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Feb 21, 2013 08:08 PM

Two days in Emilia-Romagna

Hi, all. My fiance and I are planning our two-week honeymoon to Italy (neither of us have been), and have two days (October 2 and 3 of this year) to spend in Emilia-Romagna between visits to Venice and Rome. After perusing the board, we have decided that it's best to rent a car for this portion of the trip, have yet to book accommodations so we can remain flexible (these two days are all about food!) and are considering all of the following (but are open to anything):

Da Ivan
Da Amerigo
Hostaria Guisti
Osteria Francescana (although Francescana has slowly slipped to the end of the list as we are leaning towards a more traditional experience).

We are willing to try just about anything, love all meats, cheeses, pastas, and seafood, and are looking to experience the best the region has to offer (understanding, of course, that we only have two days). Given all of this, where would you eat and what would you do (tours, etc.) for these two days in the region? Thank you in advance for all your help!

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  1. I can heartily recommend Amerigo (in Savigno). Alberto's philosophy is very locally focused. The restaurant is simple, but the food is outstanding.

    1. As you can see from my many past posts, these are among four of my favorite five ER country trattorie (and they are trattorie). La Buca ("Miriam's") in Zibello is the other.

      Hosteria Giusti is open only for lunch. First trip to Italy and ER, I wouldn't go there at the expense of any of the others.

      All the places are traditional with excellent food (this is the real ER) and very good wine lists; All have wonderful caring owners (ghiottone is right on about my friend Alberto). First trip knowing what I know, would probably go to Da Amerigo and either La Buca or Da Ivan. Two different areas of ER and so you'll get two different types of food, the food in the Parma countryside and the food in the Bologna countryside (and they are very different).

      Great to see that you're renting a car even for only two days; by far the best food, in our opinion, in ER (or for that matter Piemonte, Toscana Liguria, Lombardia, Friulli or the Alto-Adige), is in the countryside, accessible only by car.

      Wonderful time to be there. Have fun. Congratulations on your marriage.

      1. Thank you both very much for your responses and your kind well wishes, Allende. Da Amerigo sounds like a must, and it appears we can't go wrong with the other two, either. Any recommendations for how to fill our days (i.e., particular food tours not to be missed, etc.)? Thank you again!

        12 Replies
        1. re: elpaladin

          the cities of Emilia Romagna are full of art and architectural treasures - Parma is a particularly nice compact city for a days visit in E-R as well as Verona, Padova and Mantova which you might see one more of on your way from Venice, In E-R There are parmigiano makers, culatello makers (near Zibello, and La Buca/Da Ivan, for example Spigaroli) and makers of balsamico to be visited ( and lots of threads on this if you search. You will have to be selective, there is so much to do in this region

          1. re: elpaladin

            La Buca, in Zibello, makes its own culatelli. They hang in the cellar of the restaurant. Thousands. It is truly a special place and Luca, Miriam's son-in-law, is only too happy to give a tour and explain everything in perfect English. That would be the place to go if you want to eat AND see a culatello cellar at the same time.


            You can see a very small part of the cellar in the photo gallery, lower left photo.

            If you go, be sure you have the tagliatelle con culatello. It is a dish that Miriam developed a long time ago and is simple... and simply fantastic. And also, of course, have a plate of culatello and spalla.

            1. re: allende

              This was a favourite spot on our trip, so friendly and warm, even had a 'conversation' with Miriam (we don't speak Italian and she doesn't speak English). We somehow got the gist. The tour of the culatello was great, and we bought some culatelli to go. Pricey, but heaps better than proscuitto. Ate it with bread and tomatoes for the next few days. sooooo goood.

              We did tours of Balsamico around and in Modena and a Parm tour near Parma. If you are interested in more info about either of these free tours let me know.

              1. re: cleopatra999

                Would love the tour information for both, cleopatra!

              2. re: allende

                Ill second the recommendation of tagliatelle con culatello as a wonderful dish to sample in this area, tho we have not been lucky enough to try the La Buca version.

                1. re: allende

                  Thank you all for your responses! I, too, would love the tour information for both, Cleopatra. We are tentatively considering the following:

                  Head to La Buca, after renting a car in Bologna, for lunch and a possible tour, with dinner at Da Ivan (stay at Da Ivan Wednesday evening);

                  Spend Thursday touring around Modena/Parma, with dinner at Da Amerigo (stay at Da Amerigo Thursday evening).

                  Anything I should switch around, add or take away? Can't thank you enough for helping us plan this part of our trip.

                  1. re: elpaladin

                    you might want to look at a map while doing this

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      sorry didn't think this posted. Thought it could make more sense to drive down from Venice than take train to Bologna drive to