Discover and enjoy the exceptional food and wine of Emilia Romagna. Ramble through its beautiful landscapes, from the Apennine foothills to the Po River Delta. Learn the secrets of how Parma ham, parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, tortellini and Lambrusco wines are made. Explore the architectural treasures of Bologna, Modena, Ravenna and the canals of Comacchio, the region's little Venice'.
Local specialties - Visits to specialist producers
Tastings - Sample delicious local cheeses, meats, wines and regional dishes
Historic cities - Discover the treasures of Parma, Modena, Bologna and Ravenna
Easy rambles - Walks through the Apennine foothills, villages, vineyards and wetlands
Bologna - 4 kilometre walk along the 666 vault Portico di San Lucca
- Piazza Grande
- Apennine Mountains
- Small Group
Day 1: Join trip Bologna airport; drive to Reggio Emilia
After joining the trip at Bologna airport, we drive (around one hour and 15 minutes) to Reggio Emilia, where we stay in the heart of the old town. There's time for an wander and exploration of the cobbled streets and piazzas before enjoying an included dinner at one of the city's many good restaurants.
Day 2: Vineyards and villages walk; wine and cheese tastings
After breakfast, we plan to drive a short distance south from Reggio Emilia to visit a caseificio operation (cheese production) where Parmesan cheese is made. True Parmesan cheese, labelled 'Parmigiano-Reggiano', can only be produced within a strict geographical area in Italy according to a defined recipe and process. Formed into large 'wheels', the cheese ages for between 12 to 36 months. Parmigiano-Reggiano is commonly grated over pasta dishes, stirred into soups and risottos, and shaved over other dishes like salads. Taking some of the cheese with us for a packed lunch, we set out on our walk, passing through farmland and vineyards of the local Lambrusco grapes and the small villages of Bellarosa and Fogliano. In the afternoon we visit another Lambrusco wine estate, the Medici Ermete, for a wine tasting session. Lambrusco grapes are red and have been grown in the central provinces of Emilia Romagna since Etruscan times. The frothy, frizzante (slightly sparkling) wines are designed to be drunk young.
Today's four-and-a-half kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours.
Day 3: Walk from Torrechiara Castle; tasting lunch, vineyard tour, visit Parma
This morning we drive to the 15th century Torrechiara Castle in the Parma Valley. Its imposing rectangular towers enjoy views of the Apennine Mountains and surrounding foothills. After visiting the castle, our walk takes us through a landscape of vineyards and small hamlets, with views across the Parma Valley, to a country farm estate, Casale del Groppone. We enjoy an included tasting lunch of regional wines, meats and cheeses, with much of the produce coming from the farm itself. After lunch we tour the vineyard and cellar with further tastings of produce. Leaving the estate, our walking route continues on old mule tracks, country trails and some quiet sections of road. Taking in the lovely views all around us, we walk among the vineyards, all the way back to Torrechiara Castle.
We then drive in to the historic centre of Parma where time is left free to explore the old town, perhaps taking the opportunity to have dinner in one of the city's many restaurants before returning to our hotel.
The morning walk to Casale del Groppone is four kilometres and is expected to take no more than two hours at a very leisurely pace. The return walk after lunch is two-and-a-half kilometres and will take us around one-and-a-half hours including stops.
Day 4: Walking tour in old Modena; visit balsamic vinegar producer
This morning we drive in the direction of Modena to visit a local producer of balsamic vinegar, Acetaio di Leonardi. Highly valued by modern chefs and gourmet food lovers, traditional balsamic vinegar is made from a reduction of cooked white Trebbiano grape juice, and used as a condiment. We have a tour of the cantina and taste some of the balsamic vinegars before continuing on to see the UNESCO-listed old centre of Modena on a short walking tour with the tour leader. This small loop walk of about two kilometres will take in sights such as the such as the Cathedral of Modena, the lovely Piazza Grande and the tower of Ghirlandina, one of the Iconic structures of Modena, where there's the option to climb its 500 or so steps to the top of the tower for amazing views over the city and surrounding countryside. It's then less than an hour drive to our destination for the next two nights, the historic city of Bologna. Bologna is the capital of Emilia Romagna, with a population of just over a million in its greater area, and also one of its wealthiest. Bologna is renowned for its culinary traditions - the popular meat based sauce Bolognese comes from here and the production of cured pork meats such as prosciutto, mortadella and salami is an important part of the local food industry. Tortellini (filled pasta) served in broth, and mortadella, the original Bologna sausage, are among other local specialties.
Today's two kilometre orientation walk in Modena will take around one-and-half hours
Day 5: Explore Bologna; Portico San Lucca walk
We have a full day in the atmospheric city of Bologna whose historic centre contains an immense wealth of important medieval, renaissance, and baroque artistic monuments. The city is famous for its arched porticoes which make it possible to walk for long distances sheltered from the elements. There are over 45 kilometres of arcade in the greater city and we start our explorations today with a walk along the famous Portico di San Luca, a winding 666 vault arcade, almost four kilometres long, that links Bologna with the church of San Luca atop a 290 metre hill outside the city. The afternoon is left free to explore the city. The 'Due Torri' are two leaning medieval defensive towers, whose distinctive outline provides a popular symbol of Bologna, one of which can be climbed for a bird's eye view of the city's red roofs.
Today's seven-and-a-half kilometre walk along the Portico di San Lucca and back to the city will take around three hours.
Day 6: Ramble around medieval Dozza; wine tasting, drive Ravenna
Leaving Bologna behind, we drive to Dozza, a small town very much off the beaten track of tourism but a delight in what it has to offer. Walking up to the medieval rocca (fortified stronghold) of the town we can admire the frescoes painted on the walls of the houses and the wonderful backdrop of the medieval castle. After visiting the Rocca, we then descend out of the town for a circular walk through the surrounding vineyards. There will be time to have lunch at one of the several small restaurants in Dozza before we visit the regional enotecca (wine shop) for Emilia Romagna where we enjoy a wine tasting of local wines. We then drive on to Ravenna. Although an inland city, Ravenna is connected to the Adriatic Sea by the Candiano Canal and it is the location of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Today's four kilometre walk will take around two hours
Day 7: Explore the Po River Delta; visit Comacchio - 'Little Venice'
Today we head to the flat wetland landscapes of the Po River Delta, much of which are protected as a regional park. Our walk takes us along quiet roads and walking trails, looking for some of the amazing birdlife in the area. Species to be seen include greater flamingos, little and giant egrets, curlew, marsh harriers, and bee eaters. In the afternoon we visit Comacchio the 'Little Venice' of Emilia Romagna, situated on a lagoon and built on more than thirteen different islets, joined by bridges. After some free time to explore, we travel back to Ravenna for our final night.
Today's seven kilometre walk will take around four hours
Day 8: Drive to Bologna airport where trip ends
We drive back to Bologna airport this morning where the trip ends.
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