Bologna ~ Tortellini, Parmigiano & Balsamico™

Bologna La Grande Cucina ~ 5 Day

Bologna! We invite you to join us on this magical culinary journey through the Medieval City of Bologna, under arches, to outdoor markets and across piazzas.  Discover a city rich in food, history, and culture.

La Grande Cucina Bolognese

La Grande Cucina Bologna cooking program includes 3 hands-on cooking classes and excursions to artisan producers of Parmigiano cheese and aged balsamic with a private driver, and English-speaking guide.  Discover this beautiful city in an unforgettable week of cooking, tasting, and touring with our food experts, Chefs, and artisan producers. Also included is a special countryside tour to two artisans who make Parmigiano Reggiano and Aceto Balsamico. Learn how these old-world artisans create the famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Discussion and tastings included. Next, we take you on a guided tour and tasting to a traditional balsamic vinegar producer. The noble family set in the countryside of Modena welcomes you to their workshop where you will discover the process of making aged balsamico. Discussions and tastings follow.  During your stay in Bologna, experience our Medieval Food Lover’s Walking Tour through the centro storico, ancient city center, and learn about the guilds who continue showcasing and selling products – fresh fish, local fruit, and vegetables, artisan pastas, regional wine and ingredients from Emilia Romagna.   Our private English-speaking guide leads you through the famous marketplace of Bologna and its specialty food stores, purveyors, food stands, and vendors. Discussion and food tastings included.

Bologna Cooking Classes

Our team of Chefs are professional Sfogline!  Sfogline is the Bolognese term for women who make pasta by hand in the traditional way with an old-fashioned rolling pin and wooden tools.  The old-world art of making local pasta starts with farm-fresh local eggs and ‘OO Farina,’ finely ground white flour.  Learn their technique of kneading the dough, then rolling it out into sfoglie, thin sheets, with a wooden rolling pin. Our chef will have you prepare, tortellini, tortelloni, and tagliatelle served in seasonal sauces.  Under their guidance, learn the technique for mixing, kneading, and rolling out perfect tortellini, tortelloni, tagliatelle, and Bolognese lasagne.


Bologna is the culinary capital of Italy and the birthplace of tortellini, Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico, & Mortadella, to name but a few specialties. They are also known as la cita grassa, the fat city.  Bologna is a Medieval City of old-world intellect, scholars, chefs, and students – with a touch of modern chic. Its centro storico is lined with specialty food shops that continue the tradition with 4th and 5th-generation family-owned businesses still producing perfect artisan products of Prosciutto, Parmigiano, tortellini, and bread.  From via Caprerie to via Clavature, the small ancient streets of the 1880s continue their food culture and tradition.

Bologna is also called, La Rosa, or Pink City, and is lined with porticos, or arches, brimming with beautiful monuments, museums, arcades, piazzas, churches, shops, bookshops, artisan clothiers, handcrafted shoe and boot makers.  There are caffés, wine bars, and restaurants spilling onto the cobblestone walkways – everywhere. From the Basilica of San Petronio-one of Europe’s largest churches built in the 12th century to the Fontana del Nettuno – a masterpiece by Giambologna, Bologna is bursting with a gentle beauty.  There are also the Towers of 1109 – Asinelli and Garisenda, Europe’s oldest university – Alma Mater Studiorum founded in 1088 with notable alumni Dante, Petrarch, Prodi, and the Portico of S. Luca – connected to the city from its place on the hillside with 666 arches.  As the food capital of Italy, the city also has many choices of Michelin Star restaurants and trattorias – who over the centuries have served intellectuals, politicians, writers, painters, and musicians from around the world. Bologna, is a discerning destination, and off the tourist track.

Parmigiano Reggiano and Aceto Balsamico

DOP Parmigiano Reggiano and Aceto Balsamico, balsamic vinegar, are important local ingredients in the cuisine Emilia-Romagna. During the tour, you will learn how to make Parmigiano Reggiano, called the golden wheel of cheese; weighing in at about 85 pounds each.  The process of making Parmigiano cheese follows the same method and recipe of over seven hundred years ago.  The cheese is trademarked with a legal exclusive control used over its production and sale. Parmigiano Reggiano is protected by the European Union, and can only be produced in this area of Emilia Romagna.  You will know an authentic wheel because it is branded with the words across its side.  The cheese can only be produced in Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, and Mantova.

During the cheese tour, we visit a Master Grader at his workshop and see how this exquisite cheese is made. He leads you through the processing, first the milk is heated and then poured into molds.  The cheese then sits in a brine for 25 days, and then in an aging room for 12 months.  When ready, it is polished, cleaned, and turned every 7 days by the Master.  After 12 months, the cheese is inspected and taste-tested by the Master Grader.  Finally, the cheese is stamped with Parmigiano Reggiano on its side.   Parmigiano Reggiano is precious and expensive due to its long process and the high-quality milk used in its making.

Following the tour, enjoy lunch in a traditional trattoria with local red or white wine.

Following our delicious lunch, the tour continues to an artisan balsamic maker.  We visit an artisan balsamic maker with a tour of the studio and tastings included.  You will learn about the history of balsamic vinegar, and how it’s aged – some bottles up to one hundred years old – and bottled at this noble family’s property.  Learn about how aged balsamico guild continues to be one of the richest and most powerful trade guilds in central Italy.  This trade also kept their secrets closely guarded as the guild passed down the technique from generation to generation. By the 1800s it had become commonplace to enrich the dowries of local noblewomen with jars and little barrels balsamico.  The tour includes an English-speaking guide, tour, driver and tastings.

During your visit, visit the maker’s vineyard, and see how the grape pulp is aged from 12 to 25 and 100 years.  The full-day Parmigiano, balsamic, and traditional lunch and wine tour is an authentic experience with our English-speaking guide and driver.  The tour is 8 hours.


Wine of Bologna and Emilia Romagna

Discover the wine of Emilia Romagna – think Lambrusco, Sangiovese, and Pignoletto -during your stay!  The region grows six grape varieties that grow on the sun-beaten hillsides in the countryside and the fertile valleys close to the sea.  The hilly countryside brings you to the Collie Bolognesi, where three red wines –  Barbera, Merlot, and Sauvignon, along with four white wines – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco, Riesling Italico, and Chardonnay grow in rich soil vineyards.  Parma and Piacenza produce Malvasia di Candia and Sauvignon Blanc white varieties and the Barbera and Bonarda red varieties.  There’s also Albana and Sangiovese.  In Modena and Reggio Emilia, there is Lambrusco and Terre del Lambrusco DOP.  Join us on tour, sip, and swirl while experiencing the interesting wines of Emilia Romagna.

Bologna Accommodations

B&B Luxury Guest House – Check in and relax to the luxury B&B guest house set in the historic center of Bologna on one of the most prestigious streets in the city. Privately owned, this exquisite 5-bedroom property is minutes from the Piazza Maggiore and the centro storico. The property is elegantly decorated with fine furniture and comfortable bedding with Italian linens.  The property boasts a cozy lounge decorated with soft colors and furnished with comfortable sofas and a large-screen LCD satellite with many TV channels.  Take in the beauty of Italian art, Provencal furniture, and Venetian art from the 1700’s. Each private bedroom, cleverly named and designer decorated offers a private ensuite bathroom, air conditioner, mini bar, WiFi Internet, writing desk, and sitting area.  Daily breakfast is served in the dining room with cappuccino, espresso, teas, homemade cakes, traditional pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, cake, and biscotti.

4-Star Boutique – Our 4-Star deluxe property is privately owned and simply luxurious.  This charming 4-Star is just by the Piazza and offers all modern conveniences steps away from the main sites and monuments. Rooms are furnished with one-of-a-kind bed linens, furniture, and art.  Each room has big bright windows, a minibar, air conditioning, satellite TV, a safe, and a complimentary internet connection. The full private bath includes plush towels, bathrobes, slippers, and beauty products.  Breakfast is served in the European-style dining room with a full breakfast including hot and cold cereals, fruit, toast, eggs, cakes, bread, assorted savory pies, cakes, cookies, jams, caffe, cappuccinos, and tea.  Special requests are accommodated upon request. The property also offers a sitting room and bar with full-service drinks, tea, and snacks.

Bologna Boutique Apartments – Perfect for a family or group.  Just a 10-minute walk from Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore, our apartments are perfect for couples, groups, and families. Beautifully decorated in soothing cool pastel blues, beiges, and whites, furnished and equipped with all modern conveniences, these 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments with private ensuite baths and are located in a historic property that’s been refurbished to extremely high standards. All apartments are spacious and have a sleek modern kitchenette with a kitchen-top induction cooker, refrigerator with freezer, microwave oven, dishwasher, and electric kettle.  Some apartments have a private terrace, while others offer views of the city and Bologna’s characteristic rooftops. Laundry facilities are also available at the property.  (**Breakfast is not included as there is not a common restaurant or kitchen nor caffé in the boutique apartments).

3 Star The property is set in the heart of Bologna and is the perfect option who want comfort and convenience.  The property offers charming rooms filled with modern conveniences just a few steps from the Piazza Maggiore. Rooms are pristine, and nicely furnished and have a minibar, air conditioning, satellite TV, safe, and free internet connection.  Buffet breakfasts are served in the dining area.  There is also a pleasant lobby where you can relax, read the newspaper, watch TV, and enjoy a coffee or glass of wine served at the hotel snack bar. The knowledgeable and professional staff is on hand at all times to assist.

Itinerary ~ 5 days, 4 nights

Check-in and start your program on any day of the week.

Day 1: Welcome To Bologna

  • Check in and relax.
  • See your Welcome bag and read through all the food & touring notes you will need to for your 5 days in Bologna.
  • Welcome Dinner featuring a full course Chef’s Tasting Menu with local fare at an award-winning restaurant, just a short walk from the property.  Wine not included.

Day 2: Cooking Class 1 & Food Lover’s Tour

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Tie on your apron for Cooking Class 1. The kitchen area is well prepared with ‘OO Farina,’ farm-fresh eggs, fresh ricotta, and her great-grandmother’s wooden rolling pins for a morning of mixing, kneading, rolling, and stuffing traditional tortelloni and tortellini.  Learn to prepare traditional Bolognese sauce, including Ragu’ Bolognese-which takes a minimum of 5 to 6 hours of slow cooking.
  • Although Bologna is noted for its fresh pasta, desserts are not underestimated. As you stroll through the city, take notice of the beautiful and historical pastry shops and cafés showcasing traditional cakes, tortes, and biscotti.  In each cooking class, you will also learn how to prepare local desserts, la Pinza – a stuffed pastry stuffed with raisins, wine, almonds, apple, and prunes.  There’s also torta di riso di Bologna – a rice cake prepared with nuts, Amaretti cookies, cider, and sugar, along with zuccherino montanaro – an anise based liqueur cookie.  Another classic is zuppa Inglese pan di Spagna or sponge cake soaked with a Marsala wine and garnished with cocoa.  Dolce di San Michele, is another traditional cake prepared with cream, and dedicated to Saint Michael.
  • Lunch follows and includes the foods prepared in class. Toast with a glass of local Sangiovese wine included.
  • Food Lover’s Tour. In the afternoon, join your English-speaking guide and visit Piazza Maggiore for a storybook experience of food, history, and stories. This main square, Piazza Maggiore, is a historical landmark surrounded by the statue of Neptune and a fountain, along with a statue of Pope Gregorio.  Learn about Bologna’s history, its artisans, markets, cuisine, and food guilds while enjoying food tastings along the way.

Day 3: Cooking Class 2

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Tie on your apron and get out your rolling pin. Cooking Class 2 continues with hands-on experience in the kitchen with our Chefs. Tagliatelle, Gramigna, and Lasagna are a sample of pasta on her seasonal menu. Artichoke, Porcini, or slow-cooked Ragu’ are a sample of sauces, and always a sweet dessert, too. Lunch follows and includes the foods prepared in class. Toast with a glass of local Sangiovese wine included.
  • In the afternoon, take time to discover the footpaths of Bologna’s cobblestone city, or rent a bicycle and ride through the red-roof city stopping in time for an aperitivo. Bookshops filled with great reads, churches filled with art, or a rich espresso in the Piazza make for a perfect day.
  • Your evening is free and dinner is on your own.

