We gather at the Milano airport and depart with our private mini-coach to the region of Emilia-Romagna. After about 1 hour we stop in Fontanellato, a small "borgo" counting a little more than 6,000 inhabitants recognized as one of the "Borghi più Belli d’Italia" (most beautiful hamlets of Italy).
We will have time to walk around the village on our own before sitting down in "centro" to go through the itinerary of the trip, sipping an aperitivo to inaugurate our wine and food 10-day experience.
Departure and check in our hotel in Reggio Emilia where we will stay 3 nights.
Day 2 - In the heart of Parmigiano and Balsamic Vinegar production
After an informative and tasty visit to a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese "caseificio", we stop in Parma for a few hours and embark in a 'gourmet tour' of the town's tastiest shops! How many different DOP appellations of prosciutto and salami can there be? Well, that is what we'll find out while doing a walking tour of Parma, where a local guide will take us through a tasty discovery of some of the most renowned DOP products such as prosciutto di Parma, Culatello di Zibello, various cheeses and olive oil, to name a few. You will certainly appreciate walking that tour to avoid "rolling" on the bus after having tasted so many good things. Then we will move on to the area of the Lambrusco Reggiano DOC, in the valley of the Enza river. We will visit the wine museum, have a look at the balsamic vinegar cellars and the vineyards, and conclude our visit by a tasting of wines, balsamic vinegars and local food.
Culatello: the King of cured meats
We visit an aging cellar where the culatello (the inner, best part of the prosciutto) spend its time to mature with the fresh area of the region. Here it builds all the flavours and aromas making it one of the top sought-after food rare delicacy.
The town of Fontanellato with our local guide
Day 3 - The legend of the Ferrari Maranello
Arrival at Ferrari in Maranello where we will visit the Ferrari Museum before hitting the road driving the Ferrari California, for those of you interested in that experience (extra charge). Free time in the trendy Maranello village and then on to our next experience: a treat of what Italy considers its "black gold": the Modena balsamic vinegar - Aceto Balsamico di Modena.
Modena DOP Balsamic Vinegar
The "Visita Golosa" includes history, folklore, a visit of the refining and ageing rooms, including where the eldest vinegars are aged, and the Museum. We will have lunch at the acetaia, served as a buffet featuring local products such as Parmigiano, pearls of balsamic vinegar, focaccia, and of course...Emilia-Romagna wines.
Day 4 - from Emilia to Marche
Check out and, on our way to Le Marche, with a stop in Bologna, capital of the Ragù, Tortellini, Fettuccine, Mortadella and much more. We learn about all of this during our cooking class in Bologna. A memorable day, for sure! Oh...and of course, we will enjoy the fruit of our labour and treat ourselves with Emilia-Romagna wines to pair with the lunch. After lunch, we depart for Portonovo, on the Riviera del Cornero, on the Adriatic Sea, a 2 and half hour drive, depending on traffic. A good excuse to 'nap'!
We will get ourselves comfortably “installed” for the next three nights in this ancient military fortress, right on the sea in the most beautiful section of the Adriatic coast: Monte Conero, also giving the name to a prestigious DOCG wine appellation.
Verdicchio vineyards near the Adriatic coast
Verdicchio is the main indigenous white grape varietal of Marche. It boasts two main appellations: Verdicchio Castelli di jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica. Let's taste it and understand the unique characteristics, compared to other similar crispy, white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc.
Day 5 and 6 - Two days in Marche
A blend of culture, history, food and wine.
We visit hidden jewel towns such as Montecarotto and Ostra Vetere, today famous for their wine production of Verdicchio and Lacrima, two indigenous grape varieties only grown here. Experience ancient food such as Cicerchie and Lonzino di fico. We learn all about the character of this region, from the Adriatic coast to the hills rich of agricoltural goodies.
A beautiful Fettuccine dish seasoned with fresh artichokes and mushrooms, typical from this region
Day 7 - from Marche to Umbria. The magical town of Assisi
We check out from our hotel and we keep driving west towards Umbria. After lunch we cross the Appennini mountains and reach our destination in Umbria. Assisi, Perugia, Torgiano are towns with an incredible mosaic of ancient history mixed with modern and vibrant life style from local inhabitants.
Day 8 - Discover the best Umbria food
Departure for Lago Trasimeno, site of the famous battle of Hannibal, in 217 B.C. that caused the worst military defeat to the Roman Empire in history. As you may know, the strategy used by Hannibal at the time is still used as a case study in NATO staff colleges for high rank officers! We will stop at a Azienda Agricola to immerse ourselves in the olive oil production world and have a chance to taste first hand olive oil with different caracteristics on the palate.
Day 9 - Bevagna, the heart of Medieval Umbria
To celebrate our last full discovery day of the trip, we will make an incursion in the Middle Age and visit Bevagna, a very charming village located approximately 15 km from Assisi. Here we will experience three typical medieval jobs as well as the tools and techniques of the time: the making of paper in an ancient paper mill, the making of candles and the making of silk.
Perugia - Art and ... Chocolate!
From Torgiano we will drive to Perugia, synonym of chocolate as well as art and history. We will meet our local guide and discover the city by foot for a couple of hours. There will be a chocolate tasting stop...of course! It will take us a short half-hour to return to the hotel
The fathers of Umbria wines - Giorgio Lungarotti & Arnaldo Caprai
Umbria has two DOCG (wine most prestigious appellations): Torgiano Rosso Riserva that we will experience in the town of Torgiano and Sagrantino di Montefalco only produced in the small hamlet of Montefalco. Today's focus is to understand these two red wines, their myth and popularity world-wide.
Mari Fedele Tartufi - Umbria's gold
A great lunch stop and learning opportunity at the home of this family, proudly researching truffles with their trained dogs for generations. Of course...our journey would not be complete without a truffle tasting experience!
The beautiful Umbria countryside
Umbria is also called the "green heart" of Italy, both because it is located in the center of the peninsula, but also because it has plenty of parks and forests. We have time to sit and relax through our journey, like in the picture above: a splendid last dinner at our hotel to say goodbye to all the people and to our fellow travellers and new friends we made during this tour!
Day 10 - from Umbria to Rome airport
We check out at 9 am and drive to Rome, airport of Fiumicino where our tour ends. Explore with us various opportunities to extend your vacation in Umbria or in the adjacent Tuscany, Florence or Rome.