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Parma, Bologna and Ravenna

5days from
£1,399*per person

Overview

5 Days - Classic Escorted Tours

Discover historic Parma, home to the frescoed Parma Cathedral, historic Bologna and the famous Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna. Our base for this fascinating Italian short break is the beautiful city of Parma, with its sublime cathedral home to the famed Palazzo della Pilotta, a huge complex of brick buildings, housing works by Correggio among others. You’ll also visit the understated yet truly historic city of Bologna. Bologna’s series of atmospheric squares are linked by twisting alleys and tiny streets. And finally, Ravenna is nothing short of a masterpiece with a host of religious buildings, wonderfully adorned with superb early Christian paintings and the world’s finest mosaics. Together with the iconic culinary delights in this region: Parma ham, Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, wild boar and truffles - this relaxing short escorted tour of Bologna, Parma and Ravenna is a true recipe for success! 

Itinerary

  • After arriving in Bologna or Milan, we'll be transferred to the four-star Starhotels Du Parc, for our four-night stay, with breakfast included. The rest of the day is at leisure. Our hotel is centrally located and is close to Parco Ducale – a beautiful park with tree-lined avenues, water features and grand buildings. It’s the perfect place to stretch your legs after a day of travelling. Italian food is some of the world’s most popular, known for its simple, flavourful dishes. And in Parma it’s all about their unique products. From parmesan cheese to parma ham – both of which can only be called such if it’s produced in the provinces of Parma or nearby – you won’t find better quality produce anywhere else. And this evening is your first opportunity to get a taste of the region with an evening at leisure. In Parma, you’re spoilt for choice – there are local restaurants on many of the main streets. Look out for dishes like Tortelli d'Erbetta and Tortelli di Zucca (pumpkin Tortelli) – they're local favourites. 
  • This morning we’ll take a sightseeing tour of Parma to fully admire this wonderfully underrated city.  Welcome to Parma, synonymous the world over with wonderful Prosciutto and parmigiano reggiano (parmesan) cheese. Yet despite its immense charms, it’s almost untouched by tourism. So, if you’re looking to know what like is like in an authentic Italian city, you’re in luck.   But Parma’s has so much more to offer than the - admittedly delicious - world-famous cheese. On our tour we’ll learn more about the city's eminent history from the medieval times, through the Renaissance and Austrian control through its architecture and culinary heritage.  Pride of place is the impressive 12th century cathedral one of Italy’s finest Romanesque buildings – a wonder in its own right, with 900 years of religious history and art, including the bas-reliefs by Benedetto Antelami and grand frescos by Antonio Allegri da Correggio. Signature Experience: Tour a local Parmigiano Reggiano dairy and enjoy an all-encompassing sensory experience combining history, traditions, flavours and aromas of the famous cheese which has been manufactured for almost a thousand years.
  • After breakfast, we’ll visit another of Emilia- Romagna’s wonderfully attractive cities: Bologna. Beautifully maintained over the centuries, its original Roman street plan is still discernible. Twelve medieval gates encircled the historic centre and at Bologna’s heart is the majestic main square - the Piazza Maggiore. Surrounded by splendid Renaissance “palaces” and home to the enormous San Petronio, the world’s fifth largest Basilica, yet unfinished, its sponsors never achieved their ambitious goal of exceeding that of Rome’s St Peter’s! Adjacent is another beautiful square, Piazza del Nettuno, with a splendid statue and fountain dedicated to Neptune and surrounded by grandiose medieval civic buildings. And, while we would never usually pit one stunning Italian city against another, Bologna does have one surprising claim to fame, "outdoing” the more popular city of Pisa – it has not one, but two medieval leaning towers. The Garisenda Tower leans at a disconcerting 4 degrees – making it more askew than Pisa too. Of course, one of Bologna’s ‘must sees’ is Europe’s oldest University – founded in 1068 its illustrious alumni include Dante, Copernicus and Marconi. Perched on a hilltop with splendid views across the city and the surrounding region, Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca is renowned for its extraordinary claim to fame, the world’s longest portico supported by no less than 666 arches leading to the edge of the historic city itself! Bologna is one of Italy’s most prized culinary bastions – one of its many nicknames is “La Grassa” (the fat one) - and time at leisure here is the perfect opportunity to explore its many gastronomic delights in the local restaurants during a late lunch. The Bolognese do a handful of dishes very well – especially fresh pasta. And, while you’re in the capital of the Emilia-Romagna, you could sample the region’s finest ingredients such as aged parmigiano-reggiano, balsamic vinegar, dry cured prosciutto di Parma – as well as lesser-known gems like culatello and crumbly squacquerone which deserve more recognition. Not sure where to go? Your Tour Manger will have the inside scoop on the most authentic spots to try. Signature Experience: We’ll explore the maze of tiny alleys and historic streets of Bologna with a local guide, tasting the gastronomic delights of the city along the way. Join the city natives as we wander past artisan shops bursting with regional produce, from tangy parmesan to cured meats, fine olive oil and hand-made pasta, and browse in the markets where the rich colours of globe artichokes and cavolo nero contrast with glistening displays of the freshest fish.
  • Today we’ll take a drive east towards the Adriatic coast, exploring the little visited - yet amazingly historic – Ravenna, city of mosaics. An important Roman settlement, Julius Caesar gathered his forces here before famously “crossing the Rubicon” and in 402AD, after Rome’s fall, it became the last capital of the Western Roman Empire then capital of Ostrogothic and Byzantine Italy. By 700AD Ravenna became one of Europe’s most important cities of the era. Despite its turbulent history, Ravenna’s compact centre retains unique buildings spanning a period of 1500 years with no less than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. To understand what makes Ravenna so special, we have a guided walking tour bringing these amazing buildings, their intricate mosaics and stories to life -elsewhere in Europe similar quality art was created about 1,000 years later, making them even more astonishing. After discovering the city’s historic past, a treat awaits just outside Modena. We’ll visit Acetaia Villa San Donnino, where the art of producing traditional balsamic vinegar - a craft as scientific as winemaking and noted across the globe - is still undertaken by local artisans. Here the passion of present-day masters displays great pride in upholding this magnificent tradition. It’s enthralling. And, of course, we wouldn’t leave without tasting the vinegar which really is superb!
  • Today we’ll say Ciao to Italy and transfer to the airport for your return flight.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • See one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy, on a guided tour of Parma which includes entry to the Cathedral. 
  • Enjoy a guided tour of Bologna, Italy’s gastronomic capital, including the well-preserved medieval centre and unique portico lined streets
  • Explore Ravenna – city of mosaics – on a guided tour and discover the city’s historic past
  • Taste balsamic vinegar made the traditional way by local artisans on a visit Acetaia Villa San Donnino.
  • The Signature Tour option includes all of the above as well as:
  • Follow your stomach – and a local guide – through the streets of Bologna sampling some of the region's finest delicacies and gastronomic delights
  • Tour a local dairy for a true Parmigiano Reggiano discovery tour exploring the process and tasting the world-famous cheese
  • Enjoy the more exclusive atmosphere of travelling in a small group with an average of 22 guests

Our Price Includes

  • The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Sole occupancy rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
  • Four nights with breakfast in four-star accommodation
  • Return flights
  • All local taxes
  • Return transfers
  • All tours as mentioned
  • Entrances to Parma Cathedral and five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ravenna
  • The services of a Riviera Travel tour manager
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Dates and Prices

 
September 2024
 
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Price from:£1,399
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Accommodation

Starhotels Du Parc -

★★★★

The historic building has a period façade and is classically decorated in the Art Noveau style. A buffet breakfast is served each morning, and you could book dinner in the hotel’s restaurant – the Canova - featuring Parma specialties by the local Ceci family and international cuisine. Then head to Canova Bar for after dinner drinks and enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi throughout. The air-conditioned rooms include mini-bar, large satellite TV and ensuite bathrooms with complementary toiletries and a hairdryer.

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Other Information

Holiday code

R588

Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: change your booking for free, Covid-19 cancellation protection included as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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