what i could tell, this was a 'school' run out of an Italian man's home. True to my suspicions, it was indeed as i thought. If you want an 'in home' experience with an older Italian guy and his sister, then this is for you. But what is incredibly dissapointing, is that this is not a school, he is not a chef, it is just a persons house who has capitalised on making pasta. It was like going to a grandfathers house, and him cooking his local dish and showing you how....which maybe an experience you would want.

The price was crazy for this kind of amatuer experience, and my husband and i quickly realised the 3/4 of the pasta and meat sauce we made was not eaten by us that night, but used to stock his own freezer. I was dissapointed to pay for his pantry stocking.

He gave us a certificate, which he just made and printed from his computer....I could do that. You could come to my country and i will show you how to make Roast beef, call myself a school, and make you a certificate. The price wasn't worth it, but again, this may be the in home experience you want.

Whereas the aforementioned cooking school, is indeed a true school, with actual chefs. However, a class with other people inside a classroom may not appeal to those wanting dinner and demonstration inside a true italian home. But my advice is to decide what experience you want and decide from there.
Written October 7, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
In 2010 I did not have classes on Saturday afternoon so we start with a lie. A chef is a person who cooks professionally for other people I cook for my guests at the B & B for 11 years (ABC Bologna in B & B and before I Portici). For 8 years I gave cooking lessons to hundreds of people ... it is true that we have grown old but it shows how much experience and knowledge we have. Is called the school a place where teaching The website is written clearly that we only deal with small groups in order to personally follow each participant as each has its own cutting board and work the "browse". Not only do the classic recipes, but also dishes with fish, mushrooms, white truffles and still use top quality products and wines of high quality and therefore expensive. If you wanted to take home the leftovers, just ask how to do it at the restaurant "for the dog." A few who have asked him very willingly have given, but most foreign visitors stay at the hotel. Luckily for me my freezer does not need to be filled. Therefore, the food that remains from the lessons are given free to needy families. It seems to me very strange that the praises do not be gone to another school!
Written October 20, 2011
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Mandurah, Australia27 contributions
Jun 2015 • Solo
I travelled to Bologna solely to learn all about the crusine of the region with the Bologna Cooking School, diverting our travels to do so.
I wish I had read more of the reviews and understood what was really on offer.
Carlo had very very limited English and does not understand questions.
I enrolled for a half day market tour on a Sunday, for 220 euros.
Well on a Sunday the food markets aren't open in Bologna. Carlo took us for a walk through closed markets where he eventually found open a meat shop which offered a taste of prosciutto and mortadella, this was it.
He then stated he would not charge for the market tour, he took the group for a coffee and lead us to a embroidery shop to have aprons named. Having lived in the region his whole life you would think he knew this.
When we arrived at his home I almost died, and wished had the courage to walk out.
I'm not sure on italian law and cooking regulations within the home but it would not pass in Australia.
We watched an old man with limited English and basic cooking skills cook a ragu occasionally asking a guest to stir it. He did not cut the vegetables but processed them in an old barmix.
When I questioned the market tour via email after the class he replied the class all agreed on having an extra recipe of tiramisu in place of the tour, I was certainly not asked and did not agree.
The ingredients used for the whole class would not amount to more than $20 and a cost of an apron a few euros.
The only high light was Luciana who had a great passion in making pasta. She was very nice and had natural skill in the kitchen.
Sitting at the table to eat the food made was very awkward as no conversation was generated by Carlo and questions where not understood.
Lucky the other guests were delightful and charismatic.
I would not recommend this service and is certainly not a school, just cashing in on tourism in the region.
Written June 27, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dallas, Texas143 contributions
Aug 2012 • Friends
I've always wanted to take a week long cooking school but decided to start out slow to see if I would like it. Now maybe this class was not a true indication of what a real cooking school would be like but I'm certainly apprehensive about doing another class. I took the cooking class with market tour. If you take this class skip the market tour, it will be everything that you see while visiting the streets of Bologna and you really don't do any shopping. Carlo just goes into the stores, purchases his products and moves on. There were 3 of us in the class and none of us knew what he was buying. The other thing I found to be very disappointing is the amount of English spoken. Now my Italian is not very good so I don't pretend to claim I speak it, but when you advertise that you CAN speak English then I think it should be better than just a few words. Very frustrating. On the positive side, we did make pasta and we did eat it.
Written August 6, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Herb L
Newton, MA101 contributions
May 2013 • Couples
I'm not a foodie (but do like food). My wife teaches cooking and wanted to learn more about cooking authentic Bolognese cuisine, so I agreed to tag along while we were visiting Italy. If I hadn't gone I would have missed one of the best experiences I've ever had while traveling.

