Itinerary - Culinary Treasures of Bologna, Venice, Michelin Stars & Exotic Cars

Places Bologna
Classes & Experiences n/a

Dinner: Welcome Dinner at Ristorante Da Cesari (Included)

For those arriving in Italy today, we recommend looking for flights into the Bologna (BLQ) Airport, as there are numerous connections on major carriers. Another option is the Florence Peretola (FLR) Airport, although it is an hour's drive from the city center of Bologna. If you are already in Italy, the Bologna Centrale Train Station is well connected and convenient as it has high-speed rail service. If you are in another major Italian city like, Florence, Rome, Naples or Milan, this would be a good option. The train station is just a short taxi ride to the hotel.

Once at our hotel you will have some time to get settled in, unpack and rest up. You will find some snacks and drinks waiting for you when you get to your room.

At around 5:00 PM, we will meet at a local cafe and spend some time getting to know one another over some “aperitivi” as we discuss what's ahead for the week.

We will see some of Bologna's “Quadrilatero” Street Market, a market dating back to the middle ages. The main craft guilds of the city such as goldsmiths, butchers, fishermen, “Salaroli” (workers cure meat), Furriers, Barbers and the Society of Painters, had their headquarters in this area in the middle ages. This area is still full of vendors selling a lot of amazing foods! Bring your camera as there are many photo ops of some of the ingredients that make the Emilia Romagna cuisine so unique. Especially the local cheeses, pastas and prosciutto! These are some of the key ingredients that will be featured in much of this week's cooking!

For our Welcome Dinner, we’ll head over to a fabulous traditonal Bolognese restaurant that serves up mostly locals, and is within walking distance of the hotel. During our welcome dinner we will indulge in lots of regional specialties. This is the first of our many multi-course meals as we dive head first in Italian culinary culture.

There will be lots of delicious food and wine coming to the table. Antipasto - Typically some local cheeses, breads, prosciutto, mortadella and other local salumi. Then we'll have a pasta dish. Our main course will be one of the meat specialties of the house, along with sides and, of course...Dessert!

Places Bologna
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch
App: Crescentine
1st: Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
2nd: Polpette di Carne
Dessert: Torta di Pane e Amaretti


Breakfast: Buffet at Hotel Commercianti (included)
Lunch: : The meal we prepare in cooking class (included)
Dinner: Pizzeria La Scalinatella(included)

We will begin our first full day together with our first cooking class! We’ll have a short drive to the outskirts of Bologna's city center to a lovely, family-run trattoria to meet with our cooking class instructors, Pina and Roberta, for our first cooking class.

These two fabulous women have been friends for a long time and love making their Bolognese cuisine and can't wait to share their family recipes with us! They will teach us the culinary traditions that have been handed down to them from generations past. Guests love the hands-on approach, and we will get right into the cooking in this unique setting!

For our appetizer, we will be making a regional favorite – Crescentine. This is a local "puffed-style" bread that we will have with local Salami, Mortadella and Prosciutto di Parma and cheeses.

Our first course will be Tagliatelli alla Bolognese. Tagliatelle are long narrow strands of pasta originating during the Renaissance period in Emilia Romagna and served to dukes, cardinals and popes! Our hand-made pasta will be topped with the world famous Ragu Bolognese - a wonderful meat and vegetable sauce with humble origins from over a century ago from local farmhouse kitchens. Truly an unforgettable delight that will be a mainstay for your own Italian dinner parties back home!

For our second course, we will be preparing Polpette di Carne. These mouth-watering Bolognese-style meatballs will be served with a wonderful tomato sauce that will have been simmering for hours!

Finally, for dessert, we will make Torta di Pane e Amaretti. A local version of the type of chocolate bread-cake that originates in Northern Italy. It is sweet and delicious and has a mild crunch to it as it has crushed amaretti cookies in the batter.

Once class is over, we will sit down and enjoy the meal we prepared together for lunch! After lunch, our guests will have some free time to relax and rest back at the hotel or can walk around the beautiful city of Bologna.

