Your accommodation for the holiday is in a medieval village, where every morning you'll breakfast surrounded by the scents of the hotel's private garden, and hear the town church bells ring; it is a two minute walk from the lively center of Santarcangelo di Romagna, where you can stroll the narrow cobblestone streets and reach shops and city markets. In the nearby hills we will cook and eat together at a charming country villa.
- 2 cooking classes, preparing our four-course lunches
- Wine tastings and lesson with a sommelier
- Guided tasting of many PDO and IGP products from Emilia-Romagna
- Making your own pizza with an Italian pizzaiolo
- Guided tours of four medieval/Renaissance towns
- 9 nights accommodation
- Group transfer from Bologna
Day 1 - Sunday - Welcome to Italy
Surrounded by greenery, this charming villa is a quiet haven, yet just a few minutes from the cultural highlights and the many shops and cafés of the lively ‘old town’ city center.
At 5:00 pm we’ll meet up for a formal introduction to the trip, then take a walk through town to familiarize you with what will quickly come to feel like ‘your town’. We might stop for a gelato, or a piadina (the typical Romagna flatbread), as we enjoy the evening passeggiata (the Italian leisurely evening stroll) with the locals.
Then on to dinner at one of the best restaurants in the region. Here begins our week-long love affair with Italian cuisine, accompanied by delicious wines produced by wineries of the area.
Day 2 - Monday - An Italian 'Pranzo'
Here we’ll have our first cooking lesson, preparing what the Italians call il pranzo della domenica, that is, Sunday lunch—a lengthy relaxed meal to enjoy with family and friends. Roll up your sleeves—we’ll be making the entire four-course meal ourselves, under the guidance of Italian cooks. Our menu includes piadina with assorted cold cuts, tagliatelle pasta with ragù meat sauce, chicken baked in a casserole Romagna style, roast potatoes with rosemary, and a ricotta cake.
And then, a tavola (to table/time to eat!), where we’ll enjoy the fruits of our labor, accompanied by delicious local wines.
After a lovely relaxed lunch, we'll return to Santarcangelo for some free time.
Later afternoon we move up the coast a couple of miles to the seaside town of Cesenatico, where we’ll enjoy a stroll along the port canal designed by Leonardo da Vinci, followed by an delicious seafood dinner.
Day 3 - Tuesday - Ravenna mosaics and refined Rubicone Wines
For three-century span beginning in AD 402, while the rest of the Italian peninsula flailed in the wake of Barbarian invasions, Ravenna became a fertile art studio for skilled craftsmen, who covered the city's terracotta brick churches in heart-rendingly beautiful mosaics. Spread out over several churches and baptisteries around town is one of the world's most dazzling collections of early Christian mosaic artwork, enshrined since 1996 on Unesco's World Heritage list.
A guide will accompany us inside the Basilica of San Vitale where you can gaze at the bright and shiny mosaics that adorn the altar of this ancient church consecrated in 547; the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, with the oldest mosaics in Ravenna, probably dating around AD 430; the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo and the Neoniano Baptistry.
After the guided walk of the city we will stop for lunch in a typical restaurant to continue discovering the delicacies of our territory. After lunch we’ll return to Santarcangelo for a little break before moving again.
Later in the afternoon, we will transfer to a nearby vineyard to enjoy a tour of the property. An expert sommelier will explain the ins and outs of wine production, followed by wine-tasting which will be a real lesson on how to taste wine. Afterwards our sommelier will accompany us to dinner in a delightful place where he will combine the right wine for each dish.
Day 4 - Wednesday - Cooking Day and 'Fossa' Cheese
This time we’ll prepare bruschette and a frittata with herbs, cappelletti in broth (the typical pasta of the area, a type of ring-shaped ravioli filled with soft cheeses), meatballs Romagna style, roast pork with vegetables, and a typical dessert called zuppa inglese, the Romagna version of trifle.
After a lovely relaxed lunch, we have a special treat. We’ll visit an area where a very unusual cheese is produced, the formaggio di fossa di Sogliano. This highly-prized cheese is aged in underground pits dug out of the tufo/volcanic tuff.
An award-winning cheesemaker will host us, acquainting us with the procedure for making this cheese, followed by a tasting of his family’s specialties.
We’ll return to Santarcangelo where you are free to explore the town on your own and dine in one of the many trattorie/restaurants in centro.
Day 5 - Thursday - Modena, Art and Food
In one hour and a half we’ll reach Modena: a beautiful medieval town that was also the capital of the Duchy of Este from the late sixteenth century. We’ll visit a World UNESCO Heritage Site: Piazza Grande with its Cathedral, the Ghirlandina Tower and the Town Hall.
But Emilia, as much as Romagna, is also the land of delicious food, so we’ll have the opportunity to visit a dairy where Parmesan Cheese is produced and after that, we’ll meet a balsamic vinegar producer and… of course we’ll taste everything!
Finally we can't forget that this is also the birthplace of Luciano Pavarotti, last century's most famous tenor, and if you wish it we’ll visit his home just outside the city, now become a suggestive museum of the Big Luciano's life.
