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The Food and Music Lover's Tour

THE FOOD AND MUSIC LOVER'S TOUR

Okay, let's get this straight from the start -- you're a foodie before you're a biker (if not, you may wish to consider one of our other tours). If also, perhaps, you enjoy a little opera, maybe some classical music, this is definitely the trip for you. Completely unique and off the beaten path (bike tour-wise), we can promise you won't find this tour elsewhere (at least that we know of). Designed several years ago for longtime repeat clients looking for easy biking combined with "extreme dining," it was such a hit with them they brought friends and repeated it the following summer. And the summer after that. At their urging, we at last decided to add it to our offerings for other such like-minded folk.

Cruising at a leisurely pace (or not, it's still up to you) on uncharacteristically (for Italy) flat bike paths (we're talking pizza flat) and country roads, you can relax completely and enjoy the serene, peaceful countryside of the Po River Valley and the most enchanting towns and villages of Emilia Romagna. This while pondering your next dish of handmade tortellini or fresh tagliatelle with a Bolognese or fresh pomodoro sauce to die for. Maybe that eggplant parmigiana you had last night that was like none you ever tasted? Here the pace is slow, life is simple and food is (almost) everything. You are in the land of Italian gastronomy at its finest and we have searched out the best for your discriminating palate. And oh, yes - music is also a way of life here, as these are "i posti di Verdi," the icon Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi's places. Where he was born, lived most of his life and where he took inspiration for his immortal opera masterpieces. If you also are now inspired, please read on...

OVERVIEW

PRICE: $3980 per person

  • Duration: 6 days/5 nights
  • Area: Emilia Romagna
  • Nearest city: Parma, Modena, Bologna
  • Tour type: Touring
  • Bike type: Hybrid
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Season: April - October
  • Number of participants: 2-8
  • Minimum age: 12
  • Fully guided: yes
  • Support vehicles: yes
  • Transportation to start site: yes

ITINERARY

Day 1

Pick up in Bologna and transfer by van to lovely Parma. After bike fitting, we embark on our warm up ride: a spin around town accompanied by an official city guide and historian (don't worry, this is one of the most bike-friendly places in all of Italy and you'll be surrounded by other cyclists, not cars!). We'll stop to visit the Duomo, Teatro Farnese, Palazzo Ducale, Teatro Regio and Toscanini's birthplace.

Dinner: at a restaurant in Parma

Night: Hotel Stendhal - Parma

Day 2

Today we discover - by bike - the picturesque countryside outside of Parma which was home to one of Italy's (and the world's) most beloved and prolific opera composers - Giuseppe Verdi. Of course this being Emilia Romagna, there is also food involved. After a tour and tasting at the Museo del Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese Museum!) in tiny and rural Soragna, we hit the famous Percorso Verdi, or “Verdi Trail” - a fascinating and lovely path to all things Verdi. At Roncole we'll tour his humble birthplace before pedaling into the charming village of Busseto (his boyhood home) for a delicious lunch featuring local specialties. Back on the trail, our next stop is a favorite; a guided tour of Villa Verdi in the village of Sant' Agata. This was the beautiful and intriguing country home and refuge where the Maestro spent most of his adult life and composed his most famous operas, from Rigoletto to Aida. Besides music, improving Villa Verdi and its lush grounds was his passion. Valuing his privacy and tranquility almost above all else, Verdi wrote of his home, “This deep quiet is ever dearer to me. It would be impossible for me to find another place to live that would give me more freedom.” After our visit, we continue to our final destination: the shores of the mighty Po, Italy's largest river.

Dinner: at a restaurant outside Parma

Night: Hotel Stendhal - Parma

Day 3

Van transfer to the delightful town of Cremona, renowned as a center of musical instrument manufacture, beginning with the violins of Amati, and later Guarneri and Stradivari. Visit the recently renovated and truly remarkable Museo del Violino (Museum of the Violin). Here we attend a very special and rare exhibition of one or a few of some of the world's most important and historic violins actually being played (which they do on occasion to preserve the instrument's sound and structure). After lunch in a favorite restaurant in Cremona (a destination in its own right!), we get on our bikes and pedal a scenic path through the Po Valley to Casalmaggiore.

Dinner: in Parma or countryside

Night: Hotel Stendhal - Parma

Day 4

Today is devoted to food as we take a break from biking. In the early morning enjoy a guided tour of a Parmesan cheese dairy (complete with tasting, of course), starting with the pouring of the milk - fresh from the cows - and ending in the aging room where hundreds of wheels of Parmesan are kept for up to three years, meticulously turned at regular intervals until they are ready for market. After, we transfer by van to Polesine Parmense on the Po River for a pasta-making class at the acclaimed -- and Michelin-starred -- Antica Corte Pallavicina, followed by a sumptuous lunch and a tour of their amazing culatello cellar (as seen on Anthony Bourdain's “No Reservations”). Culatello, by the way, is yet another famous specialty of the area. Of all the Parma salumi (including the wonderful Prosciutto di Parma), it is known as “the king,” prized for its rarity, delicacy and indescribably delicious flavor.

If there's time, we may even stop at a small but excellent winery for a tasting before heading back to Parma by van.

Dinner: on your own in Parma

Night: Hotel Stendhal - Parma

Day 5

Today's ride starts in Sabbioneta, an historic renaissance village (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) built in the 16th century by Duke Vespasiano Gonzaga, whose dream was to build the ideal renaissance city. From here, biking along the shores of the Po, we reach gorgeous Mantua (Mantova). Several centuries under the power and influence of the Gonzaga family, it was one of the main artistic and musical hubs of Northern Italy, noted for its significant role in the history of opera. After lunch you'll have time on your own to explore its architectural treasures, art museums and elegant palazzos before transferring by van to the charming city of Modena, home of Luciano Pavarotti, Ferrari and balsamic vinegar.

Dinner: at a restaurant in Modena

Night: Hotel in Modena

Day 6

There's time for one last ride in the morning of our final day; a short but fun spin through the Modena countryside on the “Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori della Pianura Modenese.” This is the “Road of Wines and Flavors of the Modena Planes” and it's where we bike today. Lovely, quiet paths through farmland and vineyards lead to our destination: an historic acetaia where we'll tour the small family-run production facilities and then taste the famed and exquisite Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (the REAL balsamic vinegar made in Modena and Reggio Emilia since the middle ages, aged up to 35 years and highly valued by chefs and gourmet food-lovers). You may never go back to the supermarket brands again.

After your visit, van transfer back to Modena for an optional and very special final destination (not included in tour price): Lunch at the famed and historic Hosteria Giusti. The perfect ending to our culinary adventure.

After lunch, transfer by van to the Modena or Bologna train station (or wherever you'd like in or around these two cities) where sadly, we say arrivederci!

PACKAGE INCLUDES

  • Pick up/drop off in Bologna
  • Deluxe accommodations
  • All breakfasts, cold drinks and snacks along the way
  • Four dinners with unrestricted menus (wine not included), one lunch at a Michelin- starred restaurant, one free night for dinner on your own
  • Maps and detailed route directions
  • Van support and baggage transfers
  • Guided tour at Verdi birthplace and villa
  • Guided tour at parmesan cheese dairy
  • Pasta-making class and lunch (Antica Corte Pallavicina; see above)
  • Guided tour and tasting at acetaia farm (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena)
  • Guided tour at Museo del Violino (Violin Museum) in Cremona (with violin recital when possible)
  • 27-speed high quality hybrid bikes, helmets, water bottles and handlebar bags
  • Small groups for personalized service

BOOK NOW


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