Italy is a foodie’s paradise, but as a visitor it can be hard to escape the tourist traps. Your local leaders will give you an insider’s guide to this epicurean wonderland.. The Piedmont region is one of the most beautiful parts of Italy, gifted with picturesque hills topped with centuries-old castles, pretty towns. It also produces some of the best wine grapes in the country and rare white truffles.. If you thought its pastel-hued buildings and breathtaking coastline was the only thing the Cinque Terre had going for it, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by its cuisine. On top of freshly caught anchovies and fish, make sure to try freshly baked focaccia and pesto – regional specialties.. Tasting the real balsamic vinegar in an attic of a former farm house is a revelation – it’ll be hard to go back to the mass-produced version after this.
While many cities across Italy are justifiably renowned for their cuisine, the country’s northern reaches often fly under-the-radar. Discover some of the north’s most delicious culinary traditions on this nine-day food adventure. Sample hazelnut-infused chocolate and the delectable flavours of the slow food movement in elegant Turin. Hunt for white truffles and savour exquisite Barolo and Barbaresco wines in the picturesque, castle-studded hills of the Piedmont region. Explore the culinary traditions of the Cinque Terre, sampling local specialties like focaccia and farinata (savoury street food pancakes), and learning how to make Ligurian pesto from scratch with a hands-on demonstration. Finish up in gastronomically-rich Bologna, where local producers prized ham and some of the best balsamic vinegar in the country.
Touch down in elegant Turin, located in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. With its grand, tree-lined boulevards, baroque architecture, palaces and castles – not to mention, its bevy of delectable cafes and restaurants – it’s not hard to see why Turin is often lauded the ‘Paris of the Italy’. Take your included transfer to the hotel and settle in before your food adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. After meeting your tour leader and fellow travellers at this important meeting, head out for your first taste of Turin – an included dinner at a local restaurant. Piedmont is the birthplace of the slow food movement. Emphasis is placed on local, high quality produce. Dinner tonight will draw on these traditions, and may include a veal salad with fresh anchovies. Choose between a slow-cooked meat dish or a freshly-made pasta dish, such as ravioli. Pair your main course with a glass of local Barolo wine, arguably Italy’s most premium wine, produced in the Piedmont region. Finish your meal with a bignoline, a delicate choux pastry filled with chocolate, creme or hazelnut. These tiny morsels are meant to be eaten in one gulp, rather than bitten (just like aristocratic women used to, in order to avoid dirty fingers) – we bet you’ll have a hard time eating just one.
Spend the morning exploring a local market. Turin is home to Porta Palazzo Market – with nearly 800 stalls, it’s the largest open-air market in Europe – as well as a variety of other markets that offer an amazing variety of fresh produce, cheeses, cured meats and gourmet products. Each market has different opening hours, so the market you visit will depend on the day of the week. Enjoy lunch at a cafe or restaurant near the market, though be sure to save room for dessert, as after lunch, you’ll get the opportunity to further explore the city with a food-oriented walking tour with your leader. Your guide will take you to some of the best spots to try local favourites, while also pointing out key attractions and providing some local insight into the city along the way. Pay a visit to Guido Gobino (or possibly another chocolatier) for a chocolate-tasting. Though most look to Switzerland or Belgium for premium chocolate, Turin was the first European city licenced to produce chocolate (in 1678), and can more than hold its own against these confectionary powerhouses. Using their excellent locally-produced hazelnuts, the Piedmont region is responsible for creating two delectable hazelnut-infused chocolates – Giandiotto and Nutella. You’ll also stop at a cafe to sample a local secret, Bicerin. This heavenly hot drink is made with espresso, drinking chocolate and whole milk or cream and is another Turin specialty. Enjoy free time in the afternoon. After dinner (not included), take part in an interactive vermouth workshop. The famous drink of kings and queens was first produced in Turin (the sweet variety, that is). After a short introduction on the history of flavoured wines and vermouth, you’ll have the chance to make your own vermouth, adjusting the amounts of herbs and sugar used according to your taste, under the guidance of a renowned vermouth expert.
Alba / Piemonte Region
After breakfast, take a private transfer to Langhe, a beautiful part of Italy known for its wine production, particularly Barolo and Barbaresco, and white truffles. Drive through vineyard-covered hills, topped with centuries-old castles and pretty towns before arriving at Agricola Cian Piero Marrone (Marrone Winery), a family-run winery and eatery. Join Gianni, affectionately referred to as ‘the truffle man’, on a hunt for this culinary treasure. As one might expect with such a rare and expensive ingredient, truffles are buried underground and can be difficult to find. Learn Gianni’s tricks for knowing where to dig, then return to the winery for a cooking class in the cellar. The matriarch of the family, mamma Giovanna, will teach you how to prepare a typical Piedmont menu, including appetiser, first course, main course and dessert. After the class, you’ll get to sit down to lunch and enjoying your creations, along with carefully selected wines to accompany each course. You’ll also receive a cookbook and Marrone apron at the end of the class. Continue to Alba, where you leader will lead a short orientation walk. The evening is yours to enjoy at your leisure.
