Celebrate Italy’s food and wine on a walking tour of 5 regions of Italy, on this coast to coast tour from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic sea.
This new tour highlights 5 regions of Italy and is a cultural extravaganza of walking tours, cooking lessons, food and wine tastings, and great little towns. Walk the Ligurian coast of the Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre, indulge in artisanal food tours and a cooking class in Bologna, and explore the whitewashed towns of Puglia in the heel of the boot, stopping to savor a bit of Tuscany and Basilicata along the way! This culinary and walking tour is divided into 3 segments - take 1, 2 or all 3 segments for a tour of Italy that you’ll never forget. (See our Calendar page for complimentary perks when taking 2 or more tours.)
|•||Wander through lemon groves to portofino and the Cinque Terre towns, and feast on a farmhouse lunch overlooking the sea|
|•||Watch parmigiano reggiano being made, taste real balsamic vinegar, learn the art of making tortellini|
|•||Explore cave dwellings in Matera, walk the castle ramparts in Otranto, and view a collection of human skulls in the town church|
|•||Learn to shape orecchiette - little ear pasta|
|•||Visit art studios of finely crafted marble, whimsical ceramic whistles and ornate paper-mâché sculptures|
Segment 1: Cinque Terre
Group meeting at our hotel in Santa Margherita with a short walk in the late afternoon and a welcome aperitvo on the waterfront. Dinner in a casual local restaurant. (Nearest airport is Genoa)
We admire the distinctive painted houses in Santa Margherita and stroll through the bustling market, brimming with colorful produce. Today’s 13 km (8 mile) walking route offers lovely views over the sea as it winds through the hills to the chic resort town of Portofino. Dinner tonight is at our friend Fausto’s welcoming restaurant, festooned with his collection of cartoon art. Our dinner features Ligurian country cuisine perfumed with herbs from the kitchen garden.
|Sentiero delle Cinque Terre|
We hop an early train for Monterosso, the first of the “five little towns” of the Cinque Terre. This classic walk follows stone stairways along terraced hillsides to the picturesque town of Vernazza, and then on to Corniglia, perched high on a clifftop overlooking the turquoise sea. You can decide just how far you want to walk today (6-12 km, or 3-7 miles), since a train connects the villages. Take time to linger over a lunch of fragrant pasta al pesto, a Ligurian specialty, and finish off with a scrumptious lemon tart and a glass of sciacchetrà, the local dessert wine. At the end of our walk, we take a train to Pietrasanta, where we settle in to our luxuriously appointed hotel, situated in the center of town in a beautifully frescoed palazzo. Dinner in a stylish little restaurant in the town center.
|La Donna che Fuma, Botero a Pietrasanta|
Transfer to a quiet mountain village where our exciting 10 km (6 mile) walk follows the via Francigena, a pilgrim’s route in medieval times, which once stretched from Rome to Paris! Our route traces centuries of history and is graced with small chapels and an exquisite Romanesque church, as well as glorious views of the marble-crowned Apuane peaks. We stop for a delicious lunch in the quiet hillside town of Capezzano Monte. After lunch, the landscape gives way to gnarled groves of olive trees, their leaves glittering silver in the afternoon light as we follow our path back to Pietrasanta. Free evening for dinner.
We head to the seaside town of Lerici with its 13th century castle overlooking the Bay of Poets, a place beloved by Byron and Shelley. Our 14 km (8.5 mile) walk follows cobblestone pathways through quiet villages tucked into the hills. At midday, a delightful farmhouse lunch awaits us, with fragrant focacce and homemade ravioli. Continue along paths perfumed with fennel and wild cumin all the way down to the tiny port of Tellaro, lined with pastel-colored houses and laundry drying in the sun. Dinner tonight in a fine local restaurant.
|Al lavoro, Pietrasanta|
This morning we visit a few of the fascinating artists’ studios and foundries where world-class sculptors have their works produced in marble and bronze. Afterwards, we head to the intriguing Museo del Marmo, an outdoor museum set at the foot of a huge quarry above the town of Carrara. We learn how marble has been extracted here since Roman times and even more astonishingly, how it is transported down the steep mountainsides all the way to the sea. Stop at a tiny village literally sandwiched between glistening white marble quarries. We lunch in a tiny restaurant that’s a favourite of Italians in-the-know, who travel miles for the mouth-watering antipasti. Afternoon transfer to the Carrara train station. End your journey here or continue to Reggio Emilia, birthplace of the Italian flag, and our home for the next 3 nights.
Day One (or Six)
Welcome aperitivo in the historic frescoed room of our hotel, which has been receiving guests for 500 years! Stroll through the town busy with bicyclists - watch for the local priest whizzing by - and enjoy dinner in a restaurant known for its creative risotto. Overnight in Reggio Emilia, in the center of this delightful small town.
Day Two (or Seven)
|Tortellini in Brodo|
Morning train to our culinary walking tour through Bologna’s bustling food market, for snacks and inspiration before our hands-on cooking lesson. Our teacher will focus on the cuisine that has made Bologna one of Italy’s great gastronomic centers, giving the city the nickname of Bologna La Grassa (The Fat). We’ll lunch together on the food we prepare. Late afternoon stroll through the historic center of Bologna, and return train to Reggio Emilia. Dinner on your own.
Day Three (or Eight)
Early morning visit to a producer of Parmigiano Reggiano. We’ll watch parmesan cheese being made, visit the special storage facilities, and then taste the final product. Our gastronomic tour of the area includes a visit and tasting at an historic acetaia, where five generations have been making balsamic vinegar for over 150 years. Our day of tasting continues with sparkling Lambrusco, a young red wine that is the perfect match for the local salami and prosciutto di Parma. Taste culatello, the king of all prosciutto, made in the foggy climate near the Po river, and aged in cool damp cellars that produce its extraordinary taste. Free time to explore the delights of the medieval city before we gather for dinner in a rustic trattoria- sample the handmade tortellini, supposedly made in the shape of the belly button of Venus.
Day One (or Nine)
Take a 12.30 pm flight from Bologna to Bari, or meet at a central hotel in Bari (convenient flights from Rome). Explore the maze of streets in the old town of Bari Vecchia, where women sit outside making orecchiette, and we absorb the vibes of pure southern Italy. Trace Bari's amazing history with a focus on the monuments of the Normans before a stroll along the waterfront. Dive into a bowlful of zuppa di pesce and revel in the energy of this pulsating city.
Day Two (or Ten)
We head southwards down the coast stopping at Polignano al Mare, set on a cliff overlooking the turquoise sea. Then head to a farm where we join in the art of cheesemaking, as milk is transformed into primo sale cheese and ricotta, then enjoy a country lunch with local farmers. Settle into our country inn for 3 nights, before joining the passeggiata in the lovely Baroque town of Martina Franca. Taste tiella, a fabulous baked dish of rice, mussels, potatoes, and zucchine.
Day Three (or Eleven)
Today will be dedicated to bread and pasta making, using the locally milled hard wheat flour. Learn to make orecchiette, the typical “little ear” pasta that features in classic Pugliese cooking, as well as taralli. After time to relax poolside, we’ll take an excursion to Alberobello a town full of the curious cone shaped dwellings known as trulli, and try not to get sucked into a souvenir shop by the conehead inhabitants. Visit the trullo sovrano, a rare example of a 2-story trullo, and wander the side streets that look as though they were built for hobbits. Indulge in dinner (in a trullo, of course!) with a stunning array of antipasti.
Day Four (or Twelve)
An early start to drive to Matera, a town that has a vast area of cave dwellings known as i sassi - the stones - that were inhabited up until the 1950’s. Take a walking tour with a local guide to explore i sassi, visiting the old dwellings and frescoed Byzantine churches. Stop at the lovely whitewashed town of Locorotondo and stroll its polished stone streets on our way back to our country inn. A tasting of Puglia’s robust wines awaits us before dinner.
Day Five (or Thirteen)
Visit the town of Ostuni, the whistle-making capital of Italy, before heading to the coast for a guided tour of the old Roman port at Egnazia. Stroll along the evocative Via Traiana, the ancient Roman road that connected Brindisi and Bari to the Appian Way, and so to Rome. Arrive in Lecce, a stunning Baroque city which is experiencing a revival of its beautiful historic center. After a brief walking tour, free time to explore the artist’s shops – paper mâché is a specialty – before joining the lively passeggiata and a free night for dinner.
Day Six (or Fourteen)
Explore the market in Gallipoli, where the baskets of squirming fresh eels are hard to resist, and visit the underground oil mills, where olives where once milled for lamp oil and exported all over Europe. Stop in Otranto, and lunch by the impossibly turquoise sea, before visiting the cathedral with its macabre collection of human skulls. Return to Lecce for a farewell feast.
Day Seven (or Fifteen)
Drop-off at the Lecce train station or the Brindisi airport. Arrivederci!