From initial point of contact to emails exchanged post return home; the service received was beyond what could be expected. I took a very vetted approach to who we would end up choosing for our guide throughout Parma and I am exceptionally happy that Nick/Food & Walk Tours was the operator to come out on top prior to us embarking. There were very specific things we wanted to accomplish on our tour and many things we wanted to see. Although most of the other operators (if not all) saw this as an opportunity to quote a higher rate; Nick pleasantly told us he will make anything work, so long as we have the time to do it and without further fees. It is also to note that Nick has the patience of a saint, as the amount of questions we asked prior to booking was quite extensive and beyond that he even helped up figure out the best days and to schedule it based when we were in town as well as when we had to leave. He really spends the time to make sure your tour is tailored every bit to your liking before you even book.
From our first initial meeting Nick took us to meet one of the oldest Parmigiano-Reggiano making families in Parma. We watched the entire process and got the grand tour and tasting. Nick knew every detail of the process from the procurent of the whey to the proper way to enjoy/pair the finished product depending on it's age. His relationship with the people there is what really separates Nick as every one he works with, he has a real connection to. By the special treatment and abundant extra samples given, I'm 100% certain they treated us far better than the other tours that go through there.
Our second destination was a scenic drive and tour around Parma with a stop at a small cafe known for their sweets in addition to the best Cappuccino in Parma. After our quick morning pick up Nick brought us to the place where the best Prosciutto crudo & Culatello is made. Again another of the storied families who he has a relationship with and again we were the only ones give the private walk of the facilities without so much as an escort. As before he showed us the entire process, from how the meat is chosen to the subsequent stages of spicing, curing, drying and aging. We really got an appreciation of how much time and effort is spent at keeping the quality of the product to the 99.999% degrees (far superior to its look-alike over-seas).
After the Prosciutto crudo & Culatello tour we got the chance to visit the magnificent Torrechiara Castle and as this was one of the things we requested to see outside of the normal route, Nick made the visit all the more special. He arranged for us to have a full gourmet lunch in the castle itself! We dined on "just made" assorted Tortelli, truffles , local cheeses, Prosciutto, Culatello and sinful deserts, so by all means it was far from a snack. After one of the most amazing meals we had in Italy topped off with a couple bottles of wine, we proceeded to our final destination. Nick took us to the Venturini Baldini Family grounds for a very exclusive tour. We were able to lean about the the family history, the process of making Balsamico, how its takes over 70 Liters to produce just one tiny 10 centiliter bottle................and that's not even factoring in the aging process of 12-60+ years! After seeing the vineyard and wine bottling station we had the rare pleasure of tasting some of the rarest, oldest and most sought after balsamico in all of Italy. As stated prior I can say with utmost certaintly that being able to taste a dab of the 50 & 60+ year Balsamico's would have been out of the question with another person showing us around. We got a very rare peek into the grounds and operations of one of the most revered families in Parma all thanks to Food & Walk Tours, needless to say its a life time experience we wont soon forget!
Knowing we got to experience things no other tours are able to and peek into places most of the public is not allowed was well worth every Euro spent but Nick's consistency in going above and beyond is where the tours true value lays. I personally may have indulged in one too many bottles bought at the Venturini Baldini residence but none the less wanted some more to share as a gifts as well. Nick arranged for Venturini Baldini to ship a bottle to my friend in Spain and he really took the care to make sure it was done properly. After seeing how thorough our tour day was, never once could I even question if it would get there. That is the difference with Nick as his candor, energy and personality are what really separate him from his peers. The entire day felt as if we spent it with a great friend and not a guide. In closing Nick/Food and Walk Tours is the best option you could possibly have for Parma and or the other areas he guides. You could choose another provider, you may get a better rate (although I highly doubt it) but one thing is certain and that is you will not experience the region to the extent you can with them and their relationships.
Sincerely, ~ Everett Kamin ~
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
17 August 2012
Thanks so much for your great review... yes our 3 Kings day was absolutely filled and lots of fun: glad too that all yr Balsamico arrived safely. Look forward to the next time you are over and creating something special. All the best from Nick and FWT.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC