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Discover the culinary treasures of Bologna, Modena, Parmesan Cheese, Prosciutto, and Mortadella! Experience the beauty of Italy's most iconic sports cars! During the holiday, you will stay the week at a luxury, boutique hotel in the city center of Bologna. This week is all about having incredibly unique cultural experiences that will give you memories to last a lifetime. You will live the Italian life as you cook authentic Bolognese recipes together with the real chefs of Italy - the Italian Nonna's (Grandmothers) and also a Michelin star chef in his professional kitchen.
Originally a 13th-century guildhall, this high-end, old-world hotel is adjacent to the Duomo and Main Piazza (Piazza Maggiore). It is as central as central gets.
The upscale rooms feature a marble bathroom, free Wi-Fi, and satellite TV, plus tea kettles and minibars. Some overlook the church. Most rooms feature 14th-century frescoes, Gothic-style glass decorations, and 4-post beds.
Your rooms are "Deluxe" rooms. They also have some suites available. If you are interested in upgrading to a suite, please contact the hotel directly for more information.
One of the main reasons Culture Discovery Vacations selected this hotel is the staff. In a boutique-style hotel, the staff is small and personal, their hospitality is wonderful and you will get to know them right away! You will quickly become friends, and this will truly feel like "home away from home".
For those arriving in Italy today, Culture Discovery Vacations recommends looking for flights into the Bologna (BLQ) Airport, as there are numerous connections on major carriers. Another option is the Florence Peretola (FLR) Airport, although it is an hour's drive from the city center of Bologna. If you are already in Italy, the Bologna Centrale Train Station is well connected and convenient as it has a high-speed rail service. If you are in another major Italian city like Florence, Rome, Naples or Milan, this would be a good option. The train station is just a short taxi ride to the hotel.
Once at the hotel you will have some time to get settled in, unpack and rest up. You will find some snacks and drinks waiting for you when you get to your room. At around 5:00 p.m., you will meet at a local cafe and spend some time getting to know one another over some “aperitivi” as you discuss what's ahead for the week.
You will see some of Bologna's “Quadrilatero” Street Market, a market dating back to the middle ages. The main craft guilds of the city such as goldsmiths, butchers, fishermen, “Salaroli” (workers cure meat), Furriers, Barbers, and the Society of Painters, had their headquarters in this area in the middle ages.
This area is still full of vendors selling a lot of amazing foods! Bring your camera as there are many photo ops of some of the ingredients that make the Emilia Romagna cuisine so unique. Especially the local cheeses, pasta, and prosciutto! These are some of the key ingredients that will be featured in much of this week's cooking!
For dinner, you’ll head over to Buca Manzoni, a very traditional Bolognese restaurant. During welcome dinner, you will indulge in many local specialties. This is the first of our many multi-course meals as you dive headfirst in Italian culinary culture.
There will be lots of delicious food and wine coming to the table. Antipasto - Typically some local cheeses, breads, prosciutto, mortadella and other local salumi. Then you'll have a pasta dish. The main course will be one of the meat specialties of the house, along with sides and, of course...Dessert!
You will begin your first full day together with your first cooking class! You’ll drive out to the countryside near Bologna to a lovely country villa to meet with your cooking class instructors, Pina and Bruna.
These two fabulous women have been friends for a long time and love making their Bolognese cuisine and can't wait to share their family recipes with you! They will teach you the culinary traditions that have been handed down to them from generations past. Guests love the hands-on approach, and you will get right into the cooking!
For the appetizer, you will be making a regional favorite – Crescentine. This is a local "puffed-style" bread that you will have with local Salami, Mortadella, and Prosciutto di Parma and cheeses.
The first course will be Tagliatelli alla Bolognese. Tagliatelle are long narrow strands of pasta originating during the Renaissance period in Emilia Romagna and served to dukes, cardinals, and popes! Your hand-made pasta will be topped with the world-famous Ragu Bolognese - a wonderful meat and vegetable sauce with humble origins from over a century ago from local farmhouse kitchens. Truly an unforgettable delight that will be a mainstay for your own Italian dinner parties back home!
