Discover the Culinary Delights of Spain & Italy Tour

A 14 day trip to Italy & Spain 
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Cuisine is culture in various Italian and Spanish regions. It is both the foundations of life and the flourishes that make life so liveable. This two-week tour immerses you in those regions: informal trattoria dining, country chateaux, aromatic markets, historic wine cellars, the search for the finest raw ingredients and gastronomic perfection. Through the cuisine you’ll discover local cultures that stick true to their history and traditions.

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General Information

Photos
Parma ham aging cellar.
Homemade pasta with black truffle shavings.
spain crates of red grapes at a vineyard
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Milan, Piacenza, Bologna, Colorno, Parma, Maranello, Reggio-Emilia, Modena, Venice, Grand Canal, St Mark’s Square, Valpolicella, Verona, Franciacorta, Erbusco, Bergamo, Lake Como, Bellagio, Villa Carlotta, Madrid, Prado Museum, Ribera del Duero, Burgos, Burgos Cathedral, Valsotillo, La Rioja, Laguardia, Getaria, Hondarribia, San Sebastian, Basque

Departure Dates 

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Milan to Piacenza Bologna – VIP Wine Tasting and Italy’s Great Culinary Region

Land in Italy and you’re soon out in the countryside, exploring a region where food and wine have been integral to culture since Roman times. Sweet Malvasia and juicy Gutturino wines are on the table in Piacenza, a winemaking region that was revered by Roman emperors. They introduce the subtlety of Italian wines and are explained by a winemaker at a small Piacenza estate. Lunch is nearby, at a historic trattoria near the Rivalta Castle. Trattoria are informal places to dine. Usually, there’s no menu, and you eat what the chefs are cooking that day. Trattoria are for eating accessible everyday cuisine, and they remain at the heartbeat of Italian food culture. Continue a little further to Bologna, a bohemian city in the middle of Reggio-Emilia. Create your first impressions here, by walking the cobbled streets, trying the wine bars, and admiring the choice of restaurants.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Bologna – Culatello Ham and the Other Foods of Parma

The best Italian prosciutto comes from Parma, a tiny province of stone hamlets and cured ham factories. All around the world you can buy Parma ham, which must be made in Parma. In Parma, you can taste the varying qualities, with Culatello the premier of all European hams. Explore the curing process then attend a tasting in a Culatello cellar, where other dishes mark the table, like artichoke soup, and risotto with chicory, cheese and balsamic. Walk off the meal in Parma itself, beneath the evocative dome of the Duomo. Then spend the afternoon in Bologna, taking a walk through the food market and learning all about the prancing horse that is Ferrari. The famous Italian sports car brand originates in Bologna, and just like the local food, it’s the attention to detail that makes it unique.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Bologna – Parmigiano and Balsamic

Every day they make cheese in rural Reggio-Emilia, hard Parmigiano (Parmesan) cheese to be precise. You will go to a farm in the morning and you watch the creation: processing milk in huge vats, molding curd, salting, aging. Sample cheese from the peculiar cheese wheels, tasting how each is different depending on how long it has been there. Then head out to Modena, the home of balsamic, where you continue a tasting journey through Reggio-Emilia specialties. They call it liquid gold here and once again there’s much diversity in flavor between products of different aging. Returning to Bologna you’ll be stuffed, so perhaps this afternoon is for sipping on cappuccinos at cafes on the main piazza (city square). The guide can offer dinner recommendations, but you really can’t go wrong in Italy’s most loved city of food.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Bologna to Venice – Pasta Making Class and a Sunset Bellini

Ham, cheese, and balsamic were all invented in Reggio-Emilia, right here in Bologna. So jump into the kitchen and learn the traditional recipes, especially the stuffed pasta dishes – tortellini Burro e Oro, tagliatelle al ragu, ravioli stuffed with an indulgent jam. You’ll learn that bolognese is simply the mix of local recipes that became famous across the world. It’s 1 ½ hours from here to Venice on the high-speed train and flavors from lunchtime will be rolling around your tongue throughout, even when you drift into a post-lunch slumber.

A gondolier greets you for a leisurely cruise down the Grand Canal. Travel alongside townhouses, beneath bridges, past palaces, through the heart of Venice to Harry’s Bar, the waterside restaurant where Bellini aperitifs were invented. Sip a few Bellinis at sunset before a fun-packed evening walking tour. You’ll hop into other cafes, each with their own signature dish or drink. You will see Venice through the eyes of a local foodie. While it’s not the most famous culinary region, Venetians are full of originality and Bellini is far from the only local invention here.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Valpolicella to Verona – Traditional Trattoria, Hedonistic Wine and the Art of Verona

Spend the morning by the water, sipping on coffee at a cafe before continuing the culinary journey. Before noon you’re in Valpolicella, home of the great Amarone, one of Italy’s most indulgent red wines. Tour two wineries, where the hedonistic tasting delves back into old vintages and you learn why this wine is so revered. The region’s food has always revolved around the wine and it’s a treat to eat in a traditional trattoria, where the recipes have hardly changed in over a century. Digestive Grappa completes the meal and you’re soon in Verona, taking a walking tour through lovely piazzas, private art galleries, Roman remains and small wine bars. Most travelers prefer Verona to Venice, but the two have many similarities: they are old-world, absolutely unique, exude romance and are perfect for a light evening stroll.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Franciacorta to Erbusco – Italian Sparkling Wines and a Michelin-Starred Restaurant in the Countryside

