Flavors Of The Real Italian Countryside

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 the week 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 2011 Michelin-rated restaurant on the castle grounds, but is also responsible for the biodynamic farming practices.


Latest Review

No rating given with this review
The cooking class was good. The recipes were straightforward, tasty, and with top-quality ingredients. The English from the chef was good. The only thing I would change about the cooking class is that I would like to have recipes to take away. There were only general measurements and quite a bit of "add a little more of X until it looks right". I respect the chef's ability, but it will be somewhat challenging to recreate some dishes. Cheese and ham tours were good. The wine tour, however, was disappointing. Essentially, we ate at a restaurant that overlooks a vineyard and is run by a winery. Contrary to the description on your website, we did not dine in a cellar or receive an explanation of the wine production (at least not beyond the basics of each wine when the server brought it to our table). [Regarding the cooking vacation packet:] The packet provided sufficient information, but the presentation of the material could have been improved. We expected a packet from The International Kitchen at check-in outlining our itinerary and activities. We did receive information from the hotel, but only after asking. Also, what we were then given was (1) a simple e-mail itinerary outlining our day at the farm and cooking class (with plaintext e-mail headers and all), and (2) an itinerary from the local tour provider for our cheese, ham, and wine tour day. None of this was a problem, and we fully realize you work with local tour operators, but on previous trips, every item we received had "The International Kitchen" on it, and materials seemed more seamless and generally more professional. Materials on this trip made things appear "cobbled together". [Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] Yes. Great interactions with the US office. Jeff & Cindy B., TX _Response from The International Kitchen:_ Thank you for your feedback! We have updated our website itinerary to more accurately reflect the lunch at the winery on day 3. In regards to the recipes, we have written your hosts and will send those recipes to you when they are received. Many recipes in Italy are passed down for generations and as such, many recipes are by 'by sight' rather than direct measurements! Regarding the cooking vacation packet, a voucher and itinerary were provided by us, with our logo, prior to your trip. Thank you again for booking your third trip with us.

Trip Details

Your cooking class will be taught by the legendary Chef Massimo Spigaroli or one of his valid collaborators. While Massimo does not speak English, there is a translator for this class. 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.


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Itinerary

Day One

  • 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.
  • Welcome dinner at the famous one-star Michelin restaurant (drinks not included).
  • Overnight.

Day Two

  • Breakfast.
  • Visit the farm and discover the impressive medieval aging cellars where the greatest Italian ham “Culatello di Zibello” rests.
  • Full-immersion cooking class all about the traditional pasta of the region, including famous Italian specialties anolini, 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.
  • Overnight.

Day Three

  • Breakfast.
  • Depart for the hilly area along the Parma Ham and Colli di Parma wines road, where you will observe the production of parmigiano-reggiano cheese in an authentic cheese dairy.
  • Visit a plant where the worldwide famous prosciutto di parma is produced.
  • Take some spectacular pictures of the medieval village of Torrechiara, which is dominated by its romantic castle.
  • Next stop is at a small, charming Colli di Parma winery where you will learn about local wines with a rich tasting of typical local products.
  • Afternoon free, providing time to visit the city center of Parma or ride bicycles around the countryside.
  • Dinner on own.
  • Overnight.

Day Four

  • Breakfast and check-out.

Trip Details

Included in the 3-Night Trip

Accommodations

3 nights in double room at Antica Corte Pallavicina

Food & Beverages

  • 3 nights in double room at Antica Corte Pallavicina
  • 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 the legendary Chef Massimo Spigaroli or one of his valid collaborators. While Massimo does not speak English, there is a translator for this class. 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.

Excursions

  • 1 guided tour of the farm.
  • 1 half-day gourmet tour with personal guide to see Parmigiano-Reggiano and prosciutto di Parma producers

Transfer Details

  • 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.

Accommodation Information

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.

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Pricing & Tour Dates

Looking for tour date information?


Year-Round Pricing:

3-night Program
US$1590 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.


    Tour Dates

    Available the following dates for a minimum of 2 people. Other start dates might be possible, please inquire.

    2019
    March 3-6
    March 6-9
    March 10-13
    March 13-16
    March 17-20
    March 20-23
    March 24-27
    March 27-30
    March 31-April 3
    April 3-6
    April 7-10
    April 10-13
    April 14-17
    April 17-20
    April 21-24
    April 24-27
    April 28-May 1
    May 1-4
    May 5-8
    May 8-11
    May 12-15
    May 15-18
    May 19-22
    May 22-25
    May 26-29
    May 29-June 1
    June 2-5
    June 5-8
    June 9-12
    June 12-15
    June 16-19
    June 19-22
    June 23-26
    June 26-29
    June 30-July 3
    July 3-6
    July 7-10
    July 10-13
    July 14-17
    July 17-20
    July 21-24
    July 24-27
    July 28-31
    July 31-August 3
    August 4-7
    August 7-10
    August 11-14
    August 14-17
    August 18-21
    August 21-24
    August 25-28
    August 28-31
    September 1-4
    September 4-7
    September 8-11
    September 11-14
    September 15-18
    September 18-21
    September 22-25
    September 25-28
    September 29-October 2
    October 2-5
    October 6-9
    October 9-12
    October 13-16
    October 16-19
    October 20-23
    October 23-26
    October 27-30
    October 30-November 2
    November 3-6
    November 6-9
    November 10-13
    November 13-16
    November 17-20
    November 20-23
    November 24-27
    November 27-30

