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Help Me Sketch a trip to Modena, Bologna and Parma

non sequitur | Apr 12, 201501:51 PM

My family (which includes 2 boys, who eat pasta like adults and then some) hadn't planned on a trip to Europe this summer, but the exchange rates and affordable flights to Milan is beginning to sway me. The fundamental problem to any trip with school-aged kids is that we seem to always be stuck with travel in August, and as far as eating is concerned, this can be problemmatic.

Assuming a flight into Milan, with a day or two there to acclimate, and assuming also a car rental (meaning B&Bs and off-track destinations are possible), can anyone help me mash all of these "ingredients" into an itinerary (and by all means direct me to existing links if they are responsive - I am a zealous researcher and not afraid of homework):

1. We like to see how things are made (procioutto, balsamic vinegar and Parmasean...)
2. We try to have larger meals at lunch and smaller ones at night (or wine/cheese)
3. We all really love pasta. Like, REALLY love it.
4. We want to avoid weeks of mass closure (not sure when this region of Italy shuts down, or if it might vary by city even?)
5. We've really enjoyed lodging that involves either a notable (but casual) in-house restaurant, or is a working winery, so any CH tips would be golden.
6. The boys love cars, so visiting Ferrari (and Maserati, and ______?) is a must, which places us there around the midday mealtime (maybe that would be a "big dinner" day).
7. The parents love red wine, when spending the day with their boys who love cars.
8. If there is a 'typical' day of the week of closures (I'm seeing a lot of mentions of Monday and Tuesday that might make those days better spent in Milan).
9. My favorite souvenier is wine. My wife's is handbags and shoes. My souveniers are usually gone before we board the return flight - did I mention we have 2 boys?
10. Are there any producers of chocolate in the region? I was really disappointed to miss Amadei in Torino on a prior trip, and would love to try again if there is anything in ER.

I usually start researching when my flights are booked, but I'm hoping if I begin with the things we enjoy most (food production and eating), BEFORE booking, I might have better success.

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