We're excited to be exploring Emilia-Romagna with Citalia and sharing with you one of our favourite recipes from this beautiful region. Located in the north of Italy, Emilia-Romagna is the ideal place for a foodie-focused holiday, as our friends at Citalia will tell you. After crafting tailormade holidays in Italy for 90 years, Citalia intimately knows the country and are the go-to experts.
Citalia are offering an exclusive £50 off your booking* with the code PASTA50
Emilia-Romagna is the birthplace of the world’s favourite Italian ingredients, from kitchen staples such as balsamic vinegar and Parmigiano Reggiano to prosciutto and fresh tagliatelle. There’s no better place to begin your journey than in the region’s capital and largest city, Bologna. Bologna is where our famous meat-based sauce, ragù alla Bolognese, gets its name from. This humble recipe actually dates back to the 18th century and is most popularly used in lasagne alla bolognese. You won’t, however, find spaghetti bolognese in this region as using spaghetti is actually an anglicized version - the original dish is always served with fresh tagliatelle. Tagliatelle was also invented in Bologna. It was made in honour of a noble family’s marriage in the late 15th century, and was designed to mimic the ribbon-like hairstyle of the young bride. In Bologna today, you’ll find a solid gold replica of tagliatelle on display that demonstrates the exact dimensions a piece of tagliatelle should be, which is 1mm thick by 6mm wide.
Bologna is an incredibly beautiful city, where narrow labyrinthine streets are framed by ancient towers and pink terracotta roofs. Wander through the many markets and piazzas to discover a fabulous street food culture and plenty of trattorie (informal restaurants) in the winding alleys. You can tuck into local favourites such as burrata cheese, and tortelli al tartufo nero (black truffle filled pasta). It’s hard to miss the bustling main square of Piazza Maggiore, which is a spirited spot for people watching and boasts Le Due Torri, the world’s tallest medieval tower. You’ll also want to get lost in Quadrilatero Medieval Market, a traditional market where you’ll find enticing food stalls and small boutiques packed along ancient lanes.
Bologna isn’t just famed for its food, automotive design is also a big part of the city. Explore the various prestigious automobile and motorcycle museums, including the Lamborghini Museum and the Industrial Heritage Museum, and take a tour of the Italian Motor Factory.
Bologna’s historic streets hold the world’s oldest and first university. An entire district of Bologna, aptly named University Quarter, holds the 11the century University of Bologna. You can go on walking tours here and visit the institution's many museum exhibits and frescoes within its 16th century Palazzo Poggi. Elsewhere in Bologna you can witness many art and music museums that house works of the great Renaissance painters and composers, such as Michelangelo and Mozart.
Head north of Bologna and you’ll come to Parma, the birthplace of Parmigiano Reggiano. This hard cheese has been around since the Middle Ages, originally made by monks and adopted by noble families, before being discovered by the world. Parma is also home to the world-famous thinly sliced cured ham Prosciutto di Parma, which is made using traditional crafting methods that are carefully guarded. During your visit to Parma, you can learn more about its great charcuterie culture - try culatello di zibello, a rare pedigreed artisanal ham. Once you’ve tasted it you may find even the finest prosciutto pales in comparison! There are plenty of opportunities to go on small production tours and tasting of Parma’s renowned artisan foods, and you'll find an ample supply of these ingredients in various local dishes. You might also want to take a trip to the Enoteca Fontana and sample the renowned slightly sparkling wine of Emilia-Romagna, Lambrusco.
Parma’s museum scene is also worth exploring, from the Galleria Nazionale which hosts works by Leonardo Da Vinci, to the Museo Glauco Lombardi, which brings the great military leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, to life. Parma will also take you into the world of classical music with a night at Teatro Regio. This 19th century opera house is historically linked to Italian opera’s greatest composers, Verdi and Rossini.
Not to be missed during your holiday in Emilia-Romagna is the city of Modena, located northwest of Bologna. Home to centuries-old balsamic vinegar, Balsamic di Modena is considered the most superior brand and only true traditional balsamic vinegar, and for this reason it has protected D.O.P (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) status. Go on a guided tour at one of the oldest balsamic vinegar production sites, or head to Mercato Albinelli, a covered market that’s always laden with local delights.
For a first-class, almost fabled, gourmet experience, you’ll want to book your Citalia holiday at least six months in advance so that you can make a dinner reservation at Osteria Francescana. It’s a three Michelin-starred restaurant with just 12 tables, and is considered the world’s most revered.
Away from food, there are two globally renowned car manufacturing brands that were born out of Modena and remain to have their headquarters there, Maserati and Ferrari. Head to the famous Maserati car factory, where you can go on a guided tour and witness both historic and new models of this iconic vintage vehicle. Or you can head to the celebration of Italy’s supersonic car in the futuristic Museo Ferrari. You might like to follow this museum up with a short drive over to the small town of Maranello where you can visit Ferrari’s Maranello museum, which is a shrine to the world of Formula One.
Just outside Modena and in the stunning countryside you can visit the final home of Italy’s legendary tenor, Pavarotti, at the Casa Museo Luciano Pavarotti, which has his many awards and stage costumes on display. The Abbazia di San Pietro Apostolo, a 16th century Christian monastery is also well worth a visit as it features legendary works of art. You’ll be able to observe terracotta sculptures, a monumental organ, and frescoed doors, not to mention what’s believed to be the mummified foot of Mary Magdalene, which has been encased in silver!
