Ask people why they travel to Italy and you’ll get many answers. But the one you’ll hear more than any other….It’s All About the Food!

It certainly is true that Italy has many wonderful other qualities: the history, scenery, people etc. But Italians know food and they do it very, very well.

On my most recent trip to Italy, we visited the city of Bologna, the historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Bologna is known as one of the biggest food destinations in Europe and Emilia-Romagna is home to 3 giants of the Italian culinary world: Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar.

My foodie family happily woke up early (6 AM!) to begin our 8 hour food tour of culinary indulgence, which started with pastries and fizzy Lambrusco red wine. Our first stop was the Parmigiano Reggiano factory. We watched the crew of 7 create the giant wheels of cheese, starting from fresh milk and through the aging process. The tasting at the end was the best part, but we did enjoy inhaling the pungent scent of 8 million Euros worth of cheese aging in one room!

The Tour continued to one of the region’s historic acetaia, a family-owned farmhouse where the famous Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P. is made. We learned about the barrel aging process and how most balsamic vinegar is made by small home producers. The tasting allowed us to compare different ages and varieties, including Balsamic Dressing aged 6 years, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar D.O.P. aged both 15 and 25 years.

Our next stop was one of the best prosciutto factories in the region. We met the family that for over three generations has been committed to making one of the world’s most delicious pork products. At their factory, we learned all about the strict regulations, the lengthy curing process, and the care that goes into ensuring that all D.O.P. prosciutto, meets the same high standards. After the tour we were treated to freshly cut slices of Prosciutto di Modena D.O.P. It was so good, it practically melted in our mouths.

Our final stop was a fabulous authentic Italian lunch at a countryside trattoria. The several fresh pasta dishes were the highlight, but we managed to eat several meat courses, grilled vegetables, salad, and desserts while the wine kept flowing. Needless to say, there was no need for dinner that night!

It was a day my family will never forget. On your next trip to Italy, make sure you make time for a food tour. Wanderlust is happy to recommend an outstanding tour in any Italian destination!