Today will be spent exploring the bountiful treasures and scenic landscapes of the Piedmont Region. You’ll start the day with a visit to Sordo, a family-run winery that has been producing red wines for more than a century. Big barrels made of Slavonian oak are the secret of this centenary winery; this wood – thanks to its gentle feature – is not invasive with the wine which keeps its authentic taste. Learn more about their traditional production methods while sampling some of their fine wines. Travel about 40 minutes to Canelli, the sparkling wine producing region of Peidmont, to visit Cascine Coppe. Established in 1892, Coppo is one of the oldest family-run wineries in Italy. After a cellar tour and tasting, visit a cheese farm for a cheese degustation with local accompaniments, then onto your featured Agriturismo stay at the immaculate Tentua La Romana.
Cinque Terre - Levanto
After breakfast, travel about 2.5 hours to the seaside town of Levanto and our base for exploring the Cinque Terre. There’s time for lunch, then you have the option of hopping a boat for a scenic, afternoon boat cruise along the coast. Get a different angle of the famous pastel-hued buildings and vineyards that cling to the rugged coast of the five fishing villages from the sea. Squeeze underneath towering rocks to arrive in Portovenere, where you’ll stop to marvel at the moored super-yachts or have a gelato with a view, before returning to Levanto. In the late afternoon, visit the well-known “laboratoio di Pesto”, run by Peregrine’s long-time friend, Luigina, and her daughters to learn a thing or two about pesto. Enjoy a hands-on demonstration on how to make the original Ligurian pesto from scratch – of course, you’ll have to eat the pesto you produced yourself minutes before, as it is best eaten fresh.
For centuries, the Cinque Terre was only connected by narrow paths and boats. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that trains were brought into the area. Today, you’ll spend three to four hours exploring the culinary traditions of the Cinque Terre’s villages, travelling by public transport. Your tour guide will lead the group to select shops where you’ll get to sample local specialties, like focaccia, arancini and farinata (a savory, street food pancake). Food in Liguria is rustic and rely heavily on locally grown olives, lemons vegetables and herbs (primarily basil, oregano and marjoram). Anchovies and other fresh catches from the sea – usually simply dressed with olive oil and lemon – are also dietary staples. After the leader-led tour, the rest of the day is yours to explore at your leisure. You might want to strap on some sturdy shoes to further explore the trails that connect the five villages. It is difficult in parts, but the reward is magnificent views of the Mediterranean. In the evening, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from serving up local flavours.
After breakfast, you’ll set off for Bologna, making several stops along the way to delve into the region’s rich culinary offerings. First, you’ll stop in the town of Langhirano, known for its numerous ham factories. Visit one of these factories to learn about the meat production process and also sample some prosciutto, mortadella, coppa or zampone. Continue to the Parma region, famed for its prosciutto production. Prosciutto di Parma can only be produced from the hind legs of specially-selected heritage breed pigs, raised in special conditions that need approval from the Consorzio. Visit a Consorzio-approved Parma ham factory for a guided tour to gain an insight into the production of this prized ham. Continue to Modena for an unlikely stop – the attic of a former farm house, where Peregrine-friend, Giorgio, and his family produce ‘real’ balsamic vinegar. It takes at least 20 years to produce this culinary masterpiece, which is made according to centuries-old methods. Sample vinegar from oak barrels and possible, a special 30-year-old cherry wood version. Arrive in Bologna in the late afternoon. The city’s culinary claim to fame is a significant one, thanks to the ragu alla Bolognese. Home of tagliatelle, mortadella and a range of other cured meats and salamis, Bologna, along with the surrounding Emilia Romagna region, is a bonafide food mecca.
After breakfast, head to the market to pick out ingredients for today’s morning cooking class. Head to a picturesque court of an old bake house -the location of your cooking class – where trained gourmet chefs, Barbara and Valeria, will lead the group through a lesson in Italian cooking, focusing on Bolognese and Northern cuisine. After the three-hour lesson, you’ll get to eat what you prepared, along with some good wine. Enjoy a free afternoon before meeting up with the group for an optional farewell dinner.
Your food adventure comes to an end after breakfast. There are no planned activities for today.