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Milan thru Emilia-Romagna to Marche, then onto Rome via Umbria

t
thomco Mar 30, 2010 07:09 PM

I'll be traveling to Italy for a work, spending the last week of April in Ancona.

I've decided to to take advantage of this opportunity, by adding a couple of days to both ends of the work week. Rather than fly directly to Ancona, I will fly into Milan, spend two days driving through Emila-Romagna to Ancona. Then after my work week, drive from Ancona thru Umbia to Rome, where I fly out two days later.

I'm looking for recommendations for places to eat, and foodie experiences along the way.

Part 1: Milan to Ancona via Emilia-Romagna
From a food perspective, this is the part of the trip I most look forward to. My plane arrives at Milan-Linate on Friday around 6:00 PM. I plan to drive directly to Parma, with the hope of arriving before 8:00. Eat dinner and sleep in Parma.

Would this get me into Parma too late for dinner Friday night? Are there recommendations for dining between Milan and Parma? Am I missing out by avoiding Milan completely?

Saturday: explore Parma, Emilio-Reggia, Modena in route to Bolgna. Sleep in Bologna. Sunday: Explore Bologna in the morning, eat late lunch at Trattoria della Gigina (http://www.trattoriagigina.it), then drive to Ancona.

I'm looking for recommendation for: late dinner in Parma Friday, food tourism on Saturday (Parmesan cheese dairies, balsamic vinegar producers, etc), meals between Parma and Bologna, breakfast in Bologna.

Part 2: Five days in Ancona
Most of my time in Ancona is already filled with work. Even many of the evenings are already planned. However, if I do find myself with an evening free, I would appreciate any restaurant recommendations in the Ancona/Jesi area. If I am lucky, I may be able to steal away one afternoon for short trip up to Urbino. Any Reqs in Urbino?

Part 3: Ancona to Rome via Umbria & two days in Rome
I will leave Ancona around noon on Friday and drive thru Umbria to Rome, stopping in Assisi. I must return my rental car by 7:00 PM in Rome. Google maps calculates the trip at about 4.5 hours, so that leaves only a couple of hours for sight-seeing and dining. I was tempted to take a diversion to Norcia, having read great things about food there. Unfortunately, I don't think I have the time.

Any recommendations on restaurants in and around Assisi, or along the route (Spello, Foligno, Spoleto). Or am I better off planning a route through Marsciano and/or Orvieto?

There are numerous threads on Rome, so I will save the forum of yet another request for Rome recommendations.

I hope this post wasn't too long. Thanks in advance for any feedback.

  1. t
    thomco Apr 21, 2010 01:54 PM

    Thanks to everyone for their recommendations and traveling advice!

    Unfortunately, I am sad to report that the conference I was to attend has been canceled due to the travel chaos caused by the ash cloud. I received notice of the cancellation this morning, about 24 hours prior to my flight's scheduled departure.

    The conference has been moved to early June. Hopefully, I will be able to attend on that date and proceed with my other travel plans at that time.

    3 Replies
    1. re: thomco
      jen kalb Apr 21, 2010 04:49 PM

      Wow thats too bad! Hope you will be able to follow up in June - you will have the added benefit of seasonal fruits like wild strawberries and cherries in June.
      We will look forward to hearing what happens.

      1. re: jen kalb
        t
        thomco Apr 28, 2010 08:30 PM

        I'm looking forward to coming in June. I think my itinerary will be the same as I discussed above. Athough, I may have the flexibility to add an extra day. Either one more day in Rome, or maybe an overnight stay in Umbria in route to Rome.

        1. re: thomco
          r
          rimcn Jul 28, 2010 05:03 AM

          Umbertide is not overwhelmed with good places to eat - if you have got a car Il Caldaro at Antognaolla Estate is about 15mins south and good value whilst in Citta de Castello to the north Il Postale has a good following for smarter fare.
          Nr Trevi, Spello is a good bet - posh nosh at La Bastiglia Hotel which also has a new more everyday eatery. Bevagna has a few good local restaurants and if you are tempted to visit Assisi nothing great to eat in town but the large Ristorante Carfagna at the foot of the hill is great value and authentic.
          If you are heading into Montefalco wine country L'Alchemista in the town square is great. Have agreat trip to Umbria, its great here - best antipasti in the country, must be followed by thinly sliced tbone steak served with salt, pepper a drizzle of oil and vino rosso!

    2. madonnadelpiatto Apr 7, 2010 12:35 PM

      If you decide to go to Assisi after all, please do plan on more than one hour to see it. The Basilica of Saint Francis is one of the most stunning medieval monuments in Europe, it's a must. Only that takes you more than one hour.

      As for restaurants, I'd try to go to the simple trattoria rather than to the fancy places where they tend to imitate French cuisine and most often fail. In rural Umbria, family food is best . We have great products, prosciutto, truffle, pecorino of all sorts, silky homemade pasta, vibrant vegetables. A well known place in Assisi town is Slow food Trattoria Pallotta. You get a simpler choice but that family atmosphere at Trattoria degli Umbri. Outside town you are better off: Ristorante Basilica just behind the apse of the Church of Saint Mary of the Angels has the best "tagliata al tartufo". The best homemade pasta can be found a bit more off the beaten track at Agriturismo Il Pioppo on the way to Valfabbrica via Pieve San Nicolò.

      For a really fun experience you can head to Foligno and visit Il Bacco Felice in via Garibaldi. I am new at posting to this forum but I am sure some of the regulars know him, he gets a lot of press. This is not an everyday place. This tiny restaurant, covered in colorful graffiti is the kingdom of Salvatore Denaro, whom you will hate or love- he is no ordinary guy - but his very simple food is of the best quality you can imagine.

      Enjoy!

      2 Replies
      1. re: madonnadelpiatto
        t
        thomco Apr 8, 2010 07:50 AM

        Thanks to ghiottone and madonnadelpiatto for their req for Marche and Assisi/Umbria respectively.

        ghiottone's post has put me at ease about driving from Jesi to Rome via Umbria. So I am planning on taking that route.

        I wish I had more time in Assisi. Unfortunately, I need to be in Rome by 7:00, so I probably have only only a couple of hours. I certainly intend to visit the Basilica of Saint Francis. Il Bacca Felice in Foligno sounds like fun and good food. Hopefully I have time to do both.

        1. re: thomco
          r
          rrems Apr 8, 2010 03:51 PM

          I once drove from San Gimigano to Rome in a day, stopping in Assisi (about a 2 1/2 hour trip) first, with sufficient time to see the Basilica and stroll a bit through the town, then continued on to Torgiano for a lunch stop, after lunch stopped in Deruta to buy pottery, then to Orvieto for a VERY quick visit to the cathedral (we returned to Orvieto on a later trip to fully enjoy the town) and arrived in Rome before 7 PM. It was a busy day but not overwhelming. So if Assisi is your only stop you should be able to spend plenty of time and still have time for a nice lunch.

      2. g
        ghiottone Apr 3, 2010 01:59 AM

        A Marchigiana here: There aren't a wealth of recommendable restaurants in Ancona proper. One that I like is in the ferry terminal -- La Terrazza. Of for stoccafisso (Ancona-style baccala), try Da Gino, across from the station. And around the Piazza Roma you'll find a number of acceptable choices.

        In Jesi, I'd recommend Hostaria Santa Lucia. It's a bit tricky to find, outside the walled center. Get youself near the City Per supermarket, and you'll be close. They serve very creative seafood, make their own olive oil, and are very hospitable. Mimi Sheraton relied on them for her Marche report in the New Yorker awhile back.

        South of Ancona are a number of beach towns with fine restaurants. Portonovo is tiny and beautiful (home to the famed Portonovo wild mussels) but not many dining offerings. Da Anna, I think that's the name, is where we usually go. Farther south is Sirolo, worth a stop for the view alone. Then comes Numana, where Le Torre offers ambitious food with nice views of the harbor. Beyond Numana is Porto Recananti. For a hearty seafood experience, try Il Voce del Mare, where they serve guazzetto, a fish stew served in huge shallow pans.

        Farther afield from Ancona, but highly recommended, is Da Raul (La Pianella) in Serra San Quirico. Raul's cooking is excellent, and he forages for mushrooms, greens, etc. I've never had a bad meal there, and friends I take always love it. Try the spelt pasta dishes or the guanciola. It's also tricky to find -- pass by Serra proper and follow the road up into the hills a few kms. Keep your eyes peeled: at a curve you'll see the tree-lined entrance.

