Emilia-Romagna in the fertile Po River Valley is the gastronomic heartland of Italy. Prosciutto crudo from Parma, aged balsamic from Modena, Parmagiano cheese, ragu from Bologna, truffles, salami, tortellini – so many delicious flavours await in markets, cafés and restaurants accompanied by wines form Malvasia, Trebbiano, Barbera and Sangiovese vines. Powerful Renaissance families such as Este, Farnese and Bentivoglio ruled and patronised the region’s city states and today their wealth and vision are evident in the majestic architecture and spectacular art collections on display. Emilia-Romagna also has a rich musical heritage with the highlight being Bologna’s Teatro Communale, one of Italy’s greatest opera houses.     Parma Parma was the seat of the immensely powerful Farnese family and today visitors can enjoy the great cultural legacy left by them. Their former palace houses the great Teatro Farnese and the art gallery renowned for its paintings by Correggio. Giuseppe Verdi is one of the city’s famous sons and the 19th century Teatro Regio hosts the annual Verdi Festival in October. Fly to Bologna, return private car transfers included.   Mantua Surrounded by three lakes, Mantua was the seat of the Gonzaga family from the 14th century. The impressive architecture reflects the ambitions of the family, in particular the Palazzo Ducale and the Palazzo Te. Renaissance art is in abundance; the Gonzagas were patrons to a number of well known artists including Andrea Mantegna and the architect Giulio Romano. Mantua is an impressive example of how Italian cities evolved from the 13th century through to the unification of Italy in the late 19th century. Fly to Verona, return private car transfers included.   Ferrara A picture-perfect walled city that came to prominence between the 13th and 15th centuries when the powerful Este dynasty were anxious to display their wealth to neighbouring city states. Highlights include the magnificent Castello Estense; the fine picture collection of Palazzo Diamanti; the mediaeval cathedral; the allegorical frescoes at the Palazzo Schiafanoia and the Casa Romei. Fly to Bologna, return private car transfers included.   Modena Despite being a thriving commercial centre and the home of Ferrari and Maserati as well as balsamic vinegar, Modena remains a quiet town with a rich architectural and artistic heritage. The atmospheric old quarter with its pretty squares and arcades is dominated by the magnificent cathedral which is one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy. No visit to Modena is complete without a visit to The Palazzo Ducale, the old royal palace of the Estensi family or the 18th century Palazzo dei Mesei. Fly to Bologna, return private car transfers included.      

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