Bologna Festival Gems for Summer and Fall visits

Italy is well-known for its rich culinary and cultural offering, especially during the warm summer and fall months. However, two festivals held in the city of Bologna stand out and are well worth a visit if you find yourself somewhere in Italy or Europe at the time: the Mortadella Festival and the Cinema Ritrovato. The first — officially called MortadellaBo — is a four-day festival celebrating mortadella, a cold-cut, cured pork sausage that is one of Bologna’s specialties. The second is the Cinema Ritrovato, an eight-day vintage film festival that screens gems from cinema’s past and features a beautiful, free outdoor cinema in the evenings.

La Grassa

MortadellaBò Festival

The Mortadella festival is a one of a kind event and a must for fans of what the Italians call “the Queen of Sausages.” The sausage –well-known for its round, pink appearance and white specks — is a sandwich favorite in a lot of homes. It is made of crushed pork mixed with spices and sometimes includes chunks of black pepper or pistachios. Normally, this delicious sausage is cut into thin prosciutto-like slices, but it can also appear in cubes as part of different appetizers or salads.

Mortadella di Bologna (PGI) has a protected geographical status, meaning that it can only be called mortadella if it has been produced in the Emilia Romagna region or other neighbouring Italian provinces. This makes the MortadellaBo Festival a unique opportunity to fully experience mortadella in its region of origin. Apart from tasting the best mortadella in the world, you can also learn more about this specialty’s history in the city and discover new ways to integrate it into your cuisine.

For four days in October, the center of Bologna is transformed into a haven of mortadella-related activities. You can choose to participate in a range of events — from tastings of all of the best mortadella producers in the region to cooking classes held by famous chefs from all over Italy. There is even a range of events for your kids, as well as a fun addition — a mortadella queen wearing a pink dress with white dots. During these four days, you will learn how to pick the best mortadella, what cheeses accompany it best and even get to taste the best wines that go with this specialty. The MortadellaBo is a must-see event that you are sure to enjoy with your entire family.

Cinema Ritrovato

The Cinema Ritrovato is another great local festival that draws thousands of people from all over Italy and Europe. While outdoor cinemas and film festivals are no rarity, this particular one is unique for its focus on films from before 1975. So in addition to drawing thousands of locals and European film buffs, it also attracts numerous film scholars and film archivists from around the world.

For eight days at the end of June and beginning of July, around 350 forgotten gems of cinematography are shown in three different theaters in the city — the Lumiere theater, the Arlecchino and the Jolly. In these venues, you can enjoy themed screenings ranging from homages to beloved actors like Marlon Brando and Charlie Chaplin to regional themes, such as some lesser-known Argentinian and Japanese films from the 50s and 60s. The Cinema Ritrovato is a truly unique opportunity to enjoy movie classics from around the world in a theater format and surrounded by film buffs from different parts of the world.

Apart from the events requiring a ticket, the Cinema Ritrovato also features free screenings each evening on Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore. These screenings are very well-organized and have excellent sound and a large screen, allowing you to enjoy the film no matter where you are seated. The added bonus? If you are a pass holder, you have access to a special area of reserved seating close to the screen.

Finally, on top of the excellent selection of films, Cinema Ritrovato also features a number of special lectures and panel talks. This gives attendees the opportunity to gain an even better insight into the films being screened. This makes the Cinema Ritrovato a true festival of film, celebrating the legacy of older creations and keeping them alive through renewed attention. Bologna — a city that beautifully combines the past and present — is the perfect setting for this type of event and truly comes alive during these 8 days of film magic.

Novemberpork Festival in Parma

The worst place on earth if you are a pig…

In the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, the humble pig is so revered that an entire month of festivals is dedicated to the gastronomic delights of pork. It is quite understandable! The pig provides the raw product for one of Italy’s most sought-after exports, Parma Ham, but the story of the pig does not end with Parma Ham, and at this month-long festival you will find out how many other great pork delicacies are produced in the region. There are also demonstrations of how the carcass is divided up and how all the various cuts are processed – this event is not for vegetarians, who should perhaps give this festival a miss and rather visit one of the many other attractions of the region!

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The symbol of Novemberpork – Zibello province of Parma

The November Pork festival, takes place each weekend for the month of November, and each stage is hosted by a different village along the Street of Culatello, (or the Pork Road), starting in Sissa, with “The Flavours of Pork” event. At each stage, the village butchers compete to produce the biggest, longest or heaviest product, which is why the competition is said to be the “greediest” of all food festivals in Italy.

Sissa – The annual “November Pork” fair starts in Sissa on the first weekend of November. On the Friday night there are live concerts and festivities and on the Saturday visitors are tempted by a market of typical products of the area, which include not only pork but also many organic products, fish, teas, spices and spirits. The music and entertainment continues late into the night. Sunday is the day everyone is waiting for – there are demonstrations of cheese making and the making of salamis and other pork products, before everyone gets to taste the giant Mariolone (a type of cooked salami) that the local butchers have been making all weekend.

Polesine Parmense – on the second weekend of the month the festival moves down the road to the village of Polesine Parmense, where it takes much the same form as the previous weekend, with music, dozens of market stalls and this time the star of the show is the Prete(Priest – this is made from the cured meat of the pork shoulder and knuckle, all rolled up in strips of pork rind into a triangular shape, reminiscent of a Priest’s hat) Usually it is a modest sized salami, but for this festival the butchers make the biggest one they can! It is baked and distributed(for free!) to everyone on the banks of the River Po. Of course, it is all washed down with a great local Fortana wine.

Zibello – is the village where the festivities take place on the third weekend, and this time the starring product is the Salame Strolghino; this is a “thin” salami, very delicate in flavour, traditionally made from the trimming of the large pear-shaped Culatello salami, which is locally known as the King of Salumi”. At November Pork, the local butchers of Zibello try to make the longest ever Strolghino to feed the many visitors. And I mean long…sometimes it can be up to several hundred metres!

Roccabianca – is the last village to host the November Pork competition and there are all sorts of extra events to mark the end of the celebrations. These include the “Pork Hot Feet” race, a Christmas Market and, of course, the tasting of the giant Cicciolata (this type of salami is more like a meat-loaf; it is made with some of the best pork cuts, generously flavoured with spices and then set in a loaf-shape, and served with hot polenta).

Each weekend, in addition to all the market stalls where you can buy local products, you can also visit regional restaurants, many of which feature special menus to showcase pork dishes from the region. Also in November, there is a black truffle festival in Parma, a Cheese Fair in Talamello(Rimini), and an olive oil festival in Ravenna, making November one of the very best times of the year to visit Emilia Romagna.

culatello
Culatello hams produced in Zibello – 30 km from Parma