Day 4: Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese & Balsamico Countryside Tour  & Wine Tour Tasting Lunch

  • Breakfast is served.
  • A full-day countryside tour to the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Aceto Balsamico producers with our English-speaking guide. The excursion brings you to the area’s two prized makers of the coveted Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and balsamico. Discussions with food tastings, wine tasting, and lunch and English-speaking guide and driver included
  • Return to Bologna in the late afternoon.  Your evening is free with suggestions provided.

Day 5: Cooking Class 3 & Ciao!

  • Breakfast is served.
  • Tie on your apron and get out your rolling pin.  Cooking Class 3 continues with hands-on experience in the kitchen with our Chefs.  The decondo or main courses are the focus of today’s class. Slow-braised pork, rabbit stewed in aged Balsamico, and chicken in a creamy Porcini mushroom sauce are a sample of the authentic foods you will prepare. Follow Chef’s techniques for a healthy artichoke carpaccio, or pepperoni imbottiti, or a frittata with shaved truffles.
  • Lunch follows and includes the foods prepared in class. Toast with a glass of local Sangiovese wine included.
  • After lunch, departure transfer to Bologna train station or airport.
  • Ciao & see you soon!

*Note: This schedule may vary due to inclement weather, saint days, or festivals. All activities, in the event of rescheduling, are always included during the program.

Program includes
  • 5 days, 4 nights in a privately-owned palazzo property in Bologna – chose from a boutique B&B, 3 Star  or 4 Star luxury. Click to View!
  • Daily breakfast and daily maid service.
  • Welcome Dinner featuring a Chef’s Tasting Menu including a full-course dinner of local fare.  Wine not included.
  • 3 hands-on cooking classes preparing a full course menu with lunch or dinner following with wine included.
  • Medieval Food Lover’s Walking Tour with tastings and discussions included.
  • (Museum tickets not included in program price if you opt to enter any museum during the tour).
  • Full Day Country Tour to an artisan Parmigiano Reggiano producer and balsamic vinegar maker with a traditional lunch and wine included.  Driver and English-speaking guide included.
  • Cooking Vacations’ Welcome Bag, Chef’s apron, Prosecco and recipe book.
  • A copy of Lauren’s cookbook, “It’s A Dream Place – Stories & Recipes of Food, Love and the Amalfi Coast.”
Slow Food Fast Cars!!! Add on a day in Marinella, drive a Ferrari, and tour the countryside of Bologna!  Call for pricing, based on your group size.
Program Price
B&B Luxury Guest House  

$2,895 per person, based on 2 guests in the Luxury Guest House, Superior Room.

4 Star Boutique

$3,295 per person, based on 2 guests in 4 Star Boutique Property, Classic Room.

$3,395 per person, based on 2 guests in 4 Star Boutique Property, Superior Room.

$3,595 per person, based on 2 guests in 4 Star Boutique Property, Jr. Suite Room.

Luxury Apartments  

$3,195 per person, based on 2 guest (starting price in a superior room) Luxury Apartments.  

3 Star Traditional

$2,795 per person, based on 2 guests, 3 Star Traditional.

Guests can always add on an extra night or more, for a 5-night and 6-day tour.  Please call for pricing.

**Supplements for accommodations may apply during Bologna fair dates.

For Single Guests: If you are traveling on your own, please call us for the best group price. We are happy to welcome you into an already scheduled group.

Bologna is a walking city with the train station just a short walk/taxi ride away to the property.  If you would like to add on private transfers from the train station or airport to the property,  please let us know and we will be happy to do that for you.  Prices vary for transfers depending on the size of your group.  Taxis are always waiting outside the train station and airport for your convenience.

*An Italian visitor tax will apply in some cities and must be paid directly on site at check out.

Check Availability

2024 Dates: This program is available throughout the year, except August 10 to 20. You can check in and start your cooking program any day of the week. Rates are subject to change based on currency exchange. Call for updated rates. Airfare not included. Group transfers for any cooking tour or tours that include transfers, are for the group and are not private. Transfers before, after or to another destination outside of your cooking tour are not included in the program price. If you would like to add on a private transfer or transfers, let us know and we will send you pricing.