Where can you enjoy some of the best gastronomy in Italy, if not the world? Where can you enjoy slow travel while tasting classic foods and learning about their production? The answer is in Italy’s Food Valley, where discovering the food of Emilia-Romagna is a gastronome’s delight, an exploration of local cuisines, wine and much more.
Emilia-Romagna, Italy’s Food Valley
Emilia-Romagna is home not just to many internationally known food products but also to a long gastronomic tradition. This has led to it being known as “Italy’s Food Valley”, a place where visitors can buy, eat and drink, and learn about the region’s food and wine.
Within Emilia-Romagna there are many wineries, olive groves and food production facilities that welcome visitors. There are food museums and a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. And, of course, there are numerous restaurants where you can enjoy the food, including several Michelin starred establishments.
How To Enjoy The Food Of Emilia-Romagna
You might want to base yourself in one of the cities of Emilia-Romagna, enjoying the restaurants and taking day trips to farms and wineries. However, the producers of the Food Valley emphasise that the region is well suited to slow travel, eating, drinking and taking in everything that the region has to offer. They particularly recommend the Via Emilia, an ancient Roman road from Piacenza to Rimini. Passing through the heart of the Food Valley (to say nothing of lots of historic towns and villages), this is the perfect choice for a road trip.
Each part of Emilia-Romagna has its own specialities. There is Parma ham, Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic vinegar from Modena. There are wines, pasta and local breads. For many visitors it is an opportunity to combine food with cultural tourism. For instance, you could visit Ravenna for its mosaics and its connection with the poet Dante while at the same time searching for the local olive oil.
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Bologna “La Grassa”
Food has always been one of the attractions of a visit to Bologna, earning it the nickname of La Grassa (“the fat”). It is even sometimes known as the “food capital of Italy”. This is hardly surprising: not only is it the home of the famous bolognaise sauce, but other foods (including mortadella sausage and several types of pasta) also have their origins here.
Walk around the city and you’ll find shop windows piled high with dried meats and cheeses, fresh food markets, and restaurants serving traditional local dishes. There are cookery schools, too, where both locals and tourists can try their hand at creating recipes from around the region.
Parma, UNESCO City Of Gastronomy
Parma has a rich cultural heritage and is conveniently situated on the Via Emilia. It is also a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, a recognition of its importance for the food of Emilia-Romagna, with a central role in production and education. And, of course, it has lots of excellent restaurants.
Apart from the famous local ham and cheese, Parma has an internationally renowned cookery school. There are several food museums in the surrounding countryside, dedicated to pasta, ham, cheese and more…
Rimini, Home Of The Piadina
Rimini has some surprisingly good restaurants. It is also the birthplace of the piadina, a distinctive type of flatbread that is gradually becoming more widespread across Italy.
Read more about Rimini restaurants and the piadina: How To Eat Well In Rimini.