For the second course, you will be preparing Polpette di Carne. These mouth-watering Bolognese-style meatballs will be served with a wonderful tomato sauce that will have been simmering for hours!
Finally, for dessert, you will make Torta di Pane e Amaretti. A local version of the type of chocolate bread-cake that originates in Northern Italy. It is sweet and delicious and has a mild crunch to it as it has crushed amaretti cookies in the batter.
Once the class is over, you will sit down and enjoy the meal you prepared together for lunch! After lunch, guests will have some free time to relax and rest back at the hotel or can walk around the beautiful city of Bologna.
You are meeting up around 5:30 for a guided tour of Bologna and to discover the hidden treasures of this magnificent and historic city. You’ll be visiting the Piazza Maggiore and the Basilica of San Petronio. You’ll also learn the history behind the world’s oldest university, including the origins of modern-day schools of science, medicine, and surgical technique.
You’ll also visit the two towers in Bologna’s historic center. Referenced by Dante in The Divine Comedy these towers stand at over 150 and 300 feet. These landmark towers are a testament to the medieval period when Bologna had close to two hundred towers built by wealthy families for purposes of defense as well as a sign of affluence.
Those of you that wish to walk up the stairs are welcome to do so! But it may be a "tall" order!
Dinner tonight (as if we can even think about more food!) will be at a fantastic, hidden gem of a restaurant just near the hotel.
After breakfast you will head out for an amazing all-day excursion to what is arguably one of the most beautiful and breathtaking cities in the world – Venice! You’ll be traveling first class on the high-speed rail line from Bologna to the Venice Santa Lucia Station.
As you exit the station, you'll get your first glimpse of the famous Grand Canal and what life in Venice is all about! There will be no doubt as to why the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Here, you will board private water taxis and start your private tour through the maze of canals and waterways through this amazing and complex city on the sea. You'll see such famous places as the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square.
As an exclusive bonus in true CDV style! You’ll have a private and personal visit with a premier artisan builder or "Squero" of some of the many famous gondolas of Venice as he shows you his ages-old craft.
This unique and historic workshop is a place where gondolas are still made completely by hand, using the basic tools and techniques handed down through the generations of his family of traditional artists and craftsmen. Each gondola made here is custom-crafted for the Gondolier it is destined for, even considering their height and weight as to maintain proper balance and control.
After this delightful visit with the Squero, you'll be treated to private gondola rides of your own as you make your way through the canals ending up at the gondola pier adjacent to St. Mark's Square. You'll have a short walk to a nearby trattoria for a wonderful lunch with many locals on hand for some seasonal and very Venetian specialties.
Afterward, you will have some free time to explore and find your own hidden gems scattered throughout the city, such as St. Mark’s Basilica, The Bell Tower, Murano glass, and Carnival masks. You may want to tour the Doge's Palace. This was the grand and opulent palace in Saint Mark's Square where the Lords of the Venice ruled for centuries. It is well known for its dark and dank prisons that not only held common thieves but also enemies of the state as well as, non-other than the famous lover, Casanova. Take a walk across the Bridge of Sighs, where many of these prisoners saw their last glimpse of the outside world.
You all meet up at the train station to catch our return first-class trip back to Bologna. A great time to rest or share stories about today’s adventure! You’ll have a little time to freshen up before dinner at a wonderful pizzeria close to the hotel.
Note: Venice is a city that truly requires several days to "do it all", so Culture Discovery Vacations had to pick and choose. Culture Discovery Vacations focuses on the more unique experiences. They understand that some people would also like to see Murano Glassmakers, the Doge's Palace, and Burano. However, these are more "do on your own" tourist activities that we chose to exclude for a more rich and unique experience.
After breakfast, you’ll head to Reggio Emilia. This is the area famous for Parmigiano-Reggiano, the world's most coveted Parmesan cheese. Before you milk the cows and cut the cheese (sorry, couldn't help it), you’ll have your second cooking class with Chef Andrea Incerti Vezzani at the Michelin-Starred Ristorante Ca’Matilde.
