Enough prosciutto, parmesan and gelato can make any trip to Italy a culinary delight, but on this journey, the Italian table takes on new life, with artisan foods that sing and wines that join in perfect harmony. Ruth Reichl, Nancy Silverton and Laurie Ochoa, experts and lovers of Italian food, lead you on an exclusive tour from Bologna through the stunning Tuscan hills to beautiful Florence, sharing with you the region’s most remarkable restaurants — many of them with Michelin-starred chefs — wineries and markets along the way. Through exclusive tastings of delectable handcrafted foods, private wine tours, hands-on cooking classes and convivial meals with world-renowned chefs at some of Italy’s finest restaurants, you’ll become an expert in the art of eating well in Italy. Buon appetito!
Your culinary experts for this journey are Ruth Reichl, renowned chef, food critic, author and co-producer of PBS’s "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie," and Nancy Silverton, chef, baker and founder and owner of several Italian eateries in Los Angeles, including the award-winning Osteria Mozza. Both experts have received James Beard Foundation awards: Ruth won for restaurant critique and writing; Nancy won the Outstanding Chef in America award in 2014. Laurie Ochoa, arts and entertainment editor for the L.A. Times, will curate this weeklong sojourn. Her love and knowledge of Italian food accumulated from the many trips to Italy she enjoyed with her late husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold.
Oct 11-18, 2019
Roll up your sleeves at hands-on pasta-making and bread-making workshops exclusive to the L.A. Times guests.
Meet creators of Italian food — from those who uphold the culinary legacy of their grandparents, such as Alberto Bettini and Fabio Picchi, to those who innovate and push the culinary traditions to new creative boundaries, such as world-renowned chef Massimo Bottura.
Visit artisanal producers, such as award-winning butcher Dario Cecchini and family-run balsamic vinegar producers, who share their methods and passion for bringing only the finest ingredients to the table.
Dine at memorable prize-winning restaurants, some of which are Michelin-starred.
Arrive in Bologna. Transfer to the hotel and check in. This evening, gather for a welcome drink with your hosts. Over a glass of prosecco, Ruth, Nancy and Laurie will share the food highlights that await you this week. You’ll dine this evening in the woodlands outside of Bologna at Trattoria Da Amerigo, a one-star Michelin restaurant with a retro feel. You’ll meet with chef Alberto Bettini, tasting regional classics such as lasagna and tortellini all while chef Bettini shares recipes passed down to him from the original restaurant owners, his grandparents. (R, D)
Head north to Modena, a city in the heart of the
Emilia-Romagna region. Learn about the aging process of Parmigiano-Reggiano
cheese at an organic farm, and sample different varieties of the King of Cheese. Visit the Osteria di
Rubbiara, a family-run tavern that is surrounded by Lambrusco vineyards and has
earned its spot as one of the finest producers of balsamic vinegar in the area.
Learn about the production and aging process of the vinegar before enjoying a
lunch that includes the family’s spectacular tortellini, cooked to perfection
in a broth, as well as several dishes featuring balsamic vinegar. After lunch,
return to Bologna for some free time. Enjoy an evening at your leisure, or
perhaps join locals in a passeggiata — a stroll — through town for an aperitivo. We are hoping to
arrange an optional dinner at the spectacular Michelin-starred Osteria
Francescana, at which chef Massimo Bottura will prepare a special menu featuring his signature
dishes, The Crunchy Part of the Lasagne and Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart. The full details of
the meal, as well as information about the additional charge, will be provided
later in the year. (B, L)
Travel to the region around Zibello, near Parma, and discover the exquisite culatello produced at the beautifully restored castle of Antica Corte Pallavicina. Tour the castle and cellars where this prized pork meat is cured and aged along with other meats and cheeses. Enjoy an aperitivo of local cured meats followed by lunch, where chef Massimo Spigaroli will talk about the delicate flavor of culatello thanks to the particular climate in this part of the Po River valley. Return to Bologna in the late afternoon. There will be the option to visit FICO Eataly World, the world’s largest agri-food park and inspired by the ingredients and dishes at the heart of Italian cuisine. Or remain in the center of Bologna and choose from the many dining options; your hosts will be happy to offer advice. (B, L)
Discover the art of Italian pasta-making. Each region of Italy is renowned for its different pasta shapes and sauces, but it is the Emilia-Romagna region that reigns supreme, with fresh egg-based pasta, either long, short or stuffed. Learn about the different ravioli and tortellini that are so prized in the region, how to cook the perfect al dente pasta and how to pair shape and sauce. Roll up your sleeves and try your hand at creating the perfect fettuccine or ravioli. Lunch will be served on the terrace (weather permitting) overlooking the local vineyards. After lunch, the day continues with a journey over the Apennine mountains, through the picturesque, rolling hills of the Mugello wine region, landing in Florence. Visit a local gelateria laboratory and learn about the process of making gelato as well as the lab’s adherence to the 0 Km philosophy. Sample the nocciola or limone before enjoying an evening at leisure in Florence. (B, L, T)
This morning, visit the Fontodi winery in the heart of the Chianti classico wine-producing region. Discover some of the key factors that help produce the prized wine — altitude, clay soil and microclimate — and conclude the visit with a tasting of wine and delicate bio olive oil. Afterward, visit with Dario Cecchini, an award-winning butcher who seeks to source the best meat and offer his customers the best cuts. Sit down for a convivial meal and savor the succulent bistecca alla fiorentina. This afternoon, visit a local bread maker and discover the different flours used in various breads as you try your hand at kneading bread, focaccia and pizza. Return to Florence late this evening. (B, L, D)
This morning discuss seasonal foods and produce with your hosts, and drive out into the Tuscan countryside south of Prato to Da Delfina. The menu at this family-run restaurant is a celebration of Tuscan food with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. Meet with the original owner’s son and current chef, and tour the garden before joining chef Carlo in the kitchen to create his hearty ribollita soup. Later in the afternoon, take a stroll to hunt for truffles before returning to Florence for dinner. (B, L)
Join a member of Cibreo’s family to learn history of the family and business, including the restaurant, for this evening’s dinner. Then wander through the neighborhood with the family member, visiting the different restaurants and cafes owned by the Cibreo family, and see the food store, with its abundant organic produce and rooftop herb garden. Lunch and the afternoon are at leisure to explore this beautiful city. You might like to pay a visit to the Mercato Centrale to view the seasonal produce on sale at this lively market; there are small vendors upstairs where you can enjoy a light lunch. Tonight, raise your glass for a festive farewell dinner at Cibreo. Learn how childhood food memories remain important to head chef Fabio Picchi and how this family-run restaurant follows the rhythms of the seasons in its menu design. (B, L, D).
Depart Florence on individual flights home. (B)