This region is Emilia and Romagna. In short, Emilia means ham, cheese and Ferrari; Romagna means Sangiovese, the Adriatic Coast and cycling. Many more reasons to go below.
This recipe is 'passatelli' pasta with formaggio di fossa cheese in a chicken stew'. It was sent to us by the Albergo Ristorante I Tre Re which is located between Rimini and San Marino. It is very easy to make once, of course, you have managed to get your hands on some formaggio di fossa or 'pit cheese'.
300 gr. grated bread, 200 gr. grated 'formaggio di fossa' cheese, 100 gr. grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, 5 eggs, nutmeg, grated lemon rind.
Sogliano al Rubicone is a small but greatly loved town in Romagna. Today, it is famous above all for its celebrated 'formaggio di fossa', or 'cheese from the pit' which sounds a lot less appetizing than it actually is. In fact, it's a genuine local delicacy.
The practice of burying cheese dates at least back to the 15th century. A legend credits the people of Sogliano with wanting to protect their possessions from the invading Aragonese troops by placing what they had underground. When peace was restored they found that their cheese had acquired an extraordinary taste. The original pits were carved out of the tufa rock near the Rivers Rubicone and Marecchia and were used for storing grain. They are typically 3 meters high and two meters in circumference.
Formagio di Fossa or 'pit cheese" is produced in an area which borders Emilia Romagna and Le Marche and through which flow the Rivers Rubicone and Marecchia. The origins of the cheese were documented in 15th century and speak of the people of Sogliano al Rubicone concealing their possessions underground from the Aragonese troops who were plundering the country.
This is no doubt true but the custom of storing cheese in pits may have been happening a lot earlier (see 'Unearthing' below). Such pits were already in existence in the Middle Ages and were dug into the soft tufa rock under Sogliano to store grain and act as early refigerators. Even today they are different shapes and sizes, although a flask shape is more common, typically three metres high including the neck and a base of about two metres in circumference.
Bologna Turismo produced an interesting guide to the porticoes of the city a little while back. It has the evocative title of 'Musica per Archi e Portici - note per un itinerario' in Bologna. Translated that's 'Notes for an itinerary - music for arches and porches. It's always more lyrical in Italian.
But it is certainly true that all the great composers have walked the historical centre of Bologna at one time. The guide mentions Mozart, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Rossini and Donizetti. If you know where to look, the alleys, ways and hidden paths of the city have left traces and clues to their presence.
Montefeltro is the geographical territory between Urbino and the Tuscany Romagna border. The zone today actually extends into Romagna as 7 comune decided to leave Le Marche region and enjoy the administrative benefits of Emilia Romagna.
They are Casteldelci, Maiolo, Novafeltria (below), Sant'Agata Feltria, Talamello, Pennabilli and the impressive San Leo. But it is through the eyes of Dante we want to discover this ancient territory. Monte of course, means hill or mountain, but Feltro? Read on.
Fried gnocco or gnocco fritto (or torta fritta) is typical of Emilia Romagna and especially the area of Reggio Emilia and Modena also known as the 'valle del cibo' where they are served with Italian salumi such as mortadella di Bologna, prosciutto di Parma, salame felino di Modena and culatello di Zibello.
The Regio Theatre in Parma is considered the birthplace of Italian melodrama and is famous, or perhaps infamous if you are a performer, for its highly enthusiastic and critical public. It was built between 1821 and 1829 by the architect Nicola Bettoli who was commissioned by Duchess Maries-Louise of Austria. The theatre was inaugurated in May 1829 with the lyric opera 'Zaira' by Bellini.
The neoclassical portico with its ionic columns boasts decorations featuring the allegories of Fame and Lyre while the interior has four tiers of private boxes around the stalls. This contrasts strongly with the new Niccolò Paganini Music Hall built by Renzo Piano in the nearby Eridania Park. Converted fron an old sugar factory dating from 1899 the open square plan is the venue for the Concert Season of the Regio Theatre.
Bologna is one of Italy's most interesting and active cities. It has managed to preserve one of the country's most charismatic historical city centers, while at the same time embracing the arts, technology and remaining politically progressive.
Bologna 2000 was one of the Jubilee year's most successful initiatives and the city was also European City of Culture. Bologna is called 'la dotta' (the savant one) as the city is home to the oldest University in the world. They also call Bologna 'la grassa' (the fat one) because of its fantastic food such as 'tortellini' and 'bolognese ragu'
One way to appreciate the city is to climb one or both of the famous towers; the Garisenda and Asinelli built in the 13th century.
From the top, the layout of the historical center of Bologna is clearly visible. It is formed of a series of ever increasing concentric rings heading towards the the countryside, and long porticoes.