The coach was very comfortable, had free wifi and good acoustics so we could hear Max all the way to the back where we sat. 1st stop was the Poggioli cheese factory. OMG. Thousands and thousands of parmeggiano cheese rolls up to the roof, breathtaking! 2nd stop was the Ninni prosciutto factory, it was awesome! The prosciutto was melt-in-your-mouth and went down very well with local lambrusco. 3rd stop was the Boni balsamic vinegar factory. Very interesting talk by the owner, didn’t realize it took 12 years before the vinegars are ready for consumption: time, patience and passion, the secrets of good vinegar-making according to Mr Boni. The apertivo afterwards was amazing, who knew balsamic vinegar went well with ice cream and almond biscottis are awesome when dipped in lambrusco? By this time of the morning, we were all like a gang of friends enjoying a pub crawl, chatting away happily and waving merrily at the Bonis as we drove away. Then we dropped off half of our group at a winery while some of us proceeded to the Ferrari Museum. Whilst fast cars are not our thing, we figured out this was a one-off opportunity in the region. We actually enjoyed learning about the development of this world-renowned brand of cars and watching tour groups of mostly men drool over the expensive models. And boy, what a slick slick operation, all the staff were dressed in the classic red racing uniform, you do feel like you’re on the track yourself. Whilst we planned to test-drive a Ferrari, upon reading the fine print about insurance and excess payments in case of accidents, we opted out instead (too much, we wouldn’t be able to relax driving a car that would cost 2,500 euros minimum excess if we scratched it!). Glad we didn’t anyway as those that went on a test-drive barely had time to check out the museum when they returned as we all went back on the coach and headed for lunch.
Lunch was at Ca Bianca, a pretty upmarket looking restaurant set amongst farmlands. Wow, the food just kept coming and coming, from the ever-so-light pillow pastries topped with prosciutto to 3 types of pasta, grilled vegetables drizzled in olive oil, tender slices of grilled steak and rosemary potatoes, finished off with lemon sorbet and mascarpone treats and of course coffee and bottomless wine. I have some food intolerance which I informed them earlier and I was well accommodated with my own special dishes, I felt so spoiled! We were so full we didn’t eat dinner that night. We got back to Bologna by 6pm, tired and happy and so pleased to go on a tour like this. Max was definitely a great guide, he paced us well and we never felt hurried. He was very articulate and most informative (interestingly, we learned afterwards that he is also a lecturer in art history in a private university!). As I told him later, he is definitely worth his weight in gold. Thanks Max! We had a ball.