This would have been a great trip. Planning it, I met many wonderful people, both here and in Italy. Here’s to hoping they and all their loved ones are fine.
Over the next weeks and months, I’ll be re-thinking this page. Maybe there will be another trip. That remains to be seen. Check back for updates.
The dates: Sunday October 18 to Tuesday October 27, 2020
The places: Romagna and Tuscany
The focus: Back roads, hill towns, local foods and wines, local culture and history
The Price: TBD. Around $3500 per person, ten people max.
Includes: Airfare, hotel, ground transportation
Contact: email@example.com, Phone or text 248-672-4413
On our Sunday October 18 departure we will fly into Bologna (one stop in either Paris or Amsterdam), arriving around noon, where we’ll be met by a driver who will take us to Rimini (about one hour). I have reserved rooms at the Grand Hotel in Rimini. It’s a historic hotel with art nouveau accents and ready access by cab or on foot to old Rimini, an important town in ancient Rome. From Rimini we will have three daytime excursions to local hill towns that are off the beaten path.
On Friday Oct 23 we will transfer by train to Florence and be met by a driver who will take us to Greve-in-Chianti. I have reserved rooms at Borgo del Cabreo, three beautifully repurposed farm buildings in the midst of vineyards belonging to the Folonari family, producers of excellent Tuscan wines. We will visit a number of hill towns in that part of the Chianti country.
My goal is to go slow, to take you to out-of-the-way places so you can see an Italy that would not be offered in an over-the-counter trip. I see us setting forth around 9:00 a.m. and having an organized morning: a little listening, a little learning. Then, in the Italian fashion, we’ll have a sizable and lengthy lunch, tasting local seasonal foods and wines. Afternoons will be for roving and restful observation, as you wish, in a scenic locale. Evenings we’ll return to the table for light fare or full meal, whichever is your preference.
Here is a sample itinerary.
A Town and Country Experience
In 1986, food and wine writer Carlo Petri hatched the idea of “slow food.” He was scandalized by the arrival of fast food in Italy and envisioned the degradation of Italian culinary traditions, chief among them local production and leisurely time at the table. This 2020 trip will honor the idea and practice of the slow food movement, extending the concept to include “slow travel.” My hope is that we will take our time and enjoy deeply.
Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany offer natural beauty, cultural history, and mind-boggling food and wine, all in abundance. Both regions are located in north-central Italy. We will stay close to the Adriatic coast in Romagna and in the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti country. In each of the two stays we’ll enjoy the countryside by day and two inviting towns by night.
Why Romagna? Here’s one reason. It’s the pasta capital of Italy. Lasagna, of course. And ravioli and agnolotti and cappelletti and tortellini. (And that’s just the beginning.) My personal favorite is pappardelle in boar sauce, shown below.
In Romagna we will be in the foothills of the Apennines. We will tour a couple fortified medieval hill towns. Spectacular views every way you turn.
I know some out-of-the-way places that serve lunch. We will probably dip down into the Marche, another region of Italy, known for its truffles in the fall.
We will eat the way the locals do.
Romagna has a sea coast, and hundreds of years of culinary tradition. We will stay in Rimini, a resort town on the coast. I know where there are a few “Streetsides” that will blow us away (just across this bridge, in fact, is an excellent example: La Marianna trattoria di mare).
The Adriatic coast and Roman roads were essential elements of the Roman empire. Rimini’s Tiberius Bridge, shown above, was completed in AD 24. Cars still drive over it. On one side is the Via Flaminia, on the other Via Emilia, two important Roman roads that connected Rome to its empire.
What Rimini would have looked like at the time of Augustus and Tiberius. Top left above, Tiberius Bridge.
As always, it’s important to be careful and watch out for ruffians.
We’ll do our best to stick to the back roads, visiting some Tuscan hill towns. October is harvest time. In both Romagna and Tuscany we will celebrate and enjoy it the way locals do. That means wine, olive oil, truffles, chestnuts, and other delicacies. It also means local festivals in old town city centers. We will visit some if not all of the following towns: Radda, Volpaia, Lucolena, Greve, Volterra, Certaldo, Impruneta, San Polo, Badia a Passignano.
Tuscany is another one of Italy’s premier regions for truffles. Fall is the season. Volterra’s annual truffle festival may coincide with our visit. Even if it doesn’t, a truffle lunch or dinner, either in Romagna or Tuscany (or both), is definitely on the menu.
A cheese rolling contest in Volterra. That’s a sheep’s milk cheese.
The town of Impruneta has organized the Festa di San Luca for 400 years.
Traffic in the Festa di San Luca: Food, wine, crafts, people. What an experience.
The olive harvest and press will be under way in October.
You’re at the source. There’s nothing like Tuscan olive oil. I’ll have some of that.
We’ll be in the heart of Chianti country. Wherever you go, there will be wine–new wine, old wine–and it will be amazing.
Chestnut harvest also occurs in October. We may be there in time for the chestnut festival in Lucolena.
Here is a sample itinerary. Everything tentative. In the Spring of 2020 I will start checking calendars of local events for October 2020. Based on dates and what sounds inviting, I’ll decide at that time whether we will begin in Romagna or Tuscany.