When you search for things to do in Bologna Italy, you’ll sooner or later find reviews on Tripadvisor about the Italian Days Food Tour. When you read all these raving reviews, you think: this cannot be right? This tour cannot be that good, can it? I have news for you: it is! I’ve been on quite a few food tours now, but the Bologna Food Tour with Italian Days really blew me right off my socks. I’m sorry, but here is another raving review about Alessandro and his tour in the Emilia Romagna region around Bologna. #sorrynotsorry
Farm to Table Bologna Food Tour
A typical food tour is a fun way to explore a city and eat your way through the local cuisine. I was pleased to find a different approach to the Bologna Food Tour that Italian Days offers you. You’ll leave the city as quickly as possible and you’ll not return until your belly is full and your stretch pants is maxed out! On this Bologna Food Tour, you’ll visit 3 farms and one agriturismo in the heart of the Emilia Romagna province. You’ll see how the famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is make, taste 25-year-old Balsamico vinegar and see the process of mouthwatering Parma ham. After all the information, it is time to sample the local cuisine by an endless stream of home cooked dishes paired with organic wines.
Read more: Best Gelato in Cinque Terre
I was invited by Alessandro to join his Italian Days Bologna Farm to Table Food Tour and I happily accepted. Although the tour was complimentary, I ate all the food myself, tasted all the wines myself and experienced the food coma on my own. All opinions, as always are completely my own.
How to make Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese?
I’m crackers about cheese! Not always have been, but recent years my love for cheese is growing to epic proportions (so does my belly). So when I learned the Bologna Food Tour would start with a visit to a Parmesan cheese factory, I was sold! When we entered the barn of a farm close to Modena, I could smell cows, hay and farm life. I am a city girl so all this was new to me.
We witnessed the amazing process of making original Parmigiano Reggiona Cheese right in front of us. Alessandro explained the whole process to us, waving his arms and hopping from one batch to the next. I was baffled at the details of the different steps and sucked up all the information as a sponge (or should I say fresh cheese?).
When he opened the sliding doors of the warehouse and nothing but rows and rows of stacked parmesan cheeses greeted me, I felt like I died and gone to heaven. Cheese lover’s heaven that is. In my head, a light beam illuminated my face and the music swelled to an epic climax. (tadaaaaaaa!!)
After taking endless pictures of the hugantic wheels of cheese, it was now time for some sampling! Maybe my favorite part, or was it the part where we had Lambrusco wine for breakfast? A continuous stream of parmesan cheese (13 to 24 to 60 months old!), focaccia and pizza bread, sliced sausages and other delicious treats kept coming our way. 9.30 am and I felt stuffed like a turkey on Thanksgiving! Learn more about sparkly Italian wine Prosecco here.
Read more: Bologna to Parma day trip by train.
Balsamic Vinegar – not for sour puffs
Can I let you in on a little secret? Before the Bologna Food Tour, I did not really know what balsamico was. Yes, it was some sort of vinegar you can use to dress your salad but I’m more a sweet salad kinda girl, so I never bothered with it.
Now, I feel like a converted religiso! After all, food is like a religion in Italy and once you tasted the 12 and 25-year-old balsamico, you’re instantly converted into a foodie snob who only wants the real DOP approved balsamico.
After learning about the process of making balsamico, and seeing the storage room with barrels as old as 1860 (!!) it was time to taste the good stuff. Full anticipation I got a few drops on my plastic spoon and I can truly say: life will never be the same again! The sweet, savory dark liquid left a film of intense flavours on my tongue. I could taste the craftsmanship and years of foretaste before the balsamico was aged to perfection!
Prosciutto di Modena – a modest piece of ham
At this moment during the Bologna Food Tour, my head was already spinning from all the elaborate information and my belly was shocked with all the new rich flavours I had sampled. What have I been eating all those years?! Obviously fake stuff.
When we arrived at the farm for the raw ham of Modena (or Parma Ham), the smell of salted, cured pig legs hit me in the face. Again, Alessandro walked us through the various steps of the process, explaining procedures, legislation and local customs. He showed us the differences between real and fake and variations on it, so we know from now on what to look for when we buy real Parma ham.
At the end of the tour, it was finally time to taste some Prosciutto di Modena! Jippie! You know by now I am no way near a vegetarian, so all I could say to those wafer thin sliced pieces of ham was: get into my belly! I can assure you, the salty savory taste of the dried ham is amazing. You can feel the texture with your tongue, your whole mouth is suddenly part of an intricate dance of flavours and that smell! Once you tasted the real stuff, you’ll never want anything else!
Farm to Table Food Tour
What makes this Bologna Food Tour different from other food tours is the fact, that you actually visit the place where all the delicious ingredients are produced. You really go to the farm, see the cows, see the farmers, taste their produce. But ingredients can be refined as f*ck but you cannot live off of cheese and ham alone (although I’m sure I’ll get a long way when I try). The true magic of the Emilia Romagna cuisine lies in the kitchen. The kitchen of your nonna or the kitchen of a local farm, an agriturismo.
As we pulled up the van, we were greeted by rolling hills, covered in an abundance of grapes. As we settled at the table in this rustic farm stay, we were served one delicious dish after another. In good Italian tradition, homemade pasta with paired wine. Whimsical whites, sparkling rosé and robust reds, were poured in my glass as if I would die of thirst otherwise. As I was stuffing my face with pasta with pumpkins and flowers, the lasagna was already waiting for me. As I said cheers to my table, secretly a dish of fresh made spaghetti with fresh truffle appeared on the table.
Food coma is awaiting you
As I tapped my belly and congratulated myself with the brilliant idea to wear stretch pants, I felt pretty satisfied. This Bologna Food Tour and Italian lunch was an absolute success. What a feeding frenzy and brilliant day it was. I thought we were done when big dishes with potatoes, pumpkin and fennel covered the table. Dark, balsamico glazed pork cheeks beckoned me to once again refill my plate. I closed my eyes and for the second time today, felt I died and went to a better place. This was instant bliss. Foodie delight, rolled up and disguised as a little pork cheek. Who knew I’d love pork cheeks? Sure not me!
Bologna Food Tour: the best reason to visit Bologna
And that is exactly what I like so much about this Food Tour of Bologna. You get to sample dishes and products unknown to you. You learn about the food, the producers, the traditions and customs. You’ll never look at parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar or cured ham the same way. Is it DOP approved? Or is it imitation?! Although you can sample ham in Parma or buy cheese in Bologna, you need a guy like Alessandro to take you on his amazing food expedition and learn to love authentic products and where they come from. For me, the best reason to go to Bologna is to experience the Bologna Food Tour with Italian Days.
Hungry for more?
Are you hungry for more? Do want to get a taste of true DOP approved products and find your new favorite Italian dish? Book the Italian Days Food Tour and explore the Emilia Romagna province and her products with Alessandro.
Ok ok, the food tour eats a huge chunk out of your travel budget, but I never splurge on anything unless I know it is 100% worth it. In this case, I think the Food Tour of Emilia Romagna is worth the money. You get chauffeured around all day, you don’t need breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner and by the end of the day you sampled more wine than on a regular booze cruise. A visit to Bologna and Emilia Romagna is not complete until you tried all the local foods and that’s what this tour offers you. Definitely a good reason to travel to Bologna.