Organized trip to Italy for foodies [moved from Quebec board]
I'm planing my first trip to Italy this may. I'll be there for 14 days. I'd like to do a trip that revolves around food. Are there organized trips for that? And do you know a travel agency in Montreal that can arrange that? If that kind of organized trip does not exists, can you provide tips on how to plan for this kind of trip? Can you recommend a book maybe?
Are you primarily interested in cooking or eating?
There are any number of cooking tours that you can find by Googling >Italy cooking tours<. Most of them are concentrated in one particular region.
If you are more interested in eating, there is no better book than Fred Plotkin's "Italy for the Gourmet Traveler"; it is available from Amazon.ca. You would have to choose your destinations and plan your trip independently.
Check out Corte Roeli outside of Bologna http://www.fattoriacorteroeli.it/eng/...
We stayed for three nights at the end of November. We took the train from Venice and Elisabetta and Roberto (hosts) picked us up at the train station. It is a little off the beaten path, but great homemade authentic food! A great breakfast was included with food grown at the farm! They also had the option for us to eat dinner there each night for ~22-25euros each person- completely worth it- delicious authentic Italian food and wine from the surrounding areas. They run a restaurant on the weekends, but we were there for 3 weeknights so it was just us and one other guest. A few of the other extras- we did a cooking class one afternoon and then ate the pasta that we made in the class for dinner. Our hosts also set up a tour for us of a Prosciutto factory and a Parmesan/Reggiano cheese facility. We traveled into the countryside, toured the facilities, sampled the food and had a great day with the locals. If you are looking for an authentic Italian experience outside the normal touristy stuff, Corte Roeli is a great starting place! We got dropped off at the Bologna train station at the end of our stay and caught the train to Florence for the last leg of our trip.
Sounds like you'd like a culinary tour and not a cooking tour. You could search the Net for culinary tours of Italy. Many cooking tours also have prices for non-participating cooks so you take the cooking/food/wine tour but not the cooking classes part.
Most travel agents in my experience are generalists and know very little about specialty tours like food tours.
You could also go to the Shaw Guides web site at www.shawguides.com and search under culinary tours in Italy or cooking tours in Italy. You'll find a huge list.
Or ask me on this forum since I know a lot about this delicious niche.
If you don't have a car, organizing your own trip via train trumps tours. You could use Fred Plotkin's great book and sort of follow the trail of the Slow Food Movement--from Torino, to Alba/Asti, through Parma, to Bologna. You go go to Florence (see Italy Board posts RE Florence)
I think you have had a lot of good suggestions - I will provide two more. Context Tours, in Rome offers culinary walks and some cooking. Some of our very knowledgeable forum participants lead these sometimes. Second, in the Emilia-Romagna area, specifically in the area from Parma to Bologna, it is possible to arrange tours of cheesemakers, makers of the parma ham and also of balsmic vinegar. Parmagolosa and some of the trade associations, tourist bureaus, agriturismos etc arrange these or can refer you . It can be really nice to go out into the country, see how your food is made and then sit down to sample a meal.
Personally, I wouldnt want a tour unless it was a really good one let by someone really good- I enjoy the research and preparation, as well as the independence, too much to give this up and rest on someone else's choices. Plotkin's book is SUCH a good resource for this and there are fine regional books including , for Rome food (David Downie) Florence (Emily Wise Miller - the Food Lovers Guide to florence, with culinary excursions in tuscany), Venice - Micaela Scibilia, the Slowfood Guide, to find relatively inexpensive, traditional regional eating, Faith Willinger's Eating in Italy (a little dated these days), Carla Capalbo for Naples and Campania, and so forth , that can help you find a good eating experience during your touring.