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A Foodie’s Weekend Guide to Emilia-Romagna


A Foodie’s Weekend Guide to Emilia-Romagna

Emilia-Romagna is a region in Northern Italy. Thanks to its prime location near the Po River Valley, it’s one of the most fertile and agriculturally-rich regions in Italy, also making it the gastronomic heart of the country.

Despite being an ultimate foodie destination, it still lacks the daily hordes of tourists that neighboring areas experience (drive two hours north and you’ll hit the crowds in Venice, drive an hour south and you’ll find yourself swamped in Florence). Emilia-Romagna is an underrated and yet-to-be-discovered gem.

Parma days with FWT

Countryside of Parma Italy

Several cities and villages make up the region, but our Emilia-Romagna weekend road trip focused on hitting-up the big three: Parma, Modena, and Bologna. Do you want to eat charcuterie that is so good, it melts in your mouth? You can find that in Parma.

Are you interested in experiencing what true traditional balsamic vinegar tastes like (trust me, it’s not like what you find in your local grocery store chain!)? Go to Modena. Want to discover the art of filled pasta? Check out Bologna.

With cuisine that’s rich in meat and carbs, it’s not exactly a region you’ll want to travel to when on a diet (full disclosure: I mentally prepared myself for a few friendly new pounds when we booked our trip). But, the calories were worth it. Read on to find out why.

Cheese tastings FWT
Charcuterie and cheese from Emilia Romagna

TIP: Yes, Emilia-Romagna specializes in traditional Italian food staples (think cheese, wine, pasta). 

Day 1: Food Tour in Parma

We started our grand journey around Emilia-Romagna by joining a full-day food tour (Three Kings Food Tour) that started in Parma. I couldn’t recommend this food tour enough – it was a great way to taste and learn more about the various products that make this region so special (Emilia-Romagna is home to 42 DOP products!). DOP stands for Protected Designation of Origin and is a certification that ensures the product is of high quality, locally grown/sourced, and produced in a traditional way.

Although the food tour was not cheap (54 Euros per person, excluding lunch and tip), it was totally worth spending the money for the experience. Our tour guide Angelo was friendly and knowledgeable – we learned so much about the region and discovered some local hidden food spots! To save money, we opted for the tour that lets you use your own rental car, and we drove/followed our tour guide to the various spots throughout the day. The tour was kept small (4-8 people) which made for a more intimate setting.

TIP: If you want to experience the best, make sure to choose a food tour that goes to the countryside. This is where most of the product that fuels the region is grown, and where happy cows and happy pigs roam.

Our first stop on the food tour was a local Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) farm. Donning stylish hair caps and fabric booties (used to protect the cheese from outside debris), we toured the facilities and learned about the entire process of producing, salt bathing, and aging of cheese.

Cheese tours of Parma fwt
Parmesan cheese making process

Did you know?

The aging process is what makes Parmesan unique – the minimum aging time is a year. The longer the aging process, the more expensive the cheese. Seeing the storage facility for the aging process was quite a sight and we found ourselves gaping at what seemed like never-ending rows of floor-to-ceiling walls of cheese….just thousands of yellow cheese wheels stacked on shelves waiting to ripen.

There was over $7MM worth of cheese in front of us!

Food Stock

My favorite part of the cheese tour was the tasting – we tried a variety of 12, 24, and 36-month aged Parmesan cheese (paired with crackers and wine) and it was all delicious! Of course my favorite was the 36-month aged Parmesan (my husband says this is because I have expensive taste).

Cheese tastings FWT

Stop two on our tour was a Parma ham factory. On our way there, we made a pit-stop to snap pictures of the gorgeous Castello di Torrecharia, one of the best preserved castles in the region.

Castello Toreccharia in Emilia Romagna

Parma days with FWT

The Parma ham manufacturing process involves an intense cleaning and salting of the ham, and then an aging period where the ham is hung in a controlled environment for 18 months (it’s best if the room is cold and dark). We were taken to one of the aging rooms and I’ve never seen so much meat in my life. Between the cold temperatures, the darkness, and the hanging hunks of raw meat….it felt a bit like we were on the scene of a horror movie!

Parma ham factory

Parma Ham FWT

Hanging Parma ham

After the tour, we were treated to freshly-sliced Parma ham and it was delicious (nothing like the refrigerated pre-cut deli meats you pick-up in supermarkets). The ham tasted almost buttery and almost melted in our mouths, leaving a perfect aftertaste of sweetness and salt.

Parma ham tasting in Parma

During our ham tasting, we learned from Angelo that fancy meat slicers (the kind kitchen professionals use to slice your meat very thin) are a staple in most home kitchens in Emilia-Romagna. The locals love their cured meat, they eat it almost every day, and they only eat it fresh! “If you go to a deli.” said Angelo “Get a hot panini with the thickest slice of mortadella (another type of cured meat) they’ll give you. There’s nothing more satisfying than biting into a juicy melting slice of mortadella.”

FUN FACT: True Parma ham only consists of two ingredients: pig and salt. Angelo claimed that Parma ham is a very healthy food because no sugar, smoke, or preservatives are used in the manufacturing process.

Aguritismo in Parma

Lunch was at a rustic hillside agriturismo. What is an agriturismo you might ask? An agriturismo is best described as an independently-owned farmhouse in the Italian countryside – oftentimes it is used partially for accommodation purposes. The best part about an agriturismo is the food – most offer an affordable home-grown lunch featuring produce, meat, and olive oil fresh off the farm.

We enjoyed a long and leisurely 3-hour lunch where we chatted with Angelo and got to know our fellow other tour mates (a family of four from…coincidentally…my hometown of Seattle!). We learned that Angelo had started the tour business with his best friend after realizing that the 9-5 life was not for him…after living in the city, he craved the slower leisurely pace of home, and the intimacy of his family and the community. “The best part of Italy are the piazzas,” said Angelo, “for tourists, they are oftentimes the place to see great buildings and historical sites. But for us locals, the piazzas are an extension of our living room. We go there in the evenings to spend time with family and friends.”  

Parma Ham tastings FWT

Lunch at aguritismo in parma
Lunch with FWT Parma food tours
Fresh pasta at an aguritismo Parma

The sun was shining. We dined on the aguritismo’s terrace surrounded by rolling hills and grape vines. Fresh pasta was served. Several bottles of wine were opened. And it was during that lunch where I discovered and fell in love with gnocco fritto, a food which can only be described as pillows of fried dough. Gnocco fritto looks heavy but tastes light as air (best served hot!).

Parma Ham tastings FWT Delish Italia

Gnocco Fritto in Parma

Our tour ended with a quick tasting at a local balsamic estate in Modena where we got to taste 12 and 25-year old aged balsamic vinegar. I thought I knew what real balsamic vinegar tasted like before the tour, but I was wrong. Traditional balsamic vinegar is syrupy, rich, and almost velvety in texture. It tastes amazing.

The real stuff is ONLY produced in Modena (you can be sure we bought a special bottle to take home and I’m going to guard it with my life).

Parma Balsamico days with FWT
Balsamic Vinegar tasting modena

Parma Balsamico days with FWT

Balsamic vinegar in Modena

Sadly, it was there where we had to part ways with our new friend Angelo (just thinking about it makes me tear up a bit!). Seriously…I can’t recommend his food tour enough.

We spent the rest of our day exploring the small town of Parma, admiring the many palazzos, and checking out the Parma Cathedral and Baptistery. The 12th-century octagonal Baptistery is made of pink Verona marble and it is truly a work-of-art.

Parma tours FWT Delish Italia 2

Parma Baptistery

Even after all the food we consumed earlier in the day, we took it upon ourselves to find a cozy restaurant for dinner and shared a few plates of pasta at Officina Alimentare Dedicata (after all, Parma is the first Italian city to be designated an UNESCO city of gastronomy)!

Parma the home to the internationally-recognized Barilla Pasta Company, it’s also home to a famous cooking school (Alma), and a food-themed amusement park ‘Eataly World’!

TIP: We stayed at the NH Parma hotel and it was amazing! The rooms were huge, the bathrooms were the size of my flat back in London, and everything was clean and modern. Plus, it was conveniently located next to the train station.

Parma tours FWT Delish Italia

The city is famous for its porticoes (it has over 25 miles of arcaded streets!) and also features a leaning tower (albeit, this one is not as impressive or famous as the leaning tower of Pisa. Read more about that here). We worked off some calories by climbing the 498 creaking narrow steps of one of the Two Towers. It was totally worth the effort as we were greeted with a fantastic view of Bologna’s famous red-colored rooftops and surrounding green hills.

