Reservation Deadline is This Week: Visit Italy with Peoria Public Radio September 14 - 22.

We will soon close reservations for this fall's trip to Northern Italy and Switzerland.  Get your deposit in today!

Savor the Taste and Beauty of Italy with Wine Tastings, Cooking Demonstrations, Great Company, Beautiful Scenery!  Peoria Public Radio’s trips are known for attention to detail and fun! It's a culinary adventure.  Call (309) 677-4907 or download a brochure at the bottom of this page.

Cathedral Bell Tower, Parma
Cathedral Bell Tower, Parma

Juliet's balcony, Verona
Juliet's balcony, Verona

Features include:

  • Round trip transportation by motor coach from Bradley University to O'Hare Airport
  • Round trip air transportation from Chicago to Milan on American Airlines
  • 7 Nights of First Class Hotel accommodations: (3 nights in Parma, 4 nights in Stresa, Italy)
  • Breakfast daily
  • 5 dinners at local restaurants or hotels
  • Food tastings of Parmesan Cheese and Prosciutto Ham
  • Wine Tastings
  • Cooking Demonstration of local cuisine
  • Guided tours of Parma, Verona and Milan
  • Visit to the Ferrari Museum
  • Full time English Speaking tour director
  • Baggage handling at all hotels
  • Airline fuel surcharge
  • (not included: U.S. and foreign departure taxes of $150 per person, subject to change, gratuities, insurance)
  • Your WCBU host is Cindy Dermody

Aging wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano - Parmesan Cheese
Aging wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano - Parmesan Cheese
Learn to make Tortelli
Learn to make Tortelli

Day 1 – Saturday, September 14th – Departure
Depart Chicago this afternoon on American Airlines to New York (JFK) where you continue by a connecting flight to Milan.            
                  
Day 2 – Sunday, September 15th – Milan/Parma    
Arrive at Malpensa International Airport where you are greeted by your tour director and begin your drive to Parma. Check-in at your hotel and take some time to unpack and relax. In the afternoon, get acquainted with this beautiful Renaissance capital. A guided tour will take you through the pedestrian center. It’s quaint, refurbished and picturesque.  You’ll walk by the magnificent Cathedral sided by a uniquely pink Baptistery. Familiarize yourself with the history of the Farnese family who in the 16th century transformed a little village into one of Europe’s capitals of culture. The guide will point out numerous palazzos and small museums that you may want to explore on your own later in the week. Don’t miss the world famous Teatro Farnese, considered to be the first permanent  theater in history or visit the Archeological Museum, which allows a glimpse of Parma’s Ancient Rome heritage. Dinner tonight will introduce you to Italy’s quintessential recipes. (B, D)

Day 3 – Monday, September 16th – Parmesan and Prosciutto!                                                                       
After breakfast, we embark on a full day excursion to the nearby Appenines.  The name of Parma is synonymous with the culinary pinnacle of ham and cheese.  Only a few miles outside of Parma lies the land of Parmesan and Prosciutto. First we stop just outside town at a Parmesan maker. Cheese is actually made in the early morning when fresh milk is brought in from the milking stations. By 9:00 a.m. most of the curd is done and it’s knit together to form a spongy mass. Using a long wooden paddle, the cheese maker lifts the curd mass and, dividing it in half, wraps each in muslin. When we get in it’s just about the time to taste the fresh product and compare it with five or six aged ones. A unique tasting opportunity!! No need to say, accompanied by local wine. In mid-morning, we’ll drive up through beautiful landscapes, dotted by villages perched on the mountain side, by medieval castles, by endless vineyards, tiny hill top fortresses and hundreds and hundreds of farms. Our destination is a prosciutto maker. Everything here is made by hand, following a century old tradition and pursued by the same family for generations. We’ll be walked through the process of selecting genuine meats, salting them artfully, drying  them and storing them for the correct aging time. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to taste the many different cuts, accompanied by more local red wines. In the afternoon we return to Parma for some independent exploration. Dinner tonight is on our own at one of the many picturesque “trattorias” just a few blocks away from our hotel. (B)

Curing Prosciutto di Parma
Curing Prosciutto di Parma

Learn more about "salumi," the name for unique Italian cured meats such as Prosciutto di Parma, various salami and others from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, where Parma is located.  Read Silvia Poggioli's report on these regional delicacies.


Day 4 – Tuesday, September 17th – Lake Garda and Verona    
After breakfast, we’re off to Verona, Juliet’s romantic home town. We will be there in just more than an hour and a half. Upon arrival a local guide will take us around the beautiful squares, the Roman Arena, the market place, the entangled back streets, all the way to Juliet’s balcony. You’ll be able to enjoy some free time to do your own exploration and maybe have lunch at one of the many outdoor cafés on the Piazza Brà, facing the amphitheater. We depart Verona for a short ride to the Eastern shore of Lake Garda, the largest Italian lake. This side of the water is the land of Bardolino and we’ll visit a wine farm to taste some of their best bottles. Before heading home, we may want to stop in Sirmione, the Queen of Lake Garda. This entirely pedestrian medieval village, walled in by imposing towers, draw bridge and gates, provides the feeling of quintessential Italy. If art, history and scenic views were not enough, some of the best gelato is to be found right here. On the way back to Parma, we’ll stop for dinner at a country inn by the placid Po’ River. We will be back in Parma for another great dinner. (B, D)

