Ideas for a trip in Emilia Romagna

I love to travel a lot in Italy, because I love to practice my Italian and to be part of the ambiance bursting of energy of both the cities and Italian countryside. I like to see people enjoying their lives and happy without too many reasons. When it comes to Italy, the experience may be different in the North and in the South, sociologically and economically speaking, but overall, I always felt the good mood of every morning that starts just because.

I am not that good when it comes to planning my holidays, because I love spontaneity, but maybe other people are not like that. A couple of days before, I started to get more interest in the opportunities offered by Emilia Romagna – they have a great presence on social media, by the way – and was immediately offered some answered to my questions related to diverse opportunities for spending a good and unforgettable time in this part of Italy.

Why Emilia Romagna

At the first sight, this name might not tell too much to the visitor not used with Italy, either European or from far away. Situated in the Northern part of Italy, with Bologna as its regional capital city, this is considered one of the richest and developed areas of the country. The standard of life is high, the universities are highly appreciated and the cultural and tourist activities abound. Well, when it comes to Italy, wherever you go there are billion of things that are interesting from the cultural and tourist point of view, so this last point is no news in fact.

Tips for families with children

When you go on vacation with your children, the museums, exhibitions and other highly cultural opportunities may not be the best idea for spending your time together.

Instead, you can try the aquatic parks from the Adriatic coast. There are plenty of opportunities for any age and, at a certain moment, you can run a bit to Ravenna for curing your cultural addictions. For more excitement, one can try to spend time in at least 2 of the 10 popular adventure parks in the Apennines. If you don’t have any problem with highs, you can offer yourself and to your children the luxury of a panoramic view of Rimini, from the top of the wheel!

Who does not like food, especially the children. A tempting offer might be to do the tour of ‘flavours museums’ and visit around 19 centers dedicated to the past and present of products delicately called: vino, prosciutto, parmigiano, balsamico. Who does need a translation?

Continue your journey with a visit at the House of the Butterflies, hosted at Cervia’s Pine forest. A free guide is included as part of the admission ticket. 

Learning arts in the country of arts

Many art lovers would love not only to know more about arts but also to have their own direct artistic experience. In Emilia Romagna there are some good options to improve your artistic skills, regardless of your previous experience in this domain. At Koko Mosaico, in Ravenna, you can learn the secrets of the mosaique, an apparently easy art but that needs a lot of efforts and  hard work. As for me, I would be more interested in ceramics, as I did long time ago some self-thought experiences. I would rather go for the classes offered by the International Museum of Ceramics. 

Learning Italian on vacation

Either you read or not Eat, Pray, Love, you might be interested to spend your time learning with native speakers. I’ve seen a lot of books and blog posts about how to get the best linguistic skills in less than one month and never tried it. Spain, Latin America and Italy are destinations for such experiences and once in a lifetime one passionate about languages should try it. The recommendations for this part of Italy (a country with a lot of differences in terms of linguistic subtleties) are ALCE Italian Language classes or ARCA. Both are situated in Bologna.

Last but not least, cooking

I am not familiar with the offer of French cooking in various regions of France, but for Italy, I read regularly about a new project and a new tourist opportunity. The result of the competition is a lot of innovation and excellent ideas, both in terms of the menu and of the facilities. 

Take, for instance, the opportunity to learn how to prepare icecream! With a real internship opportunity? Anyone not interested? If you are more the ‘old style’ and want to learn some basic bread making and other Bolognese recipes, Vecchia Scuola can be an interesting option. In Albinea, an enthusiast team of chefs created La Spazio Torricelli that looks interesting not only in terms of menus, but also as a creative and design-oriented space. Casa Artusi from Forlimpopoli looks as a big factory of people cooking and sharing recipes and most probably it goes quite well for groups of cooking enthusiasts. 

More tips about cooking classes and schools in Bologna are available here


Interview of the week: Mama Isa about cooking and travel

Cooking is a relatively new passion, but I also loved to travel and thus, when I find good opportunities both for travel and learning to cook I wish I have enough time and resources to spend my life in a kitchen in the middle of a nice cute location in the middle of nature. But I only wish and write about my wishes. Some were able to achieve this dream. 

I discovered the wonderful work that Mama Isa is doing on Facebook and Twitter and decided to dare to ask her an interview. With a strong academic background, she decided to spend her life cooking and helping people to learn how cook. Let’s read some of her advices and stories!


You are historian by background. How did you decide to make history in the kitchen? 

I spent five years at University of Venice and ended up with a B.S. degree in History (but during the years at University I worked like a cook in a pizzeria / restaurant). 
I have bounced a little from career to career, variously in the world of history and historical research; but always wound up back around “cibo” (food), because I had -and have –  a great passion for cooking – inherited from my family!!!  
My friends convinced me to open a small homey cooking school for travelers coming to Italy (and I also opened a small and secret closed-door restaurant, an “anti-anti restaurant”…. because I offer dinner parties in my home which people love to eating homemade food). And so my current goal is to share my cooking experience with the travelers. 

