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.
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.
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 pasta and bolognese ragu sauce.
March 8th in Italy is La Festa delle Donne or International Women's Day and is celebrated by giving bouquets of bright yellow mimosas to mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters and female friends. In following with this tradition, mimosa cakes are also baked on this day and can be found in bakeries throughout Italy. The varieties are endless and include several variations of fruit and alcohol ingredients. We picked up the one above from our local family run pasticceria in Rome. Enjoy!
Lambrusco wine has regained a certain credibility recently. Not least thanks to a concerted effort by the Consorzio del Marchio Storico dei Lambruschi Modenesi. This no profit entity guarantees the authenticity of the product and the cultivation of the 'lambrusca' grape in a designated territory.
The grape was known in ancient Etruscan and Roman times. Greek physician Discoride, Cato and Pliny the Elder all spoke fondly of the characteristics of version of the wine in their times and documents from the late 17th century recording "strong red grapes" from various areas within the Modena territory including Sorbara, perhaps the definitive territory for Lambrusco.
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is one of Italy's great cheeses, but whatever you do don't say 'parmesan cheese'. A recent law has asserted that 'parmesan cheese' is not parmigiano-reggiano cheese and the name cannot be used to fool the customer into thinking the cheese they are buying is the real thing. Above all, look for the distinctive logo of the Consorzio Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano to be sure, both on the cheese itself or on the plastic packet.
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.
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.
Cappelletti are small pasta squares filled with pork and ricotta cheese, particularly popular as part of Christmas Day lunch in regions such as Friuli, Emilia Romagna, Umbria and Le Marche. They are typically consumed in a brodo or broth.
500gr flour, 7 eggs, ½ turkey breast, 100gr pork tenderloin, 100gr ricotta cheese, 100gr stracchino cheese, 1 slice mortadella, 50gr. parmesan cheese, 30gr. butter, sage, rosemary, lemon, salt, pepper, nutmeg
The first half of October sees the not to missed eel festival of Comacchio in the province of Ferrara.
The Sagra dell'Anguilla is surprisingly only a decade old in its current form, but they must have been eating the things since Roman times.
We have been to Comacchio in mid July and enjoyed a grilled plate of the slippery fish. But, although eels can be eaten throughout the year, the atmosphere of the festival at the self declared Italian capital of eels must be something special.
Surrounded by the waters of the 'Valli', Comacchio is made up of small canals, huge bridges and popular traditions.
The event runs over two weekends and includes theatre performances, cooking competitions, exhibitions and the not to be missed balloon flights over the territory, as well as boat excursions.
Our press copy also mentions tastings of other local products accompanied with 'vini delle sabbie' or wines of the sands. Very mysterious, but expect to be eating 'maccheroncini al sugo di pesce', 'fritto misto di valle', 'anguilla ai ferri con polenta', 'bodetto d’anguilla con polenta', 'seppie with peas' and 'dolcetto Comacchiese'.