We’ll return to Santarcangelo early in the evening, and the rest of the day will be at your disposal.
Day 6 - Friday - Market day and the real italian Pizza
This morning you are free to catch up on your sleep, or browse and shop at your leisure in the market. We’ll meet up late morning for a ‘cooking show’ demonstration by a professional pastry chef, followed, naturally, by tasting his delicious creations.
In the afternoon we’ll go to an important historical spot, the very place where in 49 BC Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon (river) with his troops, an act in defiance of the Roman Senate and one that triggered a five-year civil war. His declaration of ‘alea iacta est! ’ (the die is cast!), has come to mean ‘this is the point of no return’ ever since.
Following this we walk to a pizzeria for today’s cooking lesson—making traditional Italian pizza. Under the guidance of a professional pizzaiolo (pizza chef) we’ll make our own pizzas and enjoy them in the company of the regular Italian customers.
Day 7 - Saturday - Medieval Castle and the Roman History of Rimini
We’re in the land of the Malatestas, an important Renaissance dynasty who were linked by friendship and politics to the Medici family of Florence. Here we’ll visit the village and the imposing medieval fortress, and stop in to the Civic Museum that exhibits a fascinating collection of artifacts dating back to the Etruscan period.
Lunch is al fresco under the porticos of the village and after we’ll return to the hotel in Santarcangelo for some down time.
This afternoon we’ll have an excursion to Rimini for a walk among the Roman monuments (the Arch of Augustus, the oldest still existing and Tiberius Bridge dated 14 AC) and Renaissance Malatesta's Temple designed by Leon Battista Alberti and the Sigismondo's Castle with its grandeur in the city center.
Finally, we will have dinner in one of the picturesque restaurants located in the ancient district of San Giuliano, near the Roman bridge over the ancient Ariminum river that gives the city its name.
Day 8 - Sunday - Parma and its treasures
Parma is a refined town, with pretty squares and elegant cobbled laneways, while the magnificent local food begs to be sampled. We will wander around the Farnese Family's 16th century Palazzo della Pilotta, today housing numerous museums and the Farnese Theatre, that we will visit, completely made of wood.
After that, we will enter and admire the magnificent Cathedral with Correggio's masterful dome paintings , and we won't miss the beautiful Baptistery with its marvelous Renaissance frescoes.
Parma is part of the 'food valley' area too, as the whole region Emilia Romagna, so we'll let ourselves be tempted by the city's edible treasures, including the famous ham. In the afternoon we will also reach a ham producer located in the hills outside Parma to find out how this delicacy that conquers the world is produced and make a taste of it!
We will return to Santarcangelo in the evening.
day 9 - San Leo: history, art and landscape
We begin in the evocative piazza Dante, where two churches (both over a thousand years old) and the surrounding civic architecture transport you back in time. We’ll learn the town’s history and explore the magnificent medieval fortress of Federico da Montefeltro, Lord of Urbino, from where he could keep an eye on his neighbor (and enemy), Sigismondo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini. After a free lunch, we’ll return to the hotel in Santarcangelo.
You’ll have some free time in Santarcangelo before our last outing; we’ll have our final evening, toast our week together, and cap it off with a unforgettable dinner.
day 10 - Tuesday - "Arrivederci"
Our four-star hotel, described as ‘Italian sophistication in a medieval setting’, is a recently renovated villa surrounded by lovely grounds and just minutes away from the ‘old town’ historical center of Santarcangelo di Romagna. Our lunches and dinners are at the best regional restaurants where your fellow diners are locals and where we’ll enjoy the excellent wines of the area.
Most days require some walking, but no more than is usually required for, say, a city stroll or a guided tour. Transfers between activity locations vary, but usually are no more than 30-40 minutes in a van, with the exception of the first day transfers from Bologna and the day we visit Modena (approximately one hour and fifteen minutes) , and the day we visit Parma, which requires two hours and a half each way.
- Double-occupancy accommodation for 9 nights;
- Meals as noted in the itinerary: 9 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 6 dinners;
- Wine and other beverages at included lunches and dinners;
- Group transfer as scheduled from Bologna first day;
- All cooking classes, completely hands-on;
- A wine lesson and tasting by a sommelier;
- Professional licensed guides in Ravenna, Modena, Parma and San Leo.
- All entry fees for scheduled excursions and tours;
- Expert bilingual tour leader who will to accompany the group during our avtivities.
Please check with your health insurance provider to understand your international coverage: you may desire to purchase additional short term health insurance. Airfare and travel insurance are not included. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance (we can provide recommendations upon request).
Price is per person and based on double occupancy and a minimum of 6 people on the tour.
A limited number of single accommodations are available for a supplemental charge of 380 euros.
Prices are listed in euro. The price you pay in a different currency depends upon the exchange rate at the time your deposit clears, and again when you pay the balance. If desired, you can lock in a specific exchange rate by paying the entire amount when making your initial reservation. Please click here to read our ‘Payment and Cancellation Policy’.