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Italy's Irresistible Food Tours That Will Make You Want To Pack Your Bags And Leave


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Photos of Italy 1/1 by Sonalika Debnath

In addition to the art that makes your soul swoon, souk-like markets peppered across streets, sunny Tuscan castles and the romance of it all, Italy is Europe's most sought after destination for the country's glorious food scene.

You could be walking down cobblestone streets, watching rows of colourful boats go by, or be regaled with stories of family and history by a garrulous Italian stranger, but somehow you'll always be a little distracted by the aroma of freshly baked bread or a tangy bolognese sauce from a nearby kiosk.

This list of handpicked of food tours, will suss out everything from Michelin-starred musts, hole-in-the-wall restaurants where they make their pasta and sauce from scratch, to the best spots to go hunting for truffles as you eat and drink your way through the country.

1. Cookbook author gives you gives you a glimpse into native Roman cuisine.

Katie Parla has been conducting culinary tours in Rome for nearly a decade now. Her intimate tour of Roman Cuisine will take you through the piazzas of Prati, a district in northern Vatican, that is relatively devoid of tourists and hence perfect for a truly local experience.

The food tour will also take you through the bustling Trionfale market. Among the many delis and cafes you'll be visiting, a few stops will be made along the way at Pizzarium, that according to Parla sells the world's best pizza by the slice, La Tradizione, that stocks nearly 400 varieties of cheese and Gelateria dei Gracchi, where the nocciola, or hazelnut gelato is an absolute must-have. This tour will give you a glimpse into how native Romans cook and like their food.

Photos of Trionfale, Via Trionfale, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/5 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Trionfale, Via Trionfale, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 2/5 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Trionfale, Via Trionfale, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 3/5 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Trionfale, Via Trionfale, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 4/5 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Trionfale, Via Trionfale, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 5/5 by Sonalika Debnath

Photos of Trionfale, Via Trionfale, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy 1/1 by Sonalika Debnath

Duration: Half-day

Cost: Parla offers a host of tours. A half-day private tour costs €360, or about $400, for a group of six

Excludes: Cost of food and beverages consumed during the tour

Suggested Stay:

Photos of

2. Cycle through the rolling hills of Piedmont and hunt for truffles

This 10-day jaunt is where food and adventure unites at Italy’s pilgrimage sites for foodies. So while you cycle through hilly hamlets and roads fringed with vineyards, you will also tour distilleries, and learn about grape production in both wine and grappa. Apart from getting a little tipsy on the Barbera, Dolcetto, or the Nebbiolo wines, you will come back heady with the taste of the Grissini bread sticks and heavenly chocolates.

With VBT, you'll also tour the medieval streets of Barolo, learn to make your very own wood-fired pizza, spot cascina farmhouses and visit Canelli’s UNESCO-listed Spumante cellars. On the day you visit Langhe, the region where the slow food movement originated (the movement was an initiative to bring about an alternative to fast food, aiming to preserve traditional and regional cuisine, so as to encourage farming of plants, seeds, and livestock belonging to the local ecosystem), you will get to meet winemakers, working farmers and the adorable sharp-nosed, four-legged truffle hunters. At the end of every night, you'll retire to country hotels and feast on rustic local fare such as tajarin, a regional egg-yolk-based ribbon pasta.

Photos of Barolo, Province of Cuneo, Italy 1/1 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Barolo, Province of Cuneo, Italy 1/2 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Barolo, Province of Cuneo, Italy 2/2 by Sonalika Debnath

Duration: 10 days

Cost: $3,495 for the land-only package. VBT also offers air packages from Boston, Los Angeles and New York. Cost of food and beverages consumed during the tour are also included in the package. Find all the details here.

Suggested Stay:

Photos of The Oaks of Vareglio, Canale, Province of Cuneo, Italy 1/1 by Sonalika Debnath

3. A bread, bean and biscotti feast in Florence

Every turn in Florence will greet you with people feasting on bread and bean soup, and the mandatory Chianti wine.

Eating Italy's food tour starts from Oltrarno, Italy's answer to Paris' Left Bank. Take delight in the region's Bohemian vibe, abuzz with students and artists in hipster cafes and an all-round vibrant culture. The tour is bound to give away a number of local food and restaurant secrets. Among the multitude of food and wine tastings, you'll also learn to make Italian cantucci (biscotti), sample locally made fennel salami or Finocchiona, Tuscan cheeses and crostinis, and stop at an authentic Italian trattoria (restaurant) for steaming hot soups. Don't leave before having Florence’s famous steak, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, and of course, end the tour with gelato.

Photos of Florence, Italy 1/3 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Florence, Italy 2/3 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Florence, Italy 3/3 by Sonalika Debnath

Duration: 4 hours

Cost: €75 for an adult, that includes all the food tastings. For more details, visit Eating Italy's website.

