Travel Tips

Planning a vacation in Emilia Romagna, Italy?

by Marcelo Pinto November 3rd 2012

A region such as Emilia Romagna can offer the discerning and demanding traveller a perfect vacation, not just something, but everything: art, culture, nature, history, leisure, wellness, relaxation, sea, mountains and good food.

Only a few other regions in Europe can boast all of this this: from the splendid city of art, dotted with monuments that trace back to ancient origins, small medieval villages clinging to the hills, The churches in the middle of green scenery, the myriad of castles imposing sumptuous amongst the green countryside.

It is not just for those seeking relaxation and tranquillity, there are dozens of places that offer health, beauty and activities. The Adriatic sea, equipped with beach resorts for the summer tourism catering for young people who are attracted to the vibrant night-life of the beach. The coast also has other jewels to offer, just think of the Regional Park of the Po’ Delta, one of the most important wetlands in Italy with unique flora and fauna and amazing scenery.

The hinterland and the Apennines, with miles of trails ideal for hiking or excursions into the woods, lakes and waterfalls, some are protected areas where nature is still intact. If that was not enough, the region boasts the best eno-gastronomic scenario, in fact one of the most sumptuous in the world: Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di Modena, Culatello, Felino salami, Cotechino di Modena, all awarded the PDO and PGI. They are also accompanied by robust and sincere wines such as Lambrusco, Albana, Sangiovese. These are just some of the delicacies that made the Emilia Romagna the kingdom of taste and good food.

Last but not least, we are in the land of motor sports, home to the factories of famous brands that have made the history like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati. It is also where where major events are hosted at the Imola circuit in Misano Adriatico. Is this enough for a vacation?

 

Venice Food Crawl – The Culture of Cicchetti

A Cicchetti Tour of Venice

Cicchetti al bottegon

Emilia Delizia Venice food tour. Our company would be delighted to organise a Venice food tour for your group, family, friends or company incentive travel. Our culinary activities are great for those wanting to explore the best Italian food traditions.

Venice food tour highlights.

Imagine that you are exploring the sights of Venice, that magical place that has welcomed travellers and explorers since the Middle Ages. In this city without cars, you can walk for hours, enjoying both the well-known sights such as St. Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge and  the Piazza San Marco. Naturally, this is bound to leave you hungry and thirsty. What better way to combine exploration with refreshment than participating in the tradition known as the cicchetti crawl? Cicchetti are snacks, rather like Spanish tapas, served in wine bars and taverns. You can easily sample a world of traditional, delicious Venetian cuisine and atmospheric tavernas, for a modest expenditure, over the course of an afternoon or evening.

The delicious food of Venice.

Since Venice is a city dominated by the sea it is no surprise that its food culture is dominated by the sea also: by deliciously fresh and abundant seafood, including cuttlefish, octopus, cod, sardines and shrimp. Meats, both fresh and cured, are also widely used in Venetian dishes, as is pasta and risotto rice. Fresh local vegetables such as artichokes from Sant-Erasmo and, in the spring, white asparagus, when fried or grilled, also become delicious cicchetti.

A culinary tour of Venice’s cicchetti bars will reward you with a world of tastes. To begin your cicchetti adventure, look for places called bacari (wine bars) or osteria, both of which serve these traditional snack foods. Traditional cicchetti are simple: chunks of salami, pieces of cheese, fried olives and fried seafoods. Modern cicchetti include these dishes, but they also can be much more elaborate – dinners in miniature.

Cicchetti are accompanied by small glasses of wine (about the size of a double shot) known as ombra, or shade. These mini glasses of wine were long ago nicknamed ombra, after the wine sellers in the Piazza San Marco, who kept in the shade to keep the wine cool and fresh. Or perhaps you would like to drink an aperitivo – a pre-dinner drink designed to whet your appetite. In Venice, the traditional Spritz is often based on sparkling wine such as Prosecco (a dry white sparkling wine), mixed with sparkling water and flavored with bitters.These amari (bitters) include the ruby red bitters Campari or Select (made of herbs and fruits), bright orange Aperol (with bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona), and Cynar (containing artichokes and several herbs). These aperitivo are fairly low in alcohol content, so are the perfect drink to choose while roaming between bacari.

Bacari and osterias in Venice.

Some of the best seafood-based cicchetti can be found in San Polo. Many osteria are near the Rialto Fish Market. At Cantina Mori (San Polo 429), which has been in business since the 15th century, you can try octopus and baccala’ (salt cod). Sarde in saor, or sardines fried in olive oil with onions, pine nuts and raisins, is found there also. Baccala’ is one of the most popular cicchetti; a creamy salt cod, it is served either on its own or on toast. At Pronto Pesce (319 San Polo), also near the Rialto Fish Market, you can savour swordfish croissant and scallops served in the shell – all served in a buffet style. If you prefer meat, try a hearty plate of polpette (meatballs), often served with an aioli sauce. Polpette, as well as prosciutto, pate and bread rounds topped with truffles, cheese and mushrooms await you at All’Arco (San Polo 436), near the Rialto Bridge.

Tidbits served on toast (crostini) or on squares of savory grilled polenta are also popular cicchetti. Try squid ink toast with or without curried shrimp at Osteria Bancogiro (Campo San Giacometto, San Polo). Risotto and pasta dishes are also delicious  – try the risotto Parmigiana or the ravioli at Osteria Vivaldi (calle della Maddonetta, San Polo). Tramezzini (little triangular sandwiches) may also accompany drinks in traditional bacari. Made from special, soft white bread, they are stuffed with a delectable variety of fillings including ham, olives, cheese or tuna.

Refreshed by cicchetti and an aperitivo or an ombra, you may now continue your explorations. This food tour is a delicious way to relax, recharge, and sample the best of Venice’s cuisine – and in doing so, getting to know Venice and her people, too. We offer cooking classes in Venice and check here for some ideas about eating like a local in Venice.

Where to Eat Cicchetti in Venice, our Bacari Food Tour.

You are likely to be that enthusiastic traveler, who has learned all about cicchetti. These are very nice snacks that you can eat as you sip your glass of wine. Sometimes it is great when you get a guide; who will take you to all the cool cicchetti joints. The case is different if you are the adventurous type. You simply like walking around, and finding out places on your own. With a simple glance at the main page of this site, you will notice that once you book a tour, a guide is assigned to you. You should not get hard on yourself. The Emilia Delizia Venezia Tood Tour cares about your well being, and is ready to show you the best places where you can quickly hop into and get your snack. As they say Venezia is the city without cars, you should be at least ready to know a place or two.

 

Cantina Do Spade Chicchetti Tour.

Mozzarella in Carrozza
Mozzarella in Carrozza

You should remember by now that the only place where you can eat your cicchetti in Venezia or Italy, is in a bacari and an osteria. Cantina do Spade is one of the oldest Venetial osterie’s. It is located several steps from Rialto. Once you have had your pleasant walking experience in Venezia. You should set the mood of your day to delightful. This place boasts to have served people for 568 years. Your mood will be set once you have sampled the wine tastings offered here. The next step is to try at least two cicchetti dishes. These are:

First is the Bussolai—they are round pieces from heaven.

Next is the mussel soup. If you have never seen it, a simple look at it would make your mouth water.

Tiramisú looks like a glorious cake with chocolate sprinkled on top of it. If you have ever taken the Spanish tapas, you’ll really wish you had discovered Tiramisú earlier.

The Mozzarella in carozza are another special piece. They come with this appealing golden color. They are really something to taste.

If you are a lover of seafood then you are in luck. They have squids in black with polenta; small octopuses; bigoli in salsa; and finally squid ink bigoli.

You should try to reserve a table at this place. If you don’t you will be missing out on excellent cicchetti, and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

 

Un Mondo Di Vino Bacari Tour in Venice.

At the height of your tour; you should also consider visiting the Un Mondo Di Vino wine bar. It is located in Salizada San Canzian 5984/a, 5984 Venezia, Italy. One of the reasons you should be here; even aside from the food offered is because; this wine bar has been rated as 184th restaurant in Venezia. A certificate of excellence is proof of it. If you are that person who moves across places looking for traditional cicchetti at bacaris; this is the right place. You will have saved your self hours of search. Most customers have claimed that you can only find the best Venetian cicchetti here. Once you are here; some of the things that you will experience are:

A wide range of seafood you can select from.

A satisfying environment—the breeze will hold you in comfort.

Also, there are great varieties of wine you can pick from, talk of wonderful wine tastings.

There is one experience here that you will never find anywhere else. The restaurant allows you to either sit or stand while standing, it is pretty much like a tradition. You are also expected to serve yourself.

 

Osteria Ai Storti Venice.

Osteria Ai Storti Venice
Osteria Ai Storti Venice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Similar to Catina do Spade; Osteria ai Storti is close to Rialto. After you have had your walking experience—which is always peasant at times, sometimes it is good to hop into a wine bar; where you get the best wine, and wonderful cicchetti. This restaurant creates a native feel; the staff are warm and welcoming. This is the best place for those who are interested in sampling the Italian culinary culture. If you are really into having the main course meal of cicchetti then your needs will be well catered for here. Fish is served in both the main and second courses. All the food comes with a fresh touch from the Mediterranean. There is a host here who is present to guide you in wine tasting. There is plenty of wine—red and white. You should remember that cicchetti goes well with a sip of wine. Don’t shy away from this wonderful experience. We are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but for this Venezian beauty, we make an exception. It is located in frequent tourist visited area. It is worth checking it out.

