An opportunity has come up for me to tour some of the magnificent wine regions in Italy; thus a passport check is in order amongst other things. While I haven’t exactly purchased my airline ticket yet this prospect got me to thinking about “culinary” vacations abroad; and I don’t mean to just take a trip and eat but to truly experience the city or region; to immerse yourself in a new culture and experience something so different and so unique that the memories will last a lifetime. So after a little research I found three very different holiday excursions that have widespread appeal. If pampering and five-star accommodations along with Michelin starred dining is your vacation of choice then a visit to Rome Italy’s celebrated historic area maybe in order or if some place with a waterview is more your style then Lake Como might be calling you or if you’re a more casual soul with an adventurous streak then biking through the wine roads in Italy might have your name all over it, either way all three of these experience vacations have much to offer.
The Gourmet Experience at Hotel Hassler Roma, Rome Italy
Located at the top of the Spanish Steps, Hotel Hassler Roma has been Rome’s five-star lodging for more than a century. Hassler Roma is idyllically positioned in the heart of the Eternal City’s historic center; within walking distance from Via Condotti as well as significant landmarks, including the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Coliseum, and The Trevi Fountain. Each of the 95 rooms and suites are individually designed and exquisitely decorated in authentic Italian style with contemporary touches. Hotel highlights include the Michelin-starred panoramic restaurant, Imàgo, and the resplendent Amorvero SPA. President and Managing Director Roberto E. Wirth of Hassler Roma along with Imàgo’s Executive Chef Francesco Apreda have created a degustation experience at its Michelin-starred Imágo restaurant featuring Apreda ‘s tasting menu and wine pairings. This gourmet experience is available from January through December 2012.
The package includes:
Three nights in a deluxe double room
“Menu degustation” for two at the Michelin-starred Imágo restaurant
Two Italian wine-tasting workshops (one per day)
Daily breakfast at the Salone Eva or Palm Court restaurants
Priced from $2,150-US$2,740 (not inclusive of airfare) the package is valid through December 20, 2012.
The romance of Lake Como at Villa D’Este
The world renowned Villa D’Este on Lake Como in Italy closes its stately doors for the cold winter months, [November 18-February 28], leaving the hotels’ Executive Chef of 4-plus decades, Francesco Parolari with much time on his hands to travel, explore, and share his beloved Villa d’Este with the rest of the world. As luck would have it Chef Francesco Parolari and the managing director of Villa D’Este, Danilo Zucchetti happen to be very good friends with Vincenzo and Rosaria Gismondi of Arturo’s Ristorante in Boca Raton. While vacationing in the United States, Parolari and Zucchetti stopped by Arturo’s for a visit and some pretty fab cooking; I cannot help but think there was some kind of risotto throw down happening in that kitchen; we’ll never know the truth but what I do know is the items prepared and served came directly from the menus at Villa d’Este; zucchini flowers stuffed with vegetables and mushroom in a black truffle sauce, a seafood trilogy of sea scallops, shrimp, and cuttlefish carbonara with caperberries. Risotto with pachino cherry tomatoes, bufala mozzarella and basil pesto; and the main entree striped bass with a Mediterranean sauce and a beef filet with mushrooms and a parmesan cheese zabaglione. All things culinarily wonderful, Italian style.
Villa D’Este is situated on one of the most romantic lakes and lush garden parks in the world (think marriage proposal romantic, honeymoon romantic, trip of a lifetime romantic) Lake Como. This sixteenth-century villa was originally built as a summer residence for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio and was eventually remodeled as a luxury hotel in 1873. This 150 room opulent hotel offers the highest of quality standards while maintaining the charm and essence of its remarkable history. The Villa D’Este romance package for 2012 is:
Three nights in an Executive room with view of park / garden
Buffet breakfast at the restaurant (or Continental Room)
Bottle of sparkling wine and flowers in room upon arrival
Welcome gift from the Director
Three 3-course meal (drinks not included) at one of the restaurants: Veranda or Grill
Access at the Sporting Club Villa d’Este
Bike the Wine Roads in Italy
Italiaoutdoors is an owner-operated private guide service, creating and guiding active culinary and wine tours in Northeastern Italy. Italiaoutdoors is unique in its ability to combine biking, skiing, and hiking adventures with culinary programs. Designed and led by co-owners Chef and Wine Curator Kathy Bechtel and recreation specialist Vernon McClure, all Italiaoutdoors cycling holidays offer an in-depth exploration of notable wine regions throughout Northeastern Italy.
Italiaoutdoors’ bike routes cover 30-45 miles daily, accommodating all skill levels, and covering various terrains ranging from shores to mountains. Each group has a maximum of eight travelers to guarantee that each guest receives personalized attention from the two expert tour guides. The small group size also allows for daily itinerary modifications based on participant’s interests and endurance levels. Tour prices range from $3,495-$3,995 per person (not inclusive of airfare), based on double occupancy and include accommodations in 3+ star hotels; all ground transfers, daily wine tastings; bike rental; GPS (great for personal exploration of the areas as well); all entry fees to attractions; all breakfasts, lunches, snacks; and most dinners. A single supplement is available.
Primavera del Prosecco Bike Tour – April 1-8, 2012. Price: $3,495 per person, double occupancy (not inclusive of airfare). Tour participants will visit the Treviso province during the Primavera del Prosecco festival, a celebration of wine, food, art and culture. The tour travels through different wine regions each day and participants will have the opportunity to enjoy distinctive regional dining and wine experiences including Prosecco’s world-renowned sparkling wine as well as lesser-known treasures including Piave, Colli Berici and Breganze.
Grape Harvest Bike the Wine Roads of the Veneto Tour – September 15-24, 2012. Price: $3,995 per person, double occupancy (not inclusive of airfare). This 10-day tour whisks travelers through the depths of the Veneto region. Home to the largest number of quality DOC wines in Italy, the area produces world-renowned vintages, including Valpolicella, Bardolino, Soave, Prosecco and Breganze. Guests begin this journey with a ride along the shores of Lago di Garda, followed by visits to neighboring cities Verona and Vicenza. While visiting these two historic areas, guests will taste wines from Valpolicella and Soave to Gambellara and Colli Berici. Other highlights include a visit to the picturesque town of Bassano del Grappa, home to Breganze and Colli Asolani wines. The trip winds down with a tour of the Prosecco region.
Bike the Wine Roads Tours of Trentino-Alto Adige – September 29-October 8, 2012. Price: $3,995 per person, double occupancy (not inclusive of airfare).
Beginning in the city of Bolzano, this 10-day bicycle holiday kicks off with a journey down the Sudtirol Weinstrasse, or “Wine Road,” home to the many wine producers of the Sudtirol Alto Adige region. Guests will travel through the Mezzocorona and Mezzolombardo wine areas where they will enjoy a variety of Teroldego Rotaliano wines. The scenery then changes from mountains to lakefront views in the Veneto, with a visit to the Lago di Garda. Trip highlights include a visit to the historic city of Verona home to Juliet’s balcony and the ancient Arena that still hosts cultural events and operas today. And ending with a visit to Soave, a walled city that produces the refreshing white Soave wines.
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