Eat and drink your way through the incredible cuisine of Northern Italy on this 7-day tour. Explore the 11th-century university and covered porticos in Bologna, indulge your taste buds with visits to prosciutto and parmesan producers, and stay in a quiet medieval town in the Emilia Romagna countryside. End the trip in the Valpolicella wine region for a full-day wine tour and cooking class. 

Highlights

  • Visit the Ferrari gallery & museum to learn about the iconic sports car
  • Savor local delicacies, like prosciutto, parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar
  • Learn to make traditional Italian pasta on a cooking class
  • Visit the beautiful Valpolicella wine region and tour a winery
  • Stay in the gorgeous Emilia Romagna countryside

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bologna Bologna
Day 2 Walking Tour of Bologna Bologna
Day 3 Ferrari Museum & Emilia Romagna Countryside Polesine Parmense
Day 4 Culinary Tour: Ham, Parmesan & Balsamic Vinegar Polesine Parmense
Day 5 Cooking Class & Lambrusco Winery Polesine Parmense
Day 6 Valpolicella Wine Region Polesine Parmense
Day 7 Goodbye Italy!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bologna

Aerial view of central Bologna
Aerial view of central Bologna

Welcome to Bologna! Upon arrival at the Bologna Airport, you will be welcomed to Italy by your local tour representative as you exit customs into the arrivals hall. Transfer to the hotel, then run through the upcoming itinerary and get settled in. The remainder of the day is free—grab a cup of Italian espresso in a sunny piazza and head out to explore the city on foot.  

Suggestions for the second half of the day include: 

  • Check out the art at the MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, a museum of modern art, as well as  Museo di Palazzo Poggi and Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, art museums which house notable medieval and world-famous works
  • Spend a few hours exploring the Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica, a museum of musical instruments and discover local history at the Museum of History of Bologna
  • Relax in the peaceful sanctuary of the Giardini Margherita Park, located just south of the city center
  • Visit the Basilica of Santo Stefano complex which houses several churches and the hilltop Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca

Stay in the downtown neighborhood for a pre-dinner glass of full-bodied red or an Aperol Spritz while you snack on a charcuterie board, then sit down to traditional tortellini or mortadella for dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 2: Walking Tour of Bologna

Local shop with traditional cheese & prosciutto
Local shop with traditional cheese & prosciutto

Spend the day exploring Bologna's top landmarks and historical sites on a guided 3-hour walking tour of the downtown. Start at the Piazza Maggiore, a sprawling central plaza surrounded by the city's oldest buildings. Visit the City Hall, the 14th-century Basilica di San Petronio,  and the medieval Asinelli and Garisenda Towers which flank the Piazza. 

Head to the 11th-century University of Bologna to view the Anatomical Theater, used in older times for students to dissect cadavers, and stroll the medieval university grounds. On the way, stop to see the former Jewish Ghetto, then continue to the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, the National Art Gallery, housed in the former Saint Ignatius Jesuit novitiate near the university. This building also houses the Academy of Fine Arts

Pause for lunch and enjoy some of the city's delicious specialties—tortellini and ragu alla bolognese, a rich tomato and meat sauce. Visit the local markets and shops to find artisanal tortellini, mortadella, and a variety of cheeses, then tour traditional food shops like a bakery and pasta maker to see the handcrafting process.

In the afternoon explore the city via the medieval porticos, a network of covered walkways that connect city landmarks, museums, and neighborhoods and protect pedestrians from snow, rain, and the hot summer sun. Visitors with an eye for fashion will enjoy browsing the designer boutiques and medieval Quadrilatero Market District for the perfect Italian leather shoes or for gifts to bring home. 

Day 3: Ferrari Museum & Emilia Romagna Countryside

Sunrise in the Emilia Romagna countryside
Sunrise in the Emilia Romagna countryside

Start your morning with a private pickup from the lobby of your hotel and head to the land of Ferrari—Maranello. Here you'll tour the Ferrari factory and Ferrari museum as you learn about the history and impact of this incredible sports car. 

The Ferrari Gallery & Museum, though owned by the Comune of Maranello, has been run and operated directly by Ferrari since 1995. Today more than ever it is the central location of Ferrari's brand, where the company's past, present, and future are preserved for visitors to experience. 

