In March next year (12-19) I will be running my most food-orientated Gourmet Adventure. We will be visiting Emilia Romagna, the region famous for its superb cuisine and beautiful cities undiscovered by mass tourism.
We will stay in Bologna, known as La Dota (the learned) for its university, which is the oldest in Europe, and La Grassa for its rich culinary tradition. The city is famous for its well-preserved historic centre with its medieval towers and miles of porticoed streets running from the great Piazza Maggiore – the Piazza Grande of Lucio Dalla. The near-by rather sexy 16th C. Neptune fountain has become the city emblem
but for me the real glory of Bologna is the Quadrilatero area with the market stalls jostling for space and the opulent speciality shops like Tamburini. We will do a tasting tour in the market and drive to the country for a cooking lesson and Sunday lunch.
From Bologna we will steal a day to explore the Liberty-style food market and Malpighi balsamic vinegar acetaia in Modena.
We might be tempted to book up for lunch at Osteria Francescana, which came second in the 50 best restaurants in the world. We won’t spend time with any industrial producers but we will drive on to Parma, an elegant city which owes much of its charm to Napoleon’s Hapsburg wife, Maria Luigia. When Napoleon was forced to abdicate the Great Powers made Maria Luigia the Duchess of Parma. She founded the lovely, pale yellow Teatro Regio with Toscanini as her orchestral director. Today music lovers still come to enjoy superlative performances.
The ex- Empress bought Paris fashions with her to exile and there is an amusing story of the local dress-makers feverishly copying the cast-off gowns Maria Luigia gave to her maids to satisfy the local ladies’ pretensions. The clothes shops still prove an attraction and we will window-shop as we sample gastronomic specialities.
After four nights in Bologna we will move on for 3 nights to Faenza, famous for its glazed ceramics and one of my favourite chefs, Silverio. We will cook, eat, shop and do an olive oil tasting, including some superb oil from Brisighella.
Ravenna under Justinian became the capitol of the Byzantine Empire and we will take a day to visit the famous mosaics in San Vitale, built ten years before Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia and the small tomb of Galla Placidia.
Dates 12 – 19 March 2016
7 nights with breakfast, 7 main meals, 2 cooking lessons and visits to Modena, Parma, Faenza, Brisighella and Ravenna.
Price 2500 euros.