Family travel snap: making bread in Emilia-Romagna

This month we’re joining Lonely Planet Pathfinder Kirstie Pelling ( in Emilia-Romagna as her family learns how to make bread the Italian way.

Kids Blog - Cooking with laughter with the Mariettes of Casa Artusi
Cooking with laughter with the mariettes of Casa Artusi © Family Adventure Project

What’s the story behind this photo?

We are in Emilia-Romagna learning to cook! Our boys are never knowingly in possession of a rolling pin and their culinary excellence begins and ends with a bowl of cereal. As Casa Artusi is the birthplace of Italian home cooking and the boys love pasta and pizza, we figured a family lesson might inspire them. Their teacher was Caterina (pictured), one of a tour de force of mariettes – grandmas who volunteer at the cultural centre in Forlimpopoli. Our piadinas were supposed to be round, but Catarina noticed that Cameron’s bread resembled the UK. In the foreground Matthew jokes that he’s rolled Australia.

I chose this photo because it’s a natural, spontaneous moment. It’s also rare all three siblings are in a picture without anyone doing a thumbs up or a selfie pose. All three are happy and engaged, and the joy in Caterina’s face is captivating. And it’s lasting proof that my kids aren’t allergic to a kitchen worktop.

After this photo was taken, naturally we ate Australia, and the UK. And then pretty much all of Emilia-Romagna in a week of making, baking, testing and tasting. We also created gelato at Gelato University in Bologna and learnt how olive oil and balsamic vinegar are produced on family farms. Olive oil tasting anyone?

Kids’ perspective

All remember laughing throughout as their guide chefs were so much fun. ‘I was a bit nervous in the demonstration in case I wouldn’t know what to do afterwards. It was all fine but I did get flour everywhere!’ says Hannah who had never made bread before. The boys remember the words ‘Bravo Papi!’ being exclaimed every time their Dad picked up a rolling pin.

Kirstie’s tips for visiting Emilia-Romagna with kids:

1) Don’t eat for a month beforehand! Even the waterpark had a vending machine that baked a whole pizza in less than five minutes.

2) There are some excellent activities for older children. We burnt off our calories with a rush of adrenaline on the tallest water coaster in the world at Mirabilandia theme park and in Motor Valley, where we blasted round the museums and factory tours of three supercar manufacturers.

3) Allow plenty of time for outdoor activities. There are many that children will find fun, such as hiking in the hills around the medieval village of Brisighella or exploring the network of gypsum caves.

Where’s next on your family travel bucket list?

As it’s winter here in the UK it must surely be time for another ski trip...?

Lastly, complete the sentence:

When we shut the front door ready to go and travel as a family, we always…

...carry a suitcase full of battery chargers. If only we could use them to recharge tired children!

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