We’ll be meeting up around 5:30 for a guided tour of Bologna and discover the hidden treasures of this magnificent and historic city. We’ll be visiting the Piazza Maggiore and the Basilica of San Petronio. We’ll also learn the history behind the world’s oldest university, including the origins of modern day schools of science, medicine and surgical technique. We’ll also visit the two towers in Bologna’s historic center. Referenced by Dante in The Divine Comedy these towers stand at over 150 and 300 feet. These landmark towers are a testament to the medieval period when Bologna had close to two hundred towers built by wealthy families for purposes of defense as well as a sign of affluence.

Those of you that wish to walk up the stairs are welcome to do so! But it may be a "tall" order!

Dinner tonight will be at a True Pizzeria Napoletana in the city center, just a few minutes walk from the hotel. We'll order our own toppings of choice and dive into their delicious pizza direct from the wood-fired oven. Appetizers, salads, wine, beer and other beverages will be served for this casual evening out.

Places Venice, Bologna
Classes & Experiences

Exclusive insider's experience with an Artisan Gondola Builder (included)


Breakfast: Buffet at Hotel Commercianti (included)
Lunch: : Al Gazzetino (included)
Dinner: Ristorante Vicolo Columbina (included)

After breakfast we will head out for an amazing all-day excursion to what is arguably one of the most beautiful and breathtaking cities in the world – Venice!

We’ll be traveling first class on the high-speed rail line from Bologna to the Venice Santa Lucia Station.

As we exit the station, we'll get our first glimpse of the famous Grand Canal and what life in Venice is all about! There will be no doubt as to why the entire city is an UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Here, we will board our private water taxis and start our private tour through the maze of canals and waterways through this amazing and complex city on the sea.

We’ll see such famous places as the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square.

As an exclusive bonus in true CDV style! We’ll have a private and personal visit with a premier artisan builder or "Squero" of some the many famous gondolas of Venice as he shows us his ages old craft.

This unique and historic workshop is a place where gondolas are still made completely by hand, using the basic tools and techniques handed down through the generations of his family of traditional artists and craftsman. Each gondola made here is custom-crafted for the Gondolier it is destined for, even considering their height and weight as to maintain proper balance and control.

After this delightful visit with the Squero, we'll be treated to private gondola rides of our own as we make our way through the canals ending up at the gondola pier adjacent to St. Mark's Square. We'll have a short walk to a nearby trattoria for a wonderful lunch with many locals on hand for some seasonal and very Venetian specialties.

Afterwards, you will have some free time to explore and find your own hidden gems scattered throughout the city, such as St. Mark’s Basilica, The Bell Tower, Murano glass and Carnival masks. You may want to tour the Doge's Palace. This was the grand and opulent palace in Saint Mark's Square where the Lords of the Venice ruled for centuries. It is well known for its dark and dank prisons that not only held common thieves, but also enemies of the state as well as, non other than the famous lover, Casanova. Take a walk across the Bridge of Sighs, where many of these prisoners saw their last glimpse of the outside world.

We’ll all meet up at the train station to catch our return first-class trip back to Bologna. A great time to rest or share stories about today’s adventure! We’ll have a little time to freshen up before dinner at a wonderful pizzeria close to the hotel.

*Note: Venice is a city that truly requires several days to "do it all", so we had to pick and choose. We focus on the more unique experiences. We understand that some people would also like to see Murano Glass makers, The Doge's Palace and Burano. However, these are more "do on your own" tourist activities that we chose to exclude for a more rich and unique experience.

We know that there was a lot of walking today, so dinner tonight will be at a fantastic, hidden-gem of a restaurant just steps away from the hotel!

Places Reggio Emilia, Bologna
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch:
1st: Piccola Bomba di Riso alla Reggiana
2nd: Filetto di maiale alla Sapa e spinaci fondenti
Dessert: Ciambella con zabaione caldo

Experience: Parmesan Cheese Factory and Farm


Breakfast: Buffet at Hotel Commercianti (included)
Lunch: : The meal we prepare in cooking class (included)
Dinner: Tapas-Style Fare at Enoteca Vineria Favalli (Included)

After breakfast, we’ll head to Reggio Emilia. This is the area famous for Parmigiano-Reggiano, the world's most coveted Parmesan cheese. Before we visit the cows and cut the cheese (sorry, couldn't help it), we’ll have our second cooking class with Chef Andrea Incerti Vezzani at his Michelin-Starred Ristorante Ca’Matilde.