Chef Andrea will share his passion and skills to help you prepare authentic regional cuisine with a modern flair. Your first-course appetizer is a carefully crafted “bomba” (a parmesan-rice ball) that dates back to the 16th Century when royal families would dine on this specialty during festive times such as New Year’s Eve.
The second course is a pork filet in a unique wine reduction that originated in biblical times. Many believe is the precursor to today’s traditional balsamic vinegar made in nearby Modena.
The side dish will be a regional version of a spinach soufflé and our dessert is something that nearly every nonna (grandma) in Emilia Romagna makes, and can be found in pastry shops throughout the region. This cake is known locally as Ciambelle, and will be made with a classic hot Zabaione sauce.
After class, you’ll enjoy the recipes you just made in the beautiful surroundings of the restaurant’s dining room, or outside – weather permitting!
After lunch, you’ll take a short ride or walk to the Fattoria Rossi and meet Graziano. He is a local parmesan producer that has as great a passion for his Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and his farm that has been operating since 1868! Graziano will walk you through his place and explain the entire process of making this world-famous cheese and why it is so important to the community.
Of course, you’ll be sampling the cheese with a wine pairing and you may even have an opportunity to visit and time permitting, milk some of his cows! While here you will pick up some of his extensively aged parmiggiano and some milk that you will be using in Thursday's cooking class.
After this stellar afternoon, you’ll head back to Bologna for a little time to rest and freshen up before you head over to the "Quadrilatero" in Bologna for a truly local experience.
Tonight's dinner will be at the Osteria Del Sole. This establishment opened in 1465. Since opening, this is a place that has served only wine, and locals would bring their own food to dine here. It is Bologna's oldest tavern, and quite possibly, the oldest in all of Italy that has been in continuous operation. It is a traditionally informal place to really experience old-style Bologna life as locals get together, drink, gossip, play cards, and board games.
The plan is to find local fare at the many nearby markets and trattoria and bring the meal to the tavern. You will wine and dine with the locals with your freshly procured delicacies and relax at this historic tavern.
For those adventurous and energetic ones, Bologna offers a very active nightlife. Take in the local flavor with a large number of university students and residents before turning in for the evening.
This morning you’ll be able to sleep in a bit as you don’t head out to Modena until 10 a.m. Modena is the birthplace of Italy’s world-famous tenor, Luciano Pavarotti. Also the birthplace of the historic racing legend, visionary, and automaker, Enzo Ferrari! But most of you are more familiar with a staple in everyone’s kitchen, the balsamic vinegar of Modena.
The historical and beautiful city of Modena is classic Italian. Beautiful cathedrals and palaces are highlights in this town with roots back to pre-Roman times. You’ll shop the central market where famous Michelin-starred chefs do their daily shopping for the freshest ingredients that make any recipe a star!
You'll then head over to the La Secchia Acetaia where you’ll meet Lorenzo, a producer of traditional balsamic vinegar. You’ll visit his family-run operation where he will show us the love and dedication he pours into the making of the delicate and delicious balsamic that you’ll all sample! This is a special experience, as it is not one of the vinegar producers frequented by tourists, but rather a true, family operation that will be opened up to you. You’ll have lunch at the “acetaia” with a homemade meal prepared by Lorenzo and his family. You'll also be picking up some balsamic vinegar for tomorrow's class.
After lunch, there are two options available for guests. The first is Modena tour and hopping time. For those of you that wish to explore Modena, you will have a guided walk through the historical center. You will have time on your own to visit the home and museums of two of Modena’s most celebrated sons, Enzo Ferrari and Luciano Pavarotti.
The second option is the Ferrari Factory Museum in Maranello. For those guests that wish to visit the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Culture Discovery Vacations will arrange for your shuttle and tour. The Ferrari Museum gives visitors a rare opportunity to see these historic vehicles up close as the museum houses an impressive exhibit of these exotic cars!
Arguably some of the finest examples of style and excellence ever produced by this legendary manufacturer. You will also have time on your own in Maranello to rent a Ferrari or Lamborghini and drive through the same streets where they test-drive these exotic cars!
Dinner tonight is at a local, Bologna trattoria serving tapas-style fare.