Most visitors have commented positively on the cicchetti served here. As one claims, “It was unusual seafood, those Venetian tapas were excellent.” As you can see, you will get the best tapas here; you will also get to dine with the locals, who you’ll get to love. Aside from even having a good culinary experience, being here will allow you to develop your social skills, and also help you appreciate the diversity in this place—Venezia is flooded with tourists. Lastly, the price of the food is pocket friendly. If you are a group then you are in luck. Also, the small size of this place is ideal for customized cicchetti meals. If you are a foreigner, don’t be afraid, someone will understand you.

Antico Dolo

Antico Dolo is located just around Ruga Rialto; this place is ideal for you during your tour. This place is located in the vicinity of fruit, vegetable, and fish markets. Everything is guaranteed to be fresh. All the meals have desserts (many varieties) that make sure you end your dinner in style. The cicchetti here is made with fresh products, there is no need for freezing. If you are always shying away from places that serve frozen food; then you should consider coming here. Lastly, there is a huge selection of both foreign and Italian wine.

Osteria Assassini

osteria assassini
osteria assassini

Osteria Assassini  is no ordinary bacaro it has a fair mix of both the traditional and the modern feel. At lunch time you have an opportunity to get served cicchetti by a host of professionals—who are good at making sure you get the best treatment. A good thing about this place is that the dish menus are changed on a daily basis. This allows you as the visitor to sample the best wines and dishes that go with them. It is open everyday except for Sunday; if you happen to be on tour on this day, then you are out of luck.

 

 

Venice
Venice – image source

Abruzzo Food Tours

Abruzzo food  and wine tours – Italy’s Secret Cornucopia

fish dining experience in abruzzo

Stretching from the steep, snow-capped peaks of the Appennines to the sandy Adriatic coast, Regione Abruzzo is one of Italy best-kept secrets. Indeed, until now, Abruzzo hardly featured on anyone’s Italian tourist agenda. But now, it’s become a hot-spot for travellers looking to go back in time and experience authentic, rural, medieval Italy, untouched by the excesses of modern development and tourism.

Abruzzo is an essential destination for lovers of food and wine. In fact, many renowned Italian chefs came to famous Abruzzese town of Villa Santa Maria to perfect their culinary crafts. Local food has harnessed the best of what the landscape has to offer, and it ranges from earthy, rustic mountain dishes to unique, fresh seafood cuisines.

But, undoubtedly the belle of the ball in Abruzzo is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. It has achieved worldwide renown for being flavoursome, versatile and very affordable. It is one of the most ubiquitous wines of the region, and is grown in all four provinces of l’Aquila, Teramo, Pescara and Chieti. It stands as a testament to the innovations that are happening in regional viticulture, which constantly yield fresh and interesting results.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is easy-to-drink, and can be enjoyed at a young age. It is smooth, low in acidity, and displays a luxurious ruby-to-purple colouring. It has soft and slightly syrupy tannins, which contribute to an all-round flavour of biting cherry underscored by earthy dryness. It can be served with all kinds of tomato-based dishes, such as the notable Abruzzese pasta speciality, maccheroni alla chitarra with spicy tomato sauce.

Fontefico Vasto wine tours in Abruzzo

Abruzzo has held on to agricultural practices that originated in the Middle Ages. The rich, green pastures of the central highlands, in particular, have supported shepherding for centuries. This, in turn, has given rise to a culinary tradition rich in mutton and lamb dishes, the most famous of which is arrosticini.

Arrosticini are long skewers of rich mutton and exemplify the typically rustic country food of the mountainside. The meat, traditionally derived from castrated male sheep, is cut into small cubes and then pierced with a 25-30 cm long spit. Skewers are usually marinated in extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary, and then grilled until cooked.

The time-honoured method of grilling is conducted on an open- style barbecue, locally known as a rustillire or furnacella. The furnacella is designed to support rows upon rows of arrosticini, which can then be easily turned and grilled without falling into the fire. Locals use fattier mutton cuts, ensuring the meat stays juicy and full of flavour after cooking. These skewers are most delicious when eaten with the hands.

Things couldn’t be more different on the coast, where fishing dominates and is the livelihood of many local people. The coastlines of Chieti and Teramo, for instance, still practice some of the oldest fishing methods in the world. The trabocco is a significant example of this heritage.

A trabocco is an ancient Italian fishing apparatus that closely resembles a rickety pier and wooden shack. However, a closer inspection reveals an elaborate agglomeration of pulleys and levers that work together to capture large quantities of fish and shellfish. Long logs of weather-resistant Aleppo pine jut out of the shack at the end of the pier. These logs support large mesh nets that are lowered into the water to catch fish brought in by advantageous currents. Historians believe that this fishing system was first implemented by the Phoenicians.

Most trabocchi are often “pop up restaurants” that serve fresh catches of fish on a daily basis. The visitor can be sure of tasting only the best fish and calamari prepared in typical Abruzzo style. A typical dish is a brodetto, a delicious variation of French bouillabaisse. It is made of a rich rosa tomato broth, stewed with a variety of Adriatic seafoods, such as prawns, monkfish, rockfish and scallops.

Abruzzo is considered one of the wildest regions in Italy, with its vast natural spaces and expansive seascapes. This unique terrain has resulted in a distinctive food heritage that is steeped in centuries of tradition. Abruzzo provides visitors with the rare chance to experience a different side of Italy, and a way of life that has largely been forgotten.

 

2 gourmet food tours plus winery at Torrechiara castle in Parma

Tour of Parmesan, Parma ham and winery overlooking the beautiful Torrechiara Castle.

by Marcelo Pinto October 12th 2012

Parmesan production in details

Our best gourmet foods available in Parma are included in the tour. We will start the day with Parmesan, where our guides will go in details about the production of the famous cheese, as usual our visit will include the productions steps, the brine rooms and the ageing cellars, all with the final tasting. Participants will witness the creation of the cheese wheels from raw milk till it is turned into the aged product. This is a food cultural tour to enlighten those interested to see how cheese making happens.

Panoramic winery tour at the romantic Torrechiara Castle.

Just after the cheese production you will taken to a winery facing the marvellous Torrechiara castle (pictured below). Along the fantastic view you will have an aperivito based on 3 wines such as Malvasia (sparkling white) Lambrusco (sparkling red) and other DOC wines available from the winery. Each wine is accompanied with finger food such as reserve Parma ham rolled on bread sticks, vintage Parmesan and so on. After the tasting we will take a short walk to the Castle via the vineyard, where we will visit the castles (please note that it is closed on Mondays)

Parma ham visit with gourmet lunch.

The tour will continue with our Parma ham visit. Here we will visit a producer of the renowned ham, we will go down into details of each step of the production, we will visit the 4 pre ageing chambers, then we will move to the cellars where we will describe how the product achieve its PDO status. The visit will end with tasting of the ham plus other local cured meats such as culatello, the lunch will continue with a pasta main course and of course dessert.

Torrechiara Castle.

The castle is medieval manor overlooking the Parma valley. Dating back to the XIII century and fully restored. it was the home of the count Pier Maria Rossi. He was a valorous knight  fighting against the venetians on behalf of the Duke of Milan Filippo Maria Visconti. Later in life he build the Castle of Torrechiara from what was known as the ruins of Torrechiara, the remains of past strategic settlements.  The castle is dedicated to Bianca Pellegrini who was his lover at the time. In particular he built the Golden Bedroom for her, a beautifully decorated space.

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What to eat in Mantua

Mantua food exploration

by Marcelo Pinto October 12th 2012

This medium town in the north of Italy share many culinary tradition with Emilia Romagna. There you will find hard cheese, red sparkling wines, stuffed egg pasta, vegetable and fruit preserves aromatised with mustard, and cured meats.

Cheese

Mantua produces both Parmesan and Grana Padano. The former is only produced in a small area south of the Po river near the neighbouring province of Modena. Of course it is possible to visit the Parmigiano Reggiano producer in the area. Grana Padano is still a PDO cheese however it is considered of lower quality due to the use of anti fermentative in the ageing process.

Pumpkin the queen of the mantua cuisine.

Manuta lays in the flat of the fertile Padana plain, traditionally pumpkin, melons and watermelons grow plentiful. Especially pumpkins find the way in the local cuisine. Typical tortelli di zucca are egg pasta parcels stuffed with the delicious vegetables. Sometimes to the filling it is added some crumbled amaretti biscuits, giving to the savoury dish a truly unique taste. It is recommended to try them topped with Parmesan and balsamic vinegar.

Mostarde.

In this area of northern  Italy is alo tradition to cook pasta dumplings in capon and beef brisket broth.  In Mantua the resulting meat is eaten hot or cold accompanied with mostarde. These are preserved fruits and vegetables with a hint of mustard. So if you are visiting in winter you cannot leave without savouring bollito misto (mix boiled meats) with it matching mostarda.

Torta sbrisolona and torta di tagliatelle.

Torta sbrisolona is the Italian version of the crumble cake, it is traditional and probably inherited from the royal banquets in the region. As the name says it has a crumbling texture and it is topped with almond and sugar. It is possible to taste with your coffee in the cafes’ in the main piazza.

Torta di tagliatelle is an amusing short crust cake topped with ordinary egg tagliatelle which are baked together with the base. The result is a unique crunchy texture, simply divine.

Relax on the 2 lake of river Mincio.