RELATED POST: The Perfect ‘Tour of Italy’ Itinerary

Fun Fact: Even though pasta is now a common staple food in any modern kitchen, pasta was once considered a dish for the wealthy and featured heavily in glamorous dinner banquets for the aristocracy during the Italian Renaissance.

We toasted the end of our whirlwind food extravaganza around Emilia-Romagna that night with a bottle of sparkling Lambrusco (a tart local wine, perfect for cutting through the fat and salty goodness of the other plates). Our trip to Emilia Romagna was short but sweet, and featured a great itinerary for getting a glimpse into the region’s pride for local heritage, and love and passion for food. It’s the perfect destination for those seeking a hidden, gastronomic treasure.

Have questions or need help planning a trip to Italy? Leave me a comment below!

Sharing is caring! Check out these Pinterest-friendly images 


  1. Grumpyurbanslacker

    December 30, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Fantastic article! This part of Italy is on my bucket list and i’ll bookmark this post for future reference ?

    1. Jessie

      December 31, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you! It’s such an underrated region of Italy and I’m so glad you’re interested in going! Let me know if you need more recs. ?

12 Essential Italian Words for Foodies!

12 Essential Italian Words for Foodies!

Lunch a family affair Food n Wine tours Parma platters

Food tours info and offers


If you are reading this article, chances are you too are a lover of Italian food and you will certainly have come across lots of interesting Italian terms whilst perusing recipes, food blogs or menus in your favourite restaurants. You’ll just love our Cooking Days in Parma so here are some must have terms.

We’ve compiled a useful list of the vocabulary we think you absolutely need to know – you may be familiar with some of it already are but we are sure that not all of you know exactly how to cook your pasta ‘al dente’, what do do with your ‘acqua di cottura’ or exactly what’s in your ‘Arrabbiata’!

1) Al dente

This term indicates the level of cooking your pasta should have AT ALL TIMES. Italians eat their pasta only when its cooked to perfection and this means it must have that firm bite to it otherwise something definitely went wrong! Al dente literally translates as: To the tooth, which indicates the concept that the pasta must be not too soft but slightly chewy when biting it.

A little secret to perfect al dente pasta is to cook it at least one minute less than indicated on the packet. This will not work with every kind and brand of pasta as some have very strange cooking times that vary accordingly to a series of external factors. Nevertheless, this rule works with most of the pasta brands that are sold around the UK.

Another wise move would be to try the pasta 4 minutes before cooking time is up and then again after 2 minutes. This way you will know exactly when to drain it from the water to create a proper pasta plate!

Finally, always remember to throw the pasta in to cook only when the water is on full boil.

FWT cooking classes

Check out our FWT Culinary days

2) All’Arrabbiata

This is a much-loved type of pasta sauce that you’ll find on most Italian menus. It’s so hot and spicy it’s actually angry! (the literal meaning of arrabbiata). Arrabbiata sauce is usually made with tomatoes, olive oil and peperoncino: three simple ingredients to give one amazing experience.

3) Antipasto

This is what Italians eat before their main course and literally means ‘before the meal’. It often consists of a tempting selection of cheeses with accompaniments, assorted bruschettas, vegetables in oil, small bites of fried delicacies and maybe a platter of cold cuts. Sometimes, if a restaurant has amazing antipasti, the Italians will order only those with a crisp glass of white wine.

Lunch a famous affair with Parma FWT

4) Bruschetta

Bruschetta is a favourite antipasto dish in Italy – it’s so simple but can taste incredible with the right, quality ingredients. Toast thickly sliced, traditional bread (open textured is best) and top with extra virgin olive oil and oregano, sweet sun ripened tomatoes, roasted aubergines, anchovies or olive pate. Just remember to pronounce it bru-sketta and not bru-shetta!

5) Frittata

Frittata translates as ‘fried’ and is the Italian version of the omelette. A frittata is generally started on the stove and finished in the oven and the chosen filling is mixed with the egg at the beginning rather than added later. There’s normally lots of Parmesan in the mix. Frittata is usually very large and thick and made for the whole family, sliced and often eaten cold or even in a sandwich!

6) Peperoncino

This is Italian chilli pepper, one of the most important ingredients in Italian cooking. There are around 85 varieties to choose from and the best you’ll find in Italy will be right down south in Calabria. Add it to virtually everything!

7) Al Forno

This term literally means ‘oven baked’ and it is associated with foods that are cooked in the oven rather than on the stove. Pasta al forno is a good example of the term and it indicates the typical, hearty, oven baked pasta that is so widely eaten in Italy. It can be made with lasagne, cannelloni, lumachoni, penne and rigatoni to name just a few pasta types.

8) Acqua di cottura

The literal translation of this term is ‘cooking water’ and it refers to the water you cook your pasta or rice in. Italian chefs will set aside a little of this water whilst cooking the pasta and later add a couple of spoons of it to the pasta sauce. It will gain density thanks to the starch that the pasta or rice has released in the water.

9) ‘QB’ Quanto basta

QB means just enough or ‘to taste’ in English, and you will find the abbreviation alongside various ingredients in many Italian recipes. The writer of the recipe is leaving quantities to your judgement! You’ll need to forget the traditional British way of being precise with measurements and quantities and rely on your taste buds!! This might happen with salt and pepper, garlic, herbs or even cheese. Many Italian cooks tend to use even fundamental recipe ingredients such as flour or sugar with a bit of error margin, making their dough using their eye for quantity rather that measuring everything precisely. This is characteristic of a culture that will always prefer creativity and uniqueness to standardized thinking… even if it means that a couple of times your pizza won’t come out quite right! ?

10) Crudo

The Best Parma Ham Tour is with FWT

Crudo means raw. This term can refer to the crudo ham (prosciutto crudo di Parma for example), which is the uncooked but aged version of ham Italians love, or can refer to meat or fish dishes. Crudo di pesce is the typical southern Italian, raw fish platter that will amaze your taste buds! Raw meat is usually called carpaccio and that too is quite delicious especially if you try the carpaccio di Fassona or Chianina Toscana.

11) Soffritto

This is a very important and typical Italian mix of carrots, onion and celery that is usually used as the flavour base of many dishes, be they pasta sauces, risottos, broths or meat dishes. You usually chop the vegetables very finely and fry them gently in olive oil until golden, you then add the main ingredients and slow cook everything.

12) Sott’oli/Sott’aceti

These are basically veggies in jars, which have been preserved in either oil (oli) or vinegar (aceti). You can find sun-dried tomatoes, onions, carrots, peppers, garlic, artichokes, aubergines and many others. The oil preserved ones are mainly eaten as part of an antipasto platter and those in vinegar are added to a rice or pasta salad as a quick and tasty meal.

Armed with this knowledge, you can now cook Italian with confidence!

Tripadvisor review from fwt PARMA REALLY ENGAGE


Food Tours & Places to Eat Parma, Italy

Trattoria Corrieri Parma

Trattoria Corrieri Parma is a superb place to eat…

The Chefs tucking into some pasta before the lunch rush… Feb 2011
TripAdvisor - Hotel Reviews
Forum Topic
From forum: Parma by wittyone 08 September 2008
… have been asked what made Parma such a … … comforting. Our first afternoon in Parma, we grabbed … … our luggage eager to see…
Restaurant Review – Parma, Italy
5.0 of 5 stars

by thomas144 24 December 2008

… member mentioned it in the Parma discussion forum … … restaurants we ate at in Parma I would go to al Corrieri for dinner. Fairly…
Trattoria Corriere Parma

Parma Perfection: Parmesan, Prosciutto, and Pasta

Jessica Schwartzberg/staff Parma, ItalyPhoto: Jessica Schwartzberg/staff


When to Go

The sunny days and cool nights of spring (March–May) and fall (September–November) are ideal for renting a car and exploring the city and the surrounding countryside.

Getting There

Alitalia, Delta, and Continental fly daily from the New York area to Milan. Trains depart regularly for the hour-long trip to Parma.

Where to Stay

Palazzo dalla Rosa Prati

GREAT VALUE Antiques-filled rooms and suites set in the heart of the city. 7 Strada al Duomo; 39-0521/386-429; palazzodallarosaprati.it; doubles from $210.

Must Do – The 3 Kings Food Tour of Parma

Tripadvisor review from Angelo copia 2

Camera di San Paolo

Two exquisitely frescoed rooms by Renaissance master and Emilia-Romagna native Antonio da Correggio.3 Via Melloni; 39-0521/533-221.

National Gallery

Don’t miss the museum’s collection of prized Baroque paintings. 15 Piazzale della Pilotta; 39-052/233-617;artipr.arti.beniculturali.it.

Teatro Regio

One of Italy’s legendary opera houses; its season runs from January to mid-April. 16 Via Garibaldi; 39-0521/039-393; teatroregioparma.org.


In a city where regional loyalties eclipse national ones, Christopher Petkanas discovers a transcendent local cuisine. Here, 10 places where Parma’s trilogy—Parmesan, prosciutto, and pasta—reigns supreme.

From March 2008 By By 

The people of Parma have such a high opinion of their city they think of themselves as Parmesans first and Italians second. This can be traced in fair amount to the native cucina, which they consider to be the best in the region (Parma is one of the eight provincial capitals of Emilia-Romagna)—ergo the best in Italy, ergo the world.

Geography is destiny. Parma lies in northwest Emilia-Romagna. The region spans nearly the entire breadth of Italy, sharing borders with Tuscany and Liguria to the south and Lombardy and the Veneto to the north. A huge swath of the Po River plain, the biggest and richest tract of farmland in the country, falls inside Emilia-Romagna’s boundaries. The three great foods associated with Parma—Parmesan cheese, prosciutto, and handmade pastas (especially little ones you fill, such as tortellini, cappelletti, and anolini)—owe their first debt to this extraordinarily fertile land. Wheels of Parmesan are branded with the year and month they were produced, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Aged for 18 months to three years, the cheese is generally at its most expressive at about two years. Winter Parmesan has a deeper, more complex flavor than that made in summer.

Nick Garrett of Food n Wine tours is somewhat of an expert on the flavours of Parmigiano Reggiano, ”I like the 24 month variety as it has a range of well rounded flavours from the rich first taste through fruity hints and nutty finishes… and of course that moist texture with the grana Parmigiano crunchy protein. Great tastes and great health!”

Everybody’s a pig expert these days, but Parma shows up the amateurs and opportunists for what they are. Culty culatello is a cured boneless ham made from the choicest muscles—the top and bottom round—of the hind leg. As with prosciutto, the challenge is in the salting. Not enough and the meat spoils. Too much and you mask its inherent sweetness. Next to the round on the other side of the bone is a morsel that becomes fiocchetto. Everyone knows Pancetta, but how many have sampled Parma’s special version, fragrant with red wine and a suggestion of garlic?

Alba, in the Piedmont, is but one Italian city that disputes Parma’s claim to gastronomic dominance. Not to mention Naples. But the counter- claims roll off the backs of Parmesans like so many truffles and tomatoes. You could call it hubris. Or you could just call it superior taste.


La Greppia

If no one had told you this is one of the three or four finest places to eat in Parma, you might guess it anyway before even lifting a fork. In front of an interior window that looks from the dining room into the immaculate kitchen is a beautiful tableau of baskets, draped with linen and filled with house-made pastas. Perfectly ironed tablecloths tumble onto wood-framed chairs with upholstered backs and seats. Carts freighted with cakes, cheeses, and vinegars and other condiments sail across a polished terra-cotta floor. None of this would mean anything if it were tainted by fussiness or pretension. But La Greppia is not preoccupied with its good looks and doesn’t even ask to be thanked for attending to the details—the tip-off that this is a great restaurant. Chef Paola Cavazzini makes a point of hiring only women. (There are a lot of donne in Italian restaurant kitchens, but how many run them?) The trademark antipasto is pears poached in red wine with a dense Parmesanspuma, or mousse, whose only other ingredients are milk and cream. Borage lends its grassy flavor to semolina gnocchi the size of hazelnuts. Strawberry risotto—made with puréed fruit, onion, Parmesan, butter, and nothing else—sounds like a gag until you taste it. Goat in umido (slow-cooked in a covered pot with tomato and white wine) is served with buckwheat polenta. La Greppia is the kind of restaurant where you order one dessert, get four, and are billed for one.

Make sure the torta bocca di dama, a crumbly-chewy confection that combines bitter-orange marmalade, meringue, almonds, and amaretti, is the one you order. The service is amazing. But you guessed that. 39/A Strada Garibaldi; 39-0521/233-686; dinner for two $144.