Chef Andrea will share with us his passion and skills to help us prepare authentic regional cuisine with a modern flair. Our first course appetizer is a carefully crafted “bomba” (a parmesan-rice ball) that dates back to the 16th Century when royal families would dine on this specialty during festive times such as New Year’s Eve.

Our second course is a pork filet in a unique wine reduction that originated in biblical times. Many believe is the precursor to today’s traditional balsamic vinegars made in nearby Modena.

The side dish will be a regional version of a spinach soufflé and our dessert is something that nearly every nonna (grandma) in Emilia Romagna makes, and can be found in pastry shops throughout the region. This cake is known locally as Ciambelle, and will be made with a classic hot Zabaione sauce.

After class we’ll enjoy the recipes we just made in the beautiful surroundings of the restaurant’s dining room, or outside – weather permitting!

After lunch, we’ll take a short ride to the Caseificcio San Simone. A family traditon since 1902, the third-generation of these local parmesan producers have as great a passion for their Parmigiano-Reggiano as their great grandfather did! We will visit the stables and the cows at their property and we'll get the full details of the entire process of making this world-famous cheese and why it is so important to the community.

Of course, we’ll be sampling the cheese with a wine pairing and we may even have an opportunity to visit and time permitting, milk some of their cows or see the young calves! While here we will pick up some of his extensively aged parmiggiano that we will use later this week.

After this stellar afternoon, we’ll head back to Bologna for a little time to rest and freshen up before we take a short walk through the city center over to a wonderful little enoteca that will be serving us tapas-style fare, along with some fabulous wines from their extensive cellar.

For those adventurous and energetic ones, Bologna offers a very active night-life. Take in the local flavor with the large number of university students and residents before turning in for the evening.

Places Modena, Bologna
Classes & Experiences

Family-Run Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Acetaia
Family-Run Prosciutto Producer at their Facility
Local Bologna Street-Food Experience - Dining with the locals in a 550+ year old tavern!


Breakfast: Buffet at Hotel Commercianti (included)
Lunch: : with Balasmic Vinegar Tasting at Acetaia La Secchia (included)
Dinner: Street Food at Osteria del Sole (included)

This morning we’ll be visiting Modena, one of the region's most beautiful and picturesque towns. While rich in history and culture, it is also the birthplace of two of Italy’s most world-famous citizens. The incredible and iconic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, as well as that of the historic racing legend, visionary and automaker, Enzo Ferrari!

But most of us are more familiar with a staple in everyone’s kitchen, the Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. Which, you will learn today, has much more to it than what you may have previously thought!

When we arrive in Modena, we'll have a guided visit of the historical center of this beautiful, classic Italian city with roots dating back to pre-Roman times.. We'll visit the main cathedral and other historical and cultural andmarks, such as the Central Market where several famous Michelin-Star chefs do their shopping for the freshest ingredients that make any recipe a star! You'll have some time on your own to do a little shopping or explore some of Modena's wonderful piazzas and marvel at the impressive architecture.

After our Modena town visit, we'll then take a short drive over to La Secchia Acetaia where we’ll meet Lorenzo, a producer of traditional balsamic vinegar. We’ll visit his family-run operation where he will show us the love and dedication he pours into the making of the delicate and delicious balsamic that we’ll all sample! This is a special experience, as it is not one of the Vinegar producers frequented by tourists, but rather a true, family operation that will be opened uop to us. We’ll have lunch with the family at the acetaia, where you will be treated to one of the best savory pasta dishes you will ever have! It's almost impossible to describe its deliciousness, but there's a lot of parmesan cheese and it's drizzeled with some very well-aged traditional balsamic!

Since we are in one of the most celebrated culinary areas of Italy, let alone, globally, we'll continue on our gastronomic adventure after our amazing lunch with Lorenzo, and head to a small-production prosciuttificio where we will sample the delicate and delectable aged-prosciutto made locally in a small town situated in a valley between Modena and Bologna.

The Prosciuttificio Nini has been family-run since 1910 and has been recognized and awarded as one of the leading producers of aged proscuitto for nearly a century! We'll get a first-hand look and tour of their factory and learn about the process of making this world-famous, and highly sought-after cured pork product. Of course, there will be a tasting and we're going to bring some along with us to accompany our dinner tonight back in Bologna. Remember earlier...Mangia, Mangia Mangia? It never ends!

