Italian Cooking Vacation: Gastronomy in Parma and Bologna
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Gastronomy in Parma and Bologna
Parma and Bologna

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About the location: Emilia Romagna is known as the “food basket of Italy” and considered by many to be the gastronomic capital of Italy. Parma, of course, is home to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese as well as the fine Parma prosciutto ham. Bologna is a vibrant city, home to Europe’s oldest university. The products of this fertile land have been praised through the centuries, and you have the opportunity to hone your culinary techniques in two of the most charming cities of this region.

Your stay in Parma will be at the beautiful 4-star Hotel Palace Maria Luigia, situated in the heart of Parma, while in Bologna you will stay in a centrally located 4-star hotel, such as the Art Hotel Commercianti, featuring all the desired amenities.

About the cookery course: Your cooking class will be taught by the famed “King of Ham” Chef Massimo Spigaroli, one of the world’s experts on Italian cured meats, or one of his trusted collaborators. Chef Massimo is an artisan who makes some of Italy’s best salumi, including his legendary culatelli — a slowly cured boneless ham unlike any other you’ve ever tasted — as well as parmigiano-reggiano cheese. With more than 40 years of experience, Chef Massimo can impart a unique and in-depth take on the area’s food traditions. He runs a 2011 Michelin-rated restaurant, as well as the biodynamic farming practices of the farm where your class will be held.

Although Chef Massimo does not speak English, a translator will be available. During the class you will learn to make a variety of Italian pastas for which the region is well known: ravioli, agnolini, tagliolini, tagliatelle, stringoni, and pasta rasa, to name a few.

Gastronomy in Parma and Bologna Itinerary

Day 1

Depending on the season and theme, itinerary details and order of activities may vary.

  • Transfer from the Bologna airport to your hotel in Parma.
  • Check in and relax, or start exploring Parma on your own.
  • Dinner tonight on your own, either in town or at the hotel.
  • Overnight in Parma.

Day 2

  • Breakfast.
  • Guided tour of Parma’s old town center, including the Duomo (Cathedral), Baptistry, and Farnese Theater, among other local points of interest that make this city of art famous worldwide.
  • Lunch at a typical trattoria in town.
  • The afternoon is free to explore or shop.
  • Dinner on your own (perhaps ask your guide for some recommendations).
  • Overnight in Parma.

Day 3

  • Breakfast.
  • Depart for a guided tour of a local dairy farm where the famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is produced, including a tasting of this delectable cheese!
  • Along the way stop to take some photos of the spectacular fifteenth-century Torrechiara Castle.
  • Next, visit a plant that produces the famed Prosciutto di Parma ham.
  • Visit a local wine cellar of the Vini dei Colli di Parma (the local vineyards at the foot of the Parma hills), and enjoy a tasting lunch of gourmet products and local wines.
  • Return to Parma for some free time.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight in Parma.

Day 4

  • Breakfast.
  • Transfer to the Parma countryside known as the “Bassa Parmense” (flat countryside of Parma), where you will be treated to a very unique experience. First you will be welcomed at the farm of Chef Massimo Spigaroli, the “King of Ham,” where you will learn about the prime-cut ham, “Culatello di Zibello.”
  • Next, take a hands-on cooking lesson that is focused on a variety of meats.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts, along with some local products produced on the farm. This is a very authentic Italian experience!
  • In the afternoon, a guided tour of the Rocca Meli Lupi castle in Soragna. This stunning castle is still inhabited by Prince Diofebo Meli Lupi.
  • Free time for shopping at the Fidenza Village Outlet, one of the most exclusive outlets in Italy.
  • After shopping, enjoy an apperitivo and taste the typical specialties from an old cheese stock house in the Villaggio del Gusto.
  • Return to Parma and dinner on your own (if you are still hungry!)
  • Overnight in Parma.

Day 5

  • Breakfast and check out.
  • First stop: Modena, where you will enjoy a guided tour of the old town center, including the Duomo, Palazzo Ducale, Piazza Grande and the Estense Gallery. Your tour will also include a focus on the town’s historical gourmet shops.
  • Next, a visit of a producer of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (the famed balsamic vinegar of Modena). Light lunch at the vinegar plant with a tasting of local products.
  • In the afternoon, transfer to Bologna and check in to your hotel.
  • Free evening and dinner on your own in this vibrant city.
  • Overnight in Bologna.

Day 6

  • Breakfast.
  • Guided tour of Bologna’s city center focusing on the historical gourmet shops and including tastings of local products.
  • Lunch to follow at a typical osteria in the city.
  • In the afternoon, time to explore on your own.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight in Bologna.

Day 7

  • Breakfast.
  • In the morning, your second hands-on cooking class. You’ll learn how to make perfect tortellini and other kinds of traditional pasta. Lunch to follow based on your efforts.
  • The afternoon is on your own to finish exploring and shopping in Bologna.
  • Farewell dinner tonight at one of the most typical restaurants of the city.
  • Overnight in Bologna.

Day 8

  • Breakfast, and transfer to the Bologna airport or train station.