An All-Inclusive Week of Breathtaking Beauty, Cooking, Fantastic Sightseeing, Balsamic Vinegar, Parmesan Cheese, Parma Prosciutto & Italy's Most Iconic Exotic Sports Cars!
This week-long vacation will consist of a very small and intimate group of about 16 or fewer people. It is an 8 day, 7 night all-inclusive experience in the north-eastern Italy, based in the city of Bologna. This week is all about having incredibly unique cultural experiences that you will never forget. You will live the Italian life as we cook authentic Bolognese recipes together. We'll be having four cooking classes this week as we interact with and befriend the locals, get to know small-village artisans, and so much more. This trip will make you pinch yourself over and over in amazement that you are actually living it. Most of all, it is a week of fun, family and laughter as we share what makes Northern Italy so special in a very personal way.
"Bologna" : Birthplace of Bolognese Sauce, Tortellini, and B-O-L-O-G-N-A...
OK, so B-O-L-O-G-N-A draws up Baloney, and that is not the image we want to portray. Let's try again... Mortadella!
Bologna is one of Italy's most iconic cities for food, art, and architecture, yet it is not often visited by mass tourism.
It is home to the world's oldest university, the tallest tower in Italy, and it is the birthplace of Bolognese Sauce - shall we call it Ragu? Sauce? Gravy? Whatever you call it, it originated here, and not a single Italian will tell you it can be better anywhere else. It is the birthplace of Tortellini, Tagliatelle, Ravioli, and its surrounding area exclusively produces Reggiano Parmiggiano cheese, Parma Prosciutto, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, and the "Motor Valley", home to Ferrari and Lamborghini!
Did we mention the Food?
Bologna is considered a major food capital in Italy... for Italians! It boasts a rich and diverse culinary history. It goes far beyond it's namesake pasta sauce and Mortadella. Ask any Italian what the most important thing to do in Bologna is, and they will all say EAT!
We chose Bologna as our seventh location for more than just the food. It also happens to be strategically located in an area that allows us to get to some of Italy's most recognizable names as a day trip.
We'll take the high speed rail from Bologna directly to Venice for a full day beginning with something that the tourists don't get a chance to see - A private visit with an artisan Gondola maker. After which, we'll take a private gondola ride directly to St. Mark's Square!
We'll visit the cities of Parma, Modena, and Reggio Emilia.
We'll visit with a small, family-run traditional Balsamic Vinegar producer in Modena, a Parmiggiano Reggiano producer (where we will milk their cows), and even a small Parma Prosciutto producer that ages our own prosciutto!
And as mentioned above, we're in the "Motor Valley", home of Ferrari and Lamborghini! On our day in Modena, after shopping in the central market, guests will have the option to either stay in Modena for a day of shopping and time on their own, or visiting the Ferrari Museum. On yet another day, we have an exclusive behind the scenes visit of the Lamborghini Factory, where we will walk the assembly line inside the factory (we would show photos of this, but this is a "no photos" zone!)
And then There's The Wine...
While Tuscan wines get the most press internationally, each region of Italy is known for certain wines. The area of Emilia Romagna is known for its Lambrusco wines, and we will be trying them all week with our meals. To take it a step further, on one day, we will be going into the rolling hills near Bologna to a breathtaking winery called Corte d'Aibo, where we will try their line of reds and whites, including a Barbera Frizzante, which is comparable a high-end Lambrusco, a fantastic Cabernet, as well as a wonderful Brut.
The Cooking Classes
This week we have four cooking classes, designed to give our guests a rich experience with local cooking. Two of our classes will be with two local women, Barbara and Valeria, who will teach us traditional recipes. Another class, will be at the Michelin starred Ca' Matilde restaurant, and will be taught by their master chef, Andrea Incerti Vezzani. Our final class will be all about local pasta made from scratch, and will be held at the decadent 15th century Palazzo Isolani, which will result in our farewell dinner!
Cities & Towns we'll visit...
Factories, Wineries & Artisans we will visit...
The accommodations we choose are always a difficult choice for our vacations. They need to be beautiful and comfortable with all conveniences, but they also must be small and personal... but not so small that they cannot accommodate us. Furthermore, we look for a central location that gives us a feeling of greater immersion.
In searching for locations in the Bologna area, we fell in love with this hotel, partly because of the people, but also you just cannot get a better location.... and it is beautiful!
Originally a 13th-century guild hall, this high-end, old-world hotel is adjacent to the Duomo and Main Piazza (Piazza Maggiore). It is as central as central gets.
Our rooms are "Deluxe" rooms. They also have some suites available. If you are interested in upgrading to a suite, please contact the hotel directly for more information.
The Personal Touch
One of the main reasons we selected this hotel is the staff. In a boutique-style hotel, the staff is small and personal, their hospitality is wonderful and you will get to know them right away! You will quickly become friends, and this will truly feel like "home away from home".
You can see more photos and get more info on their website. Click here to visit it.
Is This For You?
Is This For You?
