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The best Bologna food tours
There’s no denying that Italy is a perfect place for foodies. Mention Italy to most people and images of fresh pasta and gelato will be at the forefront of their minds. Little do many people know, however, that Italy is so much more. Pasta isn’t just pasta, with regional flavours, recipes and methods generating incredible variety. Whilst gelato can be found everywhere, not all of it is the high artisanal quality you should endeavour to seek out.
Italy is full of food secrets. Traditional recipes and processes, enveloped by history and strict production methods to preserve the integrity of the product. Not all balsamic vinegar is made equally, nor can all Italian ham be called Parma. Fortunately for those of us who don’t live in Italy, the Italians are proud of their food traditions and are always happy to share.
The Emilia Romagna region of Italy is known as the food valley, with many of the foods and ingredients that are integral to an Italian food experience found here.
If you are here for a short time, doing a food tour is one of the best experiences you can have. As you might imagine, in an area saturated with food tours and food experiences, it can be difficult to choose which one is best.
I’ve done some of the hard work for you by asking some well-travelled experts to share their best food tours in Bologna and its surrounds.
Food and Walk Tours Parma
I’ve done many food tours in Bologna but the tour with Food and Walk Tours Parma was exceptional. Also known as the Three Kings Tour, it takes in the “big three”, Parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano and Modena balsamic vinegar. Here you can spend a full day learning all about these foods that are integral to the Italian way of life. In a unique twist, this tour is a self-drive one. Participants drive their own vehicles, following behind a lead car, to each of the locations. We did the tour in a motorhome which surprised a few people but was such good fun. It meant that all the goodies we bought during the day could be popped straight into our fridge.
Ayngelina Brogan – Bacon is Magic
Italian Days Food Experience
Lori Sorrentino – Travlinmad
Food Valley Parma Food Tours
Eric Hoffman – Food And Drink Destinations
Food Valley organizes food tours and experiences across much of Italy, but their true speciality is in teaching travellers about the traditional Italian food products from Bologna, Modena, and Parma. They offer a series of food experiences ranging from pasta cooking classes to exploring food producers on E-bikes. Their Culatello and Giuseppe Verdi tour include some activities that are typical to many other Parma food tours but also helps travellers learn about one of the most unique cured meats from the Po River Valley, culatello.
They can arrange a visit to one of the most historic and famed culatello producers, Antica Corte Pallavicina to learn about the production of culatello, one of the most prized and rare Italian cured meats. Most of the tour focuses on culatello and other salumi and cured meat products, including several tastings along the way.
But, the tour also includes a bit of local history as well to learn about Giuseppe Verdi, the famous Italian composer. It’s an interesting look at Parma and the Po River Valley through both food and music. Food Valley offers loads of different tour options through Emilia Romagna, can offer customized experiences, and offers advice on where to stay in Emilia Romagna.
Amber Hoffman – Bologna Living
Yummy Italy is led by Helena, a woman passionate about food and wine experiences in Emilia Romagna. Helena is a sommelier, certified Italian cheese taster, and a certified balsamic vinegar taster, which means she knows her stuff when it comes to the food and wines of Emilia Romagna. Yummy Italy offers small group and customized food experiences in Bologna and Modena.
Her tours are made for people who want to dive deep into the famous Italian food products from the area. Helena also focuses on finding true artisan producers. She occasionally organises walking food tours in the Bologna city centre. But her expertise really lies in understanding her guests, their interests and needs, and planning a perfect day exploring the Bologna Hills.
Tours include artisan producers of meats and cheeses, specialised Pignoletto wine tastings, pasta cooking classes, truffle hunting, and more. In Modena, she is the only food experience provider who can offer a class on how to properly taste aged balsamic vinegar. She hosts the tasting in an acetaia, where they age balsamico and the tasting is held by candlelight.
Helena not only discusses the process for producing and aging balsamic but how to understand what the perfect balsamic should taste like in accordance with the rules set by the local consortium who regulates the end product. A truly unique experience.
Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium – Parma/Reggio Emilia
Hayley Lewis – A Lovely Planet
If you are looking to learn more about the food of Emilia Romagna, I can’t recommend this book enough. I’ve had this book on my coffee table since I first visited Bologna in 2017. It’s a great resource and one you’ll find yourself going back to over and over again.
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