Parma - 4 nights
Bologna - 3 nights

Spendology - Widgets

Dolce Vita & Music in Italy

“If music be the food of love” prepare to love the local food and music maestros, forming a dual focus of this tour in northern Italy. From parmesan and Parma ham to Pavarotti and Ponchielli, via menus, museums and monuments, this is a feast for all the senses

A taste of la dolce vita is on the menu throughout this wonderful week of cookery, culture, composers, and craftsmanship, as we tour Emilia-Romagna and cross the regional border into Lombardy. First-base on the tour is the foodie city of Parma, from where we travel to nearby Langhirano to visit a family farm, famed for its parmigiana reggiano, and a family firm producing prosciutto. In Cremona, the birthplace of Stradivari and Monteverdi, we visit the Violin Museum and walk in the footsteps of Ponchielli, born a stone’s throw away in Paderno Fasolaro (now re-named ‘Paderno Ponchielli’). The cluster of composers continues just fifteen miles south in Busseto, where we enjoy a private soloist performance, and where the town’s most famous son is celebrated in the National Museum of Giuseppe Verdi. The setting for Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’, Mantua was a musical hub of Italy, its Old Town now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Modena was Pavarotti’s hometown, his characterful house now serving as a museum of his life; but the city has a second string to its bow, as the maker of traditional balsamic vinegar; and Bologna brilliantly closes the tour with its street food, typical trattorias, and a chance to cook the local ‘piadina’ flatbread.

Key Features

Cultural Tour
UNESCO Site: Mantua
Local Expert Guides
Central Hotels

Day 1 Fly to Milan Linate airport, transfer to your hotel in Parma and enjoy a welcome drink. Four nights at the 5-star Grand Hotel de la Ville.

Day 2 A morning tour takes us into the rural surrounds of Parma to Langhirano, first to a family run dairy farm to see how parmesan cheese is produced; then to a small, specialised business to see the preparation of Parma ham, and to taste the end result; and finally to a winery to sample local vino. Return to calm but cosmopolitan Parma for a walking tour of cobbled streets and sepia façades, taking in the Farnese Theatre, the mellowed stone walls of the 12th-century Duomo, and the marble octagon baptistery. (B)

Day 3 A day of discovery begins just over the Lombardy border, in Cremona, loved for its atmospheric medieval lanes, and awarded UNESCO World Intangible Heritage status for continuing the craftsmanship of its 16th-18th-century heritage, in making the finest stringed instruments. We visit the Violin Museum and view main square monuments including the Torazzo bell-tower and Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral. Continue to Roncole, to visit the birthplace of Verdi and then reach Busseto, where a statue of Verdi dominates the 15th-century piazza, to visit the Museum Casa Barezzi, and enjoy a short and private performance by a solo singer. (B)

Day 4 Renowned for its Renaissance architecture and created by the Gonzaga family to become a cultural, musical and artistic centre-point, Mantua formed the beautiful backdrop for Rigoletto, framed with three lakes and topped with a skyline of towers and cupolas. Our visit here today takes in the UNESCO listed old town and the opulently frescoed Palazzo Ducale, and includes a mini-cruise on the lake. (B)

Day 5 We travel southeast today to Modena. Its medieval core encircled by old city walls (now promenades), and focused on the Romanesque cathedral and iconic bell-tower, the town’s claims to fame range from art to opera, and from fast Ferraris to a feast of street food. We visit the Casa Museum of Pavarotti, where his home comforts, costumes and awards give an intimate insight of his life; then continue to the heart of Modena for a walking tour, a pre-arranged pause to sample a local aperitif and typical appetizer, and a visit to learn the production techniques of traditional Balsamic Vinegar. Continue to Bologna for three nights at the 4-star Royal Hotel Carlton. (B)

Day 6 The regional capital of Emilia-Romagno, Bologna is a city of cafés and colonnades, domes and towers, renaissance and medieval monuments, and, of course, gastronomic glory. A walking tour this morning will give you your bearings in the heart of the city, where all the main streets meet at the striking Piazza Maggiore. Enjoy a light lasagna lunch with a glass of wine in a typical trattoria, before an afternoon at leisure for independent exploration. (B, L)

Day 7 An excursion to the little town of Forlimpopuli gives you a hands-on experience of creating the ‘Bread of Romagna’, the local Piadina flatbread. After a demo from the experts, you are taught to prepare, stretch and cook the dough, and to taste it accompanied by Squacquerone di Romagna cheese. Return to Bologna for the rest of the day at leisure. (B)

Day 8 Transfer to Bologna airport for your return flight. (B)

  • Key
  • B - Breakfast
  • L - Lunch
  • D - Dinner


Some visits are on foot with some uneven surfaces and inclines.


per person in a twin/double room
British Airways from Heathrow

Date Price
June 3 £2445
September 9 £2425

Supplements per person

Single Supplement

Single supplement £415

Flight Options

British Airways Club Europe - On request

Tour Only

Save £200
Arrival transfer Linate to Parma £170
Departure transfer to Bologna Airport £140

Price Includes
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 7 nights' accommodation, breakfast daily, 1 lunch, itinerary as described, services of local guides and representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.

Not Included
Travel insurance, optional excursions, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.

An accommodation tax is payable locally, currently between €1.50 and €3 per person per night.

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Dolce Vita & Music in Italy - 2024

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