We spent a day with Alex touring a parmesan cheese factory, the balsamic vinegar museum, and the market in Modena. We arranged everything by email with Martina, who let us customize our day to whatever we wanted to do. We weren't nickel-and-dimed for changing the standard itinerary, it was very easy and simple.
Our tour guide, Alex, met us at our hotel exactly on time. Our hotel was in the limited traffic area in the city center, so she actually parked on the outskirts in a pay garage and walked all the way in to meet us. She could have very easily told us to meet her somewhere so she didn't have to pay or walk, but she didn't. Very professional.
Alex drove us up into the mountains to tour a parmesan cheese factory. She's a good driver (which is hard to find in Italy!) and the views were beautiful, even in the winter. She explained the cheese-making process, showed us every step of the process, and bought some parmigiano, nero, and fresh ricotta from the store for us to taste test. The nero is so delicious! We bought some to take back home with us. On our way back down the mountains, we stopped at a cafe where she bought us an espresso.
She then drove us near Modena to the balsamic vinegar museum. I initially wasn't interested in this and was talking with Martina about other things we could do, but I decided to give it a try. I'm really glad I did; it ended up being a really unique experience. Real balsamic vinegar as we know it is completely different from the supermarket stuff. The real stuff is almost like a syrup, it's a dark color, and has a very distinct taste. Alex explained how they make the balsamic vinegar and let us try two different samples. She then walked us around the market in Modena. We have nothing like it back home, so it was interesting to see all the different stalls of meats, produce, cheese, and pastries.
We didn't feel rushed at all. Alex at one point literally said, "This is your day. I have no where to be." We just walked around aimlessly seeing the city and talking. It was very relaxed.
I couldn't recommend Golosa Italia more highly. My one regret is that my boyfriend messed up and forgot to tip her, which she definitely deserved. Three weeks later, he actually still feels guilty about it, that's how great she was.
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