The Emilia Romagna region is home to some iconic Italian cities including:
- Modena (pronounced Mod-in-a, not Mo-DEAN-a, by Italians), famous the world over for its traditional balsamic vinegar.
- Parma– home to a wide variety of cold meats or small goods including Parma ham or prosciutto.
- Reggio Emilia– center of the area producing Parmigianino Reggiano cheese.
- Bologna– a fantastic town famous for its porticoes, food and the home of tortellini and Bolognese sauce (or ragu as it is known locally). Bologna food is known throughout Italy and if you want to experience great food while traveling in Italy, Bologna’s food will not disappoint.
If you are interested in exploring the food travel opportunities in this region, make sure you read our 5 day Bologna food itinerary for foodie travel in the Emilia Romagna Region. You can easily base yourself in Bologna and enjoy the travel for foodies in this region of Italy.
The Emilia Romagna region runs all the way to the Adriatic Sea and includes the seaside resort town of Rimini. It also means there is plenty of good seafood in this region of Italy!
The area is well serviced by trains and it is easy to travel throughout the region on the train system. Great connections to Milan, Venice or Florence make it easy to continue your travels. And for travel for foodies, Bologna food is one of the world’s highlights.
The Emilia Romagna region, historically a wealthy region of Italy, is also well-known for producing some of the world’s best sports cars. Lamborghini (Bologna), Maserati (Modena), and Ferrari (Modena) were all started here as well as Ducati (Bologna), the well renowned motorcycle manufacturer.
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Bologna, the capital of the Emilia Romagna region, is a bit off the usual tourist itinerary which is part of what makes it a fantastic stop. Bologna is considered a wealthy city in Italy and the inhabitants enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the country. And what is Bologna famous for? Food!
It is the proud home to the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world (founded in 1088).
Famous alumni include Guglielmo Marconii (inventor of the radio), Dante Alighieri (author of The Devine Comedy) and Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus is an astronomer famous for creating the modern model of the universe with the sun, rather than the Earth, as the center.
With almost 85,000 students across a number of campuses (including one in Buenos Aires) it is a large and prestigious school. It is worth taking a stroll around the historic campus.
Architecture of Bologna
The architecture of Bologna reflects the wealth of the city. Large parts of the old city are constructed with an attractive red brick.
In the Middle Ages, almost 5 miles (8 kilometers) of walls and a series of 12 gates were built around the city for protection. Many of these still stand.
There are no tall skyscrapers. Two beautiful old, red brick towers, Due Torri, dominate the skyline. Both are “crooked”, or leaning. The Piazza Maggiore, with the San Petronio Basilica, the fountain of Neptune, and food stores and markets east of the Piazza Maggiore are well-known landmarks. But the architectural feature for which the city is best known is its porticoes.
Within the city’s historical center there are 24 miles (38 kilometers) of porticoes. It is possible to walk through most of the city using these covered walkways. It provides shelter from both rain and heat. Some of them are simply stunning. It is definitely necessary to look up while walking to truly appreciate their beauty.
Bologna is also home to what may be the world’s longest portico. Almost 4 kilometers long, the 666 vaulted walkway, the Portico di San Luca connects Porta Saragozza, one of the 12 Medieval gates, with Santuario Madonna di San Luca. From the church there are 360 degree views over Bologna and the surrounding area.
Modena, A Short Day Trip from Bologna
Car Manufacturing in Modena
Modena is home to Ferrari, the famous Italian car manufacturer and houses a museum dedicated to the same, the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari.
It is also home to Masarati, another famous Italian car manufacturer.
Restaurants in Modena
Modena is home to chef Massimo Bottura’s 3-star Michelin restaurant, Osteria Francescana. If you want to go book well in advance. For those that miss out, or want a cheaper option, Bottura also runs a more casual brasserie, Franceschetta58 (Via Vignolese, 58).
Food Travel in Modena
The Mercato Albinelli (Via Luigi Albinelli, 13) which opened in 1931 is the town’s covered market and well worth a visit.
You can also try Nocino, a traditional liqueur (and digestive) made from walnut husks. One of the vinegar producers you can learn about in our article about balsamic vinegar, also produces Nocino. It can be difficult to find outside of Italy, so try it while you are there.
However, for food lover’s the number one reason to go to Modena is to visit a traditional vinegar producer and learn more about the DOP product. It is necessary to arrange your visit in advance. There are more details in our post, about the traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. You can learn why vinegar can be more expensive than fine wine.
The Food from the Emilia Romagna Region
Emilia Romagna is a large agricultural region and is famous both throughout Italy and the world for its products. Throughout Europe the DOP or protected designation of origin (PDO), system is in use for food products. The DOP system provides assurance to the customer the product has been produced in accordance with certain standards for the product. The Emilia Romagna region is home to Italy’s greatest number of DOP products, and Parma, Modena and Emilia Reggio are at its heart.
If you watch Anthony Bourdain’s, No Reservations, there is an episode on the region.
Globally known wines from this region include the red wines Lambrusco and Sangiovese. The Emilia Romagna region is a large producer of wine and there are also plenty of lesser known wines from the region that are not as widely available outside of Italy.
Emilia Romagna Classics
The map at the left highlights just some of the products from the Emilia Romagna region.In subsequent posts and recipes we will explore the classic foods from the Emilia Romagna region in greater detail including:
- Parmigiano Reggiano, known as the king of cheeses
- Parma ham or prosciutto, salami and mortadella: small good products made from cured pork
- Traditional Modena Balsamic Vinegar
- Tortellini – a style of pasta which is one of Bolgna’s most famous foods.
- Another famous Bologna food is Mortadella, a preserved meat, an one most American’s would know.
For food lover’s, traveling around the Emilia Romagna region of Italy is a highlight. Home to so many classic Italian small goods, or products made from cured meats it is a real pleasure walking the old towns (originally the area within the town’s defensive walls), exploring the local markets, browsing in the shops, and visiting the local producers to learn about the production of the food itself.
Shops Worth a Visit
This whole region has some fantastic shops, many showcasing the local products. A few worthy of mention (all are in Parma):
Casa del Formaggio, (Strada Bixio, 106) – fantastic deli selling, cheese, fresh pasta, salumi, and some local wines and grappa.
La Cantina della Carne (Stada Bixio, 41)- features meat products from their own farms, specialties of the region, and a selection of condiments. Try the sausages!
La Proscuitteria Noi da Parma , Strada Luigi Carlo Farini 9/C- the smell when you walk in this shop! How I wish I could share the smell over the internet! Beautiful store!