The history of Villa Santa Maria as a culinary centre started in 1560, when the local Lord Ferrante Caracciolo started the first ever Cookery school. From his experience of his travels to Florence he began to teach the young men of the area the secrets of ‘good cooking’.It was from this time that the Abruzzese chefs became world famous.Cardinal Mazarin from Pescina,successor to Richelieu as prime minister and counselor to the Kings of France, preferred the chefs from this village to those of the court of Versailles. Chefs from this tiny village in the 1800’s were found in the royal kitchens of Europe and even in the palace of the Emperor of Japan. In the 1900’s they are in the White House kitchens, the Royal kitchens of Sweden, Yugoslavia,Embassies all over the world and at the very best restaurants all over the world. The Catholic church declared St.Francesco Caracciolo of villa Santa Maria, the patron saint of Italian Cooks. Villa Santa Maria still maintains its tradition through its cookery school, the Instituto Professionale Alberghiero di Strato, Marchitelli, teaching over 400 students from all over the world.Every year in October the town organises a cook’s festival – La Festa dei Cuochi – this is definitely the time for a visit to the town.
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