Our “Taste of Italy” group had an exceptional trip to Italy this May, our second “The Mediterranean Diet: In Search of the Seven Species” class. We knew it would be good because we had our same guide from last year, Rob, who once again regaled us with hilarious stories making history fun. Also, it was filled with great food experiences! Beginning the first night, we had an authentic Milanese meal only the next day to head to Modena and Parma where we were able to see how real parmesan reggiano cheese was made in a small cheese factory in the middle of a field where there were no foul odors for the cheese to absorb and where the cattle were only fed products that are regionally grown. YUM! We saw balsamic vinegar production produced by a family who has been producing balsamic vinegar in the same area for over 300 years. It is really good on parmesan cheese! We learned how prosciutto ham was made, went to the Gelato University and learned how to create artisan gelato for a small business, saw a pasta making demonstration by a 70 year old woman who makes 100 servings of homemade pasta daily for a Bologna restaurant and visited a chocolate factory complete with tasting.
Visiting an olive press in San Miniato and learning about truffles while having lunch in a “slow food” restaurant was another wonderful food portion of the trip. We also saw where the first “legal” dissections of the human body were made at the University of Bologna in the 1600’s, complete with a peep hole for a church official to insure nothing “evil” was going on! In each region we had authentic meals from the region and were also able to see many of the historic sites including the cities of Milan, Bologna, Florence, Pisa (and of course the Leaning Tower), Assisi and Rome.
We ended our trip in Rome where we dined in a wonderful authentic Roman restaurant and wandered through the piazzas. Some of the students brushed up on their anatomy by visiting the Capuchin Crypt where the bones of about 4000 Capuchin friars are displayed in a very interesting and artful display in a variety of small chapels. Others enjoyed Ostia Antica, the harbor city of ancient Rome or just wandering through the city. We all had so much fun and learned so much! Truly a great educational experience while having a wonderful time. We plan to travel next year back to Milan for “A Taste of France and A Touch of Italy” where we will eat our way from Milan to Paris having more wonderful food-based experiences. We hope you will join us!