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May 30 2017

The Heart of Italy 2017

An Intimate Food and Wine Week: Le Marche to Emilia Romagna


We’ll start our week in the countryside outside Bologna, the very heart of Italy. Says renowned food writer David Rosengarten:

If you ask an Italian where the best food is in Italy, you almost always get the same answer. “Eh,” they like to say. ‘At my mother’s house!’…looking like ‘how could you be so stupid to not know that?’ But if you push it to a regional discussion…as I have hundreds of times…the most likely answer is…”Emilia-Romagna”…the wondrous north-central region that lies in the fertile Po River Valley.

Forbes, November 28, 2013

We’ll discover what David and the Italians are raving about — and more– through immersion experiences. Cuisine, wine (yes, Lambrusco IS a great choice with this amazing food!), age-old crafts, fabric printing, and even e-biking — through one pretty village after another. This is Emilia Romagna.

On the border between Tuscany and Umbria, flanked by the Apennine Mountains which slope gently along the hills and valleys down to the Adriatic Sea, lies Le Marche. This is a land strongly attached to artisan tradition, where farm to food was the norm long before the phrase was coined. Good wine and top-quality food, nearly-lost folk art, and almost none of the crowds found in other equally beautiful corners of Italy set Le Marche apart. The region also boasts dozens of cities full of art, among which the masterpieces of Piero della Francesca, Raphael, Bellini, Lorenzo Lotto, Rubens and Titian. Oh, and don’t forget that Rossini — The Barber of Seville; Cinderella — is from here as well.

Perfectly preserved historic theaters (72 of them!), Roman roads and hidden villages ready to unveil their secrets and traditions. Nearly 200 churches that date to Roman times. Strategically-placed monasteries, abbeys and convents, some of which are now open to guests and visitors as they once were to pilgrims. Pair these virtues with a genuinely touching hospitality, borne of a land still unspoiled by mass tourism. This is Emilia Romagna and Le Marche.


1st day (May 30): Airport pick-up in Bologna in early afternoon. Your experience will start with three nights at the charming Urbino Resort. Situated between Pesaro and Urbino, immersed in the countryside and wineries, this small hotel will enchant you. Enjoy the swimming pool and the SPA (sauna, Turkish bath, Kneipp hydrovascular sessions, thermal baths with hydromassage and counter current swimming, play pool with water jets, emotional showers with chromotherapy and aromatherapy). Welcome drink and dinner in “marchigian style” at the resort restaurant.  D

(Bologna aiport-URBINO : 170 km –about 2 hrs; transfer from Bologna apt to Urbino is tentatively planned for 2pm) D

Lodging for the next 3 nights:  Urbino Resort near Pesaro

2nd day (May 31): BECOME SCULPTORS!

Breakfast at the resort, then transfer to Santi’Ippolito, the village of stonemasons who “make beautiful things with sweet stone”, to meet the sculptor Natalia Gasparucci. The day is dedicated to a mini-course in sculpture. We will each have a piece of sandstone and the necessary equipment to create our own mini-masterpiece, followed step by step by the sculptor. At the end of the day we will walk away with our creation! Rustic lunch at Natalia’s home, and time to wander through the village, will fill out the day. Back to the resort to enjoy a pizza dinner (Urbino Resort-Sant’Ippolito 40 km). B, light L, pizza D

3rd day (June 1): SEASIDE “BRODETTO”

Breakfast in the early morning, then journey to the seaside to meet with our chef in Fano at the fish market. He will guide us in choosing the specific types of seafood used to make this amazing local soup. Quick coffee break at a historic pastry shop in downtown Fano, followed by a short guided walk of this Roman town with a Renaissance heart.  A short transfer up the hill brings us to a Villa with a wonderful panorama of the city and the sea, which will serve as the base for our creation of the “brodetto soup” with the chef. Enjoy a great lunch with the freshly-cooked brodetto! After lunch we’ll stop in Pesaro for a walking tour based on the famous composer Gioacchino Rossini, with a visit of the historical Rossini Theater. We’ll have a chance to see some gorgeous local ceramics in the Pesaro Museum, with some free time for shopping afterward. Dinner in Pesaro, then return to the Urbino Resort around 9:30, with time to pack up in preparation for our departure tomorrow morning. (Urbino Resort-Fano 45 km; Fano – Pesaro 10 km; Pesaro – Urbino Resort: 28 km). B, L, D

