Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia region is one to explore for its amazing Italian white wines, food, and interesting culture and history. What’s more, it has wonderful scenery and landscape, and is the gateway to Slovenia and eastern Europe. The mountain sub-region of Carnia is rich in natural heritage and is known as one of Europe’s most precious botanical areas, with more than 2,000 herbs and flowers catalogued.
The wild herbs of this region are rich in minerals and natural extracts, and have a flavour difficult to find in cultivated herbs and vegetables. The ancient rituals associated with using these traditional products can be discovered in the many activities organised by the Carnia territory and tourist associations, including food tastings and mountain hikes.
The local tourist board organises weekend tours called ‘Cucinare con le erbe della Carnia’ where you can participate in a guided walk, taking in the various plants and herbs of the region, and then participate in a short organic cooking course, using the herbs picked and finishing in a dinner with local dishes. The tours take place from spring through to the end of September and take three days. See the Carnia website for more details.
In a wonderful combination of sport and food, you can cycle northern Italy in the “”Biciclettata delle Torri” cycling tour which passes through the picturesque streets of Ceresara, past some of Lombardy’s loveliest rural courts and noble country homes, and also enjoy a kind of culinary tour of the area, too.
The tour takes place on May 16th from the Piazza Castello at Ceresara, making its way through more than 20 km of Lombardy countryside, with various restaurant stops along the way. A wonderful lunch of typical Italian products from Mantua finishes the day.
The event is organised by the “Compagnia delle Torri” cultural association, which also organises a great medieval event in Ceresara every year. The event celebrates the history of two feuding noble families, and the peaceful agreement between two historic figures, including the Duke of Mantua. For more details on the cycling event, get in touch with the Compagnia delle Torri.
Not quite a culinary tour of Italy in a Porsche, the ‘Via dei sapori “in” Porsche’ at Udine is a chance to get close to some luxury cars and enjoy a hearty Italian meal from Friuli, too. On March 24th the Porsche centre in Udine is hosting some famous chefs from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region as part of the initiatives of the Via dei Sapori group.
The evening involves more than 45 chefs who will prepare dishes in front of the guests, to then indulge in some Italian food and wine matching with some of Friuli’s great wines. Restaurants featured come from all over Friuli, and will be celebrating the coming of spring. For more details, including the restaurants present, see the Via dei sapori in Porsche web page.
There are many culinary tours of Italy that you can do, to enjoy the traditional Italian products in different regions, and today we give you a few names of companies that might help in planning your Italy by taste itinerary. Especially in terms of wine, Italy and Europe in general is behind in the open cellar door movement and tastings, although Italian wine benefits from various village tasting festivals.
Check out the Turismo del Vino site for news on where to go, where to stay and the various wine tasting in Italy events that are on. Other organisations organising wine tasting tours are Nunc Est Bibendum, and if you’re interested in wine tasting in Rome and surrounds, see the Tasting Rome website.
While Italy is part of the old world wine culture, there is plenty of romance to be had in wine tasting in the country’s old cellars and tavernas. You just have to have some front, a few connections and make yourself a calendar of Italy’s wine and food festivals - it’s well worth it.
Photo | Nebtour
If you were looking for the perfect weekend in Tuscany, with wine tasting, wellness centres and Tuscan cooking lessons, you could try the Country Resort Monsignore della Casa near Florence. The country resort offers traditional Tuscan style with rustic rooms, terracotta floors and ceiling beams. Excursions on horse back, golf and the wellness centre are available with jacuzzi, sauna and hamman style baths.
Until January 2009, the Monsignore resort is also offering cooking lessons and Tuscan culinary tours. The “Gusto e Degusto” packages involve a dinner of tasting porcini mushroom tortellini, beef tagliata and a glass of Brunello di Montalcino. For the more serious chefs, “Tra i fornelli” packages offer a visit to a local Italian market, wine tastings, and a cooking course.
Packages start at 205 euros per person for two nights for the first program, or 221 euros for the second. The only thing to work out is when you can spend your next weekend in Italy.
Source | Viaggi Corriere
While autumn in Italy is not the greatest season in some northern areas, until it snows and it’s time for skiing, it can be a fantastic time to get to know the local products. Autumn often marks wine tasting in Italy and culinary tours, before the winter sports season begins.
In the Valtellina on the weekend, a cow festival took place at Chiareggio in the Valmalenco. Officially called the Festa dell’Alpeggio, the festival marks the return of beasts and their carers to the town areas and stables after spending summer at high altitudes. The festival involves adorning the cows with floral garlands (for photos see Flickr), with the best winning a prize, and taste testing local cheeses and milk, with lunch served by some of the local restaurants.
Other fall events in Italy include the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia - this is a not-to-be-missed festival of Baci Perugina, and other Italian chocolate goodies. It starts in October. There are also plenty of truffle festivals, perhaps the most famous being the white truffle festival, or Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco, in Piemonte.
I’ll be attending our yearly “castagnata” with friends in October, which is our chestnut roasting party. For more tips go to Go Italy, and watch this space for more news and photos on events and autumn festivals in Italy.
Photo | Flickr
Emilia Romagna is an often unexplored region in Italy for tourists, but it offers tourism at convenient prices and some excellent cuisine. The tour operator Promoappennino has put together some packages that include accommodation and tastings of typical products.
The “Vacanza Gustosa” for example includes enogastronomic experiences such as tasting fresh pasta including tortellini, lasagne, and tagliatelle, and products such as meat, mushrooms and the precious delicacy of Italian truffles.
The tour takes visitors to agricultural firms where they can taste the traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena, parmigiano-reggiano or parmesan cheese, lambrusco and other wine. There are also cooking classes in Italian cuisine for the more adventurous.
The “Weekend dei sapori” or “weekend of flavours” includes a night’s stay in a three star hotel, while taking tours to discover the products listed above. Prices vary from 50 euros a person, including breakfast, in Apennine accommodation, with the possibilty of a lunch or dinner with traditional menu, a visit to vinegar or cheese making facilities. For 35 euros you can get accommodation in a B&B with overnight stay and visits included.
Another weekend includes one of discovery of the crescentina cheese (two nights, three days), which costs 98 euros a person in three star hotels, or 105 euros in an agriturism. The package includes: two night’s stay and breakfast, lunch or dinner, dinner with crescentina cheese and lard pancakes, and a visit to parmesan cheese and vinegar making facilities. A B&B visit includes the above but less the lunch and dinner for 34 per person for a double or 40 euros for a single.
Among the cooking classes for Italian cuisine, there is the lard pancakes, as mentioned above, at either the Museo del Borlengo, or at Lame di Zocca where the 20 euros price includes tasting, certificate and an apron as a momento.
Photo | Flikcr
While this might be confusing for Italians who can’t understand why you want to cook while on holiday, culinary tours in Tuscany and other regions, are nothing new for tourists to this country. Generally aimed at promoting local specialties, the tours often combine Italian cooking classes with dinners and wine tasting.
The most famous are in Tuscany and Abruzzo, where in the former you can learn how to prepare a traditional Sunday lunch. Much focus recently is placed on sustainable agricultural practices, along with the re-discovery of fresh and seasonal produce. Visits are organised to butcher shops in business since 1628, or to cheese producers where you can buy pecorino directly from the facilities.
In Abruzzo, where the traditional specialties are different, you can learn to make (and then taste) homemade pasta, and desserts where the ritual of making sweets is linked to courtship. One dessert that is simple but really good, is homemade lemon sorbet.
While you can come away from a culinary tour having learned many mouthwatering recipes, they’re an important means for the Italians to preserve some of their agricultural traditions such as olive oil production, milk and milk products, wine and many more. There is an ocean of websites dedicated to culinary tours, Italian cooking schools and guides to wine tourism. You just need to explore.
Photo | Flickr