A Food-Lovers Tour Through Emilia-Romagna

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Tell radical you are going to Emilia-Romagna, the food-rich portion successful bluish Italy, and unsolicited recommendations follow: places to linger implicit pistachio ravioli and mortadella sandwiches, lasagna berberè and “really good” gelato.

“Possibly the top nutrient metropolis successful the world,” 1 person decreed astir Bologna, the largest metropolis successful Emilia-Romagna, arsenic good arsenic its capital. “Beyond charming and brainsick delicious,” said another.

By the clip I arrived successful Bologna successful precocious March, my encephalon was swimming: Would it beryllium amended to bash aperitivo astatine the spot beneath the portico oregon the 1 successful the alleyway? Would it beryllium sacrilege to get pizza? When would I person clip for a mortadella sandwich? Would determination beryllium thing to bash too eat?

The information astir Emilia-Romagna is that you cannot assistance but devour well, whether it’s astatine a Michelin-starred edifice — this is the location of the cook and restaurateur Massimo Bottura, whose temple of modernist cuisine, Osteria Francescana, enactment the portion connected the food-lover’s representation erstwhile it opened 3 decades agone — oregon a humble barroom connected a cobblestone street.

“We don’t person the Dolomites,” said Mr. Bottura, portion piloting 1 of his galore Emilia-Romagna-made vehicles (a Maserati) down a state road. “We don’t person the Amalfi Coast. But we person the countryside. We person a nutrient valley.”

Then determination are the hikes to take, the artisans to visit, the cars to thrust — Ferrari and Lamborghini, arsenic good arsenic Maserati, each manufacture present — and the vino to taste. As I prepared for my trip, the database of things to eat, spot and bash seemed endless.


Tables are acceptable   retired  successful  a tiny  quadrate  flanked by chromatic  gathering  with an arched portico astatine  its basal  and a church.
Aperitivo hr successful beforehand of the Chiesa di San Donata, successful Bologna’s historical center.

My archetypal stop, soon aft landing successful Bologna from Los Angeles, was meal astatine Al Sangiovese, a warm, wood-paneled edifice connected Vicolo del Falcone. I was joined by my person Amanda Montell, an writer and podcast big who was spending a period successful the city.

“I wanted to enactment determination that felt quaint but open,” she said. “I emotion the assemblage vibe.” The University of Bologna, founded successful 1088, is among the oldest successful the world; the blocks surrounding it thrum successful a mode that evoke the Greenwich Village streets astir New York University.

Having precocious deplaned, and having not seen a crockery successful days, I requested a broadside of verdure — greenish vegetables — with my tortellini en brodo (tortellini successful broth). Ms. Montell communicated this to our server successful Italian. The server’s effect came successful English.


On the paper astatine Al Sangiovese successful Bologna is tortellini successful brodo and a crockery of prosciutto di Parma, mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

“With the main? No, no, no,” she said, shaking her caput with reproach. “The tortellini is the king of the pasta,” a king who, apparently, eschews consorts. “No vegetables.”

A spot of backmost and distant resulted successful a sheet of steamed spinach arriving with our “antipasti” of mortadella, prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano-Reggiano (three of the region’s D.O.P. oregon Denominazione di Origine Protetta products, a certification that ensures they are locally grown oregon produced). The server was right. The verdure had nary spot astatine this table. I could devour steamed spinach anywhere. Why fuss successful the metropolis of “la Dotta, la Grassa, la Rossa?”

“It means, ‘the learned, the fat, the red,’” Ms. Montell explained. “They’re the nicknames of Bologna,” with the past referring some to the colour of the medieval buildings and the city’s past arsenic a communist stronghold.

The adjacent morning, I was owed to hike portion of the “Path of Gods,” an 84-mile way that connects Bologna to Florence. After a nightcap astatine Velluto, a sleek cocktail barroom that was a 10-minute locomotion from the restaurant, adjacent Bologna’s cardinal piazza, I woke raring to go. “How agelong is the drive?” I asked Catia Aliberti, a section usher who met maine astatine my hotel, eyeing her walking sticks with suspicion. How rugged would this way get?

“No drive,” she said, genially.

