The following itinerary lists a range of sites and activities which we have planned. While many are accessible to the public, some require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, and confirmation of visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents. The tour includes breakfast daily, some lunches, evening aperitivi or dinners, indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch, A=aperitivo/apericena & D=dinner.
Day 1: Sunday 22 September, Arrive in Parma
- Welcome Meeting and Welcome Drinks
Meeting Point: The tour commences at 6.00pm in the foyer of the hotel in central Parma. We commence our program with a Welcome Meeting followed by drinks with your tour leaders and local guide, Roberta Gasparini. (Overnight Parma) A
Day 2: Monday 23 September, Parma
- Guided walking tour of Parma incl. the Duomo complex, Historical Centre and Teatro Farnese
- Welcome Lunch in a typical osteria
- Afternoon at leisure
After breakfast, we will begin a walking tour of Parma taking in the key features of the historic centre. Parma’s Duomo dates back to 1074 and is dedicated to the assumption of the Virgin Mary. An important Romanesque cathedral, the Duomo features a dome decorated by famous Renaissance painter Correggio and bas-relief sculpture from the 12th century by Benedetto Antelami, who also designed the octagonal Baptistery of pink Verona marble which flanks the cathedral. A visit to the Baptistery reveals the influence of Byzantine art on the frescoed interior while its architectural style traces the important transition from Romanesque to Gothic. Both Duomo and Baptistery have significant decoration on their exteriors. The nearby Bishop’s palace shows the influence of successive architectural styles combining Mediaeval, Renaissance and Baroque features. The Diocesan Museum houses the original Angiol d’Or or Golden Angel (known as l’Angiolen dal Dom – the cathedral’s angel), a replica of which stands on today’s bell tower. From Piazza Duomo we will wind through the streets of the historic centre taking in other notable sites such as Piazza Garibaldi with its monument to Garibaldi and the Governor’s Palace, Palazzo del Podestà, Piazza della Pace and ending with a tour of the Teatro Farnese in the Palazzo della Pilotta. This is one of only three remaining historic theatres of its kind in existence. The Palazzo della Pilotta also houses the Galleria Nazionale and Museo Archeologico – you may wish to stay on and visit these at your leisure.
We then enjoy a Welcome Lunch of local specialties at Trattoria Sorelle Picchi. The rest of the afternoon at will be at leisure. (Overnight Parma) BL
Day 3: Tuesday 24 September, Parma
- Morning at Leisure
- Guided walking tour off the beaten track, with visits to Farmacia San Filippo and Teatro Farnese
- Afternoon tea: Tè con la Duchessa at Pasticceria San Biagio
We will meet in the mid-afternoon and begin uncovering some special places of Parma. The Teatro Farnese is one of only three remaining historic theatres of its kind in existence. The Teatro Farnese is in the Palazzo della Pilotta which also houses the Galleria Nazionale and Museo Archeologico which can be visited at the end of our tour.
We will explore boutiques offering unusual products such as the Violetta di Parma, and your tastebuds will come alive during our afternoon tea. (Overnight Parma) BA
Day 4: Wednesday 25 September, Parma – Antica Corte Pallavicina – Parma
- Visit a working farm
- Discover the history of culatello
- Cooking class and lunch
The Antica Corte Pallavicina today comprises a working farm, luxury hotel and one-star Michelin restaurant. The property was built as a customs house on the River Po in the 14th century. Maria Luigia, Duchess of Parma and wife of Napoleon, garrisoned her frontier guards here in the late 1700s. Once we arrive at the Antica Corte Pallavicina in our private coach, our program begins with a visit to the farm followed by a tour of noble rooms and ending in the Museo del culatello. The Culatello di Zibello is a cured ham only produced in Parma where the combination of fog and low temperature during the autumn and winter allows it to age gracefully creating its characteristic sweetness.
At the end of our tour, we will be fully immersed in all the secrets of pasta making during a three-hour pasta workshop. This will culminate with a convivial meal accompanied by local wines. (Overnight Parma) BL
Day 5: Thursday 26 September, Parma – Modena – Parma
- Guided Tour of Acetaia Picci, Balsamic Vinegar producer
- City tour of Modena
- Degustation Lunch with Wine Pairing at Osteria Francescana at Maria Luigia
This morning we travel to Modena. En-route we will visit the producer of one of the region’s famous condiments: Balsamic vinegar. On arrival in Modena we will visit the historic centre briefly before arriving at Casa Maria Luigia for a special degustation lunch with wine pairing. Casa Maria Luigia is a recent project of the three-star Michelin chef, Massimo Bottura. His restaurant, Osteria Francescana, has twice been named no. 1 in the world. Our menu will consist of Bottura’s signature dishes matched with appropriate wines.