        Beyond Serra are the Frassasi Caves, one of the largest cave systems in Europe and Marche's biggest tourist attraction. If you happen to find yourself there, Da Maria, high above in Pierosara, offers excellent food. Beware of other restaurants in the area -- very "typical" but not very good.

        Beyond the Caves is Fabriano. Il Marchese del Grillo is outstanding, if pricey. They also have an impressive wine cellar.

        People have recommended MdP and Uliassi in Senigallia. I've eaten at the latter. Very good, but very pricey -- and, being Michelin-rated -- not particularly Italian. Depends on what you're after. We always eat seafood at our friend's bagno on the north side of the center. There are other off-the-radar places there, too, and I can post these if you'd like.

        If you're out to bag Michelin stars, I'd suggest Le Busche in Montecarrotto. Creative cooking (natch) in a beautiful room with lovely views of the vineyards of the associated winery.

        Getting from Ancona to Rome is a cinch. I do it all the time. Just follow the signs for Roma when leaving Ancona. It'll put you on the SS 76. Just keep following the signs for Roma. It'll take you past Fabriano, over the mountains and down into Umbria. At Gualdo Tadino, you'll be taken to the brandnew bypass highway, which takes you down to Foligno. At Foligno, you can either head toward Assisi (as recommended above). From there, you'd head toward Perugia, catch the mid-Umbria connector to Terni, the over to Orte, where you grab the superstrada toll road to Rome. If you skip Assisi, head toward Spoleto when you get to Foligno (Spoletto's worth a stop -- try Il Mazzo for lunch). From Spoleto, toward Terni , Orte and Roma.

        It shouldn't take you more than 4 hours (driving time) from Ancona to Rome. Getting into the center is another matter, though. FWIW, we always take the Saleria in -- it's the first exit off the ring once you hit it at the top. Just go (pretty much) straight, and you'll dead-end at the Borghese Gardens/Via Veneto.

        Enjoy!

        4 Replies
        1. re: ghiottone
          t
          thomco Apr 8, 2010 08:06 AM

          It's great to hear from a Marchigiana.

          I haven't made any definite plans for any of the evenings I am in Jesi, because I don't know which evenings have already been planned for the conference I am attending. But I am very glad to receive feedback from someone who knows the region. I may have further questions for you after I have arrived.

          In Jesi, I'll be staying at the Federico II. Do you know anything about the restaurant in that hotel?

          Thanks

          1. re: thomco
            g
            ghiottone Apr 9, 2010 12:39 AM

            That would be the convention center, located outside the town proper, along the main road heading east out of town. I'm not familiar with the hotel or the restaurant. However, that does put you fairly close to Hostaria Santa Lucia.

            Not to be missed in Jesi is the Marche Regional Enoteca, featuring several hundred growers. Pours are not bad and very reasonable. www.assivip.it/eng/enoteca.asp

            The enoteca's located beneath the highly regarded Jesi Culinary School, just off the center. www.italcook.it/default.aspx?l=1.

            We haven't yet found a go-to restaurant in Jesi. Friends recommend Gatto Matto, but we haven't gotten around to trying it. www.osteriagattomatto.it/index.html

            Truly excellent gelato (I know, everyone claims their place is the best...) can be had at Ciro e Pio. www.ciroepio.com/htm_gelateria/index1....

            And very near the Regional Enoteca, at a tiny piazza along the Via Pergolesi, you'll find a wonderful little shop selling hard-to-find (at least for these parts) Italian cheeses and salumi, including culatello, which I haven't seen anywhere else around here. I always stop in when in Jesi.

          2. re: ghiottone
            t
            thomco Apr 10, 2010 10:36 PM

            @ghiottone - I'd like to try Hostaria Santa Lucia.
            I have found two possible references to this place online, but they seem to have different locations - so maybe they are different places or maybe I'm losing something in translations.

            First is a review of a Hostaria Santa Lucia in Jesi with address via Marche, 2b:
            http://www.baltazar.it/ristoranti-ancona/46416-hostaria-santa-lucia-jesi.html

            There also seems to be a b&b with the same name in Jesi at Acquaticcio, 14.
            http://www.bebsantalucia.com/

            I'm guessing it is the first one that you are recommending?

