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How to Dine at 4 of the World’s Best Restaurants in a Week – a Northern Italy Travel Itinerary for Foodies

From Venice to Turin via Bologna and Modena, this is the ultimate Italian travel itinerary for serious foodies…

When you’re as obsessed with food as I am, a great deal of time and energy is spent dreaming up ultimate ‘eatineraries’ – itineraries catering entirely to the stomach. As chefs say, here’s one I made earlier, which will take you across the top of Northern Italy, taking in some of Italy’s tastiest cities and four of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, including the global number one!

I’ve compiled both a fly-drive eatinerary and a car-free option for those who love a good wine-pairing. Best time to visit Italy is either side of summer in the cooler months of late spring and early autumn, and it’s essential to book all your World’s 50 Best Restaurant’s reservations around three to four months in advance.

The restaurants you’ll feast at if you follow my eatinerary are:

RESTAURANT: Osteria Francescana
LOCATION: Via Stella, 22, 41121 Modena, Italy, +39 059 223912, http://www.osteriafrancescana.it/
WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANTS RANK: 1 (2016)
MICHELIN STARS: 3 (2016)
FOOD STYLE: Contemporary Italian
STANDOUT DISH: Mallard/Partridge
TASTING MENU: €220 for nine courses

RESTAURANT: Piazza Duomo
LOCATION:  Piazza Risorgimento 4, Angolo Vicolo dell’Arco, Alba, Italy, +39 0173 366167, http://www.piazzaduomoalba.it/
WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANTS RANK: 17 (2016)
MICHELIN STARS: 3 (2016)
FOOD STYLE: Modern Italian
STANDOUT DISH: Salad 21, 31, 41
TASTING MENU: €240 for 11 courses, €200 for nine courses

RESTAURANT: Le Calandre
LOCATION: Via Liguria, 1, 35030 Sarmeola di Rubano, Padua, Italy, +39 049 630303, http://www.alajmo.it/
WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANTS RANK: 39 (2016)
MICHELIN STARS: 3 (2016)
FOOD STYLE: Contemporary Italian
STANDOUT DISH: Almond Mozzarella
TASTING MENU: €225 for 11 courses

RESTAURANT: Combal Zero
LOCATION: Piazzale Mafalda di Savoia, Rivoli, Turin, Italy, +39 011 956 5225, http://www.combal.org/en/
WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANTS RANK: 46 (2016)
MICHELIN STARS: 1 (2016)
FOOD STYLE: Research kitchen
STANDOUT DISH: Cold fusion
TASTING MENU: €200 for 14 courses

Total dining cost excluding drinks = €885 per person

Italy eatinerary - 4 restaurants (1)
The Worldiner Northern Italy fly-drive eatinerary route

EATINERARY OPTION 1

Fly-drive is one option, assuming (a) you can drive, and (b) you can handle Italy’s roads (you’ve seen the Italian Job, right?). The total travel time by car between all four restaurants in this eatinerary is just five hours and 40 minutes.

Day 1 (Saturday)

Fly into Venice, then drive to Sarmeola di Rubano to dine at number 39 on the World’s Best Restaurant list, Le Calandre. Stay at Hotel Le Calandre, a cheap and cheerful three-star hotel, just 4km from the centre of Padua. http://www.lecalandrehotel.it/

lecalandre
Le Calandre

Day 2 (Sunday, Monday)

Drive to Bologna; sleep over for a day or two and eat some spaghetti Bolognese – it would be criminal not to. As many restaurants in Italy are closed on Sunday and Monday, this is when you should take your detour from the world’s best restaurant destinations to see a bit more of this delicious country. Stay at the Grand Hotel Majestic for old-school European glamour presented by doormen in top hats. http://grandhotelmajestic.duetorrihotels.com/

Day 4 (Tuesday)

The Lonely Planet guide reackons, “If Italy were a meal, Modena would be the main course.” No wonder the world’s best restaurant is here; cherish a meal at number one Osteria Francescana, and see the sights, including the finest Romanesque church in Italy and the city’s main museums and galleries, all housed in the Palazzo dei Musei. Stay at the elegant four-star Hotel Milano Palace Modena right next to the Enzo Ferrari Birthplace Museum. http://www.milanopalacehotel.it/

