Italian food varies significantly from region to region and derives most of its magic from the abundance, quality and freshness of its locally sourced ingredients. The seas surrounding Italy host a wide variety of fish and seafood; the coastal plains and river valleys are filled with orchards, groves and fields of vegetables; the mountains and hillsides are covered in vines and forests; and large flocks and herds are pastured throughout the country. There is a healthy rivalry between the regions to out-do each other and make claim to the best dishes (and most often “my mother’s”)!
Italy also produces a fantastic array of wines for every occasion, from delicate whites through robust reds to wonderful dry or sweet sparkling wines, and from simple table wines to some of the best in the world. We will learn about the incredible history and culture of winemaking and of course sample many as we travel through the country.
We begin with 3 nights in the Umbria region, visiting the clifftop town of Orvieto and the Wine Museum in Torgiano, truffle hunting in Pietralunga, strolling in Etruscan Perugia and enjoying spectacular views in idyllic Assisi.
From here we head to the spa town of Montecatini Terme for 5 nights, our home base for visiting Cortona (set of “Under the Tuscan Sun”!), an agricultural farm with cooking lessons, the beautiful hamlet of Bolgheri with its “Avenue of Cypresses”, Lucca where we enjoy a “walking brunch” sampling local cheeses and breads, an olive oil mill, an estate on the famous Tuscan Wine Route, Castagneto Carducci for homemade pasta with wild boar, and the lively San Lorenzo market in Florence. In Montecatini Terme we will have ample opportunity to visit the town’s thermal spa.
We then head north to the Lake Garda region for 4 nights, stopping en route in Bologna for the delicious ‘tortellini’ pasta and a visit of the Ferrari Museum to get the heart pounding! We also visit romantic Verona, a renowned Valpolicella winery, Vicenza to marvel at the architecture of Palladio, and Bassano del Grappa where they have been making the popular Italian spirit since 1779.
* Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.