    Pricing & Dates

    Class Pricing

    Reviews

    No rating given with this review
    The cooking class was good. The recipes were straightforward, tasty, and with top-quality ingredients. The English from the chef was good. The only thing I would change about the cooking class is that I would like to have recipes to take away. There were only general measurements and quite a bit of "add a little more of X until it looks right". I respect the chef's ability, but it will be somewhat challenging to recreate some dishes. Cheese and ham tours were good. The wine tour, however, was disappointing. Essentially, we ate at a restaurant that overlooks a vineyard and is run by a winery. Contrary to the description on your website, we did not dine in a cellar or receive an explanation of the wine production (at least not beyond the basics of each wine when the server brought it to our table). [Regarding the cooking vacation packet:] The packet provided sufficient information, but the presentation of the material could have been improved. We expected a packet from The International Kitchen at check-in outlining our itinerary and activities. We did receive information from the hotel, but only after asking. Also, what we were then given was (1) a simple e-mail itinerary outlining our day at the farm and cooking class (with plaintext e-mail headers and all), and (2) an itinerary from the local tour provider for our cheese, ham, and wine tour day. None of this was a problem, and we fully realize you work with local tour operators, but on previous trips, every item we received had "The International Kitchen" on it, and materials seemed more seamless and generally more professional. Materials on this trip made things appear "cobbled together". [Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] Yes. Great interactions with the US office. Jeff & Cindy B., TX _Response from The International Kitchen:_ Thank you for your feedback! We have updated our website itinerary to more accurately reflect the lunch at the winery on day 3. In regards to the recipes, we have written your hosts and will send those recipes to you when they are received. Many recipes in Italy are passed down for generations and as such, many recipes are by 'by sight' rather than direct measurements! Regarding the cooking vacation packet, a voucher and itinerary were provided by us, with our logo, prior to your trip. Thank you again for booking your third trip with us.
    No rating given with this review
    We loved our Real Italian Countryside experience. The castle accommodations were very comfortable and spacious - both of our rooms had an additional sitting room. The staff were wonderful - so friendly and helpful. We were greeted with a welcome bottle of sparkling wine and a tasting of parmigiano reggiano. Our welcome dinner was at one of the two on-site restaurants, and was superb. The cooking class was held at their outdoor courtyard kitchen, which is a beautiful setting and perfect for the sunny day. The chef (who has worked in Michelin-star restaurants across Europe) was very knowledgeable and we were definitely impressed with his skill. Although part of the class was hands-on for those who wanted it to be, it was mostly the chef doing the work while we took notes. He didn't seem comfortable with English, so made use of the other staff member for interpretation. He could understand our questions in English though. We were given empty booklets to write in - it may have been better to provide recipes or at least lists of ingredients and amounts, as it was difficult to get everything written down. However, it was very enjoyable, the food and wine were amazing, and we loved being outside for the whole experience on such a beautiful day. We had 2 tours as part of our package. The first was a tour of the castle and culatello cellar, as well as the cheese production facility. The hotel concierge did this tour for us. It was so nice that it was just our group (4 people) - she took us in her car to the cheese facility and explained the entire process to us. She also showed us other areas owned by the castle/farm - the grapevines, the livestock, and of course the black pigs. On the castle tour, the culatello cellar was definitely a highlight. We learned how culatello is produced, why the conditions there are just right for proper curing, and the cost of it! During our stay at the castle we tasted culatello of different ages and had it in various dishes in the two restaurants. After learning about the process and the expense, we were even more appreciative of the opportunities we had to dine on culatello. The second tour was through an external company. We drove to Parma and met our guide Amalda. She had her own car and we followed her to our tour location, the Parma ham production facility. We stopped along the way for a view of the famous castle in the area. Amalda was a wonderful guide, so friendly and full of information. Again, this was a private tour for just the 4 of us, which really adds to the experience. We were amazed at the numerous processes involved in producing a Parma ham. As well, the facility was on a hilltop and there were incredible views of the countryside. From there, we went on to the winery for lunch. They kept bringing us wine and gourmet food selections which we thoroughly enjoyed. We had no idea what was on the menu - it was all pre-selected for us. Our guide left us at this point and we made our way back to the castle. I think the castle is new to this program, and there were a couple of issues and a bit of confusion - but as I said, the staff was wonderful and did their very best to ensure we enjoyed our stay. The food was amazing and the tours were private and filled with fascinating information. We took advantage of the bicycles the castle had available for us and rode along the Po river and various bike trails in the vicinity. A platter of fresh fruit was provided to us each day in our room - more than we could eat. We enjoyed exploring some of the small towns nearby and even did some outlet shopping one afternoon. The tour provided a good balance of free time vs. scheduled events. Overall, a fantastic experience and highly recommended! [Regarding the cooking vacation packet:] The Program Packet did not contain much more information than that already available from the website, other than specific driving instructions from various directions. I wanted to see more detailed itinerary information. Similarly to when we arrived at the castle, the info sheet I was given had a general outline of the 3 days we would spend there, but we still had many questions. There were no times given - i.e. what time is breakfast? What time does the tour start? What time does the cooking class start? Approx how long will it last? For the tours, they could not provide us with specific information (what time, where to meet our guide) until the next day. Some further background information would have been nice also...it was only after our stay that we learned exactly how famous the castle's culatello is, and the history of the castle/farm and its owners. [Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] I appreciated the Chicago staff were quick to respond to any emails/questions I had regarding the trip. They were friendly, helpful and informative. Marianne & Darren C., and Marie & David S., Canada