You will head back out into the countryside this morning. Cobbled villages roll past the window as you near the town of Brescia. Vineyards start to appear, tumbling along the slopes near Lake Iseo. From yesterday’s heavy reds you’re now in a realm of sparkling whites, the Italian version of the more famous French Champagne. Taste at a vineyard. Then stay at a vineyard near Urbusco, a property that’s tucked amid the vines. After three busy days, you have an afternoon and evening to unwind, with high-quality food and the popping of a few corks. Take a boat ride on the lake, dine at a Michelin-starred on the property, and toast to the wonders of Italy.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Lake Como – Relaxing Along the Lake and More Michelin Dining

Continue through Italy, twisting towards Lake Como and another lakeside location. Cobbled staircases lead through the lakeside town of Bellagio, taking you to palaces, piazzas, churches, and fountains. Coffee aromas invite you to local cafes, and you can travel by boat to various towns of similar setup; cobbles, churches, all the other enchantment of a traditional settlement on Lake Como. You’re based in the most opulent of the towns, Bellagio. That’s mostly because it places you a few footsteps from a Michelin-starred restaurant of high international acclaim. You end the Italian leg of the tour here, in a similar vein to how it started: traditional cuisine with an inspirational attention to detail.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Milan to Madrid – Pairing Spanish Wines With Food

Transfer to Milan then fly to Madrid, and the flavors will change. Spain, like Italy, is defined by its culinary idiosyncrasies, each region having its own traditional recipes and foods. In the Spanish capital, you can taste from across the country. Like most capital cities people have migrated here, bringing their taste of home. So it’s in Madrid that you can taste authentic Valencian paella and Galician octopus (pulpo) in the same place. You can sip on wines from across the country, the foods paired with gran reservas from Rias Baixas, Toro, Penedes, and Jerez. This afternoon a guide takes you on a walking tour of the city. Then this evening you dine on a banquet of Spanish flavors, with the meal continuing long into the night.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Madrid – Tapas Hopping and Flavors From Across the Country

Today provides a chance to relax and rest the palate or to catch your breath and re-energize. Madrid’s legendary art scene is a recommended place for self-exploration, particularly the Prado Museum and Reina Sofia. This evening, you go tapas hopping and once again the tastes come from across the country. Tapas is Andalusian of course, but it has been taking on by Madrid’s taverns. So you can sample small bites from recipes and chefs that have moved to the Spanish capital, always washing it down with some of Spain’s mythical wines: Numanthia, Vega Scilia, Mauro, and others. To understand and taste all of Spain would take many years of exploration. Two days in Madrid crams many diverse flavors into some signature local experiences.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Ribera del Duero to Burgos – Emblematic Wines and the Legend of El Cid

Musty smells greet you in the charming caves of Ribera del Duero. Oak barrels are stacked beneath the vineyards and there’s no more atmospheric place to taste the wines that have started to rival La Rioja for international acclaim. The food here is like the wine in Ribera del Duero – heavy yet subtle, fruity yet rounded, serious on the palate but informal in style. From the subterranean wine caves and a hearty lunch, you travel north to Burgos, a mostly forgotten medieval city. El Cid originates here and the 13th-century Gothic cathedral baffles the imagination. Take a walking tour and learn about the folk hero, ending at one of Europe’s greatest medieval buildings. Burgos has a healthy culinary scene as well and there are two options. Either one of the traditional restaurants, or hopping between the tapas bars.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Laguardia – Immersed in the Food and Wine of La Rioja

Ah, La Rioja. Land of wine and small villages, a region with a pace of life that is almost at a standstill. Wine is like a religion here and food is the foundation of culture. Explore a vineyard, where the cellar-master talks you through inimitable viticulture. Then a converted wine cave for lunch, top Rioja wines served with smoked Idiazabal cheese, baby lamb chops, spicy roasted peppers, and other traditional dishes. You can visit more vineyards during the afternoon before a night in Laguardia, where a maze of cellars is found beneath the cobbled streets. Walk the ancient walls, descend into the ambient wine caves, and dine in one of the sleepy gourmet restaurants.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Getaria to San Sebastian – Basque Seafood Dining and Spain’s Culinary Capital

Basque is to Spain what Reggio-Emilia is to Italy, the region that continues to dictate culinary standards. But while Reggio-Emilia focuses on tradition, Basque pushes boundaries as it revels in a role as the best region in Europe for contemporary cuisine. Driving into Basque you stop to taste the wine of Txacoli, then eat lunch at a historic fishing village. Dining outside, with views over the water, it’s fresh seafood at its finest. From Getaria you stay on the coast and soak your senses into Hondarribia, another place of fisherman’s smells and small squares.

End the day in San Sebastian, a small city that’s been luring visitors since Napoleon. They don’t have tapas here. They have pintxos, small plates of food from all corners of the culinary spectrum. Try one or two in each bar then hop down the street to another pintxo bar. Like authentic tapas, every bar has so much to sample so you just keep ordering and tasting. Don’t worry, that’s what the locals do – Pintxo hopping is informal and a great way to start a conservation with people who live in San Sebastian.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 13: San Sebastian – Iconic Cuisine in the North of Spain

This final day is left free. Perhaps take a one-hour journey to Bilbao and visit the Guggenheim. Maybe hang out on the beach. Certainly check out the two sides to San Sebastian: an old medieval quarter and a glamorous stretch of four to six-story townhouses rising along the coast. Walk to sculptures fixed into rock or wind the afternoon away on the extravagant central plaza. This evening you dine at Akelarre, a triple-starred Michelin restaurant ran by celebrity chef Pedro Subijana. The tasting menu symbolizes Basque culinary creativity and provides a fitting end to your six days in Spain; gazing out over the Atlantic Ocean from the restaurant isn’t bad either.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 14: San Sebastian – Departure

Your final day starts with a relaxed morning before your transfer to the airport in Bilbao and depart Spain. Two weeks have flown by and you’ll be remembering more than just the flavors; you’ll be taking back the idea that food is more than just what some people eat, it’s what makes their culture unique.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$3,600
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.