Having lived in and around Bologna for 3 years of my life, there is probably no region in all of Italy as close to my heart as Emilia-Romagna. From the magnificent Byzantine frescoes in Ravenna to the two towers in the city of Bologna to the riches of a magnificent small town like Modena, where Ferrari has its headquarters, there is plenty to do besides eat, but Emilia-Romagna is considered by many Italians to be the culinary apex of the entire peninsula. Traditional dishes like piadina, lasagne alla bolgnese, tortellini in brodo, tortelloni, tagliatelle al ragu and passatelli rule the world of breads and pastas.Prosciutto di Parma, it’s savvy cousin culatello and Mortadella rock the porky front and what else can I say about Parmigiano Reggiano, the undisputed king of cheese? I have spent 10 years in New York preaching the stuff here, and certainly not to deaf ears
The city of Bologna is the true center, its poetic market streets in-and-around Via dei Orefici groaning every morning with every single thing in season and a couple primizie (the first sign of the new season) and a couple from out of season for the super rich. One of my all-time heroes is Giovanni Tamburini, whose eponymous store on Via Caprarie says everything there is to say about a gastronomic temple in the heart of a vibrant and food-obsessed town. If you are lucky, he may break-out a guitar. Also, his obsession with music has brought anyone from Dylan to Bowie to his store.
During my three-year stint in Bologna, I worked at Trattoria La Volta in Borgo Capanne, a tiny, little village up the mountain from Porretta Terme, the closest “big” town outside of Bologna.
Farther up via Emilia stands Parma, yet another jewel in this tasty tour. Verdi was born just outside of Parma in Roncole. There exists a museum in his house there, which definitely makes the trip well worth-it.