Mantova as we say in Italian, It is the pearl of Padana plain. In fact the city sits between 2 lakes forming from river Mincio which is formed from the run off water of lake Garda. In short the town the embraced by the 2 lakes and it must said that it is very nice to lounge on the lake banks in the summer hot days.

The Food, Wine And Architecture Of Mantua, Italy

Mantua, or Mantova in its native form, is the shy, but beautiful neighbour to popular cities like Parma, Verona and Venice. Considered to be the finest city in Lombardy, Mantua is an important cultural gateway to a rich Renaissance heritage.

Perched gloriously on the banks of the River Mincio, the city is further surrounded by three beautiful man-made lakes that just add to the attraction of this glorious Italian city. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, Mantua is a living testament to the powerful Gonzaga family who ruled the city and surrounding towns during the Renaissance.

With breath taking architecture, religious sites, palaces, summer houses, villas and even an 11th century Rotunda, visitors have an up close and personal chance to get an idea what life must have been like under the rule of the Gonzaga family during the Renaissance. Much of the extension of the city is owed to the Gonzaga family who had a pinnacle role to play.

The family were pioneers in the conservation and promotion of the arts and culture, and the city played host to many a famous artist, composer and musician in its heyday, and Mantua is indelibly linked with the history of opera. The family’s opulent home, the Palazzo Ducale, is an extravagant estate, boasting more than 500 rooms with a massive complex of gardens, courtyards and gardens, and complete with frescoes painted by Mantega in 1474.

Right in the heart of the city brings you to the piazzas, where some of the most beautiful buildings can be found. Four impressive squares converge to create the city centre, with Piazza Sordello possibly the most majestic. Each piazza seems to have at least one most-magnificent building, so lovers of architecture will be awed by the examples of Palazzo Vescovile, Torre della Gabia (Cage Tower), the Tazi Nuvolari Museum in the Palazzo del Podesta, Rotunda di San Lorenzo, and the clock tower in the Palazzo della Ragione. Of course, no Italian city worth its salt is without a stunner in the church department, and in Mantua the finest examples are the Duomo and the Basilica Sant’Andrea.

Winding around the squares are cobbled streets filled with bustling sidewalk cafes and excellent restaurants. This is where visitors have a chance to experience the other big attraction of Mantua – the food and wine.

Northern Italian cuisine is all in a class of its own, and Lombardy is known for a region that is famous for its typical country dishes, like risotto and freshly made filled pasta. A favourite on the menu is tortelli pasta stuffed with pumpkin topped with the special local delicacy – shaved white truffles. Washed down with a mouthful of the region’s most popular, the Lambrusco Mantovano DOC, which comes from the local vineyards just to the north of the city, it makes the perfect taste of Mantua and Lombardy.

The city’s River Mincio provides other popular local dishes – shrimps and freshwater pike but, the predominant factor here is that all Mantuan cuisine is prepared with serious care, and only the freshest, seasonal and simple ingredients are used.

Family run restaurants seeped in traditions can be found everywhere, from the humble bakery to the elaborate world class restaurants. The atmosphere and the friendly charisma pervade all eateries in Mantua, and spills onto the sidewalk tables and chairs. Families that run restaurants do so with a serious passion for food, and the preservation of local culinary history, often bringing old, traditional recipes back to life.

So if you are visiting the city, even for just a few days, put on those walking shoes or pick up a bicycle and cruise the cobbled streets like a local, with surroundings that will whisk you right back into time.

 

Bologna rolling hills, hiking trails, gourmet food and sparkling wines

Emilia Delizia goes to discover the wine and food hidden on the spectacular rolling hills just 30 minutes south of Bologna.

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A visit to the local castle between Bologna and Modena

Pignoletto the king of Bologna wines, with Lambrusco to follow.

When you say wine in Bologna you mean Pignoletto DOC. This wine is of course sparkling in following the best of the Emilia Romagna tradition that command for frothy wines. Opposed to Lambrusco Pignoletto is a whine wine, it is light, refreshing with a pleasant bitterness that it is a characteristic of the clays soils around Bologna. Pignoletto is to marry local dishes, tagliatelle, lasagne, tortellini and of courses it is the best aperitif together with Parmesan cheese that it is produced on these hills between Modena and Bologna. Emila Delizia visited wine producers in Castello di Serravalle a lovely hill top castle where both Lambrusco and Pignoletto are made according to the sparkling tradition of this area.

Vini dei Colli Bolognesi route – Wines and castles of the Bologna hills between the Reno Savena, Samoggia rivers.

This is a very interesting wine route in Italy for those staying in Bologna, you will have the opportunity to explore many castles, churches, hamlets on top of the hills overlooking the vineyards, so no need to travel to Tuscany to have this sort of idyllic Italian country side. The Castello di Serravalle is typical example of well preserved medieval castle between vineyard fields where the foodie and wine connoisseur can sip wine on a tour.