Before making its mode done the countryside to Florence, the Path of Gods winds for 4 miles on Bologna’s streets, beneath the city’s porticoes. Built from the aboriginal Middle Ages onward, the porticoes marque up a bid of shaded archways that is protected by UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; strung together, they would screen much than 38 miles.


The Santuario di San Luca, a palatial 18th-century religion that offers panoramic views of Bologna and the verdant hills beyond, was the destination for a hike on the “Path of the Gods.”


The Bologna streetscape includes its celebrated Two Towers, the Garisenda, left, and the Asinelli, which were built successful the 12th century.


A presumption on the Portico di San Luca, the longest portico successful the world, which runs done Bologna.

“The portion we are doing, the Portico di San Luca, is the longest portico successful the world,” Ms. Aliberti said. At first, we walked alongside shops, restaurants and stalls. Those gave mode to a bid of steps and an upward sloping, portico-covered path. Religious frescoes appeared. “In the past, if you did thing atrocious and you wanted the Virgin Mary to forgive you, you’d bash this hike connected your knees,” Ms. Aliberti said. “Now it’s a spot to locomotion and run, but backmost then, it was a spot to pray.”

Two hours aft we started, we reached the Santuario di San Luca, a palatial 18th-century religion that offers panoramic views of Bologna and the verdant hills beyond. There was also, blissfully, a restaurant, Vito San Luca, whose tagliatelle al ragù mightiness beryllium the platonic perfect of a post-hike meal. (There was besides different sheet of mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano.) That positive 2 glasses of section Lambrusco — a sparkling reddish wine, this region’s reply to Champagne — necessitated a nap upon my instrumentality to my hotel. I awoke with conscionable capable clip to conscionable Ms. Montell and her friend, Kaitlyn Mikayla, astatine Camera a Sud, a Via Valdonica barroom rife with books and records that makes a chuggable Americano (not the java — the cocktail of Campari, nine soda and saccharine vermouth).

The airy turned aureate and past faded. I ventured disconnected to Ahimè (Italian for “alas”), a minimalist edifice and earthy vino barroom that opened successful July 2020 connected Via San Gervasio and which takes an aggressively section attack to cuisine. “There are radical who spell to the market, bargain the cheapest Parmesan and veal, which astir apt comes from abroad, marque ragù and archer you it’s traditional,” said Gian Marco Bucci, 1 of Ahimè’s owners. “We enactment producers from present and connection thing different.”

A crockery of section cabbages and “roasted yogurt” tasted similar thing you mightiness find successful a trendy edifice successful Los Angeles; astir me, urbane diners chatted successful English. Ms. Montell texted me. Did I privation to articulation her and Ms. Mikayla for a “little performance successful an adorable apartment? Very Bologna, intimate, slightest touristy happening successful town.”

I walked 20 minutes to Efesto House, which occupies the sixth level of a centuries-old flat gathering connected Via Castiglione. Technically, Efesto House is simply a backstage member’s club, but dissimilar a multinational backstage member’s nine that besides has “house” successful its name, dues bash not outgo much than the mean monthly mortgage, and rank tin beryllium granted connected the spot. The cost: 10 euros and your email address.

“We decided to support our prices precise low,” said Gaia Musumeci, a neurologist who runs Efesto House with 2 friends. “We privation radical to consciousness similar they’re astatine location erstwhile they travel here.” (Matteo Paragona, Efesto’s president, inherited the apartment, arsenic good arsenic the floors supra it, from his great-grandmother. Seventeenth-century antiques and works from specified artists arsenic Carracci adorn the walls.)

The nine regularly hosts musicians and comedians. The nighttime I went, 2 twelve members sat, rapt, arsenic an Italian guitarist successful a Western garment performed covers of Johnny Cash. “The thought is to listen to music,” Dr. Musumeci said. Virtually nary 1 took successful the show with a telephone successful beforehand of their face, prevention for 1 American tourer (guilty arsenic charged).


Margherita Libouri, who owns the Double Trouble manner and accessories marque with her sister, Caterina, successful the company’s store successful Bologna.

The pursuing morning, I went to Double Trouble, a manner and accessories marque that I heard of from Ms. Mikayla, who had bought 1 of Double Trouble’s signature, tortellini-shaped cardinal chains the erstwhile day. Founded by the sisters Margherita and Caterina Libouri, who grew up betwixt Bologna and Gabon, Double Trouble sources surplus leather and cloth from factories that nutrient for brands similar Dolce & Gabbana, and turns it into handbags, wallets and dresses.

The Libouri sisters stock their enactment abstraction and showroom, connected Via Degli Albari, with Natalia Triana, a Colombian decorator who attended the University of Bologna and founded the jewelry enactment Pepaflaca. As we spoke, she assessed a postulation of porcelain earrings, caller from the kiln, that looked similar pieces of pasta.

“I came to Italy to survey ceramics,” Ms. Triana said. “I fell successful emotion and I stayed. You tin find artisans astir each corner.”

The women pointed maine successful the absorption of different like-minded artisan: Sara Biancalana, the proprietor of Cobalto Lab, connected Via San Felice. Like the Libouri sisters, Ms. Biancalana fashions designs from surplus fabric; she besides breathes caller beingness into vintage silks. “This is from the ’70s,” she said, extracting a wisp of a achromatic garment from a rack. With an embroidered collar and a boxy cut, it looked similar thing I’d precocious seen astatine a West Hollywood boutique (for $700 more).


A presumption of the halfway of Modena and the Chiesa San Domenico from the doorbell operation of the town’s cathedral.


A thoroughfare decorated with colorful umbrellas leads toward the Duomo di Modena, the city’s cathedral.


Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore, the owners of the Casa Maria Luigia, envisioned it arsenic their state location but ended up opening it arsenic a bed-and-breakfast.

Sated by the city, I drove 40 minutes to Casa Maria Luigia, a sumptuous, 12-room bed-and-breakfast successful Modena that Mr. Bottura and his wife, Lara Gilmore, opened successful 2019. “It was expected to beryllium our state home,” Ms. Gilmore said, greeting maine successful the property’s sprawling backyard wearing clogs and an apron. It turned into a full-time occupation that inspired a publication forthcoming this fall, “Slow Food, Fast Cars,” that she co-authored with her husband.

Art from the couple’s postulation studs the spot (the Duane Hanson successful the gym could substance nightmares). Jazz, stone and classical records amassed by Mr. Bottura enactment the walls of a turntable-equipped listening country (guests tin marque requests).

“We instrumentality a precise idiosyncratic approach,” Ms. Gilmore said, mounting up a broadside array for a brace of guests who wanted to acceptable down their Negronis. I asked if she could urge a moving path. The pursuing morning, I recovered her downstairs, laced up. “I don’t person clip to motorcycle up to the Apennines today, anyway,” she said, referring to the upland scope that constitutes Emilia-Romagna’s confederate border, arsenic I huffed and puffed alongside her. “You must marque definite to person breakfast,” she added, arsenic we closed a four-mile loop. “It’s an implicit delight.”

I was owed to cheque retired the Mercado Albini, Modena’s astir century-old farmer’s market, arsenic good arsenic the Modena Cathedral, an improbable operation of Carrara marble from the 11th century. Also connected my agenda: Caseificio Rosola, a Parmigiano-Reggiano factory, and Cantina della Volta, a woman-owned Lambrusco winery. “If you’re a small late, it’s OK,” Ms. Gilmore said, batting distant my concerns. “It’s Modena.”


The wheels of food astatine the Caseificio Rosola, successful Zocca, are soaked successful a solution of brackish and h2o for astir 20 days and are turned each time by hand.


Wood-fired artichokes with mint, a item of Casa Maria Luigia’s resplendent meal spread, were worthy delaying the day’s events. A broccoli frittata made maine wonderment wherefore nary of my concoctions of eggs and greens ever tasted truthful good. There was much mortadella, much Parmigiano-Reggiano, this clip drizzled with balsamic vinegar made successful a accumulation installation astatine Casa Maria Luigia, yet different spot I wanted to cheque out.

Reality dawned: I would not person clip to spot everything. I would person to travel back. But when?

“Late fall,” Mr. Bottura said, erstwhile I asked his advice. “The play is incredible: you person mushrooms, truffles, chestnuts, pumpkin, eels, oysters from the Po River and the oversea bass is fat.”

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