Italy is an epicurean paradise, but as a visitor it can be hard to escape the tourist traps. Your group leaders will give you an insider’s guide and all the local knowledge.. Tasting the real balsamic vinegar in an attic acetaia is a revelation – it’ll be hard to go back to the mass-produced version after this!. Make lunch with a family that lives just outside of Rome, sampling homemade wine and olive oil before sitting down for a farmhouse-style feast.. In Bari, join a local expert for a masterclass where you will learn to make Apulian focaccia and the famous orecchiette (pasta shaped like ‘little ears’).
Italians are the masters of creating simple dishes that sing with flavour. Regional, seasonal and as fresh as possible, Italy’s cuisine is simple, satisfying and made with heart. On this food odyssey, you get the best of the northern and southern Italian cuisine. Dine on a converted fishing platform on the Adriatic Sea, take in the sights of the cave city of Matera while learning to cook with the locals, sample olive oil and homemade wine at a small, family-run farm just outside of Rome and munch mozzarella cheese, sip limoncello and learn to prepare the world’s best pizza in the place where it was born. Indulge in the diverse array of unforgettable food you’ll find on this adventure that travels from Venice to Naples.
Buongiorno! Welcome to Italy and the iconic city of Venice. If you arrive early, take some time to get lost in Venice's narrow cobblestone streets and spacious piazzas, crossing the tiny bridges to find shops, markets, galleries, churches and stunning buildings. Stroll past St Mark’s Square, the Campanile and the Doges Palace. Cross the Rialto and admire the Bridge of Sighs. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting tonight at 6 pm. Afterwards, head out for a welcome aperitivo – the spritz and the bellini are local favourites. Venice's distinctive culinary heritage goes back to ancient times and features rich risottos, saline baccala (salted cod) and creamy polenta. If you're hungry, follow your leader to an atmospheric restaurant for your first introduction to Venetian flavours.
It's an early start today. Walk down to the canals and watch farmers unload their produce from canal boats, ready to be sold at Venice's famous Rialto markets. This tradition is more than 1,000 years old. Next, swing past the fish market, where the catch of the day might come direct from the Venetian lagoon, the enclosed bay of the Adriatic Sea in which the city of Venice is situated. Finish with an Italian cafe alongside the market. You'll also be treated to a specialty dessert of the region, tiramisu. The afternoon is free for your own exploration.
In the evening, discover the Venetian answer to tapas on a 'cicchetti' crawl through the city's fabulous bacari (wine bars). Snacking is an important pastime in Venice, with many people stopping for cicchetti (small bites) both before and after meals. Don't forget to try a 'spritz'. This mix of white wine, Campari or Aperol and soda water is a popular accompaniment to wash down the delicious cicchetti.
Travel to Bologna by train (approximately 2 hours). Bologna'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. On arrival, drop your bags at the hotel then get out and acquaint yourself with this city of beautiful old terracotta buildings and lively streets. Later in the day you'll discover the 'real food' of Bologna, with a hands on-cooking class in the fine art of pasta-making. Feast on your handiwork over dinner.
Get an early jump on the day with a trip to discover the flavours of the renowned Emilia-Romagna region. Visit a factory dedicated to the production of one of Italy's most coveted culinary exports – the mighty Parmigiano Reggiano. Get an insight into how this cheese is made, then enjoy a tasting. Continue to the town of Modena (approximately 1 hour) and visit an acetaia, a house where the family produce fine aged Modena balsamic vinegar in the attic. You'll see how the vinegar is aged in barrels made from different woods, and is never less than 12 years old (often well over 25). Taste it and learn the difference between the real stuff and the mass-produced kind. Over lunch, sample some of the town's other specialties: tortellini, or, for the adventurous, zampone (stuffed pig's trotter). Lambrusco, the town's famed sparkling red, makes for a fine accompaniment. Take some time to stroll around this delightful town, admire the Palazzo Ducale and, if you're still hungry, ask your leader about the great specialty panini shop in the market. Return to Bologna in the late afternoon.
Travel by train and taxi (approximately 3 hours) to the village of Pancole, located in the heart of Tuscany between Florence and Siena. The region is renowned for a cuisine that celebrates simplicity and the bounty of locally grown produce in hearty, rustic dishes. Pecorino cheese, farro (an ancient grain) and artisanal cured meats like lardo di Colonnata are just some of the many local ingredients you can expect to indulge in during your stay. Your accommodation is a traditional Tuscan farmhouse, located about 7kms from the enchanting village of San Gimignano. The farmhouse is surrounded by vineyards and olive trees from which the family has been producing excellent wine and olive oil by organic methods for over fifty years. Enjoy a guided walk through the vineyards and cellars of the estate, followed by a tasting of some signature Tuscan wines. The wine tasting will be accompanied by some delicious cheeses, oilve oil and bruschetta.