A sharp knife to cut the fresh egg pasta

What is your favourite recipe? 

It’s hard to decide my favorite recipe….. but anyway I love the traditional home cooking. I love in particular the art of pasta making in the traditional way (only with a wooden board, a long special rolling pin for homemade pasta, and a sharp knife to cut the fresh egg pasta). 
What is your secret lesson of Italian cooking class? 

Maybe the concept of my cooking classes. I offer or one day or more days or more weeks: the cooking class would involve completely hands-on participation (not only demonstration) by students from start to finish and the students would participate at their own workshop. At the end of the lesson the students taste the fruit of their cooking work.  

Another secret is the location. I provide the cooking class not at the cooking studio but at my home: a unique concept for a new type of homey cooking school. The travelers and the cooking students can live a unique experience: feel the Italian local culture, learn the Italian Traditional Home Cooking, live the Italian hospitality, and spend a day (or more days) with my family and me at my home. And I almost forgot: the students receive step-by-step my personal attention, no more than six students per class. 
What one can expect to learn at the end of a cooking class Mama Isa? 

If you are coming here expecting one of the top Italian meals of your life, you’re likely to be disappointed…. I do hope that we serve good and healthy Italian Regional food and that people enjoy it, and live a unique experience, because I enjoy and sharing the traditional family’s recipes with my customers. Another important thing: I offer a wide range of cooking classes, so it’s easy to find a perfect menu, adapted on own taste.  

A different kind of cooking classes 

Why may someone book a class? 

Maybe the concept of my cooking classes: 1- the location (at my home, not in a cooking studio!), 2- small classes (max. 6 people), 3- a wide range of cooking classes, 4- lessons completely hands-on and from scratch, 5- my availability about the menu!
What kind of customers do you usually have?

 Italian food lovers, foodie travelers. My cooking classes are customized for each student; the cooking students would learn how to cook the specific dishes they requested. The level of cooking instruction would vary depending on whether the student was a novice cook, a seasoned / professional cook / chef. 

What are the languages of the classes? 

The cooking classes are taught in English and in Italian. 
When is the busiest season? 

My cooking classes are upon request and for travelers, all the year, from Monday to Sunday. Maybe the busiest season is spring, and summer. 

The challenge of the pasta making classes

For how many time in advance should a reservation be made? 

One-two months before the date (a reservation is useful to book the class in advance, and so the customer is sure about the availability). But often I am available upon request today for tomorrow (if I have spot available, of course!!!!). 
What was the most challenging class for you by far? 

I don’t know….. maybe the pasta making class (not for me, but for my students), because I love the art of pasta making in the traditional way (not with a pasta machine, but only with a wooden board, a long pasta rolling pin, and a sharp knife!)


Find out more about what Mama Isa is doing at:

Her website:
or her blog
or her Facebook page
on the Google Page
or on twitter

Checkin Checkout in Kolkata

India is an amazing country and a destination not only for tourists, many of them backpacking all round the country, but also for business people and Indian families living abroad. Many are here to organize business events, conferences – not few of them in the domain of IT – but also happy gatherings as weddings and personal celebrations. In such cases, the first thing you have in mind when booking your stay after you found out a good and eventually affordable flight ticket is to look for accommodation and other practical facilities.

In a big city like Kolkata, and in an area so top notch as Alipore, looking for the best place to spend some time and organize some events is not easy. Many hotels do have their own websites and are introduced via various social networks and platforms for travellers, and have a good presence on social media. This is how I discovered recently Checkin Checkout, a hotel have its own website, and is present on various versions of Tripadvisor.

The hotel has 53 rooms, out of which deluxe double rooms and family rooms. The charge is made per occupancy. The prices are quite affordable, compared with Europe as well as with the usual charges anywhere in the middle of the posh and expensive areas. For instance, a single room costs the equivalent of 47 Euro/night (3,500 Rs), while the double is 54 Euro (4,000 Rs). The family room has one large and single bed and costs around 67 Euro/night (5,000 Rs.). A local tax of 9.95% is applied. The price also includes breakfast in the hotel, free wifi and access to the gym.

The pictures posted show a simple furniture and minimal decoration yet very practical. Each room is provided with tea and coffee maker, a mini fridge and a shoe shine. The room service is available 24/7.

Those interested in more than a simple vacation stay, can think about organizing their event here – and some do organize weddings, according to the reviews I’ve read on Tripadvisor. The banquet hall has a capacity of 3,000 sq. ft. Business facilities are also possible, with wifi and other technical facilities offered. The prices are discussed on a case-by-case basis.

pic-3The most important attractions are situated on an area of 2 km. around the hotel. If you are around, even for business purposes, do not forget to pay a visit at the famous Alipore Zoo. Other things that can be done there are: visits at the bazaar and market, shopping and a tour of some temples. By request, the representatives of Checkin Checkout are open to organize special guides and even to help big groups of tourists to hire a bus for a longer tour in Kolkata. As everywhere in India, English is the main language of communication.

Photo: Checkin Checkout hotel