Emilia Romagna Food and Wine Travel: The Ultimate Guide

Emilia Romagna Food and wine travel guide

Elena is sharing all you need to know for Emilia Romagna food and wine travel! My foodie friends and gastronomic-loving clients go crazy when they start talking about exploring the decadent dishes of Italy’s Food Valley. While I’ve been there, there is nothing like experiencing the region with the guidance of someone who not only understands the local gastronomy but LOVES it. Can’t wait to do a  trip with Elena after reading her tantalizing words. Who wants in!? We can do a group trip! Buon appetito, ragazzi! Val

Emilia Romagna Food: Savor the region’s dreamy flavors!

If you are planning a trip to Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, make sure to know about the area’s exceptional food and wine. From the world-famous Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP cheese to the exquisite, melt-in-your-mouth Prosciutto di Parma DOP, there are limitless delicacies to discover. And, for Emilia Romagna wine, get to know Lambrusco sparkling wine as well as lesser-known varieties like white Albana grape. 

Let’s start with a look at some of the highlights of Emilia Romagna cuisine. Warning: Reading may cause hunger! 

Tips for the Best Parmigiano-Reggiano Tour 

Starting from the top, Where is Parmigiano-Reggiano from? Known as the King of Cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP cheese predominantly hails from Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantua, and Bologna. The best Parmigiano Reggiano tour takes you on intimate visits with local artisan producers. A staple ingredient in Italian – and particularly the cuisine of Emilia Romagna – this a hard, granular cheese is known for its rich flavor.

best Parmigiano-Reggiano Tour
The Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese wheel-shape is 8 to 18 inches / 35 to 45 cm in diameter with a height of 8 to 10 inches / 20 to 26 cm, and a weight of roughly 88 to 93 pounds / 40 to 42 kilograms.

My favorite ways to enjoy delicate, savory Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese:

  • Grate atop pasta or risotto: Relish it like the locals by grating over pasta or risotto. The cheese’s rich, nutty essence imparts depth and intricacy to the dish.
  • Pair with fruit: Combine with fresh fruits such as pears, apples, or grapes to craft a delightful balance of flavors. The fruit’s sweetness harmonize with the cheese’s savory notes.
  • Go solo: Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese is a delectable snack in and of itself with its distinct texture and flavor profile. Slice it into small hunks and enjoy it on its own!
  • Incorporate into your cooking: Parmigiano Reggiano proves versatile as an ingredient in various recipes. It infuses sauces, soups, and gratins with depth and richness, elevating the overall flavor profile of the dish.

Squacquerone Cheese

Produced primarily in the provinces of Ravenna, Forlì-Cesena, and Rimini, Squacquerone cheese is soft and creamy with slightly tangy notes. Often spread on bread or served alongside fresh vegetables for delightful combination of flavors. When exploring Emilia Romagna cuisine, don’t miss this lesser-known local specialty.

Parma ham vs Prosciutto

A question we get a lot is ‘what is prosciutto ham?’ Well, prosciutto is the Italian word for ham, and it generally refers to dry-cured ham. Parma Ham is a type of prosciutto that comes from the hills around the town of Langhirano in the province of Parma. 

For this famed Emilia Romagna food, aging is typically at least 12 months and it has a delicate, sweet flavor with a silky texture. The Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma oversees the production to ensure that only hams meeting specific criteria receive the official Parma Ham designation.

parma ham vs prosciutto
For die-hard Parma Ham lovers, visit The Museum of Prosciutto of Parma in the province of Parma where you learn about the local area and history, pig breeds, Parma cured meat tradition, processing, and more!

My favorite ways to indulge in Prosciutto di Parma DOP:

  • Charcuterie Board: Prosciutto di Parma DOP has a timeless presence when featured as the opening act on an antipasti platter. Match it with other Italian cured meats, such as salame or mortadella, and an array of cheeses for a delightful prelude to your meal.
  • Embrace fruit: Immerse yourself in the exquisite blend of savory prosciutto and the natural sweetness of fruits like melon or figs. Artfully envelop thin slices of prosciutto around the fruit and relish the harmonious interplay of sweet and salty notes.
  • Sandwiches: Let Prosciutto di Parma take your sandwich (or panino as we call them in Italia) experience to new heights. Pair it with peppery arugula, juicy sliced tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil for a simple yet gratifying combination.

Culatello di Zibello

Find Culatello di Zibello in the village of Zibello in the province of Parma. Made from the muscular part of the pig’s hind leg, this prized cured meat comes undergoes a slow aging process. Known for its delicate and refined flavor, it’s a must for any food lover.

Plan a Traditional Balsamic Vinegar tour to learn about Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale

Let’s start with the origin of Balsamic Vinegar. The key production areas for the highly-prized Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale include Modena and Reggio Emilia. With minimum aging of 12 years, this vinegar boasts a complex flavor profile and gives the perfect finishing touch to salads, meats, and even desserts. Taste its exceptional flavor during a traditional Balsamic Vinegar tour in Modena or Reggio Emilia.

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale Fun Fact: Traditionally Balsamic Vinegar is enjoyed in a simple yet exquisite way.

In Modena, locals often drizzle it over a scoop of fiordilatte gelato. Fiordilatte is mozzarella made from cow instead of buffalo milk with no added flavors.  

