Emilia-Romagna is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. First, I lived in Ferrara for nearly a year about five years ago. Second, my brother currently lives in Bologna so I’ve taken full advantage of visiting him. And finally, the food is amazing! Bologna is commonly cited as the food capital of Italy and a visit to this beautiful city will quickly confirm this. From Parmigiano Reggiano to tagliatelle al ragù to Mortadella, this city and region has more than its share of delicious foods.
Ferrara is not the largest nor most well known region in Emilia-Romagna, but it is a delightful place with incredible history. I was lucky enough to spend a year here prior to starting at uni. The city itself is surrounded by a nearly intact medieval wall, referred to in Italian as le mura. Today, these walls function as walking, running and cycling paths. On weekends, they’re packed with people out for a casual stroll or looking to work off a gelato, as was usually my case.
Ferrara is also known as the city of bicycles. As the center of the city is closed to most traffic, bicycles serve as an excellent way to get around. When I arrived there, I remember being truly alarmed by how many bikes were locked up around the city center. I quickly became quite thankful I had a bike to get around. It became a tradition for my friends and I to bike around le mura after class.
My favourite period of the time I spent in Ferrara was around the holidays. I remember feeling the town just lit up in preparation for Christmas. There was a Christmas market set up in the main square and a massive decorated Christmas tree in front of the main church. It was a truly magical time.
As the capital of Emilia-Romagna, I would be remiss to not mention this city. Bologna is quite a young and vibrant city as it is home to Italy’s oldest university – Università di Bologna. I’ve visited several times over the past couple of years as my brother lives there. I enjoy wandering the unending porticoes, or portici, and walking up to San Luca on the hill overlooking the city. The food is also unparalleled. I always am sure to get some traditional lasagne, a big bowl of tagliatelle al ragù and pick up a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano to bring back to London to enjoy later.
Every visit, he picks a restaurant in a small town outside Bologna recommended to him by a colleague or friend for us to go try. These have been incredible and well off the tourist track. My most recent trip, we went to a restaurant whose menu was entirely devoted to truffles as it was truffle season. We enjoyed polenta covered in finely grated white truffle, tagliatelle completely covered in shavings of white truffle and gnocchi in a decadent black truffle cream sauce. It was heavenly.
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