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Essential Food Destinations of Emilia Romagna

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Aerial view of Maggiore square in Bolgona, Italy

Aerial view of Bologna

Emilia Romagna contains some of the most distinctive Italian cuisines and is the epicenter of the country's culinary heritage. The region brims with lush vineyards, spectacular architecture, and captivating artwork which reflects the local traditions. Known as the "breadbasket" of Italy for its production of grain, wheat, and cereals, Emilia Romagna embodies much of what people think of when they think of Italy as it connects the cultures of north and south. The region is famous for its simple, delicious flavors ranging from fresh pasta to aromatic cheeses and savory salumi to hearty sauces of Parma, Modena, and Bologna.

Parma

Shelves of aging parmigiano cheese

Aging Parmigiano cheese

The cuisine of Parma is synonymous with the excellent gastronomy. The producers of Parma's delicacies are artisans who take pride in their work and have passed down their skills through the generations, such as the family-owned company Barilla which opened in 1877. Parma maintains the highest number of products with the protected designation of origin (DOP) certification which protects the quality and authenticity of specific products.

The prosciutto produced in Parma (Prosciutto di Parma DOP) is a masterpiece of charcuterie made from natural ingredients. It is crafted in the dry, gentler air of the Parma hills, which provides the delicate sweetness to the cured meats.

Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano is produced in a very select corner of Emilia Romagna. The famous cheese highlights how simple, fresh ingredients with no preservatives can reach sensational heights using only milk, salt, and rennet.

Modena

Balsamic vinegar barrels for storing and aging

Balsamic vinegar barrels for storing and aging

The welcoming city of Modena stands on its own merits as it is home to the Massimo Bottura’s acclaimed restaurant, Osteria Francescana. The culinary excellence is complemented by the colorful facades, cobblestone streets, and the sophisticated Ferrari Museum that define the city. From pasta to cars, the culture here perfects their crafts.

Modena has gained fame as the birthplace of balsamic vinegar dating back to the 11th century. Traditional balsamic vinegar is the result of grape stems, juice, and skin left on low heat until natural fermentation occurs. Balsamic vinegar must mature for at least 25 years and up to 50 years.

Bologna

Spaghetti bolognese

Bologna's famous spaghetti bolognese

Bologna is the capital of Emilia Romagna and contains some of the most fertile soil in Italy. Bologna is celebrated worldwide for its mastery of traditional Italian cuisine through the production of cured meats known like culatello and the Italian sausage mortadella. The university there, established in the 11th century, has brought international students which allowed for a unique combination of influences in the local restaurants.

Mortadella is a delicious combination of heat-cured pork and spices like ground black pepper, myrtle, berries, and pistachios which has roots dating to the Roman Empire. The stuffed pasta tortellini often contains meat and cheese with its tradition dating to the 19th century. Its first incarnation has been traced as far back as the 14th century! It is served most often in the regional sauce, ragù, or Bolognese as it's known internationally. The flavors of beef, pork, or veal, along with ingredients like wine, tomato, and herbs make this sauce irresistibly delicious.

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