The sweet and tangy notes of the balsamic vinegar beautifully complement the ice cream’s creamy sweetness, creating a unique and delightful flavor combination. So, don’t be surprised if you see someone indulging in Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale atop geloto in Modena!

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar tour
Visiting a traditional Acetaia in Modena is a truly special experience, learning family and regional traditions used for Balsamic vinegar production and tasting the various ages.

Must-try Emilia Romagna cuisine: Tortellini and Tortelloni

Bologna is the culinary capital of Emilia-Romagna and the birthplace of traditional handmade tortellini and tortelloni. These stuffed pasta varieties are typically served in broths or with rich sauces – and, I guarantee they keep you coming back to the region! 

What is the difference between tortellini and tortelloni?  

Okay, so first, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you and I’m not crazy. There is a very slight spelling difference, and they are two different pastas: T-o-r-t-e-l-l-I-n-i  and  T-o-r-t-e-l-l-O-n-i.

The more clear differences are size and filling.

Emilia Romagna food
Emilia Romagna’s Tortellini pasta is smaller and meat-filled.

The Size: 

  • Tortellini is about 1 to 2 inches. 
  • Tortelloni is about 2 to 4 inches 

 The Filling: 

  • Traditional tortellini filling consists of a mixture of meats – a classic of Bolognese cuisine. 
  • Tortelloni filling instead features vegetarian fillings, such as cheese, spinach, or other vegetables.

Fully savor the local flavors on a Bologna food tour to you sample these traditional favorites. Another excellent way to experience tortellini and tortelloni is attending a cooking class hosted by the renowned Sfogline 

Sfogline are particularly skilled women who preserve and pass down the art of crafting traditional Bolognese pasta. The term sfogline is derived from sfoglia, which refers to the thin sheets of pasta dough they skillfully create. No doubt there will be lively discussion when you ask what is the difference between tortellini and tortelloni!

Emilia Romagna cuisine
Tortelloni pasta is a bit bigger than its stuffed counterpart of tortellini. And, its fillings are traditionally vegetarian.

Emilia Romagna Wine: Don’t forget Regional Pairings! 

Lambrusco Sparkling Wine

What is Lambrusco wine? A sparkling red wine made from the Lambrusco grape variety is probably the most well-known Emilia Romagna wine. Produced in Modena and Reggio Emilia, the production area is broken into several appellations, each with their own styles from dry to sweet. Lambrusco wine is a popular accompaniment to the rich cuisine of Emilia-Romagna. Taste this unique and refreshing wine by exploring the vineyards and Modena and Reggio Emilia wineries. 

Lambrusco wine pairing: As mentioned, traditional cuisine of Emilia-Romagna on the whole is a great pairing. The wine’s acidity and effervescence also make it a fantastic match for pizza, especially when topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and savory prosciutto or sausage.

Emilia Romagna wine
The bubbles of Lambrusco sparkling wine occur naturally. Once upon a time, vintners took advantage of the huge variation in winter temperatures interrupting the fermentation process with fermentation restarting the following spring after bottling, thus achieving secondary fermentation in the bottle. Carbon dioxide in the wine was retained, then once uncorked, the bubbling foam would emerge. Today most wine-makers use the Italian patented Martinotti-Charmat technique that stimulates fermentation by mixing natural, selected yeasts in the wine in autoclaves. When combined with the sugars in the wine, the yeasts produce the wine’s characteristic bubbles. Source: EmiliaRomagnaTurismo.it

Albana Wine

Albana wine is Emilia Romagna wine region’s first white grape awarded the prestigious DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status. Primarily cultivated in the hills of Romagna, find the Albana grape specifically around the town of Bertinoro. 

Albana wines that exhibit a golden color, a rich and full-bodied texture, and an aromatic profile with notes of ripe fruit, flowers, and honey. 

Enjoy Albana wine as an aperitif or paired with seafood, poultry, or cheeses. Its remarkable quality and historical significance make it a highly regarded and cherished Emilia Romagna grape variety.

Emilia Romagna Wine
Emilia Romagna Vineyards.

Emilia Romagna with its rich culinary heritage is a paradise for food enthusiasts. To fully immerse yourself in the region’s culinary traditions, consider a private Bologna food and wine tour to explore local markets and artisans. Another great way to experience Emilia Romagna food and wine is with a traditional Bologna cooking class. 

Whether you embark on a Parma Modena food tour or simply wander through the charming streets of Bologna, you are sure to create lasting – and tasty! – memories through these culinary experiences.

Book your trip to Emilia Romagna – and beyond!

Emilia Romagna Food and Wine Travel: The Ultimate Guide, Guest Author: Elena Pasero

Italy travel planner


About Elena, Travel Designer & Licensed Guide

With a Bachelor’s in Food Culture from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra and a multicultural hospitality career spanning Italy and the USA, Elena is our Girl’s Gotta Drink foodie expert. And, she knows her way around a wine cellar, too! 

A self-proclaimed disaster in the kitchen, Elena’s pursuit of tasty treats makes her the travel planner and tour guide you want! Elena’s always on the prowl for the best eats that showcase her native Piedmont region as well as her adventures across Italy and the globe.

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