            1. re: thomco
              g
              ghiottone Apr 12, 2010 01:24 AM

              That's correct, via Marche, and very close to your hotel. Be aware that no one around here uses street addresses to locate places. Also, with one ways and traffic circulation routes, the restaurant is very tricky to reach by car. If locals are taking you and they're unfamiliar with the place, tell them its at the intersection above Lidl/Dico/the consorzio. Just scoot straight (well 11 o'clock) across that intersection, and the restaurant's right in front of you. Has parking, too. If you're going on your own, consider walking -- shouldn't take more than 15 minutes by foot. And, it's a direct shot: Follow the via Ancona (against traffic). After a long stretch of no roads to your right, you'll come upon the via Marche and the restaurant.

          3. e
            EllaBoBella Mar 31, 2010 08:19 PM

            You probably won't have time to stop here in Bologna, but my brother, who's living in Bologna, brought me to this piadina place, "Al Vecchio Mulino," where I had the most delicious, warm piadine. It's run by these two Romagnola sisters, and there's some counter space to stand and eat, but it's more the kind of place you just get your food and take it with you. You can choose from a bunch of delicious fillings, including salumi, cheeses, grilled vegetables, and spreads, but I would recommend the piadina with truffle pate', brie, and some cured pork product that I forget. This simple treat was one of the highlights of my food experiences in Bologna, and trust me, I had a lot of amazing food there.

            http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&...

            2 Replies
            1. re: EllaBoBella
              t
              thomco Mar 31, 2010 09:19 PM

              Hey Ella, thanks.

              Is this the place:
              http://bologna.2night.it/locali/cena/...

              Bologna is the only city on this leg of the journey where I plan on walking around and seeing the sites downtown for several hours. With all the filling big meals I've scheduled, it will be nice to step into a place like this and grab something light, yet equally awesome!

              1. re: thomco
                e
                EllaBoBella Apr 1, 2010 11:18 PM

                Yeah, that's it! It's not in the most central location-- maybe a 10-15 minute walk from the main piazza/ other sights. I don't know if it's really worth a special trip, but if you happen to be near, you should stop in. Also, I'd warn you that the piadine are surprisingly rich, so be careful not to eat anything too cheezy before a big meal. I made that mistake. Haha, not that it stopped me from stuffing my face later that night...

                Do you speak Italian?

            2. d
              DavidT Mar 31, 2010 10:09 AM

              Hostaria da Ivan is another place you might want to think about. It is north of Parma.

              http://www.hostariadaivan.it/

              5 Replies
              1. re: DavidT
                a
                allende Mar 31, 2010 02:05 PM

                I would second David T on Da Ivan.

                It is easy to get to (about 20 minutes off the autostrada), has very comfortable rooms, great food (and they'll let you try small portions of lots of dishes) and a phenomenal wine list, reasonably priced. Ivan and Barbara are the most gracious of restaurateurs. The best culatello (other than Miriam's at La Buca in Zibello). But seriously, it's the perfect place to eat and stay coming from Linate. You don't have to worry what time you get there. We've seen people show up at 10:15 on a Friday night and there was no problem.

                1. re: allende
                  jen kalb Mar 31, 2010 02:09 PM

                  Ive seen recommendations of Da Ivan too - but didnt realize you could stay there also. think I agree it is another good choice.

                  1. re: jen kalb
                    jen kalb Mar 31, 2010 08:04 PM

                    You might be interested to look up your options on this good local foodlovers website - it seems to have expanded beyond Parma now.
                    http://www.tolasudolsa.com/scheda_loc...
                    Ive linked the reviews on Arnaldo which is in Reggio Emilia Province but you can go back to home page, choose a province (Parma, Modena etc and either browse or put the name of your target restaurant into the search (cerca) feature and get the reviews. Works fine, especially with google translate feature (tho some of the translations of food items can be mystifying.

                    1. re: jen kalb
                      t
                      thomco Mar 31, 2010 09:09 PM

                      Thanks again Jen.

                      I actually stumbled upon that page at one point today or yesterday.
                      I think the problem I have now, isn't finding a great place, but narrowing down the awesome choices available.