Ristorante Cocchi

Parma’s best restaurant is inserted in a hotel so plain and weirdly located (on the far side of the ring road that wraps the city) you can’t believe you’ve got the address right. Believe it. Cocchi is supercivilized without even seeming to try. The professional waitstaff, also with no obvious effort, attend to a clientele of Italian businessmen, neighborhood dads out with their teenage spawn, and loud Americans. Strolghino, a skinny salami made from lean leg meat, is carved tableside, swaddled in a linen napkin. Strolghino’sextreme tenderness, delicateness, and near resemblance to fresh, raw sausage meat is a result of just 15 to 20 days of curing. But what you’re really here for are the rice preparations, savarin andbomba di riso. The first tops Parmesan- and risotto-filled envelopes of cooked ham with vealpolpettini and porcini ragù. To make a “bomb,” pigeon is marinated, braised, and deboned; hidden and layered inside a rice-lined dome; and baked. Whether or not the province of Parma reaches its culinary apotheosis with this dish has been debated since the 16th century. 16/A Via Gramsci; 39-0521/ 995-147; dinner for two $115.


No matter how allergic you are to joyless, pompous restaurants, any eating survey of Parma would have to include this one, especially if someone else is paying. Beyond the silver chargers with crocheted doilies, flights of Parmesan and prosciutto are offered at 16, 26, and 29 months and 13, 24, and 36 months, respectively. The rest of the menu (pheasant ravioli with fried leeks, truffle, and marsala sauce; pig’s head with honey, chicory, and quail eggs) is a model of voluptuous lily gilding. 71 Via Repubblica; 39-0521/285-952; dinner for two $173.


Trattoria Antichi Sapori

Set in the countryside just outside the city, Sapori is more ambitious, refined, and serious (but not too serious) than most trattorias in the Parma area, offering modern dishes so as not to seem old-fashioned (Parmesan gelato melting over a luscious hunk of molten eggplant in a pastry nest), and classic dishes so as not to seem out of touch with the past (taglioni, a cousin of tagliatelle, with octopus, shrimp, and cuttlefish). Oven-browned potato gnocchi with onion marmalade falls somewhere in the middle. And who knew that a form of sbrisolona—an almond-and-polenta dessert I have been making and loving for 30 years—is from Emilia- Romagna?Sbrisolona is more cookie than cake and on the menu of practically every restaurant in Parma. Some find it chokingly dry, but that’s their problem. The name translates as “she who crumbles,” a reference to the charmingly ragged pieces you get when you break into it (slicing is useless). Eat with vin santo318 Strada Montanara; 39-0521/ 648-165; dinner for two $100.

Osteria del Gesso

Even more than Antichi Sapori, this restaurant seeks to set itself apart by offering both traditional and innovativa cooking. So I was cautious, wary of a meal that could easily be not one thing and not the other. Some of Gesso’s ingredients—New Zealand lamb, basmati rice, foie gras—also worried me. But the osteria has legs. A platter of sbrisolona sits on a counter inside the front door, a good start. The menu gives the age and maker of the prosciutto (28 months, Leporati), andculatello (20 months, Consorzio di Zibello), another excellent sign. They say it’s impossible to have a bad plate of pasta in Parma (not my experience), but the rabbit-mousse agnolotti and Swiss chard–and-ricotta tortelli are exceptional. Americans are unreasonably averse to eating horse. What a loss. At Gesso the meat is sautéed in strips, then molded into a disk with braised baby onions and a lovely little salad of arugula, radicchio, and cherry tomatoes. 11 Via Ferdinando Maestri; 39-0521/ 230-505; dinner for two $118.

Sorelle Picchi

Forget the pastas at this salumeria-trattoria (you have to pass through the shop to reach the dining room) and build a relatively simple, for once not ridiculously rich, lunch of fine-grained Felino salami—named for the nearby village where it is produced—andtorta di erbe, a savory tart covered with pastry and filled with sautéed spinach, Swiss chard leaves, and/or beet greens. According to Lynne Rossetto Kasper, author of The Splendid Table, the standard work in English on the cooking of Emilia-Romagna, Parmesans believe the hay- and grass-scented air in Felino is responsible for the salami’s elegance. It’s a romantic idea. 27 Via Farini; 39-0521/233-528; lunch for two $72.

Croce di Malta

Say you knew some stylish, young, design-conscious Parmesans. And say they’d just redone an old farmhouse outside the city. Their eat-in kitchen might look like Croce di Malta. The concise menu (supple tortelli, fragile polpettine, silky Bavarian cream) changes daily. 8 Borgo Palmia; 39-0521/208-681; lunch for two $86.


