Hey all, I'm planning a trip to Italy this summer and got inspired by reading a blog on culinary tours. I'm going with my husband, and we're both just looking to soak up the culture and have a relaxing vacation experience. Budget is in the $3k range for about a week (excluding travel fare). What is your experience with food tours? Are they worth it? Pros, cons. Thanks in advance!
I had a very positive experience last spring with a culinary tour in Venice. We went (all four of us, husband, and two sons) and spent 10 lovely days traveling around Italy.
Several of those days spent in Venice where we took a memorable tour with a small, local group called Food Tours of Venice (foodtoursofvenice.com). They were super friendly, enjoyable to spend time with, and the tours they organized were lovely. The group was small (under 15, so you don't feel crowded), and they knew exactly how to skip the tourist-y spots and take us to the authentic eateries. It was around 4-hour food and wine tour, and we got to try 7 different menus featuring popular dishes like: cicchetti, bigoli, baccalà and other specialties. We also got to visit all of the most beautiful parts of the city and monuments. It really was a great way to spend time in the city, and we left wishing we could have stayed longer! As far as soaking up the culture, you'll definitely be able to do that. And cost-wise, it was surprisingly comparable to what we would have paid selecting restaurants ourselves.
Do your research is what I recommend. You should try to look for a tour that is small, intimate (has a limit on group #) and has a focus on authentic local venues. Yes, food tours can be potentially disappointing (crowded, tourist-y and not as impressive with the food as you'd like), but there are local gems that can give you a great experience. Good luck!
We loved the food tours we went on in Italy last year! In Venice we took the Cicchetti of Venice Tour. It was a 3.5 hour bar crawl. Each place included an appetizer and wine! Every moment was amazing. We walked the back streets of Venice, tasted food specialties and enjoyed regional wines.
In Rome we took the Eating Italy Food Tour Here, it was amazing! Our tour was the 4 hour Twilight Trastevere Tour. We enjoyed the evening tour, by the end of the evening we were full! It included 10 food and wine tastings. I wish we had done the tour at the beginning of our stay in Rome. We would have gone back to eat at some of the restaurants. They also have cooking classes you might be like.
I highly recommend food tours!
We just got back from Italy last week. While in Rome, we took the Gourmetaly tour, and loved it. This time of year they only offer the morning tour, which runs from 10:30 until about 2:00. The food was great, but the best part was the social and cultural information given by our guide, Francesca. We ate freshly made buffalo mozzarella, a local salame, pecorino romano, two kinds of local (not what you'd expect) pizza, stuffed pizza, fried artichokes, suppli (fried rice balls), pasta with smoked pork cheek, and gelato. Oh, there was water and wine, as well. The tour took us from an open market to a local bakery, through the Jewish quarter, ending up Trastevere. Highly recommended.
If you get to Sicily - amazing place - do a Palermo-city day tour with Marco of StrEAT Palermo (company name). Great food, great guy. Highly recommended.
You did not mention what regions you will be visitng, one of my all time favorite days in Italy ( I traveled with my 25 year old daugher for three weeks) we did a combination of local exploring and eating, and scheduled city museums and foodie long planned restaurant reservations. I used local Italian food blogs and apps and the local foodie sites to find the restaurants.
Google translate lets you read Italian food blogs in English . rarely saw tourstis in these places. I'm from NYC, an adventurous Manhattanite and hate touristy restaurants so we stayed and ate off the beaten track.
Rebecca Wine and her husband are wine makers and own this small tour company. It was expensive for my typical spending , we splurged 150 euros each for small tour (8 of us were on the tour) from Florence she picked us up for a day trip into Tuscany in the Chianti region, breathtakingly beautiful small family owned vineyards and olive orchards and farmhouse cheese tastings and local markets. Rebecca took us to amazing local butcher shop with the restaurant out back (The backyard of the restaurant faces the hills and vineyards of Tuscany)
Rebecca Wine has a webite about her differnt tours she takes people on.
Not sure if that is what you wanted, and like that type of day... personally I like Going into the local food markets outside Rome and in Florance and eat bakery food and street food and what looked good. IMO, Venice is not the city or place I would personlly pay for a foodie tour. Wandering around Venice anywhere away from the main tourists spots is more real life and you can find good seafood restaurants. I made my Venice restaurant resevations from home about a month in advance using local blogs about food.
My favourite food experience in Italy ( and there have been many) is " Accidental Tourist" in Tuscany. They will collect you in Florence and take you to beautiful Tuscany for a wine and olive oil tasting and winery tour, then to an amazing villa for a cooking class which was a lot of fun. I lost count of how many courses we had, plus wine of course. I plan to go again one day