Ferrari Museum
Ferrari Museum


Day 5 – Wednesday, September 18th – Ferrari & Local Cuisine         
Today we explore both sides of Parma region’s soul. In mid-morning we drive to Modena for a cooking demonstration.  At the Antico Moka, chef Annamaria will introduce you to the local recipes from Emilia, Italy’s cuisine cradle. Locals specialize in “tortelli” and “lasagna,” pasta filled with regional ingredients, “prosciutto” or squash, artichokes or spinach, “mortadella” or mushrooms. In just a couple of hours you’ll witness the miracle become true. And, the best of all is that you’ll taste it for lunch.  Head to the Ferrari Museum, no more than ten miles away set right next to the factory and to the testing track, in Maranello. The museum allows a view of more than 60 years of speed and luxury car production. Most Formula One prototypes are also displayed in this relatively small warehouse.  A number of different electronic stations will give you the feeling of the speed driving a Ferrari. Car lovers may spend hours in here. Others may want to experience a once in a lifetime thrill: with an advanced booking and as little as $200, you may drive a real Ferrari for 10 minutes. And if you prefer to share the expense with friends, for the same amount, a driver will take three passengers for the 10 minute ride. Overnight in Parma. (B, L)

Cathedral at Milan
Cathedral at Milan


Day 6 – Thursday, September 19th – Milan         
Today we say good bye to Parma and head north to the heart of Milan, Italy’s wealthiest town. A local guide will give us a comprehensive tour of the bustling downtown district: the Duomo, Milan’s gothic Cathedral, the Galleria, the city’s pulsing shopping heart, La Scala opera theater, the Sforza Castle, the medieval churches of St. Ambrose and St. Lorenz filled with Byzantine mosaics. At the end, we’ll enjoy an entire afternoon at leisure to explore this regional capital. Some of the trendiest shops in Europe are just around the corner:  Armani’s world largest store and café, Dolce e Gabbana, Moschino, Prada, Diesel, Versace and many more are all within four blocks. And if you feel for something more affordable, two of the largest Italian trendy department stores, Rinascente and Coin, are also within walking distance. If your taste instead is for more culture and art, you may want to visit Pinacoteca di Brera, one of the top Italian art collections featuring works by masters such as Caravaggio, Raphael, Mantegna, Rubens, Titian, Van Dyck and more. At the end of the afternoon, we head towards Lake Maggiore. Our destination will be Stresa, on the water. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel, overlooking the Borromean Islands. (B, D)

Lake Maggiore
Lake Maggiore


Day 7 – Friday, September 20th – Lake Maggiore          
This morning, board a motorboat for a short ride to the Borromean Islands, just minutes away from your hotel. Start by paying a visit to Isola Bella, which hosts a grand 17th century noble palace, but most importantly one of the most beautiful European gardens. The stunning terraces overlooking the lake at 360 degrees are kept as a new classic park providing a unique experience to those who care about gardening and plants.  Next stop, the Isola dei Pescatori, is the lake’s old fishermen retreat, nowadays turned into a charming village dotted by little restaurants and small craft shops. The afternoon today is at leisure for independent activities. You may choose to take the gondola up 5000 ft. to the top of Monte Mottarone for a breathtaking view over the Alpine scenery. In clear days you may see all the way to Mont Blanc at the border with France. Alternatively, you may want to experience a steamer’s cruise to the Eastern shore of the lake, or even all the way to the Swiss tip, in Ascona. Farewell dinner tonight will be at the hotel by candlelight. (B, D)

Lugano
Lugano


Day 8 – Saturday, September 21st – Lugano and the Swiss shore                
Take your passports with you today; we’re crossing borders into another country. Start by driving north along the western shore of Lake Maggiore and the first Swiss town we will visit will be Locarno. Stop here on the main square overlooking the water for a hot chocolate and some currency exchange. The language is still Italian, but it’s not just another currency, it’s another style, another pace and another way of life. So close and so different. After a quick acclimatizing stop, we’ll continue to Lugano, the district’s, or Canton’s, capital. Here you have the time to fully immerse yourselves into the Swiss mode. Watches, chocolate and Swiss Army knives everywhere,  also exclusive clothing shops, art galleries, magnificent pastry shops, outdoors cafés, fruit and vegetable markets featuring Alpine berries and local cheeses. A couple of small museums in town are worth a visit, as is the Wilhelm Scmidt Art Nouveau,  or the Bernasconi contemporary sculpture museum. On the way home tonight, time permitting,  a quick visit to Fox Town, one of the largest European outlet malls, right at the border with Italy and tax free. For dinner tonight, explore your own shore side restaurant. (B)

Day 9 – Sunday, September 22nd – Arrivederci, Italy                                        
Breakfast and early morning transfer to Malpensa Airport to catch American Airlines flight to New York (JFK) where you clear Customs and continue to Chicago arriving the same afternoon.

$3,699 per person (double occupancy) from Peoria

For information, call Norma Joseph at (309) 677-4907, or download a brochure (below)