Italian Days: Amazing Food & Wine
Fine food adventures await you in little gems across Italy.
When you think of Italy, what comes to mind? There are many answers to this question, ranging from Julius Caesar to Nero to the Coliseum to Vatican City, and we still haven’t left the magical city of Rome. We could go south to Naples and Pompeii and Sicily, or north to Pisa, Florence, and Venice. We may think about Lamborghinis and Ferraris, or the stunning Amalfi Coast. And way up north, we can visit Milan or Lake Como. There’s just so much to explore.
Food, Glorious Food
Italy has always been about one highlight after another. But, when I think of Italy, the first thing that pops into my mind is FOOD! And there’s a little secret that isn’t so secret any more, not since earning 1,590 5-star reviews out of the 1,613 that have been posted on Trip Advisor since debuting several years ago, a stunning 98.5%!
A couple years ago, I made plans to visit a variety of cities in Italy, including Bologna, which would be a base for our visit to the absolutely amazing Lamborghini factory and the Ferrari museum. Fortunately, we learned about Italian Days Food & Wine Tours, and their ratings were enough for us to give them a shot. And, boy, are we glad we did!
Before describing our experience with Italian Days, a word of warning —do not make any other plans for the day of your tour, do not make dinner reservations, plan on taking a nap as soon as you arrive at your hotel following your tour. As a matter of fact, I would urge you to avoid any additional nighttime entertainment on the day of your tour!
Italian Days has been a family-owned business since 1989, run by Alessandro and Barbara Martini. Although their offerings have expanded to tours throughout Italy and Sicily, as well as shipping gourmet foods to your home, their Food & Wine Tour is the foundation of their success. And deservedly so!
The Big Day
Our day began very early one morning when their driver picked us up at our hotel and drove us to our first stop, the factory of a master maker of Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, where we learned all about their artisan craft, visited their incredible storage rooms, and enjoyed a full tasting of the aged cheeses and other breakfast treats. While the tour and the cheese-making is a lot of fun, it’s the unique personality of Alessandro that keeps everyone interested and involved.
Even author Matt Goulding was taken with Alessandro’s boundless energy and recalls his encounter in his latest book, Pasta, Pane & Vino, “I met Alessandro Martini at a Parmigiano-Reggiano factory outside Bologna and we became fast friends. His enthusiasm and knowledge of all things Italian changed my perspective on this remarkable country, and his spirit touches every one of these pages. DOP for life.”
After purchasing some cheese for our trip home, we visited a farmhouse that makes the famous Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, which is aged for a minimum of 12 years, with many of their offerings having been aged for more than 25 years! We learned, we tasted, we purchased! And we followed this visit with a stop at one of the best prosciutto factories in the region, where we learned about dry-curing that’s been done the same way for thousands of years.
By this time, we had worked up a bit of an appetite and were prepared for what was billed as a “light” lunch at a beautiful trattoria somewhere in the countryside. Well, this is anything but a “light” lunch, so be prepared to enjoy one course after another of the best food and wine that you can imagine.
Touring Italian Style
If you are in the area, do not miss spending a day with Alessandro. If you are near a train station, take an express to Bologna. One of their drivers will meet you upon arrival and return with you to the train station later in the day. They have this operation down!
Besides tours at top destinations, Italian Days also offers some truly unique experiences. How about making your engagement proposal on Juliet’s balcony in Verona? Or how about truffle hunting near Savigno on the outskirts of Bologna, or a private aperitivo with lyric singers in Verona, or taking a jaunt to Mount Etna? They cover it all and they do it well.
And if you so dare, you can even rent a luxury car through them like that Lamborghini, Maserati, or Ferrari you’ve always fantasized over. Take one of these and cruise along the Amalfi coast or rolling landscape of Tuscany – now that’s livin’ the dream!
From Italy with Love
And, I urge you to check out the goodies they offer on their website —no fakes, no additives, the real stuff only, typically marked with DOP, which is limited to the best of the best. Try a traditional favorite, saba, a rich, sweet syrup used in a variety of ways. There’s balsamic vinegar from Modena, white truffle oil, and other delectables. They can be shipped directly to your home as fresh as can be or, if you are fortunate to live in South Florida, like me, can be picked up at a small warehouse in Delray Beach!