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Travel to Varenna at Lake Como, Parma, (possibly sdie trips to Reggio and Modena) Bologna and Venice

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I am flying into Milan Malpensa and am interested in any information you can share with me on these sites
1. Would you recommend a car or train (and how do you get from airport to Larenna)
2. In Parma we want to visit ham, cheese, vinegar and winery. Can this be done on our own or do you recommend a tour group
3. Recommended restaurants in each location

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  1. I would recommend that you rent a car with GPS . From Malpensa Airport to Varenna there are around 100 km (65 miles) and around 200 km (125 miles) from Varenna to Parma. Alternatively you can use http://www.viamichelin.co.uk to prepare your maps.
    The only place I would recommend in Varenna is closed this time of the year but you shouldn’t miss
    OSTERIA SALI E TABACCHI
    in Mandello del Lario (around 7 miles from Varenna
    )Tel. 0341 73 37 15
    Focused on traditional fresh-water fish recipes, you’ll also find very good cheeses and salumi, fresh pasta like Pappardelle with Hare Sauce, Agnolotti di Brasato and specialties as “Polenta Concia” (cooked with various cheeses and butter).
    Simple ambiance, very good food.
    Closed the first two weeks of January, BOOK IN ADVANCE.

    I don’t think you need an organized tour to shop for ham, cheese and vine. What exactly are you looking for ? Parmigiano Reggiano matured for over 30 months? Culatello with Cotenna? Lambrusco?
    http://www.stradadelprosciutto.it/pag... here you can download a free travel guide in English.

    As for Parma, Modena, Bologna and Venice you’ll find plenty of advice for every taste and every pocket in previous discussions.

    Ciao
    Irene

    1. when are you travelling?
      there are a number of ways of visiting food destinations in Emilia romagna - depending on how much you want to spend. Parmagolosa in Parma is one resource, and the aceto balsamico consortiums of Reggio Emilia and Modena are others - the latter arranges visits to vinegar lofts. There is also a guy in Bologna people keep posting about who arranges these kinds of food tours. You should search each of these cities using the search box above and you will see numbers of posts on these topics as well as plenty of restaurant recommendations (some of these on the Restaurant page also)

      If youare driving, I personally recommend visiting the Basso Parmense, the flat po plain north of Parma, where the culatello is made and there is a huge cured meat cult. Busseto is a nice civilized town and Cavallino Bianco is a good restaurant nearby to taste these goodies.

      1. We had a fantastic dinner at Trattoria Due Platani just outside of Parma in October. We also ate at Pizzeria Orfeo and Trattoria Cocchi, both in Parma, and I would recommend each highly.

        1. If you dont want to drive, looks like you can get to Varenna by train from Milan Malpensa via Milan and train travel from Milan to Emilia-romagnais and between the towns is simple. Check the trenitalia website to see how this would work. I think for the Parmagolosa food tours you need to provide a car but you could visit a vinegar loft within the city of Modena. Here is one of the consortiums of producers to contact http://www.balsamico.it
          here is one vinegar loft that I believe is visitable http://www.acetaiadigiorgio.it/eng/tr...
          Here is an article that explains some of the complexities of the product
          http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/my...