Signor Carlo Alberti and his colleagues introduced us to not only the most amazing food, but also to cooking as a personal, social and philosophical experience. I'm not exaggerating.

Since the class started early in the morning, we decided to arrive the night before and stay at the B&B he has in his home, which is only a short walk from the central train station, but in a very quiet neighborhood. Our room was spacious and elegant, decorated with beautiful original artwork by one of Signor Carlo's friends.

As other reviewers have noted, the class started by touring the old market area of Bologna and stopping at shops where Signor Carlo was treated like visiting royalty. We sampled wonderful local products, including a mortadella that was out of this world. By the time the market tour was concluded I couldn't imagine eating again for days.

Back at Signor Carlo's home, which is also a B&B, we learned how to create handmade pasta, tortelloni and tagliatella without machines, only a rolling pin and several other hand-held implements. Signor Carlo showed us every step of making the famous sauce Bolognese, which is primarily a meat sauce, with very little liquid. He explained that the sauce is never used on spaghetti by people from Bologna, only on wider pasta which retains the sauce.

We concluded our day with a meal that was perfect in every respect. Signor Carlo and his colleagues are warm, friendly and gracious in a way that make us feel that we were part of his extended family. The meal itself consisted of multiple courses: the first was a phenomenal melon, with mortadella, prosciutto and slices of Parmesan and Pecorino cheese; the second was tortelloni, filled with a mixture of spinach, ricotta and Parmesan; the third, tagliatella with sauce Bolognese; and finally, two desserts, strawberries in sparkling wine, and tiramisu. Words cannot do justice to this meal.

I am hoping we can return to Bologna next year with a few close friends to repeat this experience.

If you decide to take the class I strongly recommend you schedule your visit for the whole day. Technically the class is over at 1PM, but the concluding meal is something that should not be rushed.
Written May 29, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Seattle, WA77 contributions
Apr 2013 • Solo
Class of 4 with 2 instructors...We were picked up at our hotels and proceeded to the center of Bologna to shop for the best recipe ingredients. We visited shops and tasted a variety of food products to experience and compare the subtle differences in produce, cheeses, and cured meats. We stopped for superb coffee and our instructor had aprons embroidered with our names as we watched. We then walked to the cooking school located in the instructors' B & B. The casual home atmosphere was perfect for our small class. We learned to prepare pasta, filling, and sauce through demonstration and hands-on experience. The meal that followed was superb; we ate antipasto, 3 varieties of pasta that we had prepared, and desserts. Along with water, there was also wine and limoncello to compliment the meal. My classmates and I were thrilled with the cooking school experience.
Written May 7, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Davis, CA591 contributions
Feb 2013 • Couples
Have taken four other cooking classes in Italy and I have to say that the Bologna Cooking School was the best. Big Carlo picks you up and takes you for a walk through the market and you buy everything fresh for what you are going to cook. Carlo knows all the merchants and he gets the quality that he wants and needs, You even get to stop for an expresso and an embroidery shop in which Carlo brings an apron and your name gets embroidered on the spot. Nice to take home.

After the market you go to his house and you meet his sisters Gabriella and Anna and you begin the lessons. Everyone is so personable and helpful and down to earth, I was amazed at how much I learned from them. They made it so easy to learn how to make tortellini. After the lesson you have a great meal from what you cook and it is served with different wine. The wines were fabulous. You feel such a part of the family when you are done. I cannot wait to go back, Big Carlo you are the best!
Written February 9, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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