After lunch we will have a chance to explore the grounds of Casa Maria Luigia before returning to Parma where the evening is at leisure. (Overnight Parma) BL
Day 6: Friday 27 September, Parma – the Po Valley – Parma
- Rocca Sanvitale, Fontanellato
- Lunch at a local restaurant
- Rocca Meli Lupi, Soragna
This morning we drive to the charming little town of Fontanellato where our local guide, Roberta Gasparini, will lead us through the Rocca Sanvitale. This castle surrounded by a moat was home to the Sanvitale family and remained such until the 1930s. It includes one of the few optical chambers (camera ottica) in Europe and houses frescoes by Parmigianino. We will then enjoy a typical lunch based on local specialties at Restaurant 12 Monaci.
Our next destination is the Rocca Meli Lupi in Soragna, the home of Prince Meli Lupi. This regal residence will delight those interested in formal gardens, sumptuous decoration, Baroque style and gold. (Overnight Parma) BL
Day 7: Saturday 28 September, Parma – Torrechiara – Mamiano – Parma
- Castle of Torrechiara
- Prosciutto making demonstration at a local prosciuttificio
- Fondazione Magnani Rocca
Torrechiara is the archetypical castle and it even has a ‘fairy tale’ love story in its history! Its austere exteriors hide a highly decorated interior which moves from rich grotesque frescoes to the flowery Camera d’Oro. Our local guide, Roberta Gasparini, will enchant you with the history of this stunning place during our morning visit.
From here, we visit a prosciuttificio to introduce you to the process behind the making of prosciutto en-route to the Fondazione Magnani Rocca. After a scrumptious lunch, we will visit the Magnani collection which includes works by Gentile da Fabriano, Filippo Lippi, Carpaccio, Dürer, Tiziano, Rubens, Van Dyck and contemporary artists such as Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, up to de Chirico, De Pisis, fifty of Morandi’s works, and sculptures by Canova and Bartolini. (Overnight Parma) BL
Day 8: Sunday 29 September, Parma
- Tour of Parma’s grand theatre, the Teatro Regio
- Performance at Verdi Festival (subject to performance schedule)
- Pre- or Post-performance Aperitivo
This morning we will head to the Teatro Regio, originally called the New Ducal Theatre and built at the request of Duchess Maria Luigia of Hapsburg-Lorraine, the wife of Napoleon. In neo-classical style, the theatre eloquently illustrates the important cultural history of Parma. Our tour will take in the foyer, the ridotta – a large salon where Maria Luigia’s throne was to be found, the theatre itself with its lavish decorations and theatre curtain by Giovan Battista Borghesi.
Following time at leisure we attend an afternoon or evening performance of a Giuseppe Verdi’s opera as part of the 2024 Verdi Festival (subject to the performance schedule to be released in early 2024). (Overnight Parma) BA
Day 9: Monday 30 September, Parma’s countryside
- Bike ride to a caseificio with a parmigiano reggiano making demonstration
Today, we will be joined by Davide Pagani, owner of Bike Food Stories, who will lead us on a bike ride to a caseificio where we will see how the world famous parmigiano is made. After the tour there will be a tasting and the opportunity to stock up on parmigiano. We’ll jump back on our bikes and go for a leisurely ride through the typical countryside of the Po Valley before heading back to Parma. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax and recharge.
For those not wishing to ride a bike, a private coach will ferry you to and from the caseificio. (Overnight Parma) B
Day 10: Tuesday 1 October, Parma – Po River – Mantua – Parma
- Cruise and lunch on the Po River
- Historic Mantua, incl. Rotonda di San Lorenzo
This morning we travel to Mantua, the great historic city on the banks of the River Po. We will take a cruise along the River, through the Mantuan lakes and the Mincio Oasis. Lunch will be served on board. On our return to Mantua we will visit the historic centre of the city of the Gonzagas. A highlight will be the Rotonda di San Lorenzo, a medieval church with a circular design. This evening we return to Parma where we gather for a farewell aperitivo. (Overnight Parma) BLA
Day 11: Wednesday 2 October, Depart Parma
- Tour ends after breakfast
Our tour ends today in Parma. You may wish to extend your stay in Italy. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B