Your accommodation for the week 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 PDO and IGP products from Emilia-Romagna
- Following in Fellini’s footsteps in the seaside resort of Rimini
- Making your own pizza with an Italian pizzaiolo
- Guided tours of three medieval/Renaissance towns
- Enjoy a procession of Fiat 500s on a drive through the Romagna countryside
- 7 nights accommodation
- Airport transfer
Day 1 – Sunday - WELCOME TO ITALY
2:00 pm pick-up at Bologna airport (one hour and fifteen minute private transfer)or 3:00 pm pick-up at Rimini train station (20 minute private transfer). Our home for the week is a lovely four-star hotel in the beautifully preserved medieval town of Santarcangelo di Romagna.
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 selected boutique wineries of the area.
Day 2 – Monday - FOOD AND WINE IN THE ROMAGNA HILLS
BUONGIORNO ! Good morning! After breakfast at our hotel (in the garden, weather permitting), we’ll have a short ride up to a gorgeous home in the Romagna hills.
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 lunch, you can relax and enjoy the garden around the pool.
Later in the afternoon, we transfer to a nearby vineyard where we enjoy a tour of the property. An expert sommelier will explain the ins and outs of wine production, followed by a wine-tasting and a dinner featuring the best gastronomic specialties (DOP and IGP products) of the Emilia-Romagna region.
Day 3 – Tuesday - SAN LEO HISTORY, TRADITION AND ‘BEL CANTO’
Today we step back in time to the Middle Ages, with a morning visit to the medieval town and fortress of San Leo. Recognized as one of the ‘Borghi Più Belli d’Italia’ (Most Beautiful Villages of Italy), the town’s position on an craggy outcrop of rock is particularly scenic.
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. Accompanied by a local guide 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 for some down time.
Late afternoon we transfer to a nearby working farm where wine, extra-virgin olive oil and the traditional Italian vermouth are produced. The owners take us on a tour of the property.
The site is very picturesque, with a gorgeous view of the valley. With this backdrop we’re treated to a live performance of bel canto, a traditional Italian vocal style renowned for its beauty. A delicious dinner featuring the farm’s own products caps off the evening.
Day 4 – Wednesday - ART IN URBINO AND THE FOSSA CHEESE
A neighbor to Tuscany and Florence (just 60 miles away), this region played an important role in the Renaissance, due in large part to the humanist and military leader, Federico da Montefeltro, Lord of Urbino.
Today we cross into the region of Marche, to explore Urbino, where we begin to appreciate the power and splendor of his court. Accompanied by a local guide, we’ll visit Montefeltro’s palatial residence, which today hosts the National Gallery of Marche, displaying works of art by Piero della Francesca, Tiziano, and Raffaello, who was born here in 1483.
In the afternoon 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 - AN ITALIAN PRANZO AND FELLINI'S RIMINI
This morning we return to the lovely place in the Romagna hills for our second cooking lesson. 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’ll return to Santarcangelo for some free time. Late afternoon we drive down to Rimini and meet with our guide whose expertise is art and cinematography. We’ll learn about Rimini’s Roman and Renaissance history, then shift to the twentieth century and follow in the footsteps of Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, who was born in Rimini in 1920.
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 6 – Friday - MARKET DAY AND THE REAL ITALIAN PIZZA
Today is market day in Santarcangelo, the weekly market for the town. Here you can find just about anything from clothes and shoes and kitchen items, to fruit and vegetables and specialty foods.
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 - AN UNFORGETTABLE TRIP BY FIAT 500
To kick off the weekend we’ll attend a procession of the legendary Fiat 500 cars; this is the classic tiny Italian city car, developed in the post-war period as an economical car affordable by all.
We’ll take a ride to the medieval village of Longiano, and share a drink with the members of the Fiat 500 Club beside the impressive fortress. Together we’ll visit a well-known frantoio (olive mill) to learn about and taste the local extra-virgin olive oil, then we’re invited for lunch at the locanda (inn) next door.
We’ll have some free time in Santarcangelo before our last outing, off to a medieval village in the nearby hills. Here we’ll have our final aperitivo, toast our week together, and cap it off with a unforgettable dinner at a renowned osteria.
Day 8 – Sunday - "ARRIVEDERCI"
This morning we say goodbye to our fellow travelers and our new Italian friends. Better, let’s just say arrivederci (until we meet again). An 8:30 a.m. departure by private transfer gets us to Bologna airport by 10:15, in plenty of time to catch an afternoon flight.
Alternatively, we will take you to Rimini train station to catch a train for onward travel.
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 20-30 minutes in a van, with the exception of the first and last day transfers to/from Bologna (approximately one hour and fifteen minutes), and the day we visit Urbino, which requires an hour and a half each way.
- Double-occupancy accommodation for 7 nights;
- Meals as noted in the itinerary: 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners;
- Wine and other beverages at included lunches and dinners;
- Group transfers to and from Bologna airport and/or Rimini train station at the scheduled times;
- All cooking classes, completely hands-on;
- A wine lesson and tasting by a sommelier;
- A pastry ‘cooking-show’;
- Professional licensed guides in San Leo, Urbino, Rimini
- All entry fees for scheduled excursions and tours;
- Expert bilingual tour leader to accompany the group at all times.
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 10 people on the tour.
A limited number of single accommodations are available for a supplemental charge of 330 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’.
Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, we reserve the right to change the schedule due to circumstances beyond our control.