Emilia-Romagna to Marche, then onto Rome via Umbria, take 2
As many of you know, I was to attend a work conference the last week of April in Jesi (near Ancona in the Marche). Prior to the conference, I was planning a few days in Emilia-Romagna. After the conference, I was to drive to Rome for a final weekend (with a quick stop in Assisi). I got great feedback on this board, had an itinerary and restaurant reservations.
Unfortunately, the day before I was to leave, the conference was postponed due to the ash cloud affecting travel throughout Europe.
The conference has been rescheduled for June. I have new plane tickets. So here I go again. I have a lot more info than I had before, but would still appreciate feedback.
Day 1 - Thu: Arrive at Milan-Linate at 18:00. Looking for a place on the way to Bologna, where I will have an excellent Emilian meal and a comfortable room. Leading candidates:
* Arnaldo's Clinica Gastronomica - http://www.clinicagastronomica.com
* Il Cavallino Bianco - http://www.acpallavicina.com/relais
* Hosteria Da Ivan - http://www.hostariadaivan.it/
Day 2 - Fri: Drive to Bologna (see the sites and markets of Parma/Modena along the way). Eat dinner at Trattoria della Gigina in Bologna. - Originally, I planned on eating in Modena on Day 2, and Gigina on Day 3. But Gigina is closed on Saturday.
Day 3 - Sat: Spend morning in Bologna at Piazza Maggiore and surrounding markets recommended in 'Italy for the Gourmet Traveler'. I haven't decided whether to look for another restaurant in Bologna, or to back track and eat at one of:
* Hosteria Guisti
* Osteria di Rubbiara
Saturday evening drive to Jesi in Le Marches
Days 4-8 (Sun-Thu) @ conference in Jesi. Not sure how much choice I will have on dining locations, but I have some good recommendations thanks to ghiottone.
I've added an extra day for my drive to Rome, so I will be able to spend the night in Umbria and not feel too rushed in Assisi
Day 9 - Fri: I drive to Norcia. Stay at Palazzo Seneca. Fred Plotkin recommends eating at the sister property, Hotel Grotta Azzurra. Does anyone have feedback on these two hotels/ristorantes? Should I eat at my own hotel, or is Grotta Azzura a must eat? Is there anything else I must try in Norcia?
Day 10 - Sat: Tour Assissi for a few hours before heading to Rome. Not going out of my way for a meal, and will be happy with any cafe or pizzeria. Arrive at Rome Sat evening
Days 10-13 (Sat night thru Tue morning): Rome. Not seeking rec`s for Rome - plenty of other threads already on this board about Rome.
If you havent already, you might want to read CH poster hornvvixen's blog entries about Emilia Romagna where she discusses Gigina and Arnaldo's.i
If food is not your only priority, you might want to stop at Ravenna on your way down the coast - rather than passing it in the dark.
re: jen kalb
Thanks again, Jen, for another useful reply.
hornwixen's blog on Emilian restaurants was really excellent. The most detailed (and enticing) reviews I've yet read. It confirmed my decision to dine at Gigina on Friday, and tilted my decision for Thursday night dinner and lodging to Arnaldo's, for which I now have reservations.
So Saturday is my only real dilemma. Though having to choose between many great options isn't really a dilemma to complain about!
My inclination is to back-track to Osteria di Rubbiara. I'm drawn to this Osteria most by your recommendations in other posts. I've come to highly value your opinions, and you've written you would prefer to eat at Osteria di Rubbiara over the fames Hosteria Guisti. It's also on my list due to the fact that the proprietor also operates an acetaia on the location. Visiting an Acaetaia in, or around, Modena is on my list. With my tight schedule, coupling the visit with a lunch makes sense.
This problem is that this is a bigger back-track than I originally anticipated. According to viamichelin, backtracking to Rubbiara add almost 2 hours to my drive from Bologna to Jesi.
I guess I could stop at Rubbiara on my way to Bologna on Friday. I've been avoiding scheduling more than one meal per day. Maybe it wouldn't be too much to do Osteria di Rubbiara and Gigina in the same day if I eat lightly at Rubbiara. Maybe?
I am also tempted to plan nothing at all for Saturday. Maybe keep a day for spontaneity, rather than make reservations for each day of my trip. A day to relax and explore Bologna would be nice: visit the markets, pick up something at Antica Salsamenteria di Bologna and enjoy in Piazza Maggiore. This also leaves open time for a stop at Ravenna.
Thanks Jen for all your input thus far...
re: jen kalb
Oh. One more thing about hornwixen's blog. Just before reading your reply with the link to her blog, I had discovered an archive of the Splendid Table show.
The host, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, revisited Emilia-Romagna. She visits Trattoria La Buca in Zibello (Parma) and interviews the owner. It sounded so go, my first thought was to ask you if you were familiar with this restaurant.
Ten minutes later, I read your reply with the link to thepinkpeppercorn. In her blog, hornwixen raves about the same restaurant. What a weird coincidence.
If you haven't already, I highly recommend listening to The Splendid Table's Emilia-Romagna episodes:
If you're driving from Jesi to Norcia, you can either take the coastal route or go in land. In the former case, you should think about stopping in Ascoli-Piceno. Really a delightful city, very few tourists. In fact, no matter which route you take, you will be passing through a number of extremely nice small cities of the Marche. Personally, I might choose to skip Assisi on this trip and have a little mini-tour of the countryside. If you stayed in Ascoli-Piceno you'd be about the same distance from Rome as Assisi. But I guess that's not what you asked!
Also, Jesi is about a half-hour drive from a very sweet town called Serra San Quirico, which has a nice restaurant called Le Copertelle. Not fancy, but good and authentic.
visciole - I hadn't considered Ascoli-Piceno. (hadn't actually heard of it). A little bit of research suggests that, after Urbino, Ascoli-Piceno is one of the most rewarding towns to visit in the Marche.
I have hotel reservations for Norcia. According to viamichelin, the drive from Jesi to Norcia (via Ascoli-Piceno) is only 2.5 hours. Even if I take it slow, I should have plenty of time for a leisurely stop in Ascoli-Piceno.
Maybe even get to sample the famous stuffed and fried olives.
If you do take that route, I second visciole's recommendation for a stop in Ascoli. It is indeed quite charming.
For the olives you mention, olive all'ascolana, Migliori offers an outstanding version, perhaps the best. It's located just off the wonderful Piazza Arringo.
Also while in Ascoli, be sure to have a house-made anisetta (or, if you prefer, an amaro) at Caffè Meletti, on the nearby (and likewise delightful) Piazza del Popolo. The outdoor seating is great for people-watching.
If you're going to be in Norcia you should definitely get some good Norcia Pecorino. It can be nutty, almost like an aged gouda. Amazing cheese.
Also, if you're going through Umbria, I would order cingale (wild boar) if you come across it. And of course truffles, though they're not in season now.
I am afraid that cafè food in Assisi is more often than not a disappointing experience. Same for most pizza places around the main attraction with may be the Pizzeria Duomo being a reasonable exception if you really need to keep it simple. Otherwise take a simple pasta at Trattoria degli Umbri on the Piazza del Comune, it's a friendly place. The Slow Food Trattoria Pallotta across the Piazza is better known but also more expensive. The do pigeon if you want something really local.