Emilia Romagna: An Italian Food Lover’s Paradise

Italy is a country well known for its history and romance, as well as architecture, art, and landscapes, but it’s best known for its food. Few people dream of Italy without conjuring up images of thin crust pizza, plates of perfectly cured meats and hand cut cheeses, bowls of homemade, al dente pasta drenched in a decadent butter sauce with mounds of rich and flavorful gelato…sigh. There is a reason people travel from around the world to sample Italy’s cuisine, and nowhere is this truer than in Emilia Romagna, a region in northern Italy that is considered by most to be the food capital of the world.

6. Bologna

Bologna, the capital of Emilia Romagna, is a university town filled to the brim with little cafes, farmer’s markets, street vendors and classy restaurants. The culture in this city is world class, as is the pasta. Famous here are dishes like brown butter tortellini, (seemingly) 12-layered meat lasagne, and parmesan and balsamic vinegar dusted tagliatelle. You can spend days exploring all the history and culture Bologna has to offer, simply giving you more time to indulge in the aperitivos, like the pizza, wine, pasta- and everything that makes Bologna The Food Capital and the gastronomic hub of the world.

Photo by: Taste Bologna
Photo by: Taste Bologna

5. Ravenna

Come for the mosaics, stay for the food. Ravenna is smaller and perhaps less vibrant than its neighbor, Bologna, but the historical churches and architecture firmly cements Ravenna as a must-see town in the region. Like all Italian towns, the food here is mouth-watering, but being located in Emilia Romagna means that everything is hand crafted , local and made with pride. Great cafes and restaurants are plenty here, but less tourists and starving university students lend this city a more small-town feel with world class food.

claudio zaccherini / Shutterstock.com
claudio zaccherini / Shutterstock.com

4. Modena

There is balsamic vinegar, and then there is balsamic vinegar from Modena- it really is that good. Put it on pizza, in pasta, drizzled it on bread and even ice cream. There is a reason people come from all over to sample this delicacy. Modena is home to many important historical sites, part of the city has UNESCO status and it is the birthplace of many famous people. The town itself is one of the richest and most socially advanced in Italy, but the balsamic vinegar made here is so special, gastronomic foodies and joe blos leave raving about the food, not the history. Don’t forget about the locally cured hams, handmade pasta, and local cheeses, just make sure they come loaded with balsamic!

Balsamic Strawberries

3. Parma

Parma is, you guessed it, the home of the traditional Parmigiano Reggiano. Famous worldwide, the cheese here is made from the milk of cows that graze only on grass immediately surrounding the city and is aged anywhere from 18 months to 30 years before hitting the market. The cheese is delicious enough to eat plain, but be sure to try it alongside the local cured ham, Prosciutto di Parma, aged at least 10 months and cut so razor thin that this salty, yet sweet meat can be eaten as a snack by itself or in any of the local stuffed pasta dishes.

Photo by: Travel Supermarket
Photo by: Travel Supermarket

2. Ferrara

Far less known than its neighbors to the south, Ferrara is the perfect Italian city for those that want to venture off the traditional Venice-Rome-Florence tourist trail.  As an idyllic Italian city with plenty of history and traditional architecture, this city is best enjoyed in one of the many cafes that dot the streets and squares. Ferrara’s local pasta dish, cappellacci di zucca (round pasta stuffed with pumpkin or squash and topped with butter and sage or meat sauce), is delicious enough that you could be perfectly content enjoying it for breakfast, lunch and dinner; should you want to try something else though, there are many other local dishes and delicacies that will surely keep you in Ferrara for days. Try the pizza- the locals order one full one each! They are topped with all the local hams, cheeses and seasonal veggies, or the piadina- a pressed, crispy sandwich on homemade bread.

Pumpkin Pata - Ferra Italy

1. Riccione

Located on the east coast, Riccione is one of Italy’s most popular seaside resorts.  Being a port town, the seafood is fresh and local. The eel is popular here among locals and you can be sure to find many exquisite seafood dishes at all the restaurants and cafes. Riccione though, is perhaps more famous for its meats, in particular the salami and prosciutto. This resort is most definitely geared towards the many tourists that visit here each year; without a doubt the prices are higher and the restaurants, busier. But, this town is located in the region of Emilia Romagna for a reason. The quality of food found here is on par with the rest of the towns that make up this gastronomic hub. Venture off the common tourist streets and you can still find local, family run cafes, serving delicious, Italian food, with a view of the Adriatic Sea, no less.

Photo by:  Visit Riccione by Riccione Turismo
Photo by: Visit Riccione by Riccione Turismo

10 Most Beautiful and Underrated Cities in Europe

It’s no secret that Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Berlin are amazing cities rich with beautiful architecture, unparalleled history, amazing culture and much more. However, Europe is rich with many other wonderful cities that tend to fly a little under the radar of the average tourist. Traveling to a slightly more obscure city can be as great of an experience as hitting the capitals and bustling metropolises. Here are 10 of our favorites:

10. Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Germany
Heidelberg, Germany

Located in the valley of the Odenwald Mountains and on the banks of the River Neckar, Heidelberg is a picturesque and romantic German city. Heidelberg Castle is the most notable landmark in the city. The city is also known for its historic “old town,” the Philosopher’s Walk up the nearby mountains, many historic churches and the University of Heidelberg.

9. Bruges, Belgium

Bruges Belgium 1
Bruges, Belgium

While Bruges has become more of a destination since the release of the film In Bruges in 2008, the city still lies in the shadows of Antwerp and Brussels when it comes to Belgian destinations. This historic port city is best known for its medieval architecture and numerous canals and sometimes dubbed “The Venice of the North.” Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child sculpture is located in Bruges.

8. Ferrara, Italy

Ferrara Italy
Ferrara, Italy

Ferrara is famous for being surrounded by over nine kilometers of ancient walls. The city also contains palaces dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, amazing cathedrals and broad streets perfect for strolling through and taking in the sights. Ferrara has also been home to many writers, artists and musicians throughout its rich history.

7. Valencia, Spain

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, located right on the Gulf of Valencia and in close proximity to Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza. The city’s historic winding streets, incredible architecture and amazing cathedrals make it a great destination. Valencia is also home to an enormous plaza and many famous museums and galleries.
Valencia Spain

6. Porto, Portugal

Porto shared the title as European Cultural Capital in 2001 for good reason. The city is home to numerous festivals throughout the year, such as St. John (late June) and Queima das Fitas (early May). Porto also has a long tradition in music, art and athletics, and is home to FC Porto among other football (soccer) clubs.
Porto Portugal

5. Biarritz, France

Located on the Bay of Biscay, Biarritz is a vibrant seaside city popular with tourists and surfers. The annual Biarritz Surf Festival attracts surfers and fans from all over the world. Biarritz is also located in French Basque Country and just minutes from the border of Spain.
Biarritz France

4. Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck is unique in that it hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice (both in 1964 and 1976). The Alpine location makes Innsbruck a hot sport for winter sports as well as hiking, climbing and mountain biking during the summer months. Innsbruck is also home to many museums, castles and historic sites.
Innsbruck, Austria

3. Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg is known as a large university city and is home to cool festivals including the Gothenburg International Film Festival and music festivals Way Out West and Metaltown. The city is known for its rich Scandinavian architecture, museums, sports and rich cultural history.
Gothenburg, Sweden

2. Budapest, Hungary

Although Budapest is the largest city and capital of Hungary, it’s still often overlooked on the itineraries of many tourists. The neo-Gothic Parliament building is a must-see, as are Castle Hill and the Castle District. No trip to Budapest is complete without a stroll down the banks of the historic River Danube.
Budapest

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

While most tourists tend to stick to southern and western Europe, Copenhagen is a destination not to be missed. With historic roots going back to its early days as a Viking fishing village, the sights and architecture are a unique treasure to behold. There are also many beaches surround the city that are a little known secret to add to any great summer vacation.
Copenhagan Denmark