Located in northern Italy, Emilia-Romagna is blessed with fertile land and lush pastures, making it one of the country’s richest agricultural areas. On this week-long journey through the culinary capitals of Bologna, Parma, and Modena, we’ll taste Emilia-Romagna’s world-famous Parma ham (prosciutto), Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar, and fine wines. Many of these products have been awarded D.O.P status (Denominazione di Origin Protetta), which guarantees a genuine regional food or wine produced according to traditional methods. We’ll gain in-depth understanding of these unique foods—many have been made the same way for centuries—by visiting with local producers and cooks. Pair that with informal Italian-language lessons and strolls through organic farms, vineyards, and farmer’s markets, and you have a recipe for an unforgettable food-lover’s holiday.
DAYS 1 & 2: Parma Ham and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
After meeting in Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, we’ll drive to Parma to explore the historic city and local food culture. Culinary experts at the Barilla Italian Food Academy will help us fine-tune our taste buds to distinguish between different varieties of extra-virgin olive oils, prosciuttos, cheeses, and balsamics. In the nearby town of Langhirano, we’ll tour a D.O.P. Prosciutto di Parma curing house to see how prosciutto is made, including salting and curing the pork hocks.
Overnights in Parma
DAY 3: Balsamic Vinegar
In the town of Langhirano, we’ll meet a D.O.P. Prosciutto di Parma producer, who will tour us through the curing house and show us how prosciutto is made, including salting and curing the pork hocks. The next day, we’ll visit an acetaia—the place where D.O.P Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is made from grapes and aged in wooden casks.
Overnight in Modena
DAYS 4–5: Parmesan Cheese, Honey, and Sangiovese
At a caseificio (cheese house), we’ll watch masters engage in a 900-year-old Parmigiano-Reggiano-making tradition, which includes creating curds, forming the cheese, and aging the wheels. We’ll also meet a local bee-keeper and taste the sweetness of the hive, followed by a visit to Bologna’s oldest family-run winery that creates fine Sangiovese using all-local grapes. One evening, we’ll get a cooking lesson about the secrets of Emilian cooking.
Overnights at an organic agriturismo (farmhouse) outside Bologna
DAY 6: The Best of Bologna
For our final full day, we’ll explore culinary Bologna, where a guide will lead a walking tour of this magical, medieval city—and we’ll sample local specialties as we go, of course. We’ll meander through the famous Mercato della Terra, the largest farmer’s market in Bologna. Tonight we’ll toast our traveling companions and foodie friends with local wines during a farewell dinner of regional specialties.
Overnight at an organic agriturismo outside Bologna
DAY 7: Departure
After breakfast, we’ll drive you to Bologna (airport and train station) for continued travels in Italy or return flights to the United States.
Note: This itinerary focuses on northern Italy’s food culture and traditions, and it involves some cooking lessons and food visits. Although there are a few city walking tours and some garden/marketplace strolling, we will not take daily group walks.