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These gastronomic vacations are perfect for the foodie in you

As the birthplace of the Slow Food movement, the Piedmont region is one of Italy’s food capitals, offering an array of authentic culinary experiences.Calling all foodies! Do you plan your vacations around great meals? Do you have a taste for epicurean adventure? Then whet your appetite on these great culinary getaways — from a food-themed cruise to walking tours of Spain and Italy’s top gastronomic regions. Bon appétit!

Gastronomic Cruise

Hosted by award-winning chef, author, and restaurateur Hugh Acheson, this 10-day sailing on Windstar Cruises 212-passenger Star Legend is designed in partnership with the James Beard Foundation. The itinerary, called the “ James Beard Foundation Epicurean Explorations of France, Spain, and Portugal,” features stops in Ireland, France, Spain, and Portugal, where guests can accompany chefs to market to source regional ingredients used to prepare memorable meals onboard. Further enhancing the shipboard food experience, top sommelier Steven Grubbs will host four wine tasting events as well as arrange meal pairings using local varietals and vintages. Plus, during the cruise you’ll enjoy three cooking demonstrations and meals featuring a James Beard Foundation Chef Signature Recipe each day.While in France, you’ll visit the famed wine region of Bordeaux, known for its spectacular wine estates and scenic vineyards. There, you’ll savor an exclusive wine tasting event at a private chateau, accompanied by French appetizers and entertained by a classical music quartet. You’ll also explore the Medoc and Saint Émilion regions, known for some of the finest wines in the world, and sample cognac in La Rochelle and the famous oysters of Cancale in St-Malo. Ooh-la-la!In Portugal, enjoy wine tasting in the lively coastal city of Porto, center of the nation’s signature Port production. The sweet red wine is still stored in vast cellars that line the banks of the Douro River as it spills into the sea.

Savory Spain

Delve deeply into unique Basque culture — part Spanish, part French — during VBT’s 10-day “ Spain: A Walking Tour of Basque Country” tour. In addition to scenic walks through the stunning countryside, framed by the soaring Pyrenees and the Bay of Biscay, you’ll partake of the outstanding cuisine of this autonomous Spanish region known for its culinary excellence.Classic gastronomic opportunities await: Hit lively Basque bars to sample pintxos (the Basque form of tapas) washed down with local wines. Dine with the members of a txoko private gastronomic club. Enjoy a traditional Basque cooking demonstration. Explore 12th-century San Sebastian and sample its outstanding restaurants, which rank the city as Number 2 in the world based on the number of Michelin stars per capita. Have a country lunch in a charming stone farmhouse, whose family has raised Euskal txerria — a breed of pig found only in the Basque region — for generations. Feast on a Basque specialty: alubias de Tolosa, or Tolosa beans — purple-black legumes that turn red when cooked and are prized for their rich, buttery flavor — accompanied by the local sidra, or hard apple cider. Learn the secrets of Basque Country cuisine during an exclusive cooking demonstration in Hondarribia. All the while, explore on foot the small towns and country villages of this charming border region between two nations.

Italy for Epicures

Have you ever wanted to make pasta in a hands-on cooking class at an Italian farmhouse restaurant? Longed to search for white and black truffles with an expert forager in the forested hills of Italy? Desired to sample the legendary sheep cheese in the home of a master cheese maker who uses milk from his own Langhe ewes?Then Country Walkers’ seven-day guided walking tour, “ Italy: Piedmont,” is for you.As the birthplace of the Slow Food movement, the Piedmont region is one of Italy’s food capitals, offering an array of authentic culinary experiences. As you stroll the gentle hillsides and country lanes, you’ll sample world-class wines in 200-year-old cellars and meet artisanal beekeepers, vintners, and cheesemakers and taste their wares along the way. Have lunch at a local agriturismo, a farm that welcomes visitors to partake of its bounty. Follow the medieval “Salt Route” connecting Italy and France, where you’ll cross nature parks framed by snow-capped Alpine peaks, and pass through chestnut forests full of wild truffles, hazelnut groves, and rows of neatly tended grape arbors. Finally, visit several of the renowned wine-producing villages of Barolo country and enjoy a tour and tasting at the historical Marchesi di Barolo winery. There’s no better way to experience the culinary cornucopia of the Piedmont, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique viticultural landscape.

How to Explore

Onboard for a once-in-a-lifetime culinary cruise? Explore the upcoming James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise itineraries, and see discover the many other ways Windstar Cruises brings you closer to smaller ports and exclusive local experiences around the world. Recognized by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler on the 2016 Gold List of Favorite Cruise Lines and by USA TODAY readers for Best Boutique Cruise Line, Windstar’s fleet of small luxury sailing ships and all-suite power yachts offer an intimate cruising experience with just 148 to 300 guests. For more information on Windstar Cruises, visit or call 877.880.1311. To immerse yourself in the culinary and cultural delights of Spain, Italy or many other countries around the world on a small-group active vacation, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations and Country Walkers offer countless options and have expert guides with insider access to help you get the best experience in each destination. VBT is the value leader in active biking vacations and has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for seven years. VBT offers more than 55 deluxe, small group bicycling, walking, and barge and bike vacations in 29 different countries and 10 U.S. States. For more information on VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, visit or call 800.245.3868.For more than 38 years, Country Walkers has provided active and immersive travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group guided walking adventures and independent self-guided walking adventures. For more information on Country Walkers, visit or call 800.234.6900.For more travel experiences available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit