Sean and our Italian Tour Leader, Vanessa, will pick you up at Bologna International Airport at 5 p.m. Our well-equipped touring bus will take us to Cesenatico, on the Adriatic Coast of Emilia Romagna, about an hour drive away. We will check in at Hotel Sirena, a 4-star hotel run by the DellaPasqua family who will welcome us as their own. Enjoy a traditional Italian dinner and meet your fellow tour members. During the meal, we'll discuss what to expect in the coming days of our preserving trip, and answer all your questions.
Cesenatico is a small town on the Adriatic Sea, along the northeast coast of Italy, in the gastronomic heartland of Italy, Romagna. Born as a harbor, with a centrally located canal designed by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1502, Cesenatico has been a quaint but prosperous town based on fishing and trading, and is currently a thriving resort town frequented primarily by Italians and other Europeans, and gastronomes everywhere.
We will spend the morning with local artisan Marzia Briganti of La Casina di Marzia. She will lead us in a hands-on class on preserves, including savor, a local traditional conserve of fall fruits and nuts, as well as other preserves using seasonal fruit. We'll each take away a few jars of preserves that we contributed to making ourselves.
After lunch and a break, we will explore the surrounding area. We will visit Sogliano al Rubicone, the homeland of formaggio di fossa, a local sheep's milk cheese left to season in pits dug into the porous tufa rock the hill town is situated upon. The cheese will be available for purchase. (All cheeses aged more than 60 days may be brought back into the U.S.)
We will then tour Santarcangelo di Romagna, a beautiful medieval town, where we will also have dinner at the renowned La Sangiovesa restaurant, a true Romagna osteria housed in the stables of an ancient noble palace. The restaurant is famous for its traditional fare, and its logo was designed by Federico Fellini. Adding to its charm are many hidden rooms and wood-burning stoves, all magnificently decorated.
Fall in Italy is a magical season of food-focused celebrations called sagre. Sant'Agata Feltria is a charming little town in the Apennines, the mountain range that marks the border between Romagna and Tuscany. Every year in October it becomes a prime destination for truffle lovers for its Sagra del Tartufo, with restaurant pavilions offering reasonably priced truffle-themed dishes. You will be free to explore the fair and the food on your own and stroll and shop at your own pace. (This is the one meal experience not included in the trip; you will need to bring cash.) Expect a crowded, very Italian experience with no tourists anywhere in sight. This is a family event when all Italians gather on the street, eat to their heart's content and just enjoy a fall Sunday out with friends and family. It will be as authentic as anything you've ever done in Italy!
We will meet back at the bus in the afternoon and return to Cesenatico, after a well deserved stop for gelato! Those who are still hungry will head out for pizza for dinner.
Monday morning we'll break out our rolling pins and take a hands-on pasta-making class with Sandra, la sfoglina, who is charged with making fresh pasta for the Hotel Sirena every day, alongside nonna Fernanda, the matriarch of the DellaPasqua family. You'll learn how to hand roll two kinds of pasta dough and make a multitude of pasta shapes, including capelletti, tagliatelle, tagliolini and the Romagna specialty strozzapreti.
We'll also make passatelli, another Romagna specialty. This unusual form of pasta is made with bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano and eggs, and passed through a press into boiling stock to produce fluffy, dumpling-like noodles.
Later in the afternoon, after some time to shop in one of the local towns, we will head to Forlimpopoli for a tour of one of Emilia-Romagna's "Musei del Gusto," literally "museums of good taste," a staple of this region that prides itself on being the culinary compass of Italy's epicurean traditions. We will tour Casa Artusi, the location of the museum of Italian home cooking, where we'll take a hands-on class on making the classic flatbread of Romagna, piadina.
Pellegrino Artusi, a native of Romagna, wrote the first comprehensive Italian cookbook back in 1891, "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well," the result of information collected during his travels in Northern and Central Italy and recipes tested by his own home cooks. This is still considered the ultimate resource for Italian home cooking; it has been translated into many languages and numerous editions have been reprinted. His hometown celebrates his legacy with a museum completely dedicated to Italian home cooking.
We'll get an early start to head out to the heartland of Emilia-Romagna, where we'll see the production of three of the region's -- and truly Italy's -- most famous artisanal food products. We'll start with a visit to a caseificio to see Parmigiano-Reggiano in production. You'll see the transformation from fresh milk into huge wheels that are then aged for up to 36 months to become "the king of cheeses."
Next, we'll visit Acetaia Pedroni for lunch and to experience the production of balsamico, a traditional vinegar aged in barrels for up to 25 years. You'll learn about the different grades and qualities of balsamic, from the treasured tradizionale to the more everyday condimento.
Finally, we'll visit a prosciuttificio to see the famed prosciutto di Parma. Hams are salted and then left to hang for 18 months until they become cured, producing silky, flavorful meat unlike any other.
We'll have tastings at all three stops, and there will be shopping opportunities for Parmigiano-Reggiano and balsamico.
We'll start our day with a class on preparing and preserving fish using different techniques. We'll be focusing on local Adriatic fish, including anchovies and cannocchie, grey mantis shrimp, prized for their sweet flavor.
Lunch will be at the charming and rustic Ristorante San Marco in the heart of Cesenatico, serving up some of the freshest and finest seafood you'll have ever have.
In the afternoon we will visit Cesenatico's pescheria, or retail fish market, along the Leonardo Da Vinci-designed harbor, and the Conserve, the ice pits used for fish preservation before the advent of modern refrigeration.
If it's happening, we will visit the town's wholesale market to watch the freshly-caught fish go up for auction. Cesenatico's market uses a reverse Dutch auction, where prices are set high and are brought down until the first taker claims their quarry.
We'll finish the day with an aperitivi event: Drinks and tapas-like morsels often substituting dinner itself.
After lunch, we will head to Brisighella to learn about one of the most prized olive oils in Italy, and get a chance to tour the pretty hill town as well as buy some outstanding oil. We will wrap the day driving back to Cesenatico.
After breakfast, the shuttle will take you to the Bologna International Airport for your return flight- or your additional explorations!
Please note that the itinerary is subject to change, but every effort will be made to maintain the integrity of the value proposition of the trip.