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.

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

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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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