Kick things off in style with a welcome dinner in Venice’s first vegan restaurant, La Tecia Vegana. This tucked-away gem combines old-school, white-tablecloth Italian dining with a superbly innovative vegan menu. Get hands-on in the famous foodie town of Bologna. Partake in a vegan cooking class with an experienced local cook, hitting the local market beforehand to source fresh local ingredients. Discover UNESCO World Heritage-listed San Gimignano, a gorgeous town in the hills of Tuscany. This ‘medieval Manhattan’ is a pretty good backdrop for a wine museum tour and a sample of the world’s best gelato. Two nights in a unique all-vegan villa in the hills of Tuscany is a getaway to remember. Think solid oak furniture made locally by hand; exquisitely crafted interiors of chalk, clay, hemp and linen; panoramic views of the rolling countryside and an organic farm-to-table vegan feast
It’s remarkable that Italy, where tradition runs so strong and deep, is where some of the world’s most progressive, innovative and exquisite vegan food experiences can be had. Join Intrepid’s very first vegan-themed trip in Europe, from Venice to Rome, and discover why Italy positively excels at vegan food. It’s more than just the olive oil and bread, more than just the funghi and pappardelle and espresso and gelato – it’s the dedicated producers at all levels of hospitality that have taken up the movement with gusto and zero compromise, from the backstreets of Venice to the rolling hills of Tuscany. Come and see how Italians do it better, especially when they are bucking the trends and rewriting the rules.
Breakfast Included: 6 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included: 3
Welcome to legendary, romantic Venice. It's a town literally sinking under the weight of its iconic sights. Your adventure starts with a 6 pm welcome meeting, but if you're arriving early there's plenty to see and do. The best way to enjoy your free time and explore is by foot, taking in all the famous sights – the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge, Doge's Palace (the ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco with its golden Basilica, and of course, the evocative Bridge of Sighs. And then there's the food. Like everywhere in Italy, magical things are done in Venice with simple, elemental ingredients – be it olive oil and bread, a sumptuous funghi pappardelle or an after-dinner espresso or sorbet. Vegans will have no trouble finding a delicious repast in this town. Remember, 'senza latte' (no milk) will be your go-to phrase when in the gelateria! After the welcome meeting, head out for an included dinner with your fellow travellers at La Tecia Vegana. It's Venice's first first all-vegan restaurant – modern but with that old-school white-tablecloth Italian touch, and set in a beautiful old brick building. It prides itself not only on vegan food but organic ingredients too.
It's an early start today as you head to the markets. First, walking down to the canals, watch farmers unload their produce from the canal boats, ready to be sold at Venice's famous Rialto markets. It's a tradition that's more than 1000 years old. Your leader will give you an orientation walk through the city, which includes a coffee stop in the Jewish quarter and an explanation of the differences and similarities between the kosher and the vegan/vegetarian cooking. There'll be a taste of vegan Jewish cookies and coffee while here. Your afternoon and evening are then free, and your leader can suggest quality vegan friendly restaurants to visit. Buon appetito!
Rise and shine for your morning train to Bologna. We'll be early to arrive at the hotel, but luggage can be stored there. Start off with a leader-led orientation walk so you can get your bearings, taking in Bologna's pleasant atmosphere. It's a town characterised by medieval architecture, an exuberant intellectual culture (it's a major university town) and perhaps most famously its amazing food. In the afternoon, take a short train ride to Modena to visit Acetaia di Giorgio, a traditional balsamic vinegar producer. Tour through the premises and partake in a tasting of their exquisite balsamic vinegar, which is naturally vegan friendly. The evening is yours to seek out some dinner. There’s no shortage of options, so ask your leader for their favourite vegan-friendly spot.
Today it's time to try your hand at vegan Italian cooking. A market visit is included to seek out fresh produce and local ingredients. It kicks off at around 9 am, with the market visit first, followed by the cooking class in which a professional chef with a rich knowledge of nutrition will school you in inventive vegan twists on Bolognese classics. Afterwards is lunch itself, a feast of your own creations. The afternoon and evening are once again free.
Board a train to Florence (approximately 30 minutes), followed by a train to Certaldo (approximately 50 minutes). From there, take a private transfer to San Gimignano, where a guided walk through the I Pini agriturismo gives you an overview of some local vegan produce. Enjoy a vegan and biodynamic wine and food tasting, sampling some bespoke organic varietals. Afterwards, for dinner, tuck into a home-cooked vegan feast. We'll be staying in the villa attached to the I Pini agriturismo – a dedicated vegan abode in a gorgeous setting overlooking the hills. True to the ethos of the people behind this local gem, the walls of the villa are made of chalk, and the floor is made from cocciopesto (organic screed). This may make it sound quite rustic, but you'll be delighted at the atmosphere of this space, both inside and out.
Take a scenic walk from the agriturismo into town, which will take between 30 minutes and 2 hours, depending on the conditions and the route we take. The agriturismo is located about a short distance from the town centre. Once in town, enjoy a visit to the Vernaccia Wine Museum, which gives a great overview of San Gimignano's famous wines and the history behind them. As well as interactive exhibits, there's a also a tasting area with a superb sweeping view of the surrounding land. Please note: not all wines on offer at the Wine Museum are vegan. Your leader will be able to help point out which wines are available for you to taste. You'll also visit, in the town square, an award winning gelateria, an institution which has been the world chamption of gelato twice. See what the fuss is all about and enjoy a taste of vegan sorbet ice cream done by the true experts. Afterwards, it's back to the villa to relax, unwind, and soak up your idyllic surrounds.
Travelling by private transport and by train, make your way to Rome (approximately 4 hours). Settle in and get your bearings with an afternoon orientation walk with your leader. This evening, head out for a farewell dinner at il Margutta, a vegetarian spot that's been doing their thing for three decades – and doing it very well. They offer a variety of vegan dishes; on top of that, if you see an entree you love which happens to contain cheese or eggs, the chef will be happy to swap out ingredients to make it vegan-friendly.
Your adventure comes to an end this morning, with no further activities planned.