Castello di Potentino

The Old School Kitchen: From the Etruscan Table to the Roman Banquet (July 2020)

Starts on: Sunday, July 5, 2020

Ends on: Saturday, July 11, 2020

Price: Starting from - based on available rooms and number of guests, fill out the form for total price.

A 6-day Culinary Retreat Exploring Ancient Etruscan, Greek and Roman Food and Ancient Recipes In The Heart of Tuscany

Join food archaeologist, Farrell Monaco for a 5-day live-in edible archaeology master class at the palatial Castello di Potentino, a medieval castle hidden in a valley in the Tuscan countryside, as we explore the food history and archaeology of Etruria, Magna Graecia, and Rome from 800 BC to the Imperial Roman Era (AD 476).  

The master class will be comprised of 10 sessions held at the iconic Castello di Potentino, a restored medieval castle, that is situated in the heart of an ancient Etruscan valley in Tuscany, Italy. Originally a medieval castle built over an Etruscan settlement, the towering castle boasts three kitchens, two dining rooms, 11 large guest rooms, a pool, an olive grove, a wine cellar, and a vineyard that produces award winning wines. In the surrounding area are Etruscan archaeological remains that take us back 2,500 years in time to a place that is pre-Roman but that is key to the development of Roman food culture and the Roman civilization itself.

Your hosts pride themselves in providing a culinary experience that is authentic and based on legitimate historical data. Daily workshops will begin with a lecture in the medieval chapel adjacent to the castle followed by hands-on cooking, the use of ancient food preparation technologies, ancient meal preparation and bread-making lessons, the use of ancient herbs and spices, food-styling workshops, food photography lessons, and a session on staging Roman food frescoes for the camera. Lessons and recipes will be compiled using authentic sources and peer-reviewed research from the Etruscan, Greek and Roman archaeological, written and pictorial records.   Participants will also enjoy a foraging trip into the countryside with a local resident who will teach us how to identify and prepare edible wild herbs and fungi that are indigenous to the valley and have been used for culinary purposes for millennia.

Farrell Monaco is an archaeologist and food-writer whose research centres on food, food preparation, and food-related ceramics and technologies in the Roman Mediterranean. Farrell is well known for her experimental archaeology projects where she painstakingly recreates Roman recipes using instruction, ingredients, and technologies sourced from the archaeological, written and pictorial records. Her blog, Tavola Mediterranea, was nominated for a Saveur Blog Award (2018) and her work has been spotlighted on Atlas Obscura, The Ancient History Encyclopedia, The Guardian, Verve Magazine, Radio New Zealand, Made in Pompei and the BBC. Farrell’s current research is focussed on ancient Roman bakeries and bread production. She is a member of EXARC, the Archaeological Institute of America, and she sits on the media relations committee of the Society for American Archeology.

In 2018, Farrell launched ‘The Old-School Kitchen’, a public-education touring arm of her food-blog, Tavola Mediterranea. The Old-School Kitchen brings food archaeology and experimental culinary archaeology into live settings where the public can explore, engage, learn and discuss food archaeology, experimental archaeology, and sensory archaeology in lecture settings or through cooking workshops. Farrell is publishing her first book in 2020 that will shed new light on Greek, Etruscan and Roman food culture and food archaeology from a very unique, exciting and critical perspective.

Farrell resides in California with her husband and 2 dogs. In her free time, she bakes bread in her wood-fired outdoor ceramic oven and is learning to read Latin epigraphy. Her efforts to install a high-volume donkey-powered rotary grain-mill in her back yard remain fruitless but she will continue to try to find inroads.

Please see Farrell's website for all details.

If you have any questions before you book, please do not hesitate to get in touch via email to

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