4th day (June 2): URBINO

Breakfast at the hotel, check-out, and depart for Urbino, the jewel of this part of the Region and one of the most important Renaissance cities in Italy. Meander through the gentle hills between the Foglia River and the Metauro River to reach Federico da Montefeltro’s ideal city. Brief visit of the historical center, followed by light lunch/tasting session downtown at Monia’s. She opens “the cave” to guests for a discovery of quality products of the Montefeltro, including those made with truffles! Afternoon transfer to a historical dwelling in the enchanted old town of Verucchio, free time to enjoy the SPA facilities (sauna, Turkish bath, swimming pool, emotional shower, relax corner). Dinner at Mastin Vecchio of Verucchio, a medieval restaurant in the hotel’s underground caves just under the resort, with wine matching. (Urbino Resort- Urbino 15 km/ Urbino-Verucchio 50 km, 1h and 15’ +/-) B, tasting L, D

Lodging in Deluxe rooms for the next 2 nights: Oste del Castello (unlimited use of their Spa INCLUDED!) near Rimini

5th day (June 3): LET’S E-BIKE!

Breakfast at the hotel and transfer to the seaside of Riccione, where our E-bike guide waits for you to start a nice tour with on our electronic bikes. From Riccione through cycle-paths along the sea to Portoverde/Misano, then to Morciano and back to Riccione, on a green route that is suitable for anyone who can ride a bike (35 km. total/altitude 60 mts.). Return to Riccione, enjoy lunch on your own in one of the many fish restaurants on the seaside. Transfer back to Verucchio, with free time to enjoy the SPA facilities. Early evening finds us in the underground caves of Verucchio for an aperitivo and tasting of the specialties of the region. (Verucchio-Riccione 30 km) B, aperitivi


Check out, then transfer to the Romagna Hills …. where a winery and country house is waiting for you to dive in with the “Azdrora Romagnola”, the Queen of the kitchen in Romagna. We will prepare a typical menu of the Romagna Region, from the “piadina” to the “ciambella”. You will learn how to prepare Piadina, a typical bread of Romagna, and homemade tagliatelle, tagliolini and pappardelle using a rolling pin as our grandmas did in the past. Lunch tasting the delicious recipes prepared together, matched to the fantastic wines of the farmstead. In the afternoon, transfer to the picturesque village of Santarcangelo di Romagna. Visit to the mysterious underground tuff caves; the button museum, with its unique collection of buttons from all over the world; and the ancient Stamperia Marchi, which has been printing fabrics with artisan techniques for four centuries.  We end our journey in a gorgeous winery on the hills near Forlì, in Romagna, where time seems to have stopped. Free time to enjoy the SPA facilities of the wine resort (sauna, Turkish bath, indoor and outdoor swimming pool, emotional shower, relax corner) surrounded by the vineyards. You will also have the chance to pay a visit to the cellar and see first-hand how this wine is produced and aged, while enjoying a glass of estate wine. Then, during the four-course-dinner, you will enjoy a complete wine pairing with each course. (Verucchio-Santarcangelo di Romagna 15km – 20’/ Santarcangelo di Romagna –Condè Resort 60 km – 50 ‘ +/-). B, L, D

Lodging in Junior Suites for the next 2 nights: Conde’ Resort (unlimited use of their spa INCLUDED!)

7th day (June 5): EXPLORING ROMAGNA

Breakfast at the resort, followed by a delightful hike/walk around the wineries and green hills of Condè! We’ll give you some trail maps and our guide will accompany those who want to venture into the hills. Lunch on your own at the resort and in the afternoon transfer to a magical farm: Fattoria Paradiso of Bertinoro. Here you can breathe the atmosphere of the films by Federico Fellini, the famous director who was born in Rimini and left his imprint on this region. Visit the inner Wine Museum and tasting, then wander through Bertinoro, a small middle-age village with a panoramic terrace on the hills around where you can enjoy a cappuccino just sitting in the square. Arrivederci dinner at “Ca de Be” local Inn and winebar/shop in the center of the village. (Condè- Bertinoro 22 km). B,D

8th day (June 6): breakfast and departure for the Bologna Airport (CONDE – APT: 91 km)

We recommend staying in Bologna for a couple of days at the end of the trip, so that we don’t have to depart before dawn for early flights back to the US!

Special Features

Add two or more days in Italy’s gastronomic capital, Bologna, after our journey. We have organized a fabulous post-tour experience, including a private chocolate tasting in one of the city’s famous towers!

Be among the first to discover a pristine corner in the heart of Italy -- Emilia Romagna plus Le Marche -- a jewel of the Adriatic Sea!