An ICAEF Culinary Learning Journey October 2 – 10, 2015
DAY 1 – Friday, October 2nd – ARRIVE IN VENICE
Arrive in Venice VCE Airport and meet the group. We’ve arranged a private transfer by water taxi to one of the most impressive 5-Star hotels in Venice, the Bauer Hotel just steps away from Piazza San Marco. The Bauer brings a modern, urban touch to a city locked firmly in the 15th century. After checking in, we head out immediately for a bacari tour, hopping from bacaro to bacaro for local cicchetti (Venetian style snacks) and ombre (small glasses of local wine). In the afternoon there will be a introductory walking tour of Venice. Dinner tonight at Ristorante Il Covo, sampling some of Venice’s signature seafood dishes. (For those arriving by train from other cities in Italy, we will have a guide meet you at the Santa Lucia train station instead of the airport.)
DAY 2 / Saturday, October 3rd – VENICE HIGHLIGHTS
After breakfast, we’re starting our day with a walking tour of Venice – and where better to start than Venice’s famous fish market ! We’ll have a private guide take us to St. Mark’s, The Doge’s Palace, and The Rialto Bridge. Lunch will be at the fabulous Oliva Nera, before we once again, pound the pavement of Venice on foot continuing on to Peggy Guggenheim Museum, and Scuola Grande di San Rocco, plus a few surprise visits…maybe even a fabulous Canal palace! Tonight’s dinner will be at the famous Anice Stellato, a Bib Gourmand Michelin restaurant.
DAY 3 / Sunday, October 4th – VENICE’S OUTER ISLANDS
There are more than 100 islands in the Venice lagoon and after breakfast at the hotel, today’s excursion takes you to several well-known ones and some that are off the beaten path. Today we head to MURANO, BURANO & TORCELLO. You’ll get a behind the scenes look at glassblowing and lacemaking, as well as a visit to Sant’Erasmo, which provides most of the city’s produce, especially famous for the production of artichokes (a Slow Food Presidio), its gardens and small local wine producers. Lunch will be at Ristorante Venissa, whose chef’s “Zero Kilometer” approach to food takes farm to table to a whole new level.
Tonight’s farewell to Venice dinner will be catered by Venice’s largest and most famous caterer, La Dogaressa at one of their spectacular venues.
DAY 4 / Monday, October 5th – VERONA: THE CITY OF ROMANCE
After checking out of our hotel, we head by water taxi to Piazzale Roma to bid arrivederci to La Serenissima and head to Verona, where we will check into the Hotel Due Torri right in the center of Verona.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is easy to fill a day with the Verona’s famous sites: its Roman Amphitheater, Juliet’s Balcony (as in Romeo & Juliet), Piazza delle Erbe (with its fruit and vegetable market), Lamberti Tower, Verona’s Romanesque Duomo, and Scaliger Castle, with it’s sweeping views of the world’s unofficial City of Romance. We will stop at a local caterer, da Scapan, for lunch and to discuss how catering has become increasingly popular in Italy over the years. Afternoon excursion with bus and private guide to picturesque Borghetto sul Mincio, for an unconventional sampling of the area’s famous pastries: the traditional mandorlato in Cologna, the sfogliatine from Villafranca, and the torta delle rose from Valeggio. On the way back to the hotel, we’ll make a quick stop in Sirmione – a beautiful lake- side resort on Lake Garda – for a short walk on the lake. After a pre-dinner Aperol Spritz cocktail in Piazza delle Erbe, dinner tonight will be at Al Pompiere, centrally located in Verona and within walking distance of the hotel.
DAY 5 – Tuesday, October 6th – VALPOLICELLA / VERONA
Today you are going to be out all day – and you’ll get into the heart and soul of the Veneto by visiting Valpolicella and Amarone country and stopping by two grand villas and wineries: La Foresteria, the ancestral home of Dante Alighieri, still owned and run by his descendant, Serego
Alighieri, and Villa della Torre, owned by Allegrini, one of Italy’s benchmark producers of Amarone wines. We’ll start our day with a wine tasting of Valpolicella wines followed by lunch at La Foresteria. In the afternoon, we’ll take a stroll by Lake Garda before we will head to Allegrini for a tour of the villa, a cooking class demonstration of soulful Veneto specialties, and, of course, a tasting of Allegrini’s precious Amarone to go with dinner. We’ll return to Verona after dinner – for nocturnal gelato at Venchi – one of Italy’s finest producers of gelato.
