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.
The Appenino Folk Festival is a cross regional initiative taking place every year in the provinces of Piacenza and Parma in Emilia Romagna.
As well as the province of Alessandria in Piemonte, the province of Pavia in Lombardia and the province of Genova in Liguria take part with events from June to October.
It was in 1843 that the first public bathing area was created and fifty years after that the two big hotels, the Kursaal and the Grand Hotel were opened. Yet it was in the 1960's and 1970's that saw boom times for the town and established it as the mecca of sun, sea, and summer beach dancing.
What impresses is the organization of the beach front and the range of activities lined up for the visitor. Each section of beach is numbered and every year seems to offer something new from the year before. Rather than signing up for one for the whole length of a stay, we recommend you pick and mix. One day choose the step aerobics, weights room and 5-side football pitches at number 86; the next the bubbling saunas, WiFi points and yoga sessions a little further along at number 55.
This itinerary to discover the homeland of the great Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, centers around the city of Busseto in the province of Parma. The are eleven locations to discover; from his birthplace in Roncole to the Teatro G. Verdi in Piazza Verdi, Busseto. Verdi was born on the 10 October 1813 and his family home became a national monument in 1901. His birth certificate was written in French as the commune di Busseto had been annexed by France and incoporated into the Department of Taro at the time.
If you are interested in cherries, pies and balsamic vinegar then head to the town of Vignola near Modena in then Spring.
Surprisingly, Vignola is famous today not for its vines, but for its cherry cultivation. The best time of the year to go therefore is during the Spring when the cherry blossom fills the trees and orchards.
One of the finest of all food products originating from Emilia Romagna is traditional balsamic vinegar from the Modena area. It is made only from the Trebbiano grape vine, and not basil leaves as we wrongly thought many years ago. However, for us the smell of 'basilico' and 'aceto balsamico tradizionale' has a similar intoxicating effect.
The history of traditional balsamic vinegar probably stretches back as far as Roman times. It was certainly produced in the priories of Emilia Romagna a thousand years ago and the Duke of Modena, 500 years later, is said to have used it for medicinal purposes.
Like the best wine the traditional balsamic vinegar takes an age to manufacture.
A press release has outlined the increasing popularity of both Mortadella Bologna IGP and Cotechino Modena IGP. The IGP (indicazione geografica protetta) mark of quality was awarded to the Mortadella of Bologna in 1998, and in recent years sales have increased by over 35% and production by a similar figure. This equals a total of 28 million kg of mortadella sold in the Italian market place each year, which is an awful lot of ham sandwiches.
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.
This is the traditional broth you should be making when preparing a dish of classic tortellini or cappelletti from Bologna. How authentic is it? Well, it is certified by the Chamber of Commerce in Bologna and printed in a document called 'La Mercanzia'.
5kg topside of beef, 2kg veal, 4 carrots, 4 celery stalks, 2 cloves, half onion, 1 chicken
Think 'Adriatic Coast in Emilia Romagna' and the imagery tends to be kilometers of sand covered by colorful beach umbrellas all the way from Cattolica to Riccione, Rimini, Igea Marina, Bellaria and beyond to Milano Marittima etc. Somehow, between sun cream, discotheques and dancing dolphins, Cesenatico has escaped with some sort of alternative reputation intact. And good for them.
If you are a cycling fan, Marco Pantani may come to mind. He was born and brought up here and is still a hero notwithstanding his rise and dramatic fall. His nickname, of course, was Il Pirata, the pirate, due to his swashbuckling take no prisoners riding style and trademark bandana. This seafaring image in somethng we also like to apply to Cesenatico; a hardworking people with an alternative story to tell than mass tourism.