Joys of the Italian Table

  • 8-day exploration of the culinary traditions of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany in the company of a renowned chef
  • Sample parmesan and prosciutto, pasta and fine wines on visits to farms, vineyards, and family restaurants.

Expedition Details


Discover the joys of the table in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, two of Italy’s most fertile and beautiful regions. Go straight to the source for some of most important ingredients in Italian cuisine, observing how fine cheeses, prosciutto, olive oil, pasta, and balsamic vinegar are crafted. Visit a family farm and help prepare a meal using produce harvested from the fields only hours before. Learn about the “farm-to-table” phenomenon, the “zero-kilometer” concept of local sourcing, in a part of the world that gave birth to the Slow Food movement. Taste house wines during dinner at a country estate, and sample local specialties from Modena to Chianti and Florence.

Trip Highlights

    • Step behind the scenes with local producers to discover the origins of some of Italy’s most renowned foods, from parmesan to prosciutto to balsamic vinegar.
    • Meet a leading expert in olive oil for a talk and a sampling, and take an insider’s tour of one of Florence’s most beloved bakeries.
    • Join the owners for tours and tastings at two historic wineries: Chiarli in Emilia-Romagna, and Antinori in Chianti.
    • Enjoy farm-to-table meals in a village in the hills above Florence and at a historic villa in the heart of Chianti.

Itinerary - 8 Days

Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Bologna, Italy/Reggio nell’Emilia

Depart on an overnight flight to Bologna and transfer to our stunning resort near Reggio nell’Emilia in the Po River basin. After time to unwind at the hotel or its spa, gather for a welcome reception and dinner at A Mangiare, a restaurant recognized by the Slow Food movement that specializes in local cuisine.
Hotel Matilde di Canossa (D)

Day 3 — Reggio nell’Emilia

Delve into a farmers market with a chef this morning, discovering the bounty of one of Italy’s most fertile regions and learning how to identify the best produce. Stop to sample cheeses, salamis, and breads as you make your way through the stalls. Continue to the Cleto Chiarli winery for a tour with its owner and hear how the Chiarli family popularized Lambrusco sparkling wines more than 150 years ago. Enjoy a tasting of this renowned wine and a lunch of regional dishes. Then shift your focus to another Italian specialty on a visit to Terra Del Tuono, an acetaia del balsamico. Discover how balsamic vinegar is aged to attain its nuanced, full-bodied flavor, and sample several varieties. Dine tonight on delicious locally sourced ingredients at the innovative Osteria Chilometro Zero in Reggio nell’Emilia.
Hotel Matilde di Canossa (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Reggio nell’Emilia/Florence

We wind our way south to Florence today, indulging in a gastronomic tour of Italy along the way. Our first stop is O Caseificio Stocchi Andrea, where we’ll walk among great wheels of parmesan, tracing the long life of this fine native cheese from its production to its careful aging. In Langhirano, meet the owner at the Salumificio La Perla to learn how prosciutto is made and then sit down to a tasting and lunch. This afternoon, our drive takes us along the Tyrrhenian Sea to Antico Pastificio Morelli, a family-run pasta factory that has crafted pasta since 1860. Arrive in Florence this evening and enjoy time at leisure at our hotel. Meet for a reception tonight and then head out into this spectacular city to discover its culinary delights on your own.
Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci (B,L)

Day 5 — Florence

Begin the day at a local pasticceria, where we’ll relax with a cappuccino and Florentine pastries and meet the owner for a behind-the-scenes tour of one of Italy’s most famous bakeries. Then pay a visit to the Ricchi family restaurant in an age-old village perched on the slopes above Florence. Here, we’re joined by one of Italy’s leading experts in olive oil for a lesson on the history and production of this all-important ingredient, followed by a tasting. A local chef will give a pasta-making demonstration before we sit down with the family to savor a homemade meal of fresh pasta and other local dishes. Cap off the afternoon with a gelato tasting at one of Florence’s most famous gelaterias.
Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci (B,L)

Day 6 — Tuscan Countryside

Venture into Tuscany’s renowned wine region, traveling through rolling hills blanketed with olive orchards and vineyards and capped with cypress groves. Our destination is the historic vineyard and villa of Dievole, where we’re welcomed with a tasting of a variety of Tuscan specialties paired with fine local wines. Return to Florence this afternoon and enjoy time to explore at your leisure
Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci (B, T)

Day 7 — Chianti

Head into the heart of beautiful Chianti to the Antinori wine estate, and trace the long and colorful history of the Antinori family and their wines. First produced under the auspices of the Florentine winemakers guild in the 14th century, the Antinori wines have evolved into world-class vintages, from Solaia to Tignanello. Meet members of the Antinori family, who lead us on a tour of the cellars and regale us with tales from the family lore. Enjoy a light lunch and taste wines selected from the owner’s personal cellar. After time on your own in Florence this afternoon, gather to toast our tour of the beautiful and delicious Italian table at Alla Vecchia Bettola, an acclaimed restaurant that specializes in Tuscan cuisine.
Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Florence/U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Related Trips

National Geographic Expert

Francesco Ricchi

Francesco RicchiAward-winning chef Francesco Ricchi has operated several renowned restaurants in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. He grew up in the centuries-old village of Cercina in the Tuscan hills overlooking Florence. Trained there by his grandmother and educated at Florence University, Francesco turned the family business into a successful restaurant that still attracts the accolades of people seeking a unique combination of country ambience and great food. Chef Ricchi moved to the United States and opened Ristorante i Ricchi, where he established a reputation for providing guests with fine, authentic Tuscan-inspired cuisine and superb service. Among numerous awards, Food and Wine magazine named i Ricchi to its list of Top 25 Restaurants in North America and Esquire magazine named it the Best New Restaurant in the United States. Chef Ricchi went on to establish Cesco Trattoria (named to the Washington Post's list of 100 Very Best Restaurants and a Zagat Restaurant of Distinction) and was named Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. Needing more space to accommodate diners, he recently opened CESCO Osteria and Co2 Lounge, where he supports the farm-to-table philosophy in all his dishes.

Francesco will join the following departures:

Sep 19 - 26, 2015
Oct 10 - 17, 2015


  • Sep 19 - 26, 2015
  • Oct 10 - 17, 2015

Expedition Cost



Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,350.

International airfare to Bologna and return from Florence is not included in the expedition cost.