Many of Italy’s most symbolic food products come from Emilia Romagna: from Parmigiano Reggiano to Bologna’s mortadella, from Prosciutto di Parma to Modena’s balsamic vinegar. This region is formed by two historically separate areas – Emilia to the north and west, and Romagna in the south-east – each with its own rich culinary culture and traditions.
Thanks to this heritage, Emilia Romagna is an important protagonist of the Expo Milano 2015 event, which revolves around the theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” (for more on the topic, please read Expo Milano 2015, a journey of tastes and seasonality across Italy).
Fall is the perfect time of the year to savor local delicacies – not only at rustic and Michelin-starred restaurants, but also –and especially– at seasonal events called ‘sagre’.
Fall Food Festivals in Emilia Romagna
The region’s capital, Bologna, hosts an event called MortadellaBò. It usually lasts for 4 days in October, during which the beautiful historic center enjoys a “pink revolution” to celebrate the Mortadella Bologna IGP, protected under EU law with the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. This large cold cut is made of ground, heat-cured pork, flavored with spices such as black pepper and pistachios.
Visitors get to taste mortadella in various forms and with different combinations, such as with the Piadina Romagnola, the typical thin flatbread made with white flour, lard or olive oil, salt and water. There are activities even for children who, for example, can join dedicated cooking courses and learn how to create tortellini stuffed with mortadella.
October is also the month in which Cotignola, a town in the province of Ravenna, organizes the Sagra del Vino Tipico Romagnolo. The big protagonists are local wines with the Sangiovese, Trebbiano and Cagnina grape varieties. The most unusual and exciting part of the festival takes place on a Sunday afternoon, when grapes are pressed by bare feet in the piazza, according to the ancient traditions!
Truffles are among the most sought-after products during the fall season. The village of Calestano holds the Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Nero di Fragno (National Fair of Fragno’s Black Truffle) with themed activities and tastings, typically on every Sunday between mid-October and mid-November.
Typical local dishes made with this refined product include truffle rolls, homemade tagliolini al tartufo, and ravioli with red radicchio and truffles. Feeling lucky? Join guided visits in the woods and hunt for truffles together with the specialist dogs!
Have you ever heard of Tortél Dóls? This sweet tortello is a typical dish of the lowlands near Parma. It is made with handmade pasta stuffed with cooked wine and ancient fruit sauces – quince, pears and white watermelon. The town of Colorno usually holds a dedicated foodie festival on the second weekend of October, involving tastings, crafts markets, and children corners with cooking and painting workshops.
The Bassa Parmense (Parma lowlands) has a signature November foodie event – November Porc! This fun festival consists of a sort of gourmet relay race held in four different towns each weekend in November: Sissa Trecasali, Polesine Parmense, Zibello and Roccabianca. Each town presents a different pork product: the “heaviest” prete, the Guinness strolghino, the biggest cicciolata (they are all typical cold cuts of the Parma area). Cold cuts and food tastings apart, the event mixes handcrafted beers, music and performances of street artists.
Gastronomic itineraries in Emilia Romagna
At any time of the year, foodie visitors traveling through Emilia Romagna can explore local food by following gourmet itineraries called “Le Strade dei Sapori e dei Vini” (the roads of flavors and wines).
Let’s have a look at three of the main paths: The Road of Prosciutto and the Wines of Colli di Parma, The Road of Culatello di Zibello, and The Road of the Porcino Mushroom. Each path groups smaller themed itineraries revolving around food as well as history, nature, art.
The Road of Prosciutto and the Wines of Colli di Parma features green and immense valleys, gentle hills, and carefully cultivated fields. Hidden gems include the castles of Torrechiara and Felino, the One-Hundred Lakes Nature Park, and the woods of Carrega.
Culatello di Zibello (Protected Designation of Origin, PDO) – the King of Salumi according to many – is produced in the flatlands near Po River. The dedicated Road can be easily explored on two wheels, thanks to a lovely network of cycling paths. Here you can enjoy local “water gastronomy” with products from the Po River and the Adriatic Riviera; and get to know famous characters such as composer Giuseppe Verdi and writer Giovannino Guareschi.
Castles, medieval hamlets and ancient cult sites on the Apennines characterize the Road of the Porcino Mushroom. This is a magic place, where you can trace the footsteps of pilgrims during medieval times, admiring Romanic and Gothic art along the Via Francigena. The absolute protagonist here is the Fungo Porcino di Borgotaro (Protected Geographical Indication PGI). It grows in the woods of the upper Taro Valley and harvested in spring and fall.
Are you a foodie? Do you need help or inspiration in planning and organizing an unforgettable gastronomic journey in Italy? Contact Italian Special Occasions DMC for a customized service in off the beaten track destinations.