Tonight's dinner, yes, there's going to be dinner! - Will be at the Osteria Del Sole. This establishment opened in 1465. Since opening, this is a place that has served only wine, and locals would bring their own food to dine here. It is Bologna's oldest tavern, and quite possibly, the oldest in all of Italy that has been in continuous operation. It is a traditionally informal place to really experience old-style Bologna life as locals get together, drink, gossip, play cards and board games.

Our plan is to find local fare at the many nearby markets and trattoria and bring our meal to the tavern. We will wine and dine with the locals with our freshly procured delicacies and relax at this historic tavern.

Places Bologna, Sant’Agata Bolognese, Colli Bolognese/Savigno
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in lunch:
App: Tigelle alla Modenese
1st: Lasagne Verde
2nd: Filetto di maiale alla Sapa e spinaci fondenti
Dessert: Torta di Riso

Experiences Lamborghini or Ducati Factory Tour
CDV's Traditional Thursday Night Dinner with locals!


Breakfast: Buffet at Hotel Commercianti (included)
Lunch: : The meal we prepare in cooking class (included)
Dinner: Italian BBQ at the Winery (included)

Get your motors running, we're headed on the highway to the Lamborghini Factory for a behind-the-scenes personal and guided tour of the full production line of these incredible automotive machines.

Note: Due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts or other restrictive days at the Lamborghini Factory, we may have to "switch-gears" to an alternate venue. Namely, the Ducati Motorcycle Factory, where we will have an up-close and in-depth tour of their amazing factory and production line as well!

We'd love to show you photos of the factory, however, due to the exclusivity of this expereince, it is strctly forbidden by the factory. We will be required to leave our cameras and smart phones locked away before we enter. We will walk the assembly line and see up close one of the most legendary automobiles of our time. Unfortunately, the only photos will be those we burn into our minds, but this is an unforgettable experience!

While we know the Lamborghini factory is a bucket list for many, and often (yeah, the wives) a yawn-fest just thinking of it, we can say that we have yet to see a single person walk away from this experience that was not in total awe, especially those that previously thought they would rather watch the grass grow. To see inside this factory is truly a once in a lifetime experience, even for those that are not automobile enthusiasts.

Both the Lamborghini and Ducati Factories have museums and exhibits that are not only impressive, but, photographs are allowed in the museum areaas, so snap away!

After a thrilling look into the world of Supercars (or Superbikes!), we’ll be ready, (and hungry, maybe?) for some wine tasting and relaxation. Our next stop is at a winery that our friend, Lorenzo, from the acetaia, introduced us to. We'll meet Marcello and Matteo – The wine-makers at their wonderful family-run winery, Il Saliceto. We will have lunch and a wine tasting at their vineyard and cellars, on the outskirts of Modena. They make some fantastic Lambrusco sparkling wines. These are dry wines with great body and complexity to pair perfectly with the local cuisine. Our lunch will be in an informal setting with really nice people and great friends!

After a full morning and afternoon, we'll head back to the hotel in Bologna for some down time before our evening out.

Our evening here is yet another CDV exclusive. It is Day 6, and our past guests know what that means at all of our locations! Tonight, we'll get together for dinner with local friends, and listen to some music and, if you feel like dancing... Then there will be dancing! This is an informal evening where everyone has a great time and live La Dolce Vita! The food is amazing, the wine never stops flowing, new friendships are formed, and you never know who may pop in tonight... maybe some of the people you met along the way way during the week, maybe more of the CDV team, and maybe some of our past guests that just happen to be in the area! Everyone is welcome!

Places Maranello, Bologna
Classes & Experiences

Cooking Class (included) resulting in dinner
App: Tigelle
1st: Lasagne Verde
2nd: Spiedino alla Bolognese
Dessert: Zuppa Inglese

Optional Experience At The Ferrari Museum, guests will have time to rent A Ferrari or Lamborghini if they desire. Note: That any rental car experience is a personal cost and not included in our sheduled program (Museum Entrance is included)


Breakfast: Buffet at Hotel Commercianti (included)
Lunch: : Local Bologna Trattoria (included)
Farewell Dinner: The Results of our Final Cooking Class (included)

While it may be our final full day together, we still have a lot in store! Today you have a couple of options in the morning before we all meet for lunch.

