When it comes to food culture, Bologna and Modena need no introduction.
The Emilian cuisine, regarded as the “best in the world” by Forbes Magazine, ranges from time-honoured traditional dishes, like tortellini and lasagne, to internationally known products, including parmesan cheese and mortadella.
But be warned! If you think you know every location linked with food culture, the following itinerary may surprise you.
Our food tour begins in Bologna at the mercato del Quadrilatero.
The ancient medieval market is located just in the city centre, in an area that represented the heart of all commercial activities, as evidenced by the narrow alleys named after the activities that were once pursued there: Pescherie (Fishmongers), Calzolerie (Shoe Shops), Caprarie (Butchers), Drapperie (Drape shops)…
Scattered with historic shops run by the same families, who shared their know-how and expertise from generation to generation, the market is a true rainbow of colours and fragrances.
We suggest that you explore all its alleys, searching for some food temptations to enjoy at the second stop of our itinerary.
The Osteria del Sole is a historic site where the Bolognese have been gathering to eat and drink together for ages.
First opened in 1465, the tavern would be frequented by numerous pilgrims, as well as by the relatives of the patients hospitalised at the nearby Ospedale della Vita and Ospedale della Morte.
Still today, the Osteria preserves the flavours of ancient times by providing food and refreshments to all wayfarers in the old town.
According to tradition, the Osteria is limited to serving wine and beverages, for the food needs to be brought in by customers.
For a fully immersive experience back in time, we recommend that you visit the tavern with a “scartoz” (the Bolognese for “paper cone”) of foodstuffs, sitting at one of the wooden tables while drinking a good glass of wine chosen from the wine cellar.
Your day wouldn’t be complete without a good dessert. Anzola dell’Emilia is where the Gelato Museum Carpigiani is located, the first ever museum created about the history, the culture and the technology linked to handcrafted gelato (Italian ice cream).
Opened in 2012 at the Carpigiani Headquarters - a historic company specialised in the production of gelato making machines, the museum offers an interesting interactive itinerary based on three levels of interpretation: the evolution of Gelato over time, the history of the production technology and the history of the places and methods of consumption of gelato.
The whole experience is enriched by the exposition of more than 20 original gelato making machines, as well as by numerous multimedia stations, 10.000 photographs and historic documents, fine period instruments and workshops.
At the Gelato Shop you can also taste the gelato prepared just in front of you and thus enjoy a full multisensorial experience.
The second day is entirely devoted to Modena. Starting from the city’s heart, just a few steps from Piazza Grande, you can get to the Mercato Albinelli (Albinelli market), characterised by a distinguishing liberty style.
It is located within walking distance of the marvellous complex of the Cathedral, the Ghirlandina Tower and Piazza Grande, since 1997 part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
We suggest that you plunge into the lively atmosphere of the Mercato Albinelli, on whose stands you can admire and taste all the PDO and PGI products of the territory, among which meat, cold cuts and cheese, fruit and vegetables, bread and confectionary products.
Inside the market’s galleries, you can buy manifold delicatessens, or simply sit at one the restaurants enjoying a tasting experience.
The following stage leads us to Castelnuovo Rangone, a few km from Modena, where you can find the MUSA – il Museo della Salumeria , the first Italian museum dedicated to the art of making cold cuts.
Located at the historical site of Villani Salumi, the region’s oldest charcuterie, the museum offers, upon prior booking, a buffet tasting of cured meats.
You may alternatively opt for visiting a Prosciutto factory, where the sweet and intense Prosciutto di Modena DOP is produced.
Our last destination is all about Balsamic Vinegar, made with the must of local grapes, cooked slowly over a direct flame, thus undergoing slow fermentation, with gradual concentration by means of a long ageing in a series of wooden casks.
While crossing the halls of the Museo dell'aceto balsamico tradizionale (Tradizional Balsamic Vinegar Museum) in Spilamberto, you can see first-hand all its production stages, from the vine selection and the cask manufacturing, from the grape harvest to the must cooking.