Maybe you’re on vacation in Rome and want to do something memorable. Something that will set you apart from the tens of thousands of tourists flocking to the Vatican and gathering in hordes around the Colosseum. Or, maybe you live in Rome, and while you still get chills strolling by the Trevi Fountain at night, you’re feeling very “been there, done that” when it comes to sightseeing.
Either way, it’s almost impossible to do everything in this magnificent city, so when in Rome, do as the Romans do and cook, eat, drink and create. Surrounded by history, arguably the best art and architecture in the world, and food that basically destroys your grandma’s cooking, (unless your grandma is Italian), there’s no better city to discover your inner chef, artist or wine connoisseur. Here, some of the best classes in Rome, whether you’re a tourist or an expat.
This one is obvious, but taking a language class is a great way to spend your time in Rome. You’ll put your homework to practical use daily at restaurants and with transportation. There are hundreds of options for Italian classes in Rome, depending on how intensely you want to learn, how much time you have, and how much you’re willing to spend. Three of the best are Scuola Leonardo da Vinci (www.scuolaleonardo.com), Torre di Babele (www.torredibabele.com) and Koinè Italian Language Centre (http://www.koinecentre.com)
Learn to Cook
Italians have a love affair with their cuisine, babying their buffalos to produce the best mozzarella, showing off their fresh produce at abundant markets, and turning a dish as simple as pizza into something impossible to recreate perfectly elsewhere in the world. Romans, like most Italians, are knowledgeable about their food and eager to share. Take a cooking course while in Rome to gain insight into some of their secrets, like why they’re pasta sauce is so simple yet so delicious. Cooking Classes in Rome (www.cookingclassesinrome.com) is one of the best. Chef Andrea and his wife Erica guide you through the steps of a five-course meal, with great tips for both beginners and advanced students. Highlights include making your own pasta from scratch, gorgeous vegetable dishes using seasonal ingredients, and bits of culinary history. Finish with a feast and a copy of all of the recipes!
Take a Wine Class
Smell, taste and sip yourself silly with a wine tasting class in Rome. Where better to hone your wine knowledge than the country where laws preserving wine production are often stricter than laws in place for politicians? Italian wines are world famous, and with a tasting course you’ll learn regions and production methods, as well as test your palate. Vino Roma (www.vinoroma.com) offers courses for beginners through aficionados, often throwing in tours and food pairings. From their great location near the Colosseum, take a sip and drink in the scenery.
Take a Course in Italian Culture
Ever wanted to learn how to make an genuine Italian handbag from scratch? Or learn how to make the perfect gnocchi? At Italian language school, Torre di Babele, you can take a range of ‘Culture Courses,’ that range from Italian art, painting, and sculpture to music, fashion, and even goldsmithing. The courses are offered in collaboration with experts and qualified institutions in Rome, such as IED (European Institute of Design) or RUFA (Rome University of Fine Arts). For a full list of courses and prices, visit: torredibabele.com
Get Crafty With Mosaics and Art Lessons
Hoping your trip to Rome will inspire your inner Michelangelo to emerge? Taking an art class in Rome is one of the best things you can do, and you’ll walk away with a hand-made souvenir to commemorate your trip. In Italy, mosaics have deep meaning, going back to the 1st Century BC, when the wealthy tiled their villa floors with mesmerizing mosaic patterns. Learn how to cut and glaze enamel, the secrets of blending colors and how to mount your piece at Studio Cassio – Arte Del Mosaico (www.studiocassio.com).
Painters, drawers, sculptors and other artists can indulge in their craft with courses from Made In Italy Lab (www.madeinitalylab.com).
Learn Gladiatorial Combat
Looking into the center of the Colosseum or touring its quarters down below, it’s not hard to imagine the ancient fights of the gladiators — epic battles of man and beast, sword and armor. Conduct your own historical standoff with a class at Gruppo Storico Romano (www.gsr-roma.com) cultural association, where you’ll learn the basics of gladiatorial combat, complete with a tunic and sword. Located on via Appia Antica, you’ll be practicing your skills on the exact road where in 71BC, 6,000 of Spartacus’ slave army were crucified. The two-hour beginner course is the ideal amount of history and fun, and the intense fighting techniques are a great for relieving stress.