                      1. re: thomco
                        jen kalb Apr 1, 2010 06:26 AM

                        I think the local reviews can be helpful. While the people in the area can be blase about their classic foods and dishes I think they can recognize quality very well and are certainly price sensitive!
                        Im looking forward to your report overall.

                        I see you are not planning to tour "downtown" sites in Emilia Romagna, but each of these towns has an amazing central area especially the duomo. Ill never forget the first time I saw the romanesque Parma baptistery, 30 yrs ago and the incredibly civilized delicious meal we had nearby (it made us want to come back and we finally made it in 2008). The Modema duomo, a world heritage site, is equally wonderful. tho when we were there the campanile and front facade were covered. Not a long visit but definitely the high point in Modena, Giusti included.

                        looking forward to your report of the trip!

              2. jen kalb Mar 30, 2010 08:04 PM

                Im a bit dubious about the level of ambitiousness in your travel plan. The highways in Emilia-Romagna are congested and you will be hitting the road at what may be a peak time. Even if you are later getting to Parma than 8 pm, you should be able to book a nice dinner there. What kind of meal do you want? elegant or more relaxed? There is little point in actually going into the town of Parma unless you want to see the cultural sights (the duomo and baptistery, particularly). If you are not interested in that you can alternatively find very good eating and accomodation in the countryside. For r example there are a number of fine lodgings and restaurants in the Bassa Parmense (the Po lowlands north and west of Parma, where culatello is made). Another place where you could stay - a little farther than Parma and also dine on top foods of the region - is Arnaldo's Clinica Gastronomica situated in a very comfortable hotel, in a small town, Rubiera, between Reggio and Modena. The Arnaldo's restaurant serves its food (other than pasta) from carts, so you can sample a number of items - they will also do a combination plate of two or three pastas so you can try more than one of that course. We were very happy with this stop. If you then were to visit Modena en route to Bologna, you could (in addition to visiting Modena's amazing romanesque duomo, visiting its market and walking through the very pleasant town, consider visiting one of its balsamic vinegar lofts and sampling.
                (you could even book a lunch at famous Giusti) - alternatively, you could push on a little ways to Rubbiara, where there is a well known Osteria di Rubbiara with yet more foods of the region, as well as the Pedroni aceto balsamico operation to tour and sample their vinegars and liqueurs (the liqueurs of this region are wonderful) , before continuing on to Bologna.

                Others will have to advise about the feasibility of your remaining travel plans but remember, once you get off the main highways you will move slowly, because the terrain is mountainous and the roads narrow and winding.. You are unlikely to have too much time for touring and eating on your way over to Rome - Id pick a quick route and pick your stops for eating/touring close to that.
                Re Ancona, Id just note that there are quite a number of recommendations in the Slowfood guide, which seems promising for very good food there., including a couple of agriturismos recommended for their food, Aion in Motacuto and Rocca Verde in Candia.

                sound like a fun trip - hopefully others will chimi in also.

                14 Replies
                1. re: jen kalb
                  z
                  zerlina Mar 30, 2010 08:21 PM

                  In Senigallia, not far from Ancona, there are two Michelin two-star restaurants: Uliassi and Madonnina del Pescatore. Among the Italian foodbloggers I read, there seems to be a slight preference for Uliassi. Most are agreed that the food is wonderful, the ambience welcoming and prices lower than in comparable big-city restaurants.

                  1. re: jen kalb
                    t
                    thomco Mar 30, 2010 09:21 PM

                    Thanks for the response. I like the idea of going to Arnaldo's Clinica Gastronomica and Hotel. Particularly, the ability to sample items appeals to me. One of the problems of traveling alone is not being able to share plates with friends.

                    Rubiera is farther along than Parma. I know people eat later in Italy. If I arrive at 9PM, is that later for dinner?

                    I've seen several recommendations now for Giusti. It sounds wonderful. I'll put it on my agenda for Saturday.

