Walking Programme Manager Caroline Phillips shares how she put together our 'taste of...' trips in Italy.
"Walking, Italy and good food are all passions of mine. Suspecting I am not alone in this I decided to create some new holidays for 2016 that combine all three. I call them my ‘Tastes of Italy’ collection.
These four unique trips all explore different parts of Italy and combine some superb walking with a discovery and appreciation of the regions’ produce and cuisine. While quintessentially still very much walking holidays, a strong focus on food and drink permeates each trip. Every day provides opportunities to taste local specialties and there are visits to producers to see how they are made. We will also watch and learn how many of the regional dishes we’re enjoying are made and you can even try your hand at making them. Special ‘tasting’ meals introduce regional specialties and dining out locations will be carefully chosen by your Explore Leader.
I decided to stick to easy graded walking to make the trips accessible to as many people as possible, to those who love to explore a country on foot but don’t necessarily see themselves as seasoned trekkers. I think walking and eating compliment each other perfectly as the exercise both hones the appetite and hopefully burns away some of the calories consumed!
I have included three of our customers’ favourite Italian walking destinations, the glorious Amalfi Coast, Puglia in the heel of Italy and Tuscany and Liguria’s Cinque Terre coast, as well as an exciting new one - Emilia Romagna. All have an array of mouth-watering regional dishes, local foods and wines to discover.
Emilia Romagna, the region whose capital is Bologna, is probably the ‘foodie’ centre of Italy being the home of more DOP (protected designation of origin) products than anywhere else in the country. Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, balsamic vinegar of Modena and Lambrusco wine to name a few. We will taste all of these and learn how they are made.
On the Amalfi Coast we stay at an agriturismo, (accommodation on a family-run small holding), where there are plenty of opportunities to join in farm activities and make local dishes (or just watch if you prefer). We also discover what may just be the world’s best pizza restaurant in its birthplace of Naples.
Seafood, pesto and trofie pasta are some of the specialties to discover in Liguria and in northern Tuscany where we will also stay at an agriturismo.
In Puglia we see how the DOP status Puglian breads are made and include visits to an olive oil mill, cheese maker and you can try your hand at making the regional orecchiette ‘little ear’ pasta.
There are a limited number of departures of 'Tastes' trips this year so if they tickle your tastebuds I suggest you book now. But I see this very much as a concept that that can be extended to other regions of Italy and also other countries. I already have a few ideas in mind but any suggestions would be gratefully received!"
If your appetite has been suitably whet for trips which combine activity and gastronomy, check out our other walking holidays with a foodie angle, and our cycling trips which include a focus on local food and wine.