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a view of our beautiful rolling hills

Savigno truffles, porcini, and old fashion osterias.

If you are adventurous and want to explore the Bologna hills between here and Tuscany an afternoon spend in Savigno it is a good bet. the town is lovely and it is one of the most famous truffles towns in Italy, hosting a truffle festivals once a year in October and November. A hidden gem is definitely the Da Amerigo restaurant. The clientèle is mostly Italian and all give excellent reviews about the food here which is made using only excellent ingredients and generous shavings of truffles.

Spilamberto the balsamic vinegar museum and the best ice-creams in the whole world.

Spilamberto or also known in the middle ages as Spina Lamberto, seems to to have given birth to the balsamic vinegar of Modena, it is an age old tradition that has started here from aged and cooked grape juice. In Spilamberto you will find the Traditional balsamic vinegar museum, that it is open to anyone but the guided tours must be booked in advance.

In the corner of the main square just 2 minutes from the Rangoni Castle, you will find an icecream shop called Gelato. The ice creams here are simply sublimes and we have not been able to find a match. The use only organic eggs, sugar, milk and only the best seasonal fruits. The results cannot be described with words you must try it yourself.

hunting down the best ice creams in Italy – Bologna

 

Day trips from Bologna Parma or Modena

days trips from Parma

In the northern region of Italy lies the beautiful Emilia-Romagna region, one of the most developed regions in Europe. The Emilia-Romagna region is filled with rich history dating back to ancient Rome, architecture from the Renaissance, and breathtaking scenery.

There are many day trips offered from the regional cities of Bologna, Modena, and Parma that will allow you take in everything you want from your trip. The convenience of the public transportation system will allow you to travel with ease throughout this beautiful region of Italy.

 Traveling from Parma

 Cinque Terre, “The Five Lands”

The Cinque Terre is settled upon the Italian Riviera and is named for five cities: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The seaside terraces that have been built for centuries on the cliffs of the steep landscape give this area a rustic charm of its own. The atmosphere, fine dining, and walking trails that connect the five cities make the Cinque Terre a tourist hot spot.

 Milan

The city of Milan is the second largest city in Italy. The large population of this city makes Milan one of the most diverse and vibrant cities in Italy you will ever visit. Milan is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and it is filled with designer shops.

 Fidenza Village, Chic Outlet Shopping

With more than 100 shops, the Fidenza Village will provide you with everything you will need in your shopping experience. Tourists will not only enjoy each of the upscale and exclusive shops but also the pleasant and elegant atmosphere that the famous Fidenza Village is known for.

 

Cremona

Nestled on the left of the bank of the Po River lies beautiful and historic Cremona, known for its religious and musical histories. Tourists will enjoy the Cathedral of Cremona, which displays some of the best Romanesque-Gothic art in all of Northern Italy. Music lovers will enjoy the rich musical history that Cremona has to offer, which dates back to the 12th Century Cathedral.

 

Traveling from Bologna and Modena

 Florence

Considered to be the birth place of the Renaissance, the city of Florence is art in itself with its historical buildings and the beautiful Amo river etching through it. Arts districts and museums such as the Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Florence Cathedral make Florence a tourist destination you can appreciate inside and out.

 

Verona

Verona is the epicenter for historic buildings and architecture. Roman buildings like the Verona Arena that was established around 30AD, as well as buildings like the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, which was established between the years of 1123-1135, still stand in beautiful Verona. This has earned Verona the World Heritage Site status by UNESCO. Verona is the city to go to for anyone who is interested in ancient history and art.

 

Barberino Shopping Outlet

Designed with the Renaissance style that is known through Northern Italy, the Barberino Shopping Outlet will provide you with the unique shopping experience you are looking for. Boasting sales on everything from 30%-70% you will be certain to find the designer styles you have been looking for without the designer price. Source: http://www.mcarthurglen.it/barberino/en/the-outlet

 

Venice

Settled in the marshy Venetian Lagoon lie the 118 tiny islands that make up the city of Venice. If your visit only allows for one day trip then Venice is the place you want to go. The vast culture, shopping, dining, architecture, and arts districts all on the unique waterways in Venice will ensure that your day will be filled with endless wonders.

 

Mantua

Mantua has a rich musical history and played a significant role in the history of opera. The city was also home to many famous artists including Leone Battista Alberti, Donatello, Peter Paul Rubens, Pisanello, Luca Fancelli and Nicolo Sebregondi. Mantura is also home of the Festivaletteratura, a literary fair that is held for five days with nearly 200 events each year.

