Costa Crociere, the talian unit in the Carnival Corp & plc group, says it marks the advent of ‘slow cruising’ with the introduction of its Costa neoCollection Mediterranean cruises. "Available on board Costa’s smaller ships bound for destinations off the beaten track, the first of these cruises will be combined with the Festival of Mediterranean Cuisine, a special programme devised in collaboration with the renowned Università di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo (Cuneo, Italy as a tribute to the extraordinary Mediterranean gastronomic heritage," the company said in a statement.
This academic institution was set up by Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, a global grassroots movement created to counter the rise of fast food and to work towards goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small-scale producers that safeguard local traditions and high quality products.
The Festival of Mediterranean Cuisine, which will be held from 11 April to 25 May in conjunction with the 12-day Hidden treasures of the Mediterranean cruises on Costa neoRiviera, is a unique gastronomic journey of the highest quality in pursuit of authentic taste sensations in the heart of the Mediterranean, in the very places where these culinary treats were first conceived: from Liguria (Savona) to Provence (Toulon), Catalonia (Barcelona), Sicily (Porto Empedocle), Malta (La Valletta) and Campania (Salerno).
On board Costa neoRiviera, the Festival of Mediterranean Cuisine offers guests different events linked to the appreciation of typical local food and wine; staples of the Mediterranean tradition. There are food and wine seminars and tasting of PDO (protected designation of origin) olive oil from five Italian regions, preserves made from local orchard produce, as well as wines and sweets typical of the coastal areas and islands visited. In Salerno, pasta makers from the Amalfi Coast will give a practical demonstration of the traditional method of preparing fusilli.
The homage to Mediterranean taste also involves all the à la carte restaurants and buffets on board Costa neoRiviera, with offerings including moscardini alla ligure (baby squid), traditional Provencal bouillabaisse, stoccafisso alla livornese (stockfish), coniglio all’ischitana (rabbit), crema catalana (low fat crème brûlée) and cassata al forno (cake made with ricotta).
The menus consist of dishes and recipes selected in partnership with the Università delle Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo and are designed to foster the regional traditions of the destinations visited by using local produce and specific ingredients protected by Slow Food Presidia, such as Cetara anchovies and Conio beans.
The Festival of Mediterranean Cuisine programme gives guests the chance to indulge in food & wine tasting, dinners in typical local restaurants and exclusive neo experienceshoreside excursions for small groups of less than 25 people, specially devised in line with Costa’s new slow cruising philosophy
The Costa neoCollection combines great attention to detail on board with the discovery of cultural heritage and scenic nature ashore. On the ship everything is designed to allow each guest to experience the cruise at their own pace. With more flexible dining hours in the restaurant, lighter entertainment and original services like high tea, brunch on days at sea, dinner under the stars or the new concierge providing assistance in the choice of custom-made solutions for shore side tours and special services.
The 12-day Hidden treasures of the Mediterranean itinerary on Costa neoRiviera departs from Savona (and also offers the possibility of joining the cruise in Porto Empedocle, Salerno and Livorno) to discover new destinations in Italy, France, Spain and Malta.
Costa neoRiviera sails from Savona, where guests can visit Finalborgo and Noli to see a special cooking lesson devoted to farinata (chickpea pancake) and pesto alla genovese. The next stop is Toulon, where guests can visit romantic Provence, including the pearls St. Tropez and Cannes, or discover the little island of Porquerolles, an un-spoilt natural paradise with white sandy beaches and pine forests. Enthusiastic epicures will be especially interested in the renowned Soviou estate, where they can sample wine, olive oil and olives.
The following day, the destination is Barcelona. This gives art lovers the opportunity to visit the Dali Museum at Figueres, Salvador Dali’s hometown, before spending a night out on the town soaking up the Catalan city’s pulsating nightlife, thanks to a made-to-measure late night excursion. The next destination heads to Sicily in Italy with a visit to Porto Empedocle, the gateway for unforgettable tours to celebrated temples. Highlights include the Valle dei Templi, the archeological sites of Segesta and Selinunte, Erice, San Vito Lo Capo and Modica, where guests can sample the famous chocolate made by Dolceria Bonajuto.
The following port call in Malta also offers exceptional culinary experiences. The ship will dock at La Valletta until midnight, giving guests the chance to dine at the famous Ristorante Rubino. Another highlight is the stopover in Salerno, with a whole day until 2amdevoted to exploring the famed Amalfi Coast and enjoying one of the finest views on the coast on the Belvedere terrace with an aperitif at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Rossellinis.
A must-see during this port call is Amalfi, with its main local monument the Duomo – characterised by the splendidly decorated, almost gaudy façade and steep flight of stairs – dominating the piazza. Finally, Livorno is ideally placed for excursions to Pisa and Florence, offering the best of the Italian Renaissance. Here, guests can choose to end this very special gastronomic journey in style with a visit to the Argentinean winery and the opportunity to try fine wines accompanied by a delicious selection of ham, cheese and fresh crusty bread, Costa said.