EF Go Ahead Tour’s Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany itinerary—in partnership with America’s Test Kitchen (ATK)—offers an 11-day in-depth culinary and wine adventure through three culturally and historically-rich regions of Northern Italy. EF Go Ahead‘s thoughtfully curated and unique itinerary provides privileged access to top-notch restaurants, small family wineries, cheesemakers, balsamic vinegar producers, and more. Guests will also meet local truffle hunters, attend the Alba White Truffle Fair, participate in several hands-on cooking classes, and enjoy sightseeing and tasting tours in Turin, Bologna, and Florence. You don’t have to be an America’s Test Kitchen fan to enjoy the tour—any culinary and wine enthusiasts will enjoy the intensive culinary program, stunning scenery, delicious wine and food—and all led by a knowledgeable local tour guide.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Expert Review of EF Go Ahead Tours
Things to Know About: Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen
- This culinary and wine tour is offered five times in late fall between October and mid-November to coordinate timing with the Alba White Truffle Fair—and the prime season for harvesting the prized white truffles in Northern Italy. It’s a perfect time to travel to these regions with warm, sunny afternoons, cooler evenings, and fewer tourists.
- Tourgoers move between three hotels over nine evenings, with four nights in Turin, two nights in Bologna and three nights in a picturesque agriturismo in Tuscany. Breakfast is included every morning. Guests will also have three lunches and five dinners with beer or wine, but there are also tastings where generous snacks are provided. Guests on my tour were sociable and open to sharing lunch or grabbing dinner out when it was not part the itinerary. And the tour director was always happy to recommend places to dine.
- Most guests on the tour were older couples or pairs of friends in search of culinary and wine experiences in Northern Italy. The itinerary is for between 10 to 22 travelers; there were 20 people in my group. Some guests were more knowledgeable than others about the food and wine, but all were eager to learn and asked many questions of the hosts, winemakers, and culinary artisans. Solo travelers will also feel very comfortable traveling with the group.
- The partnership with EF Go Ahead Tours and ATK offers the added benefit of exclusive access to high-quality suppliers and artisans—and they will be announcing the expansion of the partnership with tours to two additional European countries in the fall of 2023.
- Almost every day is jam-packed and orchestrated for guests, so the tour is perfect for travelers who want this experience but aren’t interested in planning an intensive trip. Full days—and some early mornings—also mean that there’s a limited amount of free time. I did opt out of part of the culinary walking tour in Florence to have time on my own to explore the city. I had visited Florence years ago, so I knew where I wanted to go for lunch and wander on my own before meeting back up with the group.
- Due to the intensive schedule, the company recommends that travelers can walk 3.5 hours each day across moderately uneven terrain (think ancient cobblestone streets) and be able to navigate hills and stairs—including the steep streets in the hillside town of San Gimignano —one of the stops in Tuscany.
- The group travels together by bus—and some travel times can be long between locales. The tour director on my tour (Sabra) was outstanding. She commands a wealth of knowledge about everything Italy, and she offered insight and information on our destinations (and more) while we were on the bus. Note that the tour company recommends tipping the tour director and the bus driver at the end of the tour.
Important Details About Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen
This Italy tour itinerary begins in Turin, where you’ll begin your 11-day culinary and wine adventure with a group welcome dinner. The first full day is spent in Alba and includes a truffle hunt, lunch with truffles (lots of truffles), and a visit to the Alba White Truffle Fair. On Day four, there’s a sightseeing tour in Turin with tastings and a chocolate workshop. On Day five, you’re off to Barolo for a lovely wine tasting and lunch. You’ll head to the beautiful town of Bologna on Day six, with two stops along the way. First, there’s a visit to a local Parmigiano Reggiano cheesemaker. Afterward, the group enjoys a tasting and lunch at a centuries-old, family-run balsamic vinegar estate. The following day is spent with a tour of Bologna. In the evening, you’ll enjoy a cooking class and dinner at an agriturismo in the countryside. The last three evenings are spent at a picturesque agriturismo set in the Tuscan hills. From here, you’ll visit San Gimignano and the Chianti region and set off on a culinary walking tour of Florence. The final day’s highlights include a cooking class and lunch at the property, followed by a memorable farewell dinner at a winery.
There are some long days on the bus, especially when transferring between hotels and towns/regions on the tour. There are stops en route, so it’s not uncomfortable. It’s an excellent time to catch a nap if you’re sleepy—or you can listen as the tour director offers insight on the next destination.
Wine tastings, cooking classes, and culinary and history tours are the focus of this immersive food and wine lover’s adventure to Northern Italy. You’ll visit small winemakers, food artisans, the renowned truffle festival in Alba, Mercato Centrale in Florence, and tour three cities between Piedmont and Tuscany: Turin, Bologna and Florence. There’s a nice mix of food, wine, and history throughout the 11 days.
