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 in our working kitchen at the DellaPasqua family's Villa delle Rose, where local artisan Marzia Briganti of La Casina di Marzia will lead us in a hands-on class on preserves, including savor, a local traditional conserve of winter 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. We will then tour Santarcangelo di Romagna, a beautiful medieval town, where we will also have dinner at the renowned La Sangiovesarestaurant, 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.
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, including under salt and with vinegar. 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.
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 aperitivi and a light dinner in Cesenatico.
After breakfast we will hit the ground running and head to Villa Delle Rose, the beautiful renovated traditional farmhouse that houses the kitchen where we will be taking on the biggest undertaking of our trip -- the pig! The DellaPasqua family's trusted norcino (the specialized pig butcher in charge of making everything in the pig edible) will guide us through the various preparations of the various cuts of meats. The freshly slaughtered pig will be delivered to the kitchen for us to start working on it, and we will proceed to make all the traditional homemade preparations, including salami, salsiccie, coppa di testa, pancetta, and ciccioli, delicious cracklings eaten as a snack.
This is a full day of activities, and a certain familiarity with knives and kitchen operations will be recommended to make it a truly unforgettable experience. If you wish to bring your own knives, they will be put to good use!
We will be having lunch at the villa during a break in the work, and enjoy the fruits of our labors at the table with the norcini for dinner that night.
We'll head to Portico di Romagna, an amazingly lovely town in the hills with a bridge built in the 1200s. The nearby town of Brisighella has one of the most esteemed olive oils in the country, and we'll take a class doing preserves in oil.
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 an numerous editions have been reprinted. His hometown celebrates his legacy with a museum completely dedicated to Italian home cooking.
Friday 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 Romagnolo specialty strozzapreti.
We'll also make passatelli, another Romagnolo 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.
The afternoon will be free for shopping, packing or just unwinding.
That evening we'll enjoy a final goodbye meal at a restaurant in town.
After breakfast, the shuttle will take you to the Bologna International Airport for your return flight.
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.