DAY 6 – Wednesday, October 7th – MANTOVA / BOLOGNA
After breakfast at the hotel, we check out and head south towards the Emilia Romagna region, but before reaching Bologna, we’ll stop in the charming city of Mantua (Mantova).
While there we will tour the exquisite Ducal Palace and the main piazza of Mantua. Lunch will be in Mantova at Ristorante Carlo Govi. Here in the Lombardia region of Italy, you will immediately see the cuisine begin to change from the dense, dark flavours of the Veneto. This change will become even more apparent as we head into Bologna, after lunch.
After lunch we will check into our hotel, the incredible Grand Hotel Magestic in Bologna, formerly called the Baglioni. You will be located in the center of Bologna – so if guests want to take a stroll before dinner, you will have some free time.
Since lunch was so substantial today, we thought tonight would be the perfect night for a pizza party. You can’t be in Italy for 9 days and not eat pizza at least once – so tonight is your chance – and pizza in Bologna is so different than the pizza we had in Naples or Sicily. And to prove it, we’re going to Pizza Fuerte which will serve each of you NINE different varieties.
Tonight might be the only chance you will have to taste the local wine, as well. Lambrusco is just not one of my favorites – but while in Bologna, we need to be Bolognese – so this light, slightly frizzy wine will be the perfect complement to this meal.
DAY 7 – Thursday, October 8th – BOLOGNA HIGHLIGHTS
Today we spend the entire day in Bologna, La Grassa (the fat one), as Bologna is known, and is arguably considered the center of Italian gastronomy. We’ll start with the famous food markets just behind the Piazza Maggiore, the main square. Mercato di Mezzo and Mercato delle Erbe are the city’s biggest food markets. Mezzo is known for the cured meats of its salumerie. The finest, Tamburini, is an informal store/enoteca, where everything is made in- house. La Baita is the ultimate formaggeria and does its own version of Parmesan called Sua Maestà il Nero, as well as the delicate squacquerone, a soft and creamy stracchino-like cow’s-milk cheese with a mild flavor and a pleasant acidic tinge. Paolo Atti & Figli is best for breads and cakes, while Melega is known for its fruits and vegetables. Today’s lunch is a casual lunch, in the food markets.
The Mercato delle Erbe is on Via Ugo Bassi. Everyone at the family-owned Formaggeria Bernardi is quick to recommend the day’s freshest cheeses, and across the street, Le Sfogline is named after the title given to tortellini-makers. Fittingly, it is the spot for two local pastas, one being the tortellone stuffed with spinach and ricotta or seasonal vegetables. And then there’s the tortellino, which is filled with mortadella, prosciutto crudo, egg, buttery pork loin, and Parmesan. It’s flavored with nutmeg, a common Bolognese spice, and traditionally served in broth.
In the afternoon, we will take a walking tour of historic Bologna city center, including the iconic Due Torri and Piazza Maggiore. We’ll return to the hotel before heading out for dinner. Dinner will be in Bologna this evening at Al Sangiovese, walking distance from the hotel. This is a local restaurant tucked away in an alley, that serves authentic – casual yet rich – Bolognese cuisine in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
DAY 8 – Friday, October 9th – PARMA / MODENA /BOLOGNA
This morning we depart Bologna for Parma to indulge in two quintessential Italian food products: prosciutto and parmigiano. We will tour two factories each producing the best in their class. Lunch today will be in a secret little location called Hosteria Giusti in Modena – and trust me, you would never find this without us! In fact, you have to enter the restaurant by going behind the salumeria’s sales counter, pass a rack of aging prosciutto, make a left at the parmesan display, head down a secret staircase, pass through the wine cellar – and enter a secret dining room. Who but the ICAEF makes you work this hard for lunch? … but what a lunch.
In the afternoon, since we are in Modena, we’ll see how balsamic vinegar is made and taste the various vintages.
Then we head back to Bologna to allow everyone to pick up the last of their souvenirs before heading out to our farewell dinner.
DAY 9 – Saturday, October 10th – TRANSFER TO BOLOGNA AIRPORT (BLQ) OR TO THE BOLOGNA CENTRALE TRAIN STATION
After breakfast at the hotel, it’s time to say good bye and to start planning the next exciting CLJ. Transfers from the hotel or to the airport will be provided. We will also provide transfers to the Bologna train station for anyone wanting to continue their excursions to other cities in Italy – or to return to the Venice airport.