 

Padua

Standing upon the top of the Bacchiglione River is the beautiful city of Padua that has dense streets that open into the large communal piazze. Padua is home to the University of Padua, which is 800 years old and was once a place for Galileo Galilei to lecture. The city itself is filled with many architectural wonders that embody the art and history that make Northern Italy so unique.

 

Ferrara

Surrounded by more than 9km of stone Renaissance walls built in the 15th century, Ferrara has also earned the title as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The numerous and important buildings in this city including Castello Estense make Ferrara a must see destination for visitors.

 

Ravenna

Ravenna’s rich history and Christian influences have earned eight of its buildings a place on the World Heritage List. The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Neonian Baptistery, the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Arian Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, the Church of San Vitale, and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe are all iconic destinations that you must visit in Ravenna for their blend of different art influences. Source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/788

 

Lake Garda

Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, is world famous for its pristine beauty and is surrounded by several towns and islands. The town of Sirmione hosts the Virgilio & Catullo Spa, and is a great destination for dining and shopping. Scaliger castle, Catullus’ villa, the Roman spa Grotte di Catullo, and the sulfur springs that are famous for healing all make Lake Garda a vacation paradise.

 

How Parma ham is made

by Marcelo Pinto  July 8th 2012

Italy’s cozy town of Parma has been known for Prosciutto di Parma for over 2,000 years. The secret recipes of these air-dried hams have changed hands throughout history within families. It is a product of man’s passion and skill, combined with nature. The Parma ham has put Italy on the global gastronomic map due to its uniqueness.

The micro-climate of Parma is very conducive to the ham production, with its dry and airy summers and cold winters. Humidity levels are moderate, while the air carries the smell of the sea and chestnut trees. To maintain the high quality of Parma ham, it must be kept away from variations in climate. The production area is restricted to a height less than 900 meters above sea level on the Parma hills, since regions lying above this height face a very cold and long winter. The production area must also be 5 kilometers away from the humid and foggy Via Emilia along the Po River. The limits are the Enza River on the east and the Stirone River on the west, which bring in fragrant sea breezes that roll down into Parma valley.

The curing of the ham is crucial to its quality. It is carried out by natural methods, even though they take as long as 12 months and require immense care, patience and skill. Traditions have evolved over time, with more refined breeding and farming procedures. This has made the pork sweeter and more tender.

Knowing the process of curing the meat is not enough. The ‘master salters’ from Parma have learned from their ancestors how to identify good pork legs, trim the hams by hand and apply salt properly to ensure outstanding quality. The latter is a deciding factor for determining the quality of the curing process and retaining the sweetness of the ham.

The Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma or Parma Ham Consortium was established in 1963. It started with 23 members and has now 180 members. Their mission is to maintain the quality and tradition of Parma ham by sticking to natural methods; salt and air are the only additives. With records kept regarding the origin, birth date and breeding method for each pig, all production stages are closely monitored by the Istituto Parma Qualita, an independent certifying body, in keeping with the rules of the Consortium. A special law was even laid down by the Italian government. The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) has been recently awarded to Parma air-dried ham, giving it copyright over the name.

The pigs from which Parma ham is made have to be heavy and their meat must be soft, yet firm. They have to be born and raised only on an authorized breeding farm in one of the 11 designated Northern and Central regions of Italy. Traditionally they are fed whey, a by-product of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. This imparts a unique flavor to their meat.

The hams are exposed to constant cold and humid conditions for 100 days, after which they are kept in large maturing rooms for 3 months. This way they are protected from the sun. The windows are constantly opened and closed for circulation of the countryside air. In the seventh month, a mixture of pork fat and pepper called sugnatura is hand-applied onto the open surface of the meat. This is meant to protect and soften it. The hams are then put in cantina or cellars for at least 5 months, so that they can slowly dry under close supervision. The producers are trained and experienced in detecting any quality defects by the sense of smell. The spillatura is a horse bone needle which is used to check the curing outcome, before assigning the precious label of ‘Parma Ham’.

The ham gets several imprints in the various stages of production. The breeder makes a permanent tattoo onto the hind legs of the piglets, consisting of the month of its birth and the identification code of the farm. At the slaughterhouse, the initials PP (for Prosciutto di Parma) are fire-branded onto the pork legs if they are worthy enough to be sent to the production line as Parma Ham. At the entry to the curing house, the legs are stamped with a metal seal having the Consortium code and the month and year when curing started. After passing all verification and regulatory tests, the legs are finally fire-branded with the 5-pointed Ducal Crown of the Consortium, along with the name, ‘Parma’. The producer’s code is added under the crown. This is the guarantee of a 100% natural and light Parma ham that is a product of age-old traditions.

A slice of Parma ham has a delicious country aroma; it is succulent and thin, with a distinctive salty-sweet taste. It is best enjoyed stand-alone and no other air-dried ham comes close to Parma Ham in bringing you this divine gastronomic experience.