                    I was somewhat concerned about my plans for Ancona to Rome as well. The alternative Google suggests is going south on A14, then cutting west on A24. This is shorter, avoids the mountains and keeps me on main highways. I'd miss Assisi (save it for another visit). Also, puts me through Abruzzo (which I know nothing about). I'd need new recommendations for that route :)

                    1. re: thomco
                      z
                      zerlina Mar 31, 2010 06:31 AM

                      You can't avoid the mountains; they form the backbone of Italy. The choice is between crossing them on an autostrada or on secondary roads.

                      www.viamichelin.com is more reliable than Google; it also gives you (optimistic) driving times and approximate toll and gas costs. For a route that takes you near Assisi, it says four hours. Even if you add a very generous two hours to that, you still have time to eat lunch and get to Rome before nightfall.

                      Viamichelin also has restaurant recommendations, albeit with a French bias not shared by most Italians.

                      1. re: zerlina
                        jen kalb Mar 31, 2010 06:52 AM

                        I think via michelin offers some more restaurants choices than the red book. Its also more reliable out in the smaller towns than in big cities because there is less opportunity for the french-continental biases to come out - iwe found it pretty good for identifiying the bourgeois faves.

                        Remember to leave time for touring - I cant imagine a trip to Assisi being worthwhile without visiting the basilica strolling around the town and out into the countryside a bit. Not at all up to date on dining there however, I think the highly touted restaurants are in adjoining hill towns, Spello and Bevagna, but Im sure you would find something good to eat. Many years ago we had a nice lunch at an osteria near the Santa Chiara church which featured meats of norcia , and its likely that that place or other unpretentous alternatives still exist.

                        1. re: zerlina
                          t
                          thomco Mar 31, 2010 09:05 AM

                          Thanks for the link to via michelin. It provides better information about the road conditions. I really like the warnings like: "Steep hill downwards 2.5 km", or "Series of bends for 12 km"

                          I had wanted to see Assisi. My father, though not Catholic, has an affinity for St. Francis. However, I don't consider it a "must see" for this trip. I'm still a bit concerned that given the roads the travel times are optimistic. So, I am still considering travel though L'Aquila - which is driving 95% on major motorways. Italy for the Gourmet Traveler speaks well of sausages in this city - so I'm guessing I will have a memorable meal. I'm not sure there is as much to see on this route (not like strolling around Assisi) - but then that just means I get to Rome sooner.

                          1. re: thomco
                            jen kalb Mar 31, 2010 09:21 AM

                            They had that big earthquake in L'Aquila in 2009 - you might want to do a little more current testaurant and touristing research before going there. Have no idea how much was destroyed (I think the duomo fell down) or where they are in rebuilding at this point

                            I think you could see much of Assisi in an hour. It is mostly uncrowded and very beautiful (pink stone, even a roman facade maintained on the main street. If you keep your meal time short, you should be ok.

                            1. re: jen kalb
                              jen kalb Mar 31, 2010 10:07 AM

                              If you do go to Assisi, here are some restaurant names that I have seen mentioned: La Stalla, Piazzetta della Erbe and Il Maniero.
                              maybe someone has some input on these.

                        2. re: thomco
                          jen kalb Mar 31, 2010 06:58 AM

                          if you want to go to Giusti you will need to reserve since it only has 4 tables.
                          Wherever you go in emilia make sure you get the place of cured meats. both arnaldo and giusti serve this with the gnocco fritto (fried bread) and both have great meats, but the combo of the piping hot gnocci fritti and say, excellent lardo or culatello at giusti was spectactular. We didnt have the pasta in brodo at either place (it was hot summer and giusti was not serving )but I think it is a must. to try in this area
                          http://www.hosteriagiusti.it/template...

                          1. re: jen kalb
                            t
                            thomco Mar 31, 2010 09:29 AM

                            Thanks again jen. I was avoiding making reservations until my plans were more set. However, it sounds like reservations for Giusti, Arnaldo, and Gigina should be made ASAP.

                            I read your review of Il Cavallino Bianco, as well as the description in Fred Plotkin's book. This sounds amazing. This is a restaurant only, correct? No lodging? Unless it has lodging, I will probably press ahead to Arnaldo's in Rubiera. Also from your review, it sounds like the culatello plate (which I am dying to try!) would be enough to fill someone up if dining alone. At Arnaldo's, I'd be able to sample multiple dishes. How does culatello at Arnaldo's compare to Il Cavallino Bianco?