Day 5 (Wednesday)

You’ll need an early start for the longest stretch of the journey from Modena to Alba – truffle country! Here you can dine and sleep at Piazza Duomo, number 17 on the World’s 50 Best, which is a restaurant with rooms. http://www.piazzaduomoalba.it/en/rooms/

Day 6 (Thursday)

The final stretch of your eatinerary takes you to Rivoli, Turin for an end-of-the-road celebratory feast at Combal Zero. While you’re there, find contrast to this cobble-stoned city seeped in history inside Rivoli’s castle, a UNESCO’s world heritage site that has housed a permanent Modern Art exhibition since 1984. Just 14km away, historical Turin city centre is the former home of the Italian Royal family, which explains its majestic glory – revel in it and stay at the Turin Palace Hotel. http://www.turinpalacehotel.com/

Day 7 (Friday).

Fly home from Turin City airport; EasyJet runs regular flights to London and from there you can get anywhere in the world (assuming you can still fit into an airplane seat).

 

EATINERARY OPTION 2

If you don’t fancy the drive, here’s an alternate route that’ll allow you to leave your car keys at home and opt in to as many wine pairings as you like! I prefer this version, with the option to arrive earlier and spend a few more nights in Venice, where you can sample the baccala mantecato, creamed dried cod, soaked and blended in olive oil to make a mousse, which is spread on grilled white polenta, a staple of the region.

Caccala-Mantecato (1)
Baccala mantecato – salted cod mousse on grilled white polenta

Day 1 (Saturday)

Fly into Venice and take the train to from Venezia Santa Lucia to Padova in Padua, which takes around 55 minutes (half that time on the Trenitalia fast train) for lunch at Le Calandre (number 39), with is a 13-minute 7km taxi ride from Padova station. Then head back to Venice afterwards, and book into The Westin Europa & Regina for a night of utter decadence. http://www.westineuropareginavenice.com/

The Westin Europa & Regina
The Westin Europa & Regina

Day 2 (Sunday, Monday)

From Venice, take a train to Bologna, which takes one hour and 25 minutes from Venezia Mestre to Bologna Centrale and costs €32. As mentioned, high-end restaurants in Italy tend to close Sunday and Monday so this detour from the world’s best restaurant destinations fits perfectly; slurp up some spag Bol, and book into the dreamy Grand Hotel Majestic to get a sense of the Golden Age of travel. http://grandhotelmajestic.duetorrihotels.com/

Day 4 (Tuesday)

From Bologna Centrale take the Piacenza train just two stops to Modena station, and number-one restaurant Osteria Francescana is a 3km, nine-minute cab ride from there. Stay at the elegant four-star Hotel Milano Palace Modena. http://www.milanopalacehotel.it/

Day 5/6 (Wednesday/Thursday with optional stopover in Milan)

Make number 49, Combal Zero in Rivoli, Turin your next stop. Take the train from Modena via Milan (which takes two hours and 25 minutes and costs around €14), where you may opt to stay the night to break up the journey, then continue the next day from Milan to Torino Porta Nuova, Turin’s main train station, a direct two-hour trip costing around €12. Take a taxi from Turin to Combal Zero – the 16km drive should take 30 to 40 minutes and cost around €38. Stay in majestic Turin city – former home of the Italian Royal family – at the Turin Palace Hotel. http://www.turinpalacehotel.com/

Day 6/7 (Thursday/Friday)

Take a day trip from Turin for lunch at number 17, Piazza Duomo in Alba. Travelling from Torino Porta Nuova station in Turin to Mussotto station in Alba (changing at Cavallermaggiore) takes one hour 40 minutes and costs around €6.

Day 7/8 (Friday/Saturday)

Congratulations – you’ve experienced four of the world’s best restaurants and huge chunk of Northern Italy! Now you can decide whether to return home, or hang around. You could get the train back to Milan and fly out from the capital’s airport, or, if you never want to see inside another train again, fly out from Turin to London with EasyJet and then onto anywhere else in the world from there… or plough the list of the World’s 50 Best in the British capital. Ooh, hello, Ledbury, Clove Club, Dinner by Heston… ✪

turin
Touring Italy: Turin, Italy

 

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