(Re)Discover the wines of Emilia Romagna

lambrusco winery tour in Modena

by Marcelo Pinto  July 8th 2012

 

Emilia-Romagna is a lush, scenic wine region of Northern Italy, renowned for its unique and flavorful wines. The area includes both Emilia, to the west, and Romagna, to the east. Bologna serves as the capital and the dividing line. Emilia-Romagna is currently the 8th highest producer of wines in Italy. The wines from this region stand out from the crowd, particularly the sparkling varieties. Lambrusco is the most popular wine of the region, often paired with Emilia-Romagna’s rich and savory pork-based dishes. The delicate yet flavorful wine complements the richness of local cuisine.

 

In addition to Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna offers up a dazzling variety of wines. For instance, Sangiovese is a traditional red wine that is often used by Tuscan wineries to make Chianti. The winemakers of Emilia-Romagna pride themselves on offering internationally recognized wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Merlot. However, the vineyards of Emilia-Romagna produce distinctive and flavorful grapes that are unique to the area. Local winemakers focus on using these native grapes to create the wines that make Emilia-Romagna the distinctive wine region it is today.

 

Lambrusco

 

Lambrusco is the undisputed king of Emilia-Romagna wines. Made from autochthon grapes, the wine is no newcomer to the scene. Rather, it has a long and prestigious history, extending back to Roman times. During the 1970s, a whole new population discovered the effervescent charms of Lambrusco. The sweeter varieties of the wine became popular in the United States. However, high grape yields and great demand led to poor overall quality, meaning that Lambrusco developed a brief reputation for being a cheap wine.

 

Fortunately, that reputation is now outdated. For the past decade, Lambrusco has enjoyed a resurge in popularity, returning the wine to its proud Roman roots. Wine producers are taking care to produce Lambrusco that has a rich yet approachable flavor, pairing well with nearly every meal. Lambrusco is a frothy wine that always has a rich, gem-like violet color. Lambruscos are available in sweet, medium and dry versions, offering something for different palates and meals. Lambrusco wines often tend to have a slightly lower alcohol content than many others. This means that diners can enjoy a leisurely Italian feast with a delicious, high quality Lambrusco as their constant companion. Locals in Emilia-Romagna reach for Lambruscos more frequently than any other wine, thanks to its refreshing versatility.

 

Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro is a particularly popular variety, served alongside most meals in Emilia-Romagna. This variety hails from Modena, an ancient and beautiful city located in the Emilia-Romagna region. Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro is one of the most highly rated varieties of Lambrusco. During autumn, the leaves and stalks of the grape vine take on a rich red hue. The delicious Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro wine is usually produced in small, select Modena wineries. The resulting autumnal wine is a deep ruby shade, highlighted by a violet sheen. The fruity, fragrant taste appeals to veteran wine lovers and casual diners alike. Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro is a wine that truly captures the joy and love of good food that characterizes Emilia-Romagna.

 

Sangiovese di Romagna

 

This hearty and traditional red wine hails primarily from the Romagna area of Emilia-Romagna. The full-bodied wine complements hard cheeses and meats, making it an excellent choice for wine tasting parties and other occasions that call for lighter fare. According to local legends, friars near Mount Giove were the first growers of this particular variety. Sangiovese de Romagna has a fine history dating back to Roman times, and the varieties can range from light and fruity to more hearty and tannic wines.

 

Colli di Parma

 

The Parma area between Emilia and Tuscany is a beautiful one, and the grapes grown here are cultivated into full-bodied Colli di Parma wines. The red wines run the gamut from spumante to frizzante, complementing local cured meats such as prosciutto di Parma and Culatello. Sparkling Colli di Parma wines are refreshing, yet capture the robust spirit of the area.

 

Malvasia dei colli di Parma

 

This flavorful and aromatic white wine is a good substitute to the many red wines offered in the Emilia-Romagna region. Discerning wine tasters and diners can select from three different varieties, including dry, medium and sweet. Malvasia dei colli di Parma wines are made from a blend of Moscoto and Malvasia wines. The sweet variety is often paired with desserts.

 

Barbera

 

Barbera is another popular autochthon grape from the Parma area. Barbera wine often becomes a base for blends of sparkling and still wines. The wine has a distinctive ruby color.

 

Albana di Romagna

 

This prestigious and high quality wine is made from grapes that have been cultivated in the region for many centuries. Albana di Romagna wines offer a smooth, crisp flavor with captivating hints of nuttiness. This wine hails from the area between Bologna and Rimini. The wine is typically produced in amabile, secco and passito varieties, as well as spumante versions.

 

Gutturnio

 

Gutturnio wines come from Parma and Piacenza provinces and are usually paired with culatello, Parma ham or coppa di piacenza. There are both sparkling and still varieties, both of which are typically drunk young.