21 February 2017
Uncover the secrets of Italian cuisine while travelling from Rome to Venice. Italians are the masters of creating simple dishes that sing with flavour - regional, seasonal and as fresh as possible. Italy’s cuisine is satisfying and made with heart. The food is authentic and surprising . . . pizza and pasta are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the diverse array of unforgettable dishes you’ll find on this adventure that takes you from Rome to Venice via San Gimignano and Bologna.
Your culinary adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm at your hotel in Rome. Get a feel for this gastronomic gateway to Italian cuisine, with its multitude of restaurants and trattorias catering to all tastes and budgets. Perhaps pop into a city bar before dinner tonight. The aperitivo hour falls just before dinner and is the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day. Prosecco is a local favourite and you can enjoy your drink with stuzzichini - bite-size snacks.
Start your first full day with a coffee, the most important drink in Rome. You may just pick up a tip or two from the roaster himself. Next head to a bakery owned by Rome's 'Michelangelo of pizza', Gabriela Bonci, for a degustation of focaccia and other specialty Italian breads. Then check out one of the city's oldest food markets, where pasta-making and other traditional culinary crafts are on display. The rest of the day is free for you to visit some of the city's cultural icons like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Vatican or the Pantheon.
Travel by train for two hours to the village of Pancole, located in the heart of Tuscany between Florence and Siena, where you stay in a traditional farmhouse. Located near the enchanting village of San Gimignano, the farmhouse is surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. Enjoy a guided walk through the vineyards and cellars of the estate, followed by a tasting of some signature Tuscan wines accompanied by delicious cheeses, olive oil and bruschetta. This is a beautiful part of Italy and renowned for its cuisine and hearty, rustic dishes.
Take a guided walk along a portion of the Via Francigena, the major pilgrimage route to Rome during the Middle Ages, then explore the medieval walled town of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage site called the 'Town of Fine Towers' due to the preservation of a number of impressive tower houses within its walls. The town is also known for its white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which is grown on the surrounding sandstone hillsides. Spend the rest of your time relaxing by the pool, enjoying beautiful views.
Today you take the train to Bologna which has a culinary claim to fame thanks to the ragu alla bolognese. Home of tagliatelle, mortadella and a range of other cured meats and salamis, Bologna, along with the surrounding Emilia Romagna region, is a real food mecca. Settle into your room then get out and explore this city of beautiful old terracotta buildings and lively streets. Later you'll discover the 'real food' of Bologna, with a hands on-cooking class in the fine art of pasta-making and feast on your creations over dinner.
Enjoy a day trip to discover the flavours of the renowned Emilia Romagna region. Visit a factory dedicated to the production of one of Italy's most coveted culinary exports – the mighty Parmigiano Reggiano and enjoy a tasting. Continue to the town of Modena and visit an acetaia, a house where the family produce fine aged balsamic vinegar in the attic. Stroll around this delightful town and admire the Palazzo Ducale and sample some of the other specialties - prosciutto and tortellini. Your day ends with a tour of a gelato museum.
Take the train up to Venice today. Wander the romantic streets on an orientation tour seeing the artisanal food shops and providores and meeting some shop owners who have been part of the Venetian food scene for decades. Explore the narrow streets and spacious piazzas and cross the tiny bridges to find shops, markets, galleries, churches and stunning buildings. Stroll past St Mark’s Square, the Campanile, the Doges Palace, cross the Rialto and admire the Bridge of Sighs before catching a water taxi back to your hotel.
The final day of your tour, so make an early start. Walk down to the canals and watch farmers unload their produce from boats, ready to be sold at Venice's famous Rialto markets. This tradition is more than 1,000 years old. Next, swing past the fish market, where the catch of the day might come direct from the Venetian lagoon, the enclosed bay of the Adriatic Sea in which the city of Venice is situated. Finish with a market breakfast alongside the traders. Your adventure comes to an end in the late morning.
Standard fr £1364pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated