Bologna Guided Food & Wine Walking Tour
- The Quadrilatero: Sample authentic mortadello, ciccioli, prosciutto, and parmesan cheese (Parma is just 50 miles away); regional wines and vinegars; traditional pastries and cakes; and fresh-made chocolate and gelato.
- Pasta-perfect: Savor a glass of Sangiovese wine and discover Bologna's unique twist on tortellini, tortelloni, tagliatelle, and lasagna, learning secrets of the city's namesake meat sauce.
- Bologna's city center: Your tour includes a brief orientation to one of the best-preserved historic areas of Europe, including the Piazza Maggiore and the Basilica of San Petronia.
About this Bologna Tour
Fair warning: This tour could spoil you for life.
Why? Because Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, known to epicures as the Parma Food Valley. And because what passes for "Italian" back home is as far from what you'll experience at the Quadrilatero as Dom Perignon is from grape soda.
Let's start with "parmesan cheese." (Fair warning 2: This tour may cause excessive use of air quotes at grocery stores, restaurants, and dinner parties.) The genuine article is Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, produced in nearby Parma. Like the smoked ham called Prosciutto di Parma, the names stand for rigorously maintained quality standards, reflected by the Italian government's DOP certification (in English, Protected Designation of Origin) certification.
It doesn't hurt that the bureau doing the certifying is in Parma; nevertheless, "DOP-protected" is now synonymous with "Reserved for food snobs." As with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, a protected vinegar produced in Modena, just 27 miles from Bologna. Among other requirements, it has to be aged for nine years. (Scotch, blended or single malt, need only be aged for three.)
As for the cold cut known as bologna, it doesn't exist in Bologna. Nor is its first name O-s-c-a-r; it's Mortadella. And Mortadella di Bologna is no baloney, just as Ragu (full name: Ragu alla Bolognese) isn't stocked on supermarket shelves. It's a meat-based sauce made in a particular way for very particular people: the Bolognese.
We hold that none of this is snobbery. You're merely educating your palate. (Fittingly, in the city with the world's oldest university.) And if this tour makes you less tolerant of the mediocre, of pale imitations, is that a bad thing?
Well, it might be if, like Garfield, you think lasagna is "nature's perfect food." Because once you've had it in the place that invented it (Fair warning 3: Do not argue this point in Bologna), you'll realize that you've never actually tasted it in perfected form. And you'll be much more particular about it from now on.
The birth of tortellini
Food occupies mythic status in Northern Italy. Case in point: tortellini, said to have been created here when Jupiter and Venus stayed at an inn outside Bologna. Hoping to catch the goddess of love in full undressed loveliness, the proprietor peered through the keyhole. A single candle illuminated only her belly button, but that was enough. The innkeeper rushed to the kitchen and twisted raw dough into the shape seared into his brain, which is why tortellini is also called ombelico – Italian for navel.
Please make your way to the Neptune Fountain at the Piazza Maggiore to meet your guide, with our displayed logo sign.
Stores typically close for an afternoon break between 1:00 and 3:30pm but some remain open throughout the day. Shops are closed on Thursday afternoons, Sundays, and bank and church holidays.
Travelers must be able to walk approximately 2 miles over varying surfaces with steps and inclines. This tour is not suitable for travelers with limited mobility.
Walking Tour, Cultural, Food & Wine
Tastings – Local Fare
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages but if you are under 18 years of age, you may not drink wine. Bring proof of age in case you are asked.
Special Medical Restriction
Participants must be in good health, disclose their physical fitness and advise any conditions that might impact their participation in the tour.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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