These are just some of the highlights of a visit to Emilia-Romagna. There are many other places to explore too. You’ll find plenty of picturesque villas, particularly dotted around the Casentinesi Forest National Park, which is an ideal hiking spot. Head northeast of Bologna and you’ll reach Ferrara, where in its centre, you’ll see Castello Estense, a moated medieval castle that looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale book. You’ll also find the small village of Comacchio, which for centuries was an important naval port in the Adriatic Sea. Today, with its perfectly preserved architecture, it’s dubbed as the ‘Venice without the crowds’.
What are you waiting for? Discover Emilia-Romagna on your next holiday. At Citalia you’ll be assigned a personal Italy Expert who will listen to your interests and create the perfect itinerary just for you and provide you with 24/7 support throughout your holiday. All Citalia holidays are ATOL protected and feature a Book with Confidence guarantee.
*T&Cs: Discount applies to new package holiday bookings, for a minimum of 7 nights duration and for 2 adults. Book between 1 August 2021 and 30 September 2021 for travel between 1 September 2021 and 30 September 2022. Not redeemable online.
Make our Fresh Tagliatelle with Beef Ragù alla Bolognese
Be transported to the beautiful streets of Bologna, a food fanatic’s idea of utopia, with our delicious, slow-cooked Ragù alla Bolognese. With hours spent simmering over a low heat, this delicious sauce is full of rich flavours and tender meat, the perfect accompaniment for our fresh ribbons of tagliatelle.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 1½ Hours
For the Tagliatelle:
- 200g “00” Flour
- 2 large eggs
For the Ragù alla Bolognese
- 300g minced beef
- 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, finely diced
- 1 celery stick, finely diced
- ½ tsp dried rosemary (or a small handful if using fresh sprigs)
- 400g tinned tomatoes
- 35ml red wine (a bold Italian wine, like Barolo, would work well)
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make the Ragù alla Bolognese
- Heat about 2tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
- Add the diced onion and cook until soft and translucent. Then add the crushed garlic and cook for one minute further, be careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the diced carrot and celery and cook until they are starting to soften.
- Add the minced beef and cook until all of the meat is browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon so there are no big lumps.
- Pour in the red wine and the tomatoes and add the rosemary. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Cover and simmer on a low to medium heat for 40 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally. When cooked, the ragù should appear thick and glossy. If it is still watery after the 40 minutes have passed, remove the lid and simmer on a higher heat until the liquid is reduced.
- While the sauce cooks, prepare your fresh tagliatelle and cook it when you’re nearing the end of the cooking time for the ragù.
- Toss together the tagliatelle and bolognese sauce.
- Sprinkle liberally with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve. Buon appetito!
Make the Tagliatelle:
Making the Dough:
- On a clean work surface or wooden board, pile your flour into a mound.
- Make a well in the centre of the mound. Crack the eggs into the well.
- Using a fork to begin to slowly pull the flour from the sides into the well, so that the egg is absorbed by the flour. As the mixture thickens, start using your hands to continue incorporating the flour.
- If needed, add a few drops of warm water to the mixture and continue mixing until you have a ball of dough.
Kneading the Dough:
- Ensure your work surface is clean and lightly sprinkle it with flour.
- Knead the dough by pressing the heel of one hand into the ball. Press down on the dough while pushing it firmly away from you. The dough should stretch and roll under your hand.
- Turn the dough over, then press into the dough with your knuckles, one hand at a time. This process should be carried out around 10 times.
- Roll the dough back into a ball and repeat the stretching and knuckling process, using more flour if needed to prevent it from sticking.
- The kneading process should take between 10 and 20 minutes, this is what will give your tagliatelle strands their elasticity.
- Roll the dough into a smooth ball.
Letting the Dough Rest:
- Place the ball of dough in a small bowl and cover with a clean tea towel or clingfilm.
- Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to 1 day in the fridge.
- If the dough has been refrigerated, let it stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour before rolling and shaping.
Rolling the Pasta:
- Lightly flour your surface and divide your dough into several roughly even pieces. Take one of the pieces and squash it into a rough circle.
- With a rolling pin, begin rolling the dough, starting in the centre and rolling away from you to the outer edge. You can also use a pasta machine here if you have one, but it’s not essential.
- Turn the dough a quarter-turn, and repeat, working your way around, until the sheet of dough is about 3mm thick. Scatter a small amount of flour on the dough whenever it starts to stick to the surface or the rolling pin.
Cutting the Dough:
- Lay your pasta sheet out and trim the edges so that you have a rectangular shape. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Carefully cut the pasta sheet into strands of tagliatelle. Each strand should be between 6mm and 8mm in width.
- Gently lift the pasta strips in the air and place them carefully onto a tea towel to dry, make sure they don't stick together.
- Repeat with the remaining sheets of dough. Place your pasta strands to one side until your Beef Shin Ragù is almost ready.
Cooking the Pasta:
- Bring a large pan of generously salted water to a boil.
- Add the pasta and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until al dente (taste a piece before removing from the water).
- Drain the pasta and transfer to the the ragù. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and enjoy! Buon appetito!