Pasticceria Torino

You could eat breakfast at this historic, aristocratic landmark every day for three months and never have the same pastry twice. Like all Italians, the Parmesans like their cornetti filled with just a scraping of preserves. Most places offer apricot and stop there; the day I was at Torino, it had apricot, peach, strawberry, black cherry—and blood orange. If it’s mid-morning or later, it’s nice to chase all that sugar and fruit with a half-dozen or so chic little sandwiches, made with glazed brioches and barely spread, say, with anchovy paste. It takes a while to get the hang of eating off a plate with a fork while standing in the middle of the shop. Once you do, you’ll feel like a regular and part of the scene. 61 Strada Garibaldi Giuseppe; 39-0521/235-689; breakfast for two $6.

Wine Bar

Enoteca Fontana

Parmesans take the pulse of their own city at this hectic institution, where the cheap nibbles are strangely better than the panini you pay a lot more for. If all you know of Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna’s most famous-slash-notorious wine, is disco-era Riunite, Fontana will bring you up to speed. One revelation is that Lambrusco doesn’t have to be nauseatingly sweet (though it always has at least a gentle, frizzante degree of sparkle). A well-made secco is pungent with fruit and teasingly earthy. 24 Via Farini; 39-0521/286-037.

Cheese and More

Casa del Formaggio

Parma has an embarrassment of remarkable shops selling salumi, Parmesan, and prepared foods. You’ll never see a tourist in this one. 106 Via Bixio; 39-0521/230-243.

Christopher Petkanas is a T+L special correspondent.

Pesto festival Lavagna – Liguria Italy, Food n Wine Tours

Celebrating Pesto and Ligurian Gastronomy in Lavagna

October 27, 2010 by Anna Merulla 


About two weeks ago we had a great weekend at the annually Culinary Festival “Pesto e Dintorni” (Pesto and Surroundings) in Lavagna, a little town on the Italian Riviera.

Why the Festival is called “Pesto and Surroundings” – “Pesto e Dintorni” ?

The annual Festival is open exclusively to products from Liguria, creating a project agreed upon by the regional administration and all the local trade organizations. In addition the landmark sauce, the event seeks to highlight the ‘wonderful seven’ products that go into it: basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, pecorino and grana cheeses.

pasta dishes made for you

Why ‘Surrounding Tastes’

The ‘surrounding tastes’ section of the event includes all the other typical specialty food from the area, which best complement the flavor of the pesto, seafood and all the other typical regional specialty foods are available, the whole paired at best with local wines, from Vermentino, to Pigato and Rossese, among others.

This year “Pesto e Dintorni” Festival was at its 7th edition and, since in past I never partecipated to it yet, I decided it was time to take part. But I wasn’t prepared for how wonderful it was. Located in the historical centre of Lavagna, surrounded by focaccerie, restaurants and pastry shops, this Festival hosts over 100 exhibitors that produce exclusively typical Ligurian products, from the authentic pesto sauce to the traditional pasta, which emphasize the sauce’s taste, to the wine and other specialities which are part of the liguiran cuisine.

At the Festival I was with other friends food lovers, and we went there to taste and buy some good products for our Sunday lunch. Of course, we’ve tasted little bruschette with pesto sauce. Every year all the producers guarantee that the pesto sauce that they produce is made following strictly the official recipe, using exclusively DOP or extra virgin olive oil and basil from Genoa DOP. Genoese Pesto sauce recipe.

Wandering through the several food exhibitors, we’ve tasted the taggiasche olives. This quality of olives are typically ligurian from the western Riviera, they are dark-green and small size. Of course, once we’ve bite one taggiasca olive, or other typical products, the farmers started to tell us how they grow their goods, how hard work and passion was behind their productions.

Naturally October is the chestnut season, so there were inviting chestnut jams and chestnut liquor. Then, we’ve tasted also many different types of honey and the pandolce genovese. The Genoese pandolce is a traditional flat fruit cake, sold in every pastry shop in Genoa made with pine nuts, raisins, fennel seeds, and a scent of orange flower water.

Finally, after tasting and deciding, we bought taglierini, a pasta similar to tagliatelle but it is a thinner version, pesto sauce, some artichokes in oil and cheese. Then, among the little alleys of Lavagna we entered in a bakery and bought some focaccia and bread.

Back at home we spent, as good italian people, half of a day on lunch and enjoyed the company and food.

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For Gastronomic Tours in Liguria ask Beautiful Ligur