Italian Countryside Cooking Vacation
Head to this beautiful country estate with a 700-year-old castle, ancient farming techniques, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and some of the most famous cured meats in the world. Featured on Top Chef season 17 (“All Stars”), it is a true paradise for foodies and cooks.
While Polesine Parmense is only 20 miles from the center of Parma, it feels like stepping into a whole new world, where small medieval towns of less than 1,500 inhabitants still thrive around the last Italian medieval castle near the Po River.
The gorgeous famous region is also home to peacocks, who stroll freely around the rolling northern Italian countryside, as well as ancient local breeds of farm animals, sprawling vegetable gardens, and orchards full of delicious fruits. History and ancient customs also continue to thrive here, from the traditional farming techniques to the famous Palace aging cellars built in 1320, where cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano and wine are still aged and stored. All of these tidbits of history can not only be seen but experienced in the fertile lands of Polesine Parmense.
Your home for your Italy countryside cooking vacation is a castle originally built nearly 700 years ago, the Antica Corte Pallavicina, which the noble Spigaroli family once lived and then bought back in 1990. Over the past 20-odd years, the family has returned the castle, including the frescos and cellar, to all of its splendor through restoration. Previously home to Maria Luigia the Duchess of Parma in 1700 and farmers and craftsmen in the 19th century, today the relais features six elegant guest bedrooms as well as a suite that spans two floors in the castle towers, providing a true home away from home.
Heading the restaurant and farm is a man considered the King of Parma Hams, Massimo Spigaroli. Not just a chef, Massimo is an artisan who ages everything from his famous culatelli a slowly cured boneless ham unlike any other salumi you’ve ever tasted to parmigiano-reggiano in the restored 700-year-old cellar below Antica Corte Pallavicina. With more than 40 years of experience, Massimo offers a unique and memorable experience in European food traditions. He not only runs the Michelin-rated restaurant on the castle grounds, but is also responsible for the biodynamic farming practices.
Highlights of Italian Countryside Food Tour
It may sound strange to organize a trip around ham, but when you are a foodie and when it is some of the most famous ham in the world, that is exactly what you do! Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the week will be the visit of the cellar where the prosciutto and famed culatello are cured, as well as the tasting of these amazing products. But you will also enjoy a hands-on cooking class and visit into the countryside for additional food tours and wine tastings.
- Arrival on own in the province of Parma, or transfer to the property (depending on which version of the itinerary you choose).
- Check-in at Antica Corte Pallavicina, the only castle in Italy that survived the floods of the great Po river.
- Visit the farm and discover the impressive medieval aging cellars where the greatest Italian ham “Culatello di Zibello” rests, one of the highlights of your Italian Countryside cooking vacation!
- Welcome dinner at the famous one-star Michelin restaurant (drinks not included).
- Full-immersion cooking class all about the traditional pasta of the region, including famous Italian specialties agnolini, ravioli, tagliolini, tagliatelle, stringoni, and pasta rasa. Lunch to follow based on your efforts, paired with cured meats produced on the farm.
- Afternoon on your own for a bike ride, relaxing, or individual visits.
- Dinner on own.
- Your Italian Countryside foodie tour continues in the hilly area along the Parma Ham and Colli di Parma wine road, where you will observe the production of parmigiano-reggiano cheese in an authentic cheese dairy.
- Take some spectacular pictures of the medieval village of Torrechiara, which is dominated by its romantic castle.
- Visit a plant where the worldwide famous prosciutto di parma is produced.
- Enjoy a full lunch based on the typical products of the area, all paired with local wines such as Lambrusco and Malvasia.
- Afternoon free. We can organize a visit to the city center of Parma on request, or you may prefer to stay local and ride bicycles around the countryside.
- Dinner on own.
- Breakfast and check-out.
Italian Countryside Gourmet Tour Trip Details
Included in the 3-Night Culinary Vacation in the Italian Countryside
3 nights in double room at Antica Corte Pallavicina
Food & Beverages
- Rich breakfasts include the products of the territory, including fresh eggs, milk, cakes and jams.
- 1 lunch following cooking class
- 1 tasting lunch at the vineyard
- 1 dinner at the Michelin-star restaurant (drinks not included)
Classes & Instructors
Your cooking class will be taught by one of the chefs of the property’s famous restaurant. In the hands-on cooking class, you will learn how to make a variety of Italian pastas based on centuries-old traditions of the Emilia Romagna region. Roll ravioli by hand, and learn how to shape agnolini, tagliolini, tagliatelle, stringoni, and pasta rasa. A lunch will follow, which includes your pasta creations and a selection of Massimo’s famous cured meats.
- 1 guided tour of the farm.
- 1 half-day gourmet tour with personal guide to see Parmigiano-Reggiano and prosciutto di Parma producers
- Prices with transportation include round-trip to Parma train station as well as transportation for the gourmet tour. Self-driving prices do not include transfers and require that you have your own vehicle.
The Antica Corte Pallavicina has been lovingly restored by the Spigaroli family to highlight the 16th century origins alongside modern amenities. The six elegant bedrooms have coffered ceilings as well as modern furniture and period furnishings. Every room offers a beautiful view of the rolling pastures of Emilia-Romagna, as well as a working fireplace and full size bath.
Italian Countryside Culinary Tour Pricing & Tour Dates
Find pricing and dates for our Italian Countryside cooking vacation at the Antica Corte Pallavicina below, and contact us for availability or to book your trip.
3-Night Italian Countryside Food Tour Pricing:
3-Night Emilia Romagna Cooking Vacation Pricing
US$1975 per person based on double occupancy
30% deposit due to confirm booking.
Balance payment due 60 days prior to tour start date. Questions? Please contact us!
Interested in this itinerary as a self-drive option with a rental car? Please inquire for pricing.
Please inquire for single occupancy pricing.
Italian Countryside Cooking Vacations Tour Dates 2024
Our Italian Countryside culinary vacation at the Antica Corte Pallavicina is available year round for a minimum of 2 people. Sample dates follow, but other start dates might be possible, please inquire. Closed January 7-24.
Sample dates follow, please contact us for availability!
March 31-April 3
April 28-May 1
June 30-July 3
September 29-October 2
We Can Help Plan The Best Food and Wine Tours in Italian Countryside
Delve into the authentic tastes of the Italian countryside with our specially curated cooking vacations!
Join us for an unforgettable culinary journey in the Italian Countryside, where you'll participate in cooking classes and food tours that celebrate the area's rich, ancient culinary heritage. We're here to create a personalized Italian Countryside cooking experience tailored to your preferences.