This is my second self-guided ride in Europe, the first being in Switzerland. If you are curious about my Swiss adventure, you may read more about it here.
The last time I visited Italy was close to 10 years ago. Italy has always captivated me with its lovely countryside landscapes, beautiful pristine blue beaches, and fascinating history. From the scenery to the warmth of her people to the food, there is nothing not to love!
I went on an Italian culinary cycling adventure with a small group of cyclists from Bologna to Parma, stopping in Modena and Reggio Emilia. This trip is very leisurely paced as we spend 2 nights in all the cities, allowing us the flexibility to decide whether we want to cycle near or far during our ‘off’ days.
Here are some of the highlights from my trip.
Cooking Class in Bologna
On our first evening In Bologna, we attended a cooking class in this lovely home kitchen and learnt how to make pasta from scratch and the classic Italian dessert, tiramisu. After all the action in the kitchen, we enjoyed the fruits of our labour and washed down everything with Lambrusco wine whilst in the cosy home of our host.
The cosy home of our chef. We were reluctant to leave!
We get to be hands-on during the class!
Visiting a traditional balsamic vinegar home factory in Modena
This is one of the most exciting factory visits where it felt like visiting someone’s country home rather than a factory. Learning how traditional balsamic vinegar is produced and knowing that the process remains unchanged for hundreds of years is fascinating. No wonder good balsamic vinegar costs as much as a good bottle of wine!
Fresh grapes plucked straight from the grape tree. Super sweet and juicy!
Very fascinating to learn how vinegar is fermented. These barrels have hundreds years of history!
The best part? The samples we got to try! Syrupy sweet with a tinge of sour, delicious!
Learning how Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is produced
My knowledge of cheese went up the roof after the factory visit to a red cow Parmigiano Reggiano cheese factory while en route to Parma. Looking at how stringent the cheese-making process is, plus the time it takes for the cheese to turn out well made me appreciate every single bite that I got to sample. Needless to say, we had to get our cheese and willingly carried it on our bikes as we continued cycling to Parma.
The cheeses take a salt bath. That's how cheese got their saltiness.
The final test - the sound test. This will determine whether the cheese is good for sale or not.
Another highlight - cheese tasting! 24 months, 30 months and 40 months Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Staying in an Agriturismo Country House Hotel
We spent two nights in a lovely country home that’s surrounded by vineyards and acres of land. In this homely abode, we saw the loveliest sunrise and sunset, and plenty of wild farm animals like deer, rabbits and pheasants roaming around the vineyards. It felt like a scene from the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun.
Cycling into our country homestay for 2 nights.
Very huge compound for us to walk and explore around.
The gorgeous view from our room!
The leisurely-paced itinerary allowed us plenty of time to explore small towns at our own pace and enjoy nice Italian lunches and dinners. Food around this region is reasonably priced with plenty of options to choose from. It’s no wonder this region is the culinary zone of Italy.
If you want to see more of our experiences, check out our photo album on Facebook or watch the video.
Want to give this experience a try? Check out the itinerary here.
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