Option 1: Morning at Leisure on Your Own in Bologna

One of the choices is to take the morning on your own and either stay in and relax at the hotel, stroll around Bologna, go shopping, take in the local flavor some more, climb one of the towers, whatever it is, it's all up to you! The other option is to hop on our bus and go to Maranello for the Ferrari Museum Tour. There isn't enough time in the morning for one to do both, having free time in Bologna and go to the Ferrari Museum.

Option 2: The Ferrari Factory Museum
For those of you that opt to go to the Ferrari Museum (Note: We are going to the Ferrari Museum tour and NOT a Ferrari Factory Tour) your tour host will accompany you to Maranello on our bus for this excursion..

The Ferrari Museum gives visitors a rare opportunity to see these historic vehicles up close as the museum houses an impressive exhibit of these exotic cars! Arguably some of the finest examples of style and excellence ever produced by this legendary manufacturer.

You will also have time on your own in Maranello to rent a Ferrari or Lamborghini and drive through the same streets where they test drive these exotic cars!

Whichever you decide this morning, we'll all be having lunch together back in Bologna at a wonderful little trattoria in the Mercato delle Erbe, an indoor marketplace just a few blocks from the hotel. Lunch will be in an informal setting in the marketplace where we’ll have several menu options, from charcuterie, vegetables and salad, to pastas and panini.

After lunch, take some down time to pack, rest, relax, or, we may grab a gelato, cafe or an aperitivo on the way back from lunch.

For our evening out and dinner, we will head back to Roberta's trattoria for our second cooking class with her and Pina. Today's menu and recipes are just as mouth-watering as the previous ones.

Our appetizer will be a local bread, tigelle, that is pressed and baked using a special instrument. Kind of like a tortilla press, but with individual sections for the small, round and embossed biscuits.

Our pasta will be the famous Lasagne Verde. This is the gold-standard for authentic Italian lasagne. This is a dish you will prepare over and over again as it is that good and your friends will LOVE you for it! We make this recipe from scratch using as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible.

For our main course, we will be making another local favorite, Spiedina alla Bolognese.

Finally, for dessert, we will make Zuppa Inglese, which is the Italian version of triffle.

We’ll all enjoy our dinner together with Pina and Roberta in the comfortable surroundings. Don't be surprised if some of the locals peek (snoop?) in and want to check out what's going on. It's possible that they'll lend a hand, or grab a fork and knife!

Places Bologna
Classes & Experiences n/a

Breakfast: Buffet at Hotel Commercianti (included)

As with the arrivals, departures from the hotel are also at your own discretion and are not included in the vacation package. Taxis to the Bologna Central Train Station and the Bologna Airport are readily available. Private drivers are available if booked in advance.

The Not So Fine Print:

Itinerary Subject to Change

This is a base itinerary, which is subject to minor changes before the vacation begins. Changes may be reorganization of days due to closure and festivals, changes due to weather, or seasonal changes. Additionally, these itineraries are prepared well in advance, and at times there are unexpected closures for various reasons that require us to alter the plans. In the end, our goal is always to make it better for our guests, and when substitutions happen, they are always wonderful.

Ferrari or Other Car Rentals

While we have ample time at the Ferrari Museum for brief rental periods, if you want extended rental car time of over 15- 20 minutes, you may need to schedule your drive outside of the scheduled itinerary, which could involve you acquiring your own transportation either to, from, (or both) the rental car company and the hotel in Bologna, as the rental agency has other packages outside their 10-20 minute "Test-Drives". The car rentals are at your own expense and not included in the "All-Inclusive" Culture Discovery Itinerary or program. If you will be aquiring extended rental time, please inform your tour host at the beginning of the vacation week so that they have time to make any adjustments, if neeed.

Menu Variations

The menus listed on the itineraries are subject to change depending on season. We use only fresh ingredients wherever possible, so if we are unable to prepare a certain dish, it will be substituted. Occasionally we make changes to some items as certain dishes prove to be very popular.


Some places on our itineraries don't work well with cold weather or rain. We may have to have some of our meals indoors that were scheduled to be outside. When we do expect rain, we try to rearrange the schedule to make the best of it, but substitutions may be made.