Last year I spent 3 weeks exploring two of the most significant wine and food regions in Italy, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna. As a result, you can now join us on our gourmet slow food tour visiting famous cheese festivals and truffle fairs in these regions of Italy in September. One tour, one date, and only 8 foodies. This won’t follow the usual trails, we will be visiting some off the beaten track gems, and visiting places that I literally stumbled on. My philosophy, follow a local, join a local, live like a local. Explore the Italian Lifestyle !
The dates have been chosen to coincide with a range of “festivals” that happen in the Autumn months, from Cheese in Bra, Harvest celebrations throughout both regions, Sagra delle Castagne (the celebration of the chestnut) in selected hilltop towns. And the Alba Tartufo Bianco festival plus the Fungi Festival. These are reason enough to stay on in the region either before or after the tour. Having had the opportunity to attend most of these festivals I can highly recommend these ones as a reason to get to know the Italian Lifestyle.
Piedmont could be all about wine and Langhe hills with scattered vineyards laid on gentle slopes. Between Barolo, Castiglione, Serralunga, La Morra, Monforte, Novello, Verduno, Grinzane, Diano, Roddi and Cherasco there are 800 growers with an average of 1,5 ha of land producing 10M bottles of Barolo every year. It could be all about wine – but in fact it is not! In this very region the Slow Food movement was started by Petrini in 1986 and counts today 150 associated countries and food projects across all continents. The one and only University of Gastronomic Sciences was inaugurated in 2004 in the premises of a former Savoy wine estate. Some of the most famous Italian Cafés can be found in Bra and Cherasco, likewise chocolate and hazelnut by-products made their fortune in the region. And then raw meat, egg-pasta tajarin, snails, porcini mushrooms, raw-milk cheeses like Castelmagno, not to mention the white truffle – Tuber Magnatum Pico – that found in Alba.
Emilia-Romagna is located in Northern Italy and evolved from the joining of two historic regions: Emilia and Romagna where the capital is Bologna. it has an area of 22,124 square kilometres and about 4.3 million inhabitants. The region is divided into nine provinces: Bologna, Ferrara, Forli-Cesena, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Ravenna, Reggio Emilia and Rimini. Emilia-Romagna borders onto: Liguria, Piedmont, Lombardia, Veneto, Le Marche and Tuscany.
A journey in discovery of the roots of this region leads in many directions – one of these paths is the art of taste. The region is known for its bold and refined cuisine, from those of the countryside of Emilia to those of the Romagna coast, via the lagoon of the Comacchio Valleys, with its famous eels.
Discovering a region means tasting the results of its traditions, from the typical Erbazzone, a quiche with spinach, or the pisarei e faso, small dumplings with beans made in the area of Piacenza, to the tortelloni, agnolotti and all types of homemade pasta enhanced by their delicious fillings, herbs and flavours.
We can stop in Bologna to try its mortadella, perhaps inside rolled or folded piadina bread. The unquestioned king of Parma, yet well-known and enjoyed all over the world, is of course Parma Ham (Prosciutto di Parma) that, together with the wonderful Grana and legendary Parmigiano cheeses.
As in all Italian regions, good wine in Emilia Romagna is a given: Gutturnio, produced in the hills of Piacenza,Trebbiano, Lambrusco, Barbera, Sauvignon and Sangiovese.
Simplicity and taste, the winning combination that makes the cuisine of this region so special and our Food & Wine of Italy tour will showcase the best this region can offer.