Slow Food Festa

A food & wine tour in Parma, Barolo & Turin

Tour Overview:

  • See Turin, Parma, and Alba
  • Visit a Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese producer and a balsamic vinegar maker
  • Lunch at prosciutto factory
  • Accompany a truffle hunter and his dog in the woods
  • See three wine regions: Barolo and Barbaresco in Piedmont & Lambrusco in Emilia Romagna
  • Private sit-down tastings at Ceretto and Damilano (Barolo), Marchesi di Gresy (Barbaresco), and Medici Ermete (Lambrusco), plus dinner at the Marchesi di Barolo winery
  • SLOW FOOD FESTA, which in 2009 was a National Geographic Traveler “Tour of a Lifetime,” brings together slow food in Piedmont and comfort food in Parma.

    We start in Parma. Emila Romagna’s reputation as a food capital goes back to Roman times, when butchers and bakers would proudly display their vocation on grave markers. It continued through the Renaissance, when upper-class epicures savored a variety of spiced, cured meats—an expensive delicacy devised by local pork butchers. During modern times, Bologna was a forerunner to international food destinations, acting as a magnet for gourmands for much of the past century. And no wonder. Its cuisine is the very definition of comfort food: slow-cooked ragús, soul-satisfying lasagna, mom-can’t-make-it-better chicken broth for tender tortellini. Plus, here’s where you’ll find the real deal in Prosciutto di Parma, crumbly Parmigiano-Reggiano, and aged balsamic vinegar, aka Aceto Balsamico Traditionale di Modena.

    Piedmont has a different, but equally proud food tradition. The refined elegance of its cuisine owes to close ties with France: Piedmont was ruled by the royal house of Savoy for nearly two centuries, French was the language of diplomacy, and French customs in the kitchen and wine cellars freely traveled across their shared border. As a result, you’ll find butter and cream in risotto and pasta recipes, and truffles flecking rich egg dishes. And in wine, there’s Barolo, one of Italy’s first age-worthy reds, created by piemontese aristocrats who wanted to emulate Burgundy.

    More recently, Piedmont has led the way in the Slow Food movement. As the story goes, Carlo Petrini, a food journalist from the town of Bra in Piedmont, was traveling to Rome in 1986. He was appalled to see that McDonald’s was about to launch its first outlet in Italy—on the famed Spanish Steps, no less. To resist this infiltration of fast food, he launched a countermovement, Slow Food, with the snail as its rebellious emblem. In 1989, the founding manifesto was signed in Paris by 15 countries. Today there are 132 countries with 800 chapters (including, no doubt, one near you!). Among its goals, Slow Food promotes biodiversity (via seed banks of heirloom varieties), the preservation of local food traditions, and small-scale processing, while educating about the hazards of monoculture, genetic engineering, and pesticides. Our time in Piedmont includes dinner at a Slow-Food affiliate restaurant, and a cheese farm trying to maintain the old breeds of sheep and cow for their DOP Murazzano cheese.

    In both Piedmont and Parma, we’ll focus on food and wine in equal measure (like any good Italian). Join us for a taste of it!


Dispatches from the wine road
– Livin' La Dolce Vita


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