Once again, this morning, you will head out to the countryside for your second cooking class with Pina and Bruna. Today's menu and recipes are just as mouth-watering as the previous ones.
The appetizer will be a local bread, tigelle, that is pressed and baked using a special instrument. Kind of like a tortilla press, but with individual sections for the small, round, and embossed biscuits. The pasta will be the famous Lasagne Verde. This is the gold standard for authentic Italian lasagne. This is a dish you will prepare over and over again as it is that good and your friends will LOVE you for it! You make this recipe from scratch using as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible.
For the main course, you will be making another local favorite, Spiedina alla Bolognese. Finally, for dessert, you will make Torta di Riso. You will all enjoy lunch together with Pina and Bruna in the beautiful surroundings.
After a relaxing lunch, you will head to another CDV exclusive: A full behind-the-scenes Lamborghini factory tour. So exclusive, that Culture Discovery Vacations cannot show you photos, and you will be required to leave cameras and smartphones locked away before you enter. You will walk the assembly line, meet with the automakers, and see up close one of the greatest automobile legends of this time. Unfortunately, the only photos will be those you burn into your minds, but this is an unforgettable experience!
While Culture Discovery Vacations knows the Lamborghini factory is a bucket list for many, and often (yeah, the wives) a yawn-fest just thinking of it, Culture Discovery Vacations can say that they have yet to see a single person walk away from this experience that was not in total awe, especially those that previously thought they would rather watch the grass grow. To see inside this factory is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, even for those that are not automobile enthusiasts.
After a thrilling look into the world of Supercars, you’ll be ready for some wine tasting and relaxation. You’ll make yourself comfortable at the picturesque Corte d’Aibo winery in the “Colli Bolognese” or “Hills of Bologna”. You’ll have some wine pairings of the local varietals and discover a newfound appreciation for the wines from this often overlooked area of Italy.
Your evening here is yet another CDV exclusive. It is day 6, and Culture Discovery Vacations' past guests know what that means at all of the locations! On this trip, it is an over-the-top BBQ at the winery with local friends, music, and dancing! This is an evening that you truly get to know what an Italian party is like, and tonight will last as long as our group wants it to.
The food is amazing, the wine never stops flowing, new friendships are formed, and you never know who may pop in tonight... maybe some of the people you met along the way during the week, maybe more of the CDV team, and maybe some of the Culture Discovery Vacations past guests that are just driving through. Everyone is welcome!
Your last full day together takes you to the beautiful city of Parma. Parma is not only famous for the prosciutto, but also as home to one of the oldest universities in the world. You’ll visit the Ziveri Prosciuttificio, a small artisan "Parma Prosciutto" producer that will explain the history, significance, and importance of this very important staple of Italian charcuterie.
You'll have a tasting in the cellar where they age "custom order" prosciutto, where you will even see some with Culture Discovery Vacations name, as they are aging prosciutto that Culture Discovery Vacations uses in some of their holiday locations.
Next, you will head to Parma and take in the sites. Some of the major attractions are the Cathedral or “Duomo”. With origins dating back to the middle ages, it features impressive pieces of artwork by such notable Renaissance artists as Antonio da Correggio and also that of Luchino Bianchini, and Giambono da Bissone.
Lunch will be at a trattoria in the city of Parma before you head back to Bologna. You’ll have time to rest and/or pack before you meet for your last cooking experience and dinner. You’ll take a short walk to a private home for the final cooking class experience and dinner. You’ll learn how to make the delicate tortellini, the staple pasta of Bologna.
After class, you’ll enjoy some wine and aperitivi, talking about the amazing week you've just had, sharing stories and photos, while dinner is being prepared by the chefs.
At dinner, you’ll be treated to some wonderful Tortellini in Brodo, another regional favorite that is a light but flavorful chicken broth laden with tortellini swimming about the bowl. The remainder of the meal will be a chef selection, a specially-prepared meal only for you!
As with the arrivals, departures from the hotel are also at your own discretion and are not included in the vacation package. Taxis to the Bologna Central Train Station and the Bologna Airport are readily available. Private drivers are available if booked in advance.
