Our food trip last fall to Umbria was so successful that we have decided to try to surpass ourselves with a new trip to the the food capital of Italy, Emilia Romagna. Food designer and writer John Carafoli will give cooking lessons, lead us to and through markets, and will talk about specialty foods of the area, while John Murelle, baritone and voice teacher, will introduce us to the operatic legends of the area and talk to us about the music we will hear during several performances.
Hotel La Posta
(4-star hotel in the small city of Reggio Emilia)
We will be staying in Reggio Emilia, a small city midway between Modena and Parma and about 45 minutes from Bologna. Our "home town" is the real home of parmigiana reggiano cheese, and also to an early childhood educational approach based on work (!). It is a quaint little city, with about 170,000 inhabitants, and is the main commune (municipality) of the Province of Reggio Emilia.
The old town has an hexagonal form, which derives from the ancient walls, and the main buildings are from the 16th–17th centuries. The commune's territory is totally on a plain, crossed by the Crostolo stream.
We will have an introductory walking tour of the town, and also a shopping excursion at the open market on Tuesday where we will purchase ingredients for our cooking class later in the day and dinner. There will be other free time in which you can explore Reggio on your own.
The Hotel La Posta is a 4-star accommodation, and is in its 500th year of business, as of this year. (The hotel has been updated in those 500 years, however.) Here we will have wonderful rooms with breakfast, gather in the bar for music lectures (while we sip some wine, of course) and have cooking lessons in their upstairs kitchen. We will visit the owner's B&B in the country to sample the balsamic vinegar, lambrusco wine and parmigiano. The hotel will also host our glorious farewell gala dinner.
The city of Cremona is not only the center of Italian violin-making, but also the center of Italian mostardes. Here, we will visit the very new Stradivarius museum, and hopefully hear the Strads being exercised at noontime. We will then venture on to visit a fantastic producer of mostarda, where we also plan to have lunch.
“Famous for its parmigiano and ham…” (Parma isn’t the home of the cheese, Reggio is and the owner of the hotel made that very clear to me!!!!) This city is home to some great music venues—Teatro Regio di Parma and the Auditorio Paganini, an old sugar factory renovated by Rienzo Piano. Both halls are spectacular and beautifully reflect the times in which they were built. Music programs for October are not yet published, but we hope to attend a performance in this grand musical city. While music will feed our souls, we must honor our stomachs as well. We will dine in the evening at La Greppia, a stellar restaurant in Italy.
We will be traveling to Milan to visit a venue we had not envisioned when we were first planning this trip, the World Expo! The theme of the expo is food sustainability, which not only fits into our program, but it is such a necessary world concept. You will have about 5 hours to wonder and explore the fair.
If you can get your weary bones out of bed after a long day of tromping through the expo, you will be off to Bologna the following day. Here, we will visit their wonderful markets, putter around the medieval warren of many diverse stores, and eventually end up for lunch at Trattoria Anna Maria. Free time will be brought to a halt to attend a performance of Verdi's opera Macbeth.
We will head west again, first to Roncole, birth place of Verdi, and then to Busseto. It is in Busetto where we will hear Verdi's operas Macbeth and Rigoletto, followed by dinner at I due Foscari, which is owned by the operatic tenor Carlo Bergonzi.