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Where to stay - Parma/Modena or ????

tkln Feb 8, 2008 08:36 AM

We are going to be taking a 2 week trip through Italy/France/Germany in late March/early April...currently, we have the entire trip booked except for what was supposed to be two nights in Bologna. Turns out there is some big convention the dates we would be there, so all hotels seem to be booked (we are going to be there for two nights, April 2 and 3).

So what is a good second choice to stay in the area? We have a car, so driving is not a problem...I am hoping to take a cooking class while we're in the area, just not sure where yet...we're also considering doing a culinary tour - either Parma Ham or the Balsamic Vinegars, but haven't decided yet...I would like to spend some time in Bologna as well, so I want to be close enough to drive for t he day....

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

  1. i
    Indy 67 Feb 8, 2008 12:43 PM

    Hosteria Giusti is a restaurant in Modena which seems to rank as many Chowhounders most cherished dining experience. On the other hand, I can't remember a single post about a restaurant in Modena other than Giusti.

    We stayed in Parma for several days and we came away enthusiastic about our time there. Here's the link to my trip report for Parma: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/414126

    Incidentally, if you go to Parma, you may want to read John Grisham's recent novella, PLAYING FOR PIZZA. It's a novel about a washed up NFL player who becomes the quarterback for a NFL team in Parma, Italy. (Apparently, the existence of such a league is fact.) Much of the novel focuses on the culture of Italy and there are loving descriptions of restaurant and home-made meals in Parma. One of the restaurants mentioned in the book is Sorelle Picchi, a place I wrote about in my trip report.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Indy 67
      intrepid Feb 21, 2008 08:34 PM

      we ve stayed in hotel canalgrande in modena and enjoyed it there, yes eat at giust, for a more foraml dinner at fini

    2. c
      coombe Feb 8, 2008 10:46 PM

      There are plenty of hotels in Parma, probably the best is the Hotel de la Ville. This is a 5-star situated close to the centre and where you can park your car.

      If you do a gourmet tour I would suggest you try contacting staff@parmagolosa.it.

      I don't know Modena very well at all, so I can't help you there.

      1. t
        tkln Feb 11, 2008 12:28 PM

        Thanks guys...Indy, I did in fact read your trip report and it was quite helpful! I will check out the Grisham novel - could be some good reading for the plane!!

        I have also gotten in touch with Parmagolosa so I guess I'm on the right track!

        1 Reply
        1. re: tkln
          chefstu Feb 14, 2008 05:47 AM

          Some years ago we stayed at Hotel via Baglioni (sp?) in Parma, we had a 2 story suite with floor to ceiling windows and a sleeping loft. one of my favorite rooms of all time.
          We also ate at an incredible place called Restaurant Charlie, the Chef made us a 10 course meal with wines and a sampling of flavored mountain grappas. 4 hours of culinary bliss. We were so full we overslept and I missed my private tour of the prosciutto factory. Enjoy your trip.

        2. fgf Feb 16, 2008 11:24 AM

          A suggestion perhaps not as helpful as Parma and Modena would be Lucca, farther away but not by all that much. Tuscany, yes. It's a beautiful place, a walled city with a rich food history. A perfect place for two days.

          1. hornvixen Feb 16, 2008 09:17 PM

            We stayed outside of Parma for 6 nights this summer on a parmigiano farm! It was awesome. You don't need to book with the parma golosa tours.. You can read my report of the Country House Leoni here - they can hook you up with everything: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187804-d672635-Reviews-Country_House_Leoni-Parma_Emilia_Romagna.html

            Here is my blog with a review of a few of the restaurants we ate at: www.thepinkpeppercorn.blogspot.com

            The parmigiano tour was 10 Euro's each I believe, and the prosciutto di parma tour was 15 euros each including lunch. The tours were in English. lunch.....YUM!

            7 Replies
            1. re: hornvixen
              coombe Feb 16, 2008 11:16 PM

              That Country House Leoni looks wonderful! I must give it a try.

              1. re: hornvixen
                tkln Feb 19, 2008 08:19 AM

                Wow...hornvixen, that place sounds great! I'm going to look into that...thanks so much!

                fgf - we are actually going to be staying in Chianti for three days prior, so we will be visiting Lucca while there!

                1. re: tkln
                  rrems Feb 19, 2008 07:51 PM

                  When you are in Lucca, do not miss Buca di San Antonio.

