When I recently visited Genova with my mother and her friend, we booked a tour with a local guide. We snapped up the option to take a cooking class as part of our tour. Here’s why I’m so glad we did it.

We Got a Chance to Talk to Locals

As a tourist in a city for only a few days, you don’t get much chance to talk to people who live there, beyond your transactions at stores and tourist sites. But because we spent several hours with Mario and Cristina at Creattivando, it gave us the opportunity to get to know them. Cristina shared how, growing up, she and her siblings would help their mother make pasta every Sunday for a big meal. For me, it was also an opportunity to practice my Italian.

We Gained Newfound Appreciation for Local Cuisine

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Before visiting Italy, I could take or leave pesto. I’d never found it special. But once I made it from scratch, well, let’s just say I’m a fan now. We opened our package of basil (which still had the dirt ball at the bottom. they were amazed that we buy cut basil) and inhaled the heavenly scent. We pounded the pine nuts until they were a paste. We experienced¬†the pesto, and now have a greater appreciation for it. (That reminds me: time to buy ingredients to make some stateside!).

We Ate Well

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There’s something so satisfying about eating a big meal after you cook it. And having great local wines to accommodate it didn’t hurt, either. Mario topped us off with some local cookies, and we were ready for a nap!

I’ve decided that whenever I travel to a new city, I want to take a cooking class!