Emilia-Romagna benefits greatly from this diversity and is a result one of the richest regions in all of Europe. It is at once a land of exceptional, and sadly undiscovered, historical patrimony and a touristic region thanks to its fabulous beaches which are heavily populated in summer by Italians. The coastal resort of Rimini may have its critics, but lovers of art and history will relish the opportunity to discover towns such as Ravenna, Ferrara, Parma and Piacenza which are both off the beaten track and, appealingly, relatively uncrowded even in summer. A land of plenty, Emilia-Romagna is a fantastic gastronomic destination as well as being a perfect place for cyclotourism. If ever there was a region to practice the art of epicurean travel, this is it.
Those for whom a little break surrounded by nature is a must will find exactly what they need over by Comacchio and at the Po delta where superb green landscapes and canals await. For those looking for a beach and a good time, Rimini needs no introduction. Although if it is culture you are after then head into the historic centre of the city where you will find plenty of treasures, sadly unknown to the majority of us.
Production areas for Parmigiano Reggiano can be found in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua. From the earth to the forage the cows are fed, not forgetting the water and the climate, everything contributes to maintainig the highest quality. This cheese has been produced here since ancient times and if you'd like to see the production methods for yourself, you can visit one of the area's many dairies.
This product dates back to the days of Hannibal, who, after the battle of the Trebbia in 217 B.C., was welcomed to Parma with a banquet of ?salted pork thighs'. Nothing is left to chance when it comes to producing Parma ham. It is matured in the appropriate environment, known as the 'baliatici'. The opening and closing of windows in this particular environment is regulated in such a way that slight drafts of air are able to dry the meat whilst ensuring that the typical sweet taste of Parma ham is developed.
BOLOGNA 'LA GRASSA'
You cannot possibly leave Bologna without having tried its culinary specialties. The city itself is referred to as ?the fat one' not because of its heavy cuisine, but as a way of expressing its joie de vivre and love of good food. Some of its specialities include homemade egg pasta, as used in the wonderful tagliatelle bolognaise prepared with the typical ?ragł', tortellini in broth, and mozzarella sandwiches.
SPECIALTIES OF THE MODENA REGION
The secret of the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, produced from the must of cooked grapes from the Modena region, lies in its slow maturing process (in an appropriate place in the attic), which can take up to 50 years. The particular temperatures guaranteed by the climate in this part of the country are a key factor in making this vinegar what it is, and enhance its characteristic sweet taste. There are numerous places where vinegar is made in Modena and the surrounding areas. Drops of it are usually used in risottos, on shavings of parmesan or even with fruit. Modena is also famous for its good wines. Don't forget to try a glass of the excellent Lambrusco DOC whilst you're here.