The Gallery is divided into four areas, each tailored to a specific branch of the Ferrari family. Fans of competitions, visitors passionate about classic cars, and even casual enthusiasts will each find something to discover in these incredible displays. See the Formula 1 exhibit, explore technological innovations and see photography displays. 

Afterward, transfer to your hotel in the charming medieval town of Polesine Parmense, located in the beautiful Emilia Romagna countryside. The town of Polesin Parmense is most well-known for the 15th-century Antica Corte Pallavicina, a beautifully-restored medieval estate. These days it houses cellars where aged meats, cheeses, and wines are preserved, as well as an elegant 1-Michelin star restaurant and a lovely hotel. 

Day 4: Culinary Tour: Ham, Parmesan & Balsamic Vinegar

Parmigiano-Reggiano
Parmigiano-Reggiano

Spend the day immersing yourself in typical Emilian products: cured ham, parmesan cheese, and delicious aged balsamic vinegar. You'll learn from Italian food masters and small family-run producers. All of the production facilities visited on this tour are small-scale, with artisanal craftsmanship and traditional knowledge valued over industrial production rates. 

Start the culinary tour with a visit to a parmesan cheese producer, where you'll see the behind-the-scenes look of how the cheese is made. See the masters prepare the cheese whey, shape the cheese into wheels, and transfer them to the salting vaults. From here continue to the aging room, known as the stagionatura. Here, among the 2,000 wheels of aging cheese, you'll learn about the enormous amount of care and daily toil that the cheese requires. After the tour, taste a sample of the product with a dash of honey, or, if you like, a refreshing glass of wine. 

Your next stop is a Parma ham producer. Visit the cooling, salting, and resting rooms, each emulating the traditional winter-spring curing seasons. The highlight of this tour is a visit to the cellar branding area where the Nasoor master nose, selects the perfect ham for the use of the top restaurants in Parma, Italy, and the world. 

Your final stops of the day are the splendid 40-acre vineyards and curing rooms of the artisanal balsamic vinegar producer. Visit the must maturing room and the batteria lofts of a 4-generation production family. End your tour with a tasting of 15, 22, and 28-year-old Balsamico from the antique barrels.

Day 5: Cooking Class & Lambrusco Winery

Handmade pasta dough
Handmade pasta dough

In the morning learn how to prepare traditional Italian dishes on a 3-hour cooking class at the Antica Corte Pallavicina Cooking School. Immerse yourself into the world of fresh pasta from the Bassa Parmense area and spend the morning crafting typical pasta cuts, from tortellini Parmigiana style to tagliatelle, anolini, and the pre-Columbian open gnocchi. 

Afterward, sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labor with a delicious lunch paired with a glass of local wine. 

In the afternoon continue your day to one of the Lambrusco Region's finest wineries. Tour the vineyards and taste the delightful fizzy red wine produced by this winery since 1926.

Return to Polesine Parmense after a full day for a relaxing evening in the quiet countryside and dinner at a local restaurant. 

Day 6: Valpolicella Wine Region

Ripe wine grapes
Ripe wine grapes

Enjoy a beautiful day in the Veneto countryside on a guided full-day (8 hours) wine excursion. The Valpolicella wine region begins just outside the romantic city of Verona (the home of Romeo and Juliet,) and stretches in two directions—to the west towards Lake Garda and the historic heart of the traditional winemaking region, and towards the east where younger and more modern winemakers are making their mark. 

The Valpolicella region only produces red wines, and although it has previously suffered from a reputation as being a cheap vino you would order in a pizzeria, today the region is producing some of Italy's finest. The Valpolicella wine is the result of various blends of local native varieties like Corvina, Cornivone, Rondinella, and other wines. 

Today's wine tour takes you to a very specific part of the Valpolicella region: Sant'Ambrogio, one of five towns that make up the Valpolicella Classica, the historical wine producing region of Amaron, Recioto, and Ripasso. Visit vineyards, wine cellars, and taste the local wines at the area's finest wineries, then return to your hotel for a relaxing evening.

Day 7: Goodbye Italy!

Little details of life in Rome
Little details of life in Rome

Time to say goodbye to the country of love! After one last cappuccino over breakfast, head to the airport for your connecting flight home. Safe travels!

Map

Map of Food & Wine in Northern Italy - 7 Days
Map of Food & Wine in Northern Italy - 7 Days