Ancient Winter Solstice Feasts

  • Puglia, Italy
  • December 16 - 21, 2019
  • 4 spots

Celebrate winter solstice bringing 4 ancient historic feasts to life guided by archaeologist and chef Ursula on her farm estate in Puglia, Italy

US $1,350/ person. Includes cooking, accommodation, and breakfast.

The Experience

We've observed the summer and winter solstices for as long as humans have been around. In fact, one of the most popular western celebrations today, Christmas, is reminiscent of the winter solstice celebrations. Known as the darkest time of the year, when days are short and little work is to be done outdoors, there's plenty of time to sit around a cozy fireplace, protected from evil spirits, and celebrate.

In honor of these ancient traditions, learn how to prepare four distinct ancient feasts guided by archaeologist and chef Ursula. Discover customs not only through recipes, but also through rich storytelling by the fireplace and around the dinner table

Persian Yalda

A cultivated evening of fragrant dishes, plenty of preserved fruits, wine, and poetry, not to mention the bibliomancy (foretelling the future from books).

Roman Saturnalia

The festival whereby everything was allowed— from drinking, open criticism of the powerful, the mingling of slaves and masters, women and men, over-the-top colored clothes, and of course, an abundance of food and plenty to drink. Find out what happened in the ancient human sacrifices, too.

Medieval Christmas 

Christmas has arrived to Europe’s calendars but it is celebrated differently from what we know today. No Christmas tree but - you might have guessed - plenty of mouthwatering food and wine.

Southern Italian Christmas

The traditional menu of a Southern Italian Christmas is rich—very rich— and also lasts a lifetime. It features classic Mediterranean cuisine at its best and much storytelling. Forget about Santa, it's a witch who brings the gifts…

Meet Master Chef Ursula

Ursula is an archaeologist and avid cook who has combined her two passions as an expert in historic cuisine. For years, Ursula worked on excavation projects in Syria, Turkey and Egypt, often living in small, traditional villages where locals would produce much of the food themselves. 

Inspired by this way of life, Ursula picked up a variety of recipes and traditional food preparation techniques throughout her travels. She believes that looking back to traditional cooking techniques also encourages getting back to a more sustainable way of living. Ursula’s self-sufficient, solar-powered estate in Southern Italy, shared with her husband, harkens back to simpler times. 

Ursula grows most of her own food, eating fresh, seasonal ingredients, raising chickens, making wine and olive oil, and in her spare time, she practices archery!

Puglia in Italy

Nestled in the picturesque Valle D’Itria, Puglia is one of Mediterranean jewels set in a landscape of vineyards and olive trees. The culinary experience is excellent; find authentic local pizzerias on the street and enjoy amazing house wine for just 2 euros a bottle. 

You will also find trullos tucked away in many of the small towns. These traditional little one room structures are built without brick or mortar and feature a conical roof. Historically, a pinnacle is placed on top or a symbol is painted onto the roof, such as a cross, evil eye, star, etc. to encourage good luck and ward off misfortune.

The Details

Dates: December 16 - 21, 2019

Pricing: USD $1,350/person

Availability: Limited to 4 spots


  • 4 days, 5 nights guided by archaeologist and chef Ursula.
  • Learn how to prepare 4 ancient winter solstice feasts over four days.
  • Visit local markets to shop for fresh ingredients.
  • Accommodation (shared) in a trullo, a traditional beehive-coned stone house on Ursula’s family estate.
  • Breakfast, coffee, tea, juice and snacks.
  • Please list special considerations like accessibility, food preferences, allergies.
  • Flights and travel insurance are not included.