An Emilia Romagna Food Holiday: How to Eat Well in Bologna, Modena, Parma and Ferrara Italy

Emilia Romagna food: ravioli with parmesan and Modena balsamic vinegar
We recently embarked on an Emilia Romagna food holiday in Italy. Each region of Italy seems to have its specialty. Milan is know for fashion. Venice has its canals. Naples is all about pizza and Florence has its art. What is Emilia Romagna famous for? Delicious, delicious food! Come with us and explore Emilia Romagna destinations like Bologna, Parma, Modena, and Ferrara through amazing regional food and wine.

1. Where Bologna has a First Name...

We spent 4 days in Emilia Romagna with a home base in Bologna. Here Bologna has a first name and it's not O-S-C-A-R, it's Mortadella. Everywhere you go in Bologna, you can order wafer thin slices of Bologna's namesake deli meat and without a massive dose of nitrites. Delicious!
An Emilia-Romagna food holiday - Mortadella

2. Piadina

There was a queue forming in front of one of the stalls at Mercato della di Terra Bologna, the slow food market in Bologna. Everyone seemed to be ordering a piadina, thinly sliced Parma ham served on a round flat bread. We took a cue from the locals and ordered a piadina ourselves. This turned out to be a good move as the sandwich had an amazing salty flavor with just a hint of crustiness to the bread. We were definitely loving the food of Emilia Romagna so far.
A Food Holiday in Emilia-Romagna Italy - Piadina

3. Fresh Fruit of Emilia Romagna

Tables at Mercato delle Erbe in Bologna are piled up and overflowing with all sorts of seasonal fruit and vegetables. We visited Emilia Romagna in June when cherries, strawberries, apricots, and tomatoes seemed to be at their peak. We bought a kilo of cherries (my favorite!) and took them back to the hotel to enjoy with a glass of wine later.
An Emilia Romagna food holiday - Fresh Cherries, Strawberries, and Apricots

4. Construct Your Own Sandwich in Emilia Romagna

We discovered a quaint little bar/restaurant called Zerocinquantino on a pedestrianized street just off of Piazza Maggiore in Bologna. We were given a menu that folded out into four panels. Using the instructions, we built fresh mortadella and ham sandwiches with our choice of bread, cheese, and spread. This was a great spot to get out of the sun for a short afternoon break and enjoy a bite with a glass of local frizzante wine.
A Food Holiday in Emilia-Romagna Italy - Make Your Own Sandwich at Zerocinquantino

5. Pasta Fresca

You simply cannot visit Emilia Romagna without sampling fresh pasta. Our trip was definitely carb-filled but I regret nothing! We sampled ravioli filled with meat, tortelloni filled with pumpkin, and home made spaghetti with asparagus and Parma ham. The pasta was definitely a foodie highlight of our trip.
What is Emilia Romagna famous for? Fresh Pasta

6. Tortellini in Broth

Tortellini in brodo is another Emilia Romagna food specialty. The meat filled pasta makes for an energizing lunch (despite the warm temperatures when we visited) to fuel an afternoon of exploration.
What is Emilia Romagna famous for? Tortellini in Brodo from Ferrara

7. Generous Wedges of Parmesan

Parmesan cheese traces its origins to Parma in the Emilia Romagna region. We didn't think we'd have the luggage allowance to tote home a wedge or wheel of Italy's most famous cheese but we did enjoy shaved parmesan over pasta, salad, and more during our trip.
What is Emilia Romagna famous for? Parmesan Cheese

8. Aperitivo Time

The late afternoon aperitivo tradition is alive and well in and around Bologna. We visited a no-nonsense bar not far from the Due Torri. We ordered two Campari and soda and sipped our drinks curb-side while munching on the chips and peanuts included for free. We had a fantastic time people-watching and relaxing in the sunshine.
A Food Holiday in Emilia-Romagna Italy - Aperitivo

9. The Coppia Ferrarese, “Ciupeta”

Ferrara is known for X shaped and twirled dough baked into a hybrid between bread and a cracker. Coppia Ferrarese are a little dry on their own but I can imagine them being quite tasty dipped in soup or slathered with butter.
An Emilia-Romagna food holiday - Ciupeta

10. Cool Off with a Cup of Italian Gelato

We visited Bologna and Emilia Romagna in early June and it was actually quite hot (given our acclimation to chilly Dublin weather). What better way to cool off than with a cup of gelato! We sampled the cold sweet stuff in Bologna and Ferrara.
An Italian Food Holiday in Emilia-Romagna - Gelato

11. Emilia Romagna's Creamy Cakes

It seems that Emilia Romagna has a sweet tooth. We were spoiled for choice and indeed had a hard time choosing between the myriad of cake squares inside the chilled counter before us. We ultimately decided on a cheese cake and chocolate mousse square topped with cherry to counterbalance our pasta lunch.
A Food Holiday in Emilia-Romagna Italy - Cake Squares

12. Oozy Chocolate Tarts

In Bologna, we discovered a local bakery selling tarts sprinkled with powdered sugar. We ordered one with a coffee and were delighted when we bit into the still warm crust to find oozing chocolate inside. That's my kind of dessert.
A Food Holiday in Emilia-Romagna Italy - Chocolate Tarts

13. Emilia Romagna Wine: Lambrusco and Pignoletto

Not only did we eat well in Emilia Romagna but we also drank well. Lambrusco may have a reputation problem (think cheap wine) abroad but in Italy it's dry, fine, and fizzy. Cooled slightly Lambrusco is a refreshing accompaniment to a meal or just for quaffing in the sun. We also tried Pignoletto, another Emilia Romagna wine that I haven't seen before outside of the region. Pignoletto is dry, white, and slightly frizzante. I could drink Lambrusco and Pignoletto all summer long.
What is Emilia Romagna famous for? Lambrusco and Pignoletto Wine

14. A Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar from Modena

Check out any high end supermarket in the U.S. or even Ireland and you'll find balsamic vinegar with a Modena pedigree. Modena is an easy day trip from Bologna and we got to try the thick, slightly sweet balsamic vinegar that is native to the town. Modena balsamic vinegar was especially good drizzled over pasta with shavings of parmesan.
A Food Holiday in Emilia-Romagna Italy - Pasta drizzled with Modena balsamic vinegar

15. Parma Ham

Any list of food finds in Emilia Romagna would be incomplete without mention of Parma ham. Parma is another easy day trip from Bologna and you can find the namesake meat hanging in joints at restaurants and delis and served wafer thin on platters.
What is Emilia-Romagna famous for? Parma Ham

16. Part of the Family at a Emilia Romagna Osteria

On our last day in Bologna we were strolling under the porticos a good 10 minute walk from Piazza Maggiore when we chanced upon La Traviata. We were eyeing the menu when the owner came up to us. She looked the part of a traditional Italian matriarch. She sold us with tales of the pasta prepared by hand inside. She sat down at the table next to us under the portico to discuss our options. In addition to the fresh pasta, she sold us on the deep fried courgettes. It was an unforgettable meal.
A Food Holiday in Emilia-Romagna Italy - Lunch at La Traviata
As you can see, we ate extremely well during our trip to Emilia Romagna with our home base in Bologna. Are there other Emilia Romagna foods you'd recommend we try next time? What are some of your favorite foodie destinations?

For other perspectives on visiting Bologna, check out The 21 Best Things To Do in Bologna on Our Escape Clause and Things To Do In Bologna Italy on Travel Passionate.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: An Emilia Romagna Food Holiday: How to Eat Well in Bologna, Modena, Parma and Ferrara Italy
An Emilia Romagna Food Holiday: How to Eat Well in Bologna, Modena, Parma and Ferrara Italy
A self-guided tour of Emilia Romagna food. Try Emilia Romagna wines and learn what Emilia Romagna is famous for. Taste your way through Emilia Romagna destinations like Bologna, Modena, Parma and Ferrara.
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