Suggested Stay:

Photos of Hotel Croce di Malta, Via della Scala, Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy 1/1 by Sonalika Debnath

4. A gastronomical explosion on a gondola ride through Venice

Walk of Italy's tour spanning two sides of the Grand Canal, clamber aboard a gondola to experience the gastronomical explosion of cicchetti, wine, fritti and pasta.

A Venetian local will meet you at the Rialto Bridge with your first stop being the Rialto Fish Market. Almost every restaurant with a seafood menu purchases their fish from here. You will stop for food at a bacaro (Venetian gastropub) for the delicious cicchetti (appetisers) and a glass of spritz, wine or Prosecco. Another dish to try out here is the baccalà, a salted cod dish, that is accompanied by freshly baked bread. Tips shall also be given to avoid the same old touristy restaurants.

Photos of Rialto Bridge, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy 1/4 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Rialto Bridge, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy 2/4 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Rialto Bridge, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy 3/4 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Rialto Bridge, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy 4/4 by Sonalika Debnath

Duration: 2hrs 45min

Cost: $85.73, inclusive of the food, drinks and the gondola ride. More details can be found here.

Suggested Stay:

Photos of Hotel Paganelli, Riva degli Schiavoni, Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy 1/1 by Sonalika Debnath

5. A walk through Sorrento's citrusy farms

This food tour will take through the charming streets of southern Italy. A few of the many dishes you'll be tasting on this tour are gnocchi, paninis with buffalo mozzarella, cured meats, pastries and gelato. You'll make stops at a pizzeria, a cheese factory, and a family-run farm. You can also get your hands on some family recipes and make a Neapolitan-style pizza at the historic centre of Schiazzano.

Guided by a local, your first stop will be at a local farm, Limoneto Storico, dating back to 1894. You can also walk through olive groves and sample fresh olive oil, or the abundant citrus trees and taste orange oil on artisanal bread. Your next stop will be at a cheese factory, where you can try the recommended pairing of fresh provolone cheese with salami and wine. Top it all off with coffee or a mean limoncello digestivo (Italian liqueur).

Photos of Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy 1/2 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Sorrento, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy 2/2 by Sonalika Debnath

Duration: 5 hours

Cost: $122.01, inclusive of food and drinks. Find more details here.

Suggested Stay:

Hotel Mignon Meublè

Photos of  1/1 by Sonalika Debnath

6. A walk through the land that created Parmesan

The tour starts early in the morning, the first stop being at a cheese factory in the Emilia-Romagna countryside that will educate you on the production of Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano, the world's most famous cheese. Right from the milk being curdled to the final ageing, the complete process is shown in detail. This visit ends with a huge breakfast of Parmesan cheese sampling and dry Lambrusco wine.

Next up is the Acetaia, where you delve into the secrets of the illustrious 12-year old balsamic vinegar or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena produced by a solitary family. Starting from ageing grapes in oak barrels, the entire process behind producing the vinegar is shown in detail. You will also be fed ricotta, balsamic jelly and ice cream, all cooked using a 6-year old balsamic condiment. Then comes Prosciutto and its manufacturing. Here you get to see the careful craft that goes into creating one of the world's finest pork products.

Photos of Modena, Italy 1/3 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Modena, Italy 2/3 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Modena, Italy 3/3 by Sonalika Debnath

Duration: 9 hours

Cost: $181.01, inclusive of food and drinks. Find more details here.

Suggested Stay:

Photos of Best Western Hotel San Donato, Via Zamboni, Bologna, Metropolitan City of Bologna, Italy 1/1 by Sonalika Debnath

7. A seaside stroll as you hunt for food through Naples

The tour starts at Castel Nuovo, technically a fort and the former home of the Neapolitan monarchy. Apart from the food, this tour will leave you with immense knowledge of the culture and history behind Italy's seaside city. Your first stop for food will be at the 19th century Galleria Umberto I, where you'll be subjected to the sheer delight that is the warm pastry, sfogliatella.

The walk continues through colourful markets dotted with local vendors, and their stalls and shelves decked with classic Neapolitan street food. A speciality here is the seasonal 'o pére e ‘o musso (cold meat with salt and lemon) and the small pizzas or pizzettes.

Photos of Naples, Italy 1/3 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Naples, Italy 2/3 by Sonalika Debnath
Photos of Naples, Italy 3/3 by Sonalika Debnath

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: $79.05, inclusive of food and drinks. Find more details here.

Suggested Stay:

Photos of Mamas Apartment, Via Sedile di Porto, Naples, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy 1/1 by Sonalika Debnath

Know of other culinary food tours in Italy? Share your own list with the travellers on Tripoto! Or if you are planning a trip to Italy and are still unsure, leave your questions and queries in the comments section below or ask a question on the Tripoto community forum.

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