                  1. re: rrems
                    fgf Feb 20, 2008 11:58 AM

                    Agreed. Also, I haven't seen much mention of Osteria Miranda on this board, but it's one of my favorite restaurants in Lucca.

                    1. re: fgf
                      toitoi Feb 22, 2008 06:10 PM

                      I'm staying in Lucca for a couple of nights. Intend to try Buca, and thanks for the rec for Miranda.

                      I'm in Bologna at The Metropolitan for 5 nights, doing day trips to Modena, Parma, and Ravenna. I'm salivating from all the wonderful resto suggestions.

                2. re: hornvixen
                  jen kalb Mar 26, 2008 07:09 PM

                  hornvixen,how long did it take you to get from Country House Leoni to your other destinations, like say, La Buca or Arnaldo's?? Im trying to sort out a trip just now to he area.

                  1. re: jen kalb
                    hornvixen Mar 28, 2008 09:43 PM

                    hmmm....generally it depended because we weren't often going directly to dinner. ie. we spent the day in Modena and then went to Arnaldo's from there. That made for a long day! But it certainly not more than an hour in any direction - that is a "guesstimation"....based on getting to the destination without getting lost or parking difficulties etc. La Buca was pretty close - 30-40minutes. Arnaldo's was further.. Maybe an hour, max. We generally would go explore somewhere for the early part of the day. Then nap in the late afternoon, before heading off to dinner. Sorry these timings sound very vague.... But once there, it seemed closer than from Canada that's for sure!

                3. Steve R Feb 22, 2008 09:42 AM

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/312765 I even have a post in that thread. Have fun.

                  1. m
                    masnole Feb 22, 2008 01:44 PM

                    I stayed here when I was in Parma this Summer.

                    Very nice, Modern Hotel in the middle of town. It is located right next to Barilla's Cooking Academy where thy have cooking classes.

                    GRAND HOTEL DE LA VILLE
                    Largo Piero Calamandrei 11
                    Barilla Center
                    43100 PARMA
                    Tel 0039 0521 0304
                    Fax 0039 0521 030303

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: masnole
                      hornvixen Mar 28, 2008 11:13 PM

                      I also highly recommend eating at Villa Gaidello - a bit more of a drive. Probably close to an hour. It was a meal which provided a lot of insight into the type wide variety of dishes offered....since you get what feels like a million courses! I haven't written about it yet, but check it out if you can: http://www.gaidello.com/restaurant.html

                      1. re: hornvixen
                        intrepid Mar 29, 2008 06:50 AM

                        we stayed in villa gaidello in may 2006, we found the room, and people exrtremely nice, we found the food mediocre...i would not go back to eat, stay there yes, but eat..no

                        1. re: intrepid
                          hornvixen Mar 29, 2008 09:50 AM

                          Yes, you are correct that it isn't mind-blowing, but I wouldn't say mediocre. If strapped for time, I probably wouldn't eat there again either (my husband says he would in a second, but Arnaldo's or Trattoria Gigina in Bologna are at the top of his list). But I am very glad that I did. It certainly isn't high end, nor the BEST meal I have ever had, but it felt like a complete hole-in-the-wall in the middle of nowhere, an Italian family destination....which made for a very interesting experience.

                          The balsamic cipollini were the best I've had, and the gnocco fritto were also my favourite on the trip. The veal was an after thought. As I said, there are many different things which are brought to you, which you might not otherwise experience. (grilled vegetables were nice, homemade nocciolo, their own lambrusco and grappa, fried custard, and everything from scratch. The pastas had a beautiful colour, and a good flavour. Interestingly, the vegetables we had were some of the only vegetables we had in Emilia-Romagna.) The food was served much more family style, and this was unique in our trip. The emphasis here was like mama would make at home, but maybe she's not the absolute best cook in all of Italy. Probably best to go if you think everything else would be closed in the town you are staying (this happens!), but Gaidello is open. A good way to while away the afternoon...you'll be there awhile! Just my experience.

                          The food was much more mediocre elsewhere in Italy (dinners in Florence were a complete disaster)...and I had researched A LOT.

                          1. re: hornvixen
                            intrepid Mar 29, 2008 10:17 AM

                            good thorogh post, but again, i thought food was mediocre, would not go back thanks

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