Take a walk (approximately 1.5 hours; 7 kilometres) along a portion of the Via Francigena, the major pilgrimage route to Rome during the Middle Ages. The walk is on easy terrain, although comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Explore the medieval walled town of San Gimignano. San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is often called the 'Town of Fine Towers' due to the preservation of a number of impressive 'torre' or tower houses within its walls. The town is also known for its white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the ancient variety of Vernaccia grape which is grown on the surrounding sandstone hillsides. If you're keen to learn more, there is an informative wine museum located in the town. Before returning, stop past an award-winning gelateria, where intriguing flavours like Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts are waiting to be tasted. Spend the rest of your time exploring the walking paths around the farm or, weather permitting, relaxing by the pool, enjoying beautiful views of the Tuscan countryside.
Today jump on a train to Rome. Take a guided food expedition through the historical city centre of Rome. Walk past the Pantheon, Navona Square, Campo del Fiori, the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere building up an appetite for the food stops along the way.
Visit the city’s most famous bakery for the Roman’s go to snack pizza al taglio. When a Roman is on the run, pizza al taglio is the answer! This is pizza by the slice and here at this historic bakery, discover what’s so good about it, and how one orders it from the massive slabs of pizza visible from behind the counters!
Discover Jewish-Roman cuisine in the city’s ancient Jewish neighbourhood. Winding our way into the city’s Jewish quarter, stand spellbound at the ancient Roman ruins that dot this centuries old neighbourhood, one of the culinary hotspots of the city.
Then cross the 15th century Ponte Sisto into, Trastevere, the other side of the Tiber river. Saint Peter’s basilica provides the ultimate backdrop behind this landmark. Trapizzino has the whole city talking right now. Invented by a local Roman pizza maker named Stefano a few years ago, Trapizzino is has become Roman’s new favourite street food snack.
With stomachs content and a newfound love for Roman cuisine and the centuries old history that has shaped it, it’s now officially Spritz o’clock.
Finish the night drinking in the square just as the lively locals do (depending on the weather we will either go to the square or enjoy the drink in the bar).
The Foodie walk will be approximately 3 hours in duration so bring comfortable walking shoes.
Enjoy a free day to explore Rome today. Your adventure continues tonight with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll discuss the next stage of your itinerary and be introduced to any travellers joining for the South Italy Real Food Adventure. After the welcome meeting, tuck into a bowl of pasta with your fellow foodies in the rione (administrative division) of Monti, home to some of the city's most famous monuments.
Today you’ll visit a local family at their farm just outside of Rome and take a tour of their small vineyard and vegetable garden. The family's patriarch makes his own wine and refuses to drink anything else at home (and brings it along with him wherever he goes)! He's sure to offer you a drop, and once you've had a swirl and a sniff, you won’t want to say no. Depending on the season, you may head to a local market or shop to pick up some extra ingredients before joining the family at home to cook up a Roman farmhouse feast. Eat, drink and be merry in a way only the Italians can, before returning to Rome in the late afternoon and doing as you please for the rest of the day.
Take a train from Rome to Bari (approximately 4 hours). Bari a port city on the Adriatic Sea and is widely known for its maze-like alleyways, Old Town churches like the Basilica di San Nicola, food markets and long sandy beaches. On arrival your leader will take you on a city orientation walk. This evening is free for you to discover the food of this region – perhaps ask your group leader to recommend some dinner options that feature local specialties, particularly with freshly-caught seafood, then stroll the coastal boulevard and perhaps sip some of the local limoncello.
Explore the region with a visit to a masseria (fortified farmhouse) in Rutigliano for an olive oil and wine tasting. You’ll get the chance to taste varietals grown on the property. Also, enjoy the local specialty burrata – a luxurious version of freshly made mozzarella. Later on, join a local expert for a masterclass where you will learn to make Apulian focaccia and the famous orecchiette (pasta shaped like little ears). By using a thumb imprint technique, you’ll be continuing the tradition of nonnas across the region.
Transfer to Matera and explore the otherworldly architecture on a guided walking tour. Learn about the fascinating history of a place once considered the shame of Italy. Up until the 1950s, Matera was severely impoverished, and many residents lived in the Sassi caves without running water or electricity. Learn about this remote city’s transformation and go deep with a tour of the underground Ipogeo Materasum – a series of roads, cisterns and places of worship that lie up to 12-metres below. Then, journey into the other belly of Matera with a local Amaro Lucano tasting. This famed herbal digestive was first made in Matera. Enjoy dinner overlooking Sassi and make a toast to this surprising city.