Nine breakfasts, three lunches, and five dinners with beer or wine are included. There are also three wine and eight food tastings, so it’s nearly impossible to be hungry throughout the trip. There are also three cooking classes: a chocolate-making class in Turin, a pasta-making class in the countryside near Bologna, and a lunch at the agriturismo in Tuscany.
Amenities Along the Way
The hotel in Turin, NH Torino Lingotto Congress, was unique because it was a former Fiat car factory. The rooms are quite large and modern—and it has a test track dating back to 1919—on the roof of the building. Known as The Lingotto, the building is also home to the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli Art Gallery, a concert hall, shopping mall, and cinema. The hotel is conveniently located next to the very first Eataly, the Italian food mall made popular in the United States by the Bastianich family. A breakfast buffet is served each morning, and the restaurant serves dinner.
The boutique hotel in Bologna, Art Hotel Orologio, which may have been my favorite, was located on the Piazza Maggiore in the heart of the old town. I also loved the charming Italian furnished rooms. The hotel does offer a happy hour, but I didn’t have time to experience what is on offer. The hotel also has a breakfast buffet each morning.
Villa La Palagina is a rustic Italian villa picturesquely situated in the Chianti hills surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The property has a lovely pool, and it offers several onsite programs like yoga, wine and olive oil tastings, cooking classes, and more. When members of our group weren’t participating in the hands-on cooking class—or having lunch we prepared—we were afforded spectacular views of the Tuscan countryside from the patio, with our wine glasses in hand.
- A private dinner for our group at an upscale restaurant in Turin. A Michelin star chef and his brigade came from another town in Italy to prepare the meal for us. This was one of the most memorable evenings.
- A delicious alfresco lunch with truffle pasta and other bites (with more truffles) prepared at the truffle hunter’s home in Alba.
- The visit to the charming town of Alba and the Alba White Truffle Fair.
- A visit to Barolo along with the wine tasting and lunch at a small family-owned winery.
- The visit to the Modena balsamic vinegar producer in Bologna where we tasted its prized vinegar, learned about the family’s small-batch production and had a light lunch.
- The cooking class and dinner at an agriturismo outside Bologna. Everyone had fun preparing the pasta for dinner and enjoying appetizers and aperitifs in the garden before our meal.
- The town of Bologna. I wish we had another evening to spend there. I would love to make a return trip to see more of Bologna.
- The medieval hill town of San Gimignano is a must see if you like to explore hill towns.
- A return trip to Florence. I’m glad I could spend some time exploring on my own. It was also wonderful to have pasta with truffles for lunch at Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco (one of my favorite restaurants from my travels) and say hello to the owner, Massimo.
- The farewell dinner at a beautiful winery in Chianti. The food and wine were impressive. It was a late evening, but a fantastic way to end the tour.
Turin: The NH Torino Lingotto Congress in Turin receives an average of 4.5 stars on online booking sites. One reviewer called the building an “architectural jewel” and mentioned that Lingotto is where the Italian car industry was born, so there’s a lot of history around the property. Guests also enjoy the large, modern rooms and convenient location. I wandered through the mall one evening before grabbing dinner at Eataly.
Bologna: The Art Hotel Orologio also receives 4.5-star reviews. Comments are similar to my personal experience: a friendly and accommodating staff, lovely and well-appointed rooms and a quiet location, even though it was located on Piazza Maggiore. We were the first tour group to arrive since the start of the pandemic, so they were genuinely thrilled to host our group.
Chianti: My Villa la Palagina experience is consistent with excellent ratings, as this resort property also garners 4.5 stars. Guests use the word “magical” and comment on the vineyard views and its convenient location for exploring Tuscany. The property would be perfect a romantic getaway.
Best for/Worst for
This tour is ideal for the curious culinary traveler who doesn’t want to deal with the details of planning an immersive trip. Almost everything—including airport transfers, bus transportation, meals and wine, sightseeing tours, cooking classes – and a few added surprises—are included in the tour fare. It’s a very comprehensive experience and offers a wonderful overview of the best of the Piedmont and Tuscany regions in 11 days. Airfare is additional.
It would not be for the traveler who likes to control everything and plan out where they’ll dine, what they’ll do and when they’ll do it. Everything is prearranged—and you’re on a tight schedule. There’s also little room for flexibility, so if you’re the opposite of a planner and are the kind of traveler who likes to “wing it” and not be on a set schedule, then the tour would not be a fit for you either. I would also not recommend the tour for families with younger children.
If you go with the flow and enjoy the expert curation and planning, you’ll have a trip of a lifetime.
Note: This tour was reviewed in 2021. Some activities and meals may have changed.