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Oct 7, 2010 09:22 PM

Best eating region in Italy?

I know this is VERY subjective, but just looking for your opinions on where to find the best food in Italy. My husband and I booked a last minute trip to Italy in two weeks. We have our second week booked in the Marche region, but are trying to figure where to stay for the first 5 days. Sure, there are other considerations on where to stay (culture, scenery...), but I think some of the best memories are made from really good food! About us: We are in our early 30's, love eating whatever is local and fresh, but especially cheese and pork (and really any other meats), not so interested in seafood. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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  1. It's impossible to name a single best region for eating, given differences in traditions, standards, tastes, and products. I personally think Campania is the single richest region for eaitng-- it's large and radically diverse within, from rough mountains to Naples to the coast. But I'd imagine that for your five days, landlocked Umbria comes first to mind, for its proximity to Le Marche, and known/loved for its polished rusticity, attractive small towns, and renowned cured pork products. Not been there myself, but many CHers have. Buona vacanza.

    1. Or shift northwest from Le Marche to Emilia Romagna, home of prosciutto di Parma, culatello di Zibello, Parmigiano-Reggiano and generally considered one of Italy's prime eating regions. Bologna is not called La Grassa (the Fat) for nothing.

      There's a list (in Italian) of the DOP and IGP products of Emilia Romagna here:
      The links show the products.

      1. I'd agree with zerlina at ER. Bologna is a fine eating town, Tortellini in brodo, mortadella, and, of course, the local rag├╣ are all stars on the culinary firmament. Plus, you've got Modena, Parma, and other locales offering a variety of specialties.

        bob96 suggestion is also a worthy one, particularly if you're into pork. I recently attended an "Umbrian Challenge" dinner at some friends in Montone. You might find the blog post informative ( Feel free to drop Judith a line.

        I live in Le Marche and would be happy to offer some suggestions if you post your itinerary.

        Happy Eating!

        1 Reply
        1. re: ghiottone

          Here agree too with zer, Emelia Romagna, is home to the more recognizable classic food products of Italy, for a different take on food and growing methods I like the Culture of Food found it the abruzze, it is not as refined as Emelia Romagna, rather more" earthy and closer to the soil",
          Bottom line it is all good but varied regionally.

        2. My two picks would be the Langhe in Piemonte. The region seems made for indulgent eating and drinking. Also home of the Alba truffles and where the Slow Food movement started. Here's a recent thread:

          And the hills of Friuli-Venezia-Giuilia where I had the best Prosciutto of my life (and yes I've been to Parma):

          We often go on food vacations - in fact next week we are driving from Torino to Lyon via Annecy - exploring different regions in France and Italy, sampling the local foods and wines. The two Italian regions above are the ones I would return to in a heartbeat.

          3 Replies
          1. re: r.vacapinta

            I second the Piemonte region and the Langhe within Piemonte. I remember an article in the Wine Spectator several years speculating that the Langhe had the best dining &restaurants in Europe. Having visited that region twice, I would tend to agree. With Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, etc., the wine culture in that area is very, very strong

            Emilia-Romagna is also very, very good, but you do not find the strong wine culture there that you find in the Langhe.

            1. re: DavidT

              I dont want to get into this fuss, no way, but consider - I dont know where you will be in the Marche but it will be in a hilly country area, most likely - consider whether that mean you want an urban area with more cultural attractions for the rest of your visit, or more of the same? Umbria would be more of the same as would much of tuscany and other hilly areas. Country will usually mean a rather rustic style of cooking - grilled and roasted meats, game and mushrooms or truffles in season, ,local cheeses. the traditional cooking of these mountinous regions is often cucina povera - you will see a lot of bean soups, lentils etc. Fruits and veg will be highly seasonal.

              If you want some contrast you should consider visiting a richer more settled area like Piedmont or Emilia Romagna, , or one with a contrasting fresh cuisine, like Campania. Or simply spend some time in Rome, where cuisines of multiple regions can be sampled along with the cultural treasures.

              Good luck with your choice.

              1. re: DavidT

                I will add that one thing in favor of Umbria with regards to wine is the Montefalco Sagrantino. My god, thats some of the best wine I have ever had! Our best meal in Tuscany was actually in Umbria - on a sidetrip where we ate at L'Alchimista in Montefalco.

                Umbria is not as consistent food-wise as the Langhe and the food is a bit less refined but if you do your research, great food and wine is to be had there. I mention this because if you are in the Marche, ER and Umbria will be easier than trekking to/from Piemonte.

            2. I have traveled fairly extensively in Italy, and for me Piedmont (Langhe) was the best. I would place Emilia-Romagna and Umbria second. I assume you will have a car, but if you go to Emilia-Romagna you will be better off without as you could easily do day trips by train from Bologna to Modena, Parma and Ferrara, and the scenery is not impressive so sticking to the cities is best.