Join us during the charming Italian ‘primavera’ (spring) to sample some of the very finest Parmesan cheese and Parma ham, cook your own dinner under the tuition of talented local chefs, taste wine at Monte delle Vigne and dine out at renowned venues Trattoria le Valli, Bistro Piazza Garibaldi and La Greppia, serving up sublime specialities of the region.
Fly to Milan with British Airways, arriving early afternoon. Upon arrival, we check in at the comfortable and characterful Hotel Stendhal, located in the historic centre of Parma. In the hills outside the city is the charming guesthouse Commanderia del Gusto, where we have arranged a pasta cookery class. Create your perfect pasta dish under the tutelage of local chefs.
The slow-maturing, granular cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano is produced exclusively in Parma, Reggio-Emilia, Modena and parts of Mantua and Bologna provinces between the Po and Reno rivers. We visit Montecoppe, one of the iconic dairies, to watch ‘Parmesan’ being made and taste from a selection of variously aged wheels.
Then we make a private visit to Giuberti, a family-run Parma ham maker. Parma has been renowned for its air-dried prosciutto since Roman times – its micro-climate is particularly conducive to ham production. As such, in common with many other of Italy’s great foodstuffs, Prosciutto di Parma is protected and strictly limited to a particular area of production. The curing process, at least 12 months in duration, takes immense patience and skill (salt and air are the only additives) but the reward is truly special – sweet, tender meat with echoes of chestnuts and the sea borne on fragrant breezes. Naturally, we taste it for ourselves.
Lunch is provided at Trattoria le Valli in nearby Collecchio – sublime charcuterie plates and pasta cooking at its best. Some good wines are produced in the nearby hills and, in the afternoon, we head to Monte delle Vigne for a winery visit and tasting. Yet another gastronomic highlight awaits this evening. La Greppia, an old-fashioned restaurant (in the best possible way) serves up local favourites at a quality high even by Parma’s exalted standards.
Even on a short break, you’ll appreciate a few hours to make your own discoveries in this beautiful city, wandering the delis, exploring the shops, squares, churches, cafes and bars. After a morning at leisure, we gather for lunch at Bistro Piazza Garibaldi, a delightful restaurant overlooking a historic square dishing up a highlight reel of Parma cuisine. After a leisurely lunch we transfer to Milan for our flight home.
Two nights at the centrally located 4* Hotel Stendhal with daily breakfast