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY IF YOU ARE BOOKING ONE OF OUR 2017 BOLOGNA TRIPS
Each of our locations is developed like a work of art. We spend years looking at every detail, making the flow and experience truly unique and special. But what looks great on paper, and works well on dry-runs is not always as perfect as we want it. This is why for each of our new locations, we open up the launch weeks (2016) to our Alumni only, and offer discounts. You are helping us see what works, and what can be improved upon. Sometimes something we thought would be a huge hit falls flat, and something we thought would be a nice filler for a couple hours, is a huge hit and needs more time. Furthermore, our partners need to get used to "The CDV Way", and out Alumni always help them get the feel.
Additionally, those that come on our first year become the stars of our website and videos that are used to promote this trip in the future. Until we have done our trips with a few groups, we have to rely on pretty flat photography without the smiling faces of our guests.
In other words, you are helping us test out the trip. Usually our inaugural trips go off without a problem, and those that we do encounter are usually limited to behind the scenes logistics issues that our guests are not even aware of. But these inaugural trips are not fine-tuned trips like the ones we have been doing for years, and it is important that ALL guests that come on first-year location are easy going, and take things as they come.
If you want perfection, please wait until our second year. We do not anticipate any changes at this point, however, if after our launch weeks we determine that there need to be some alterations to the itinerary to make it a better and more cohesive week, we will! We will advise all guests that have booked for 2017 of any impending changes.
Our vacations are focused on having a good time with new friends. Everything we do revolves around that. People seeking a self-centered vacation might reconsider. Our groups tend to span all ages, men & women, singles & couples... everyone over 21 is welcome, and when our guests come ready to embrace a new culture, look forward to trying new things, and interact with other guests, it is always amazing. Even the way our guests see us is important. If you see us as "providers of a service", you may reconsider our trips. We bring you into our family and become part of the group with you... as though you are visiting friends and family. If you are able to be in this frame of mind, our trips will be like nothing you have ever experienced, but if you are looking for a more detached relationship with us, our trips may not be for you.
Be Ready to Embrace the Culture
Our trips focus on bringing you into the true culture of the place, but some guests want to see it, but not live it. We embrace the culture and do things the way locals do, which may or may not be what you are looking for. This includes little things like not having cappuccino with our meals (Italians only have cappuccino as a breakfast beverage), or larger things, like the fact that we generally have our dinners after 8:00 PM, like the Italians do. Every step of the way we adapt to the local culture, rather than asking the local culture to adapt to us. This also tends to make us much more welcome guests than other groups!
You by no means need to be athletic for this vacation, but you must be able to handle some level of physical exertion. A good rule to follow would be to ask yourself if you can do three flights of stairs, then continue walking without needing to sit down for a while.
We have had guests as old as 90 years old with no problems whatsoever. Age is not a limiting factor, so long as you are in good physical condition with no health problems that exertion would complicate.
Most of the region between sea level and a few hundred feet above sea level. There are very few inclines in this area, and most places we visit will be flat.
Walking, Train & Bus Time
In Italy, walking is always a larger concern than it probably is back home. This is because the towns are ancient, and much is closed to vehicle traffic. Some guests are also concerned about how much time they will spend in a bus. While we are in a very central area, we try to go to some of the most interesting places. Some days will have more travel time, and some very little. However, most of the place we go are very close to our base.
As a general rule on walking, you should expect about 3/4 mile (1km) of walking per day. However, there will be more on the days we go to Venice and Modena. Bus time is generally very little on most days, except the day we go to Parma.
On our day in Venice, we will be travelling fist class by high-speed rail. It is important to know that, while very rare, railroad strikes do happen in Italy from time to time, and the Venice day may be subject to conditions we cannot control. This means that if we cannot get the train that day, we will substitute with another city. again, this is EXTREMELY rare, but possible nonetheless.
Since our trips are all inclusive, we make sure there is a very active schedule. However, we are aware that some people like to just stay back and relax on some days. As such, we build our itineraries in such a way that you can join us or opt out of some activities. Most days have a morning activity or excursion, followed by lunch, then one in the afternoon, followed by dinner. In between, there is usually about an hour of rest time back at the hotel. As such, if you choose to opt out of the morning activity, you can join us for the afternoon and vice versa. However, if you choose to opt out of a morning or afternoon, you also need to be on your own for the corresponding lunch or dinner, depending on the plans for the day.
The big exceptions to this are the day in Venice. Since this is our longest day out, we will not be coming back to the hotel until the evening.
Special Needs we can (and cannot) cater to in Bologna
You must be able to walk up to a mile and do at least a couple flights of stairs in order to come on this trip in order to go on the excursions.
We can cater to most food allergies, vegetarian diets, and to some extent kosher diets. We will substitute with other dishes if you let us know in advance. We can even cater to a gluten-free diet. Our cooking class menus will not change based on a guest's food limitations, but even in the classes, we can usually offer alternatives to eat. That said, if you do have limitations, it is important that you have a positive attitude about it. We are happy to substitute, but the variety of alternatives may be limited.
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