This is a base itinerary, which is subject to minor changes before the vacation begins. Changes may be a reorganization of days due to closure and festivals, changes due to weather, or seasonal changes. Additionally, these itineraries are prepared well in advance, and at times there are unexpected closures for various reasons that require us to alter the plans. In the end, Culture Discovery Vacations' goal is always to make it better for guests, and when substitutions happen, they are always wonderful.
The menus listed on the itineraries are subject to change depending on the season. Culture Discovery Vacations uses only fresh ingredients wherever possible, so if the team is unable to prepare a certain dish, it will be substituted. Occasionally yjeu make changes to some items as certain dishes prove to be very popular.
Some places on the itineraries don't work well with cold weather or rain. You may have to have some of the meals indoors that were scheduled to be outside. When Culture Discovery Vacations does expect rain, the team tries to rearrange the schedule to make the best of it, but substitutions may be made.
Features, factories, wineries, and artisans you will visit:
Bologna is one of Italy's most iconic cities for food, art, and architecture, yet it is not often visited by mass tourism. It is home to the world's oldest university, the tallest tower in Italy, and it is the birthplace of Bolognese Sauce - shall we call it Ragu? Sauce? Gravy? Whatever you call it, it originated here, and not a single Italian will tell you it can be better anywhere else. It is the birthplace of Tortellini, Tagliatelle, Ravioli, Lasagne Verde and its surrounding area exclusively produces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma Prosciutto, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, and the "Motor Valley", home to Ferrari and Lamborghini, Maserati, Ducati, and more!
Bologna is considered a major food capital in Italy... for Italians! It boasts a rich and diverse culinary history. It goes far beyond its namesake pasta sauce and Mortadella. Ask any Italian what the most important thing to do in Bologna is, and they will all say...MANGIA! MANGIA!
This week you have four cooking classes, designed to give you a rich experience with local cooking. Two of the classes will be with two local women, Pina and Bruna, who will teach you traditional recipes at a private country home.
Another class will be at the Michelin starred Ca' Matilde restaurant, and will be taught by their master chef, Andrea Incerti Vezzani. The final class will be all about local pasta made from scratch and will be held at a private home in the Bologna city center. You'll have homemade pasta as part of the farewell dinner!
You are guests at a private home in the center of Bologna where you will be taught the fine intricacies of making some of the local pasta like Tortellini.
Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport
Transfer not provided
Please book your flight to arrive at Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ). While almost all of Culture Discovery Vacations includes airport and train station transfers, this one does not in order to make it easier on guests' schedules. Due to the ease of public transportation and close proximity from either the Bologna Airport or Bologna Central Train Station to the accommodations, your arrival times and transfers will be at your own discretion.
Culture Discovery Vacations recommends flying into Bologna (BLQ) Airport. There are many connections to most major European Airports.
From Bologna (BLQ) Airport: Taxi Service is readily available outside the terminal. The fare to the hotel is approximately 20 EUR and can be paid directly to the driver.
If you are flying on the same day, be sure to get a flight that arrives before 3:00 p.m. to give you time to arrive at the hotel, freshen or rest up and then meet others for the orientation and first get-together at 5:30 p.m.
If you are already in Italy on the start date, Culture Discovery Vacations strongly suggests the train station option, rather than flying to Bologna, unless it is more convenient for you.
Departures will be at your own discretion. Check-out time at the hotel is 11:00 a.m. As noted above, there is high-speed rail from Bologna to all major cities including Rome, Milan, Naples, Venice, and much more. If you need a later check-out time, please contact the hotel directly.
From Bologna Centrale Train Station, taxi service is readily available either outside the station at street level in the Piazza delle Medaglie D'Oro or inside the station one level down from the street level. Taxi fare from the train station to the hotel is between 10 - 15 EUR.
If you are flying into a different city there is a high-speed rail service from nearly all major cities in Italy to Bologna. For example, if you are flying into Rome, you can take the Leonardo Express to the Rome Train Station, then get on the high-speed rail to Bologna that takes only 2 hours. Similarly, Milan's Central Train Station is only a 1-hour high-speed train to Bologna.
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