Hungry For More?Consider Taking One Of These Culinary Tours Of Italy:
(Note: Rates listed below cover most expenses except airfare.)
Lidia's Italiane Esperienze (800/480-2426 or 212/758-1488) is a series of trips guided by New York's grande dame of northern Italian cooking, Lidia Bastianich. (The tours evolved when, in response to her customer's travel queries, Bastianich signed on with her daughter's touring company.) Forthcoming are Sicily, June 2-9, and Tuscany, May 13-20 and September 17-24; she will also custom-design tours. Her Piedmont itinerary, scheduled for next November, coincides with the white-truffle season. On all trips, days are devoted to visiting wine, cheese, pasta, and olive oil producers; exploring art museums; participating in cooking demonstrations, and, of course, eating in Bastianich's favorite restaurants. The fees range from $3,800 to $4,100 per person, double.
Backroads (800/462-2848 or 510/527-1555) leads six-day walking tours of the Tuscan countryside in May, September, and October. Between treks there are olive oil and vinegar tastings, a winery tour, and cooking lessons at Badia à Coltibuono and the Villa Tuscany. The fee is $3,698 per person, double.
Butterfield & Robinson (800/678-1147 or 416/864-1354) leads six-day gentle hikes through the Veneto, Italy's breadbasket, in May, June, and September. Participants stay at the best hotels and eat at the region's leading restaurants. The fee is $4,225 per person, double.
Italian Connection (800/462-7911 or 780/438-5712; www.italian-connection.com) leads the way through the olive groves and vineyards of Umbria (Orvieto, Todi, Assisi, and Spello), September 6 to 11. Along with daily walks, there are two Umbrian cooking lessons in farmhouse kitchens and the last evening is spent celebrating the town of Cannara's festa della cipolla onion festival. The cost is $2,295 per person, double.
Margaret Cowan (800/557-0370; 604/681-4074), author of Your Guide to 82 Decadent Cooking Holidays in Italy, takes her guests to Emilia Romana for visits to small producers of Parmesan, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, wine, and olive oil. There are also lessons with three different chefs, including a master pasta maker. The six-day tour starts at $2,250 per person, double, and takes place twice a month from March 19 through the end of October.