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Apr 22, 2010 01:16 PM

Planning 5 day trip to Italy and seeking advice / suggestions

Planning 5 day trip to Italy and seeking advice or suggestions. Am planning to go in either September, October, November or December.

What I would like to do: Visit a working farm/farms that raise heritage breed cattle such as hogs where I can see how they are raised and learn about what they are fed and how it effects the flavor of the food. I'd like to eat some amazing prosciutto and other cured and smoked meats and lardo. Maybe visit where they age prosciutto or make Parmesan. I'd like to prepare dinner with experienced chefs (or grandmothers) such as pastas and perhaps cook with food that I can harvest that day. I'd like to search for truffles or perhaps hunt game with a farmer. I don't mind performing work at the farm for some kind of discount or free food. I'd like to visit towns, cafes and bars.

Essentially I'd like to learn about the italian countryside, food and wine but from the locals, not travel guides or tourist traps. I'd like to check out some vinyards. and some fine restaurants. I'd like to talk with some insane local culinary minds. Essentially I'd like to do this intelligently and avoiding paying extra money for no reason. So I'm starting here. Don't know where to start. Thanks in advance for any suggestions. Will not have a car. Fine for a basic clean place to sleep/stay but someplace that has character. Cannot break the bank on this. Speak a bit of culinary italian.

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  1. A ccouple years ago we stayed at an Agriturismo, Country House Leoni, near Parma. http://www.agriturismoleoni.com/eng/c...

    they have a milk cattle operation on the site that produces milk used in the making of parmesan cheese. We toured the milk operation and then they took us over the the small factory that makes the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and we got the full tour there. the tour included the pig operation attached to the cheese factory (they pipe the whey from the cheese making out to the pigs). these pigs are then used in the production of the prosciutto di parma and other meats of the region.

    I think a day/night or so out there (or at a similar place) would give you a pretty good idea about current italian production methods at a high level.

    they sell some of the products (cheese and salami, as well as some of the local wine) at the agriturismo, but they dont really cook for you. Maybe they would have some ideas of connecting with great cooks in the area.

    There are a lot of agriturismos all over Italy and that is where I would start with this type of a project. the slowfood organization and their books would also be a good source as would some of the local tourist authorities, once you decide on a region.

    In addition to all of the cured meat operations for culatello, prosciutto, etc.Emilia-Romagna is also a good region to see very excellent home made pasta, but fewer people make it at home than formerly - you would have to search. Osteria di Rubbiara, over between Modena and Bologna might be another place to visit (they have homemade pastas as well as balsamic vinegar and liqueurs),

    Hope you stay in tourch through this process.