                            Just to confirm. How late do Italians eat dinner? My flight arrives in Milan at 6:00PM. With customs and car rental, is it reasonable to make it to Rubiera for dinner? (I am arriving at Linate - 15km SW of Milan, right by A1 motorway. So I won't have to travel into Milan - or hopefully - encounter to much Milan rush hour traffic)

                            I'm not planning on making any reservations for dining between Ancona and Rome. Not sure when I am leaving, travel times and stops are unknown. As you see above, I'm not even sure which route I am taking. If I end up at a Pizzeria in Aquila, I'm guessing that still beats most of the meals I get in Seattle.

                            1. re: thomco
                              vinoroma Mar 31, 2010 09:55 AM

                              First Italians arrive to eat at around 9pm here in Rome, but could be a bit earlier in the north...
                              In Aquila you won't find anything to eat. Aquila is shot down. earthquake. A really good meal can be had at Ristorante Reale in Rivisondoli.

                              1. re: thomco
                                jen kalb Mar 31, 2010 10:04 AM

                                Il Cavallino Bianco has a very lovely associated lodging
                                http://www.acpallavicina.com/relais/
                                I would love to stay there and explore the local cuisine more (they also offer classes and opportunities to explore nearby towns and areas - but it seems to me that you would not get maximum benefit arriving late and rushing off so quickly.

                                You could make a meal out of the cured meat, but i think it is a bit monotonous for one as well as huge -Personally, I would try to try other regional items in addition to the cured meat.

                                ALL of the quality restaurants in this area make a point of serving superb regional meat platters - we had them at Trattoria del Tribunale in Parma as well as Giusti, Il Bianco Cavallino and Arnaldo.
                                I suggested Arnaldos for you because if you want to sample very good versions of a lot of things it is a great place, especially if you are by yourself. Its also a bustling and convivial room and the hotel is comfortable.
                                It cultural touring is more important than food, your inital idea of Parma makes more sense since there is the duomo/baptistery square to see and the art gallery, among other things. I mentioned informal comfy Trattoria del Tribunale above, which we liked - there are also in-town places such as Sorelle Pichi, Cocchi, etc. - if you do a search you will find other reccs.

                                Other smaller places to stay in the area could be
                                Bussetto (we stayed at Hotel Due Foscari, right on the main square, but there are other choices and a couple of good, informal places to eat the local meats - described on this
                                thread.http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/648917
                                or Soragna, which has at least one slowfood recommended place.

                                1. re: thomco
                                  jen kalb Mar 31, 2010 10:21 AM

                                  As I remember it was impossible to book our dinner at Arnaldo until 8 or even 8:30 pm - we were certainly one of the first arriving groups. So I dont think you should have any problem at all with a late arrival, and I wouldnt worry about 9 pm in Parma either.

                                  In any case you should book ahead and inquire. these places were very good responding to {english language] emails, but the google translation tool is helpful too

                                  1. re: thomco
                                    r
                                    rrems Mar 31, 2010 08:18 PM

                                    Il Cavallino Bianco is wonderful. If at all possible you should try to get there. For Hosteria Giusti, reserve IMMEDIATELY. With any luck April may not be as booked as in high season, but normally 6 months in advance would be advisable. If you can get in, it is definitely not to be missed. In Bologna I would particlularly recommend Trattoria da Gianni and Al Pappagallo.

                                    1. re: rrems
                                      t
                                      thomco Mar 31, 2010 09:00 PM

                                      Well, I'll count one more vote for Il Cavallino Bianco.

                                      Deciding between Il Cavallino Bianco, Arnaldo, and da Ivan is going to be tough. Too bad I have only one night west of Bologna!

                                      If reservations are so hard to get, maybe it will come down to who has tables and beds available.

                                      I have requested reservations now at Da Ivan (Fri), Giusti (Sat), and Trattoria della Gigina (Sun). I'm waiting to hear back

                            2. d
                              DavidT Mar 30, 2010 07:39 PM

                              The cities of Emilia-Romagna (Parma, Bologna, Ferrara, Modena, etc.) are all worth visiting. One highly recommended dining experience is lunch in the private dining room behind the famous Giusti food shop in Modena. It has been written about several times on the board. Do a "Search this board" search for Modena and Giusti to find the past threads. Advance reservations are a must as the dining room only has 4 tables.

                              http://www.hosteriagiusti.it/template...

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