WHO WE ARE

A collaborative of professional chefs, artists, nature lovers and hospitality experts.

our retreats were born from shared passion for the arts, food, sustainable tourism, and countless years of work in the hospitality industry.       

Rissa Miller: Cordon Bleu-trained chef, restaurant consultant, and painter. After years working in restaurant kitchens and retreats in the U.S., France, and Italy, Rissa fell in love with Italian countryside living and started Rome Retreats in 2016 to offer communal vacation experiences to fellow food and art lovers.   

Johnny Madge: Internationally acclaimed olive oil sommelier, expert forager, marble sculptor, and tour guide extraordinaire.

Luigi Caranti: University professor and Kant scholar who dreams of being a farmer.  When he's not teaching or writing, Luigi owns and operates his agroturismo villa property, tending his olive trees, crafting his own wine, and arguing with his tractor.    

James Johnstone: Award-winning historical walking tours guide, linguist, translator, story-teller and Canadian transplant - James brings his knowledge, passion, and exquisite fashion sense to every tour. Read his wonderful blog here

Pino Ficara: Trained Chef in French culinary arts & pastry with over 15 years experience in NYC restaurants and as a professor of culinary education Paris, London, Tuscany and the South of France. Pino now runs his own cooking school in Rome and offers ongoing intensive bread and pastry workshops with Rome Retreats, (lucky us!).  He teaches with a combined spirit of fun and serious professionalism, giving guidance and 'secrets' from his decades of high-level experience. 

Julia Ficara:  Reformed from the business world, Julia found her passion for pasta making and trained in Bologna, the home of hand rolled egg pasta.  Now with 5+ years experience supplying Parisian restaurants and teaching in France and Italy, Julia co-owns and operates a cooking school with Pino, offering traditional techniques and true quality pasta as only a dedicated sfoglina can!

 

WHAT WE DO

Design and host culinary, writing, and painting workshop retreats with bespoke itineraries in Sabina -

(What is sabina??) 

a secluded and rustic countryside paradise just 45 minutes north of Rome ! 

The villa property maintains a vineyard, olive and fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and luxury swimming pool.  We offer menus full of local organic products, small producer wines and unique tours to places only locals could find.   

 

I attended the food photography and styling workshop and I cannot say enough good things about my experience with Rome Retreats. From the smooth planning process and organization for my trip to the experience of expanding my photography knowledge in such an inspiring atmosphere, it was an unforgettable experience. The hospitality was top notch and the food at the villa is by far the best food you will ever have on a retreat.
— Lori Rice, USA - 2017

(Check out Lori's incredible food blog here!) 

The villa was a lovely place in one of the most idyllic locations I have ever experienced. The views were lovely, the rooms and the spaciousness were beyond my expectations. Our excursions were unique and well-timed, as well as informative, and allowed us to see even more of the lovely country that makes up Sabina. Even just a stroll outside of the villa in either direction revealed wonderful landscapes and sights. I still marvel at all we were able to see and do in addition to the poetry workshops and meals.
— Priscilla N., USA - 2017
We couldn’t have asked for a better hostess- the one and only Rissa Miller. Pampering us with her delicious food, she didn’t get a moment for herself. Not to mention she made everything from scratch, choosing the best ingredients in a very creative approach. The food was exquisite.

— D. Raslan, Bahrain - 2016
A wonderful workshop set in a stunning, inspirational surrounding. Every day a new adventure and gastronomic treat. Every meal was delicious, made with the best home grown / made local produce. The team and villa were amazing. Would highly recommend!
— C. van Kan, Ireland - 2017

The week’s retreat was well coordinated, giving us all an extraordinary experience of the amazing Sabine countryside complete with mouthwatering cuisine and adventures that will remain long in my memory!
— Elizabeth Vrenios, USA - 2017
The poetry retreat far exceeded my expectations. Well-planned and carried out with a good balance of time devoted to poetry at the villa and time spent touring. The scenery and setting are unbelievably beautiful and inspiring. And, of course, the food was marvelous.

— Fran A., Rockville, MD - 2017
Johnny and Rissa are so much fun, and are so experienced in their fields! There is no one, young or old, that I wouldn’t recommend this to.
— N. Fletcher, Germany - 2016

Torri-in-Sabina, view from the villa, 2017

Torri-in-Sabina, view from the villa, 2017