Available upon demand, scheduled departures again as of 2021.
Best time to travel:
Spring and Autumn
A Journey to Emilia-Romagna
Leave the Beaten Track and Spoil Yourself
4 days / 3 nights
Maximum 6 participants
€ 1,340 p.p. incl. accommodation in double room in 4* hotel, 2 lunches & 2 dinners with wine & coffee, guided visits to local producers, tour of the Po delta by boat, guided visits, admission fees and transportation in Mercedes V-Class minibus from and back to Bologna (for details see below).
At all times, I am present and can help translate to and from Italian which I speak very well.
Aceto Balsamico, Parmigiano Reggiano, Spaghetti alle Vongole.
And UNESCO World Heritage Sights
The region of Emilia-Romagna lies North of the Apennine Mountain range and south of River Po, and it borders in the East on the Adriatic Sea.
The region’s history and identity have hence been formed by both the sea and its fertile lands: surf & turf you may say.
Also, there runs a virtual divide through the region:
In the Northwest, butter is a signature ingredient in local recipes, especially in pasta dishes – and in the southeast, olive oil takes over and is used for example with most fish preparations.
Reflecting these contrasts, Emilia Romagna on the one hand is famous for its Parma and Culatello Hams, its Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the Aceto Balsamico di Modena and its savoury pasta dishes.
On the other hand, the Adriatic Sea provides the region with excellent seafood like shrimps, mussels, calamari – often simply prepared as a tasty ‘fritto misto‘.
What We’ll Do
As for the culinary discoveries, we’ll:
- visit a small producer of Balsamic vinegar North of Modena and a
- producer of Parmigiano Reggiano nearby,
- spend a day in the Po delta to tour the many streams by boat and discover the delta’s unique wildlife.
- Or – depending on the season – we visit a so-called ‘manifattura’ where local eel is grilled.
And of course, we’ll:
- eat in selected, very good restaurants.
At the same time, we travel these beautiful landscapes to understand the roots of local people and their traditions.
As a cultural highlight of the trip, we visit one of the most beautiful of church complexes in Italy, the Abbazia Pomposa, built more than a thousand years ago.
Depending on your time available, we’ll equally visit Ravenna and/or Modena.
Our Programme in Detail
Below is an example itinerary and some illustrative images – yours can of course be adapted to your personal preferences!
Thursday Afternoon and Evening
Bologna Central Station is our ‘departure point’ where we meet for this journey.
The station is very well connected by bus or taxi to Bologna airport (20 mins), and by high-speed train to Milan (1 hour), Florence (40 mins), and Venice (1.5 hours).
From here on, we have our own spacious minibus (Mercedes V-Class) which, in less than an hour, takes us to Ferrara, our home-base until Monday morning.
- Once in Ferrara, make yourself comfortable in our 4-star hotel located in a prime location right in the pedestrian area with all monuments are in walking distance.
- This family-run hotel has been recently renovated and offers some rooms that overlook the Este Castle (a surcharge applies).
- Around 16:30 hrs, we end our first day with a guided visit of our ‘home-town’ Ferrara, selected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The hotel rents bikes, so we may do the tour by bicycle which makes us blend in with the vast majority of ‘Ferraresi’: there are truly dedicated cyclists.
- Dinner has been booked in a local trattoria known for its offer of both meat and fish dishes prepared in typical Ferrara fashion.
And whenever you are ready: buona notte!
Friday – La Terra
Today is dedicated to discover the rural side of Emilia Romagna so right after breakfast, we set off to the region just a little North of Modena West of Ferrara.
In the morning, we visit a so called Acetaia (vinegar producer): this is one of the 60 farms in the region where Aceto Balsamico di Modena is produced in the truly traditional way and sold to the public.
We’ll enjoy a very interesting guided tour of the farm and storage rooms of the barrels, followed by a tasting of the different types of vinegar. These vary greatly in taste by their age (12, 25, or even more than 50 years of aging) and what types of wood these barrels are made of (cherry, mulberry, oak, chestnut or juniper).
Depending on your onward travel plans, you may also want to buy a sample and bring it home as a perfect souvenir of our visit.
Lunch will be served in a very small, local trattoria: modest, but very authentic fare, with home-made pasta, home-made roast beef and typical sweets.
In the afternoon, we firstly visit a maker of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, normally difficult to find as not many are happy to open their doors. While his sister runs the little shop where the cheese and some accessories are sold, we are taken around by the owner showing us the procedures of making and maturing this famous cheese.
Of course, we get offered a tasting at the end of the tour!
Now, time permitting, we can still visit Modena – it’s a beautiful provincial town, and at least we should be able to mire the 12th century and UNESCO World Heritage cathedral on a short guided visit.
Late afternoon, around 18:00 hrs, we return to Ferrara.
Tonight, the choice is yours, I assume after our country lunch and then the cheeses, you may want to take it easy. Or just ask me and I’ll be happy to tell you where I believe one eats well in Ferrara.
Saturday – il Mare
Today, we transfer to the Po delta which is bordering on the much more visited Veneto region.
The idea is to dedicate the day to the sea – il mare – which has so much influence on the people and traditions of Emilia-Romagna.
The planning of the day depends a little bit on the time of the year since fish and their behaviour are seasonal, hence certain activities are not available year-round:
- In spring and early summer, we visit the delta by boat and go to a bay where mussels and clams are farmed.
- If you’re interested, we can also stop by Alessio and learn how he farms oysters in a sea that practically doesn’t know high or low tide
- And in autumn, we visit a ‘Manifattura’ which is a small ‘factory’ where wild eel is being cured, then grilled in front of large fires, and eventually canned with vinegar.
- At the ‘Manifattura’, we have the opportunity to sample and buy eel, be it in vinegar or smoked
On the way home, we visit the cultural highlight of the journey, the Abbazia Pomposa, a restored beautiful Benedictine abbey dating back to the 11th century with wonderful frescoes and mosaics on the floor and walls.
Once we return to Ferrara, we take a little break before walking those 20 minutes to my favourite place in town: a fish restaurant with very creative and innovative dishes, mainly provided by the near-by Adriatic Sea. Elisabetta will help you to pick your best possible fare-well meal.
Sunday – Bologna
Today, is our last morning together before you’ll be heading home or onwards to new discoveries.
After packing and check-out, we’ll leave for Bologna. The city is the capital of Emilia- Romagna and certainly merits our visit on this last morning.
To get a first impression, we’ll have a guided walk in the city centre to discover the main highlights:
The Piazza Maggiore with its Basilica di San Petronio and around the corner, the spectacular Fountain of Neptune. Perhaps the guide will also include a visit of a local market, the Two Towers dating from the 11th century, or the less visited Piazza Porto Stefano with the nearby chiostro.
Just before lunch, the time to say good-bye has come, and I accompany those leaving to the station to recover their luggage.
This is actually the ‘point of arrival’ of our unique journey to Emilia-Romagna.
Expect prices of about € 1,330 per person for the entire journey sharing a double room, or € 1,500 in a single.
What is included in this price
- 3-night accommodation in a 4* hotel in prime location; in a superior double room including a generous breakfast
- Superior rooms with a view of the Estense Castle are available at a surcharge – please just ask me
- 1 lunch in a local trattoria
- 1 lunch in the Po delta
- 2 dinners, always in very good restaurants, 3 course meals
- During dinners and lunches: medium-priced wine within reason, mineral water, coffee
- Visit of a producer of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and tasting
- Visit of a producer of Parmigiano Reggiano and tasting
- Boat-tour of the Po delta
- Visit of an oyster farm or eel manufacture in the Po delta with product tasting
- Guided visit of Ferrara
- Guided visit of Cathedral of Modena
- Guided visit of Abbazia Pomposa
- Guided visit of Bologna
- All transfers in Mercedes V-Class minibus
- Presence of Matthias throughout the trip to provide further information, translate, assist with problem solving etc.
What is not included (unless otherwise mentioned in the itinerary):
- International & domestic travel to and from the meeting and departure points
- Airport and train transfers at the beginning and end of the trip
- Lunches and dinners unless mentioned in the detailed itinerary
- Additional hotel nights before or after the trip
- Beverages other than mentioned in the itinerary
- Personal expenses nor services not specified, for example servings of truffles or expensive wines, shopping, personal transportation etc.
- Travel & medical insurance
- Gratuities for drivers, porters, and restaurant staff
- Telephone calls, Internet charges
- A 50% deposit is due at the time of booking (at least 2 weeks before the start of the tour). The remaining 50% is payable one week prior to departure.
- Cancellation charges depend on the different policies of the supplier – for a reimbursement contact Matthias as soon as possible, and make sure you have a respective insurance.
Suggestions for an Extension of Your Stay
We have visited the producer of vinegar, but the beautiful town of Modena also offers a lot of sights like the stunning Duomo, and one of the world’s best restaurants: the Osteria Francescana.
This city on the Adriatic coast offers no less than 8 (!) UNESCO World Heritage sights such as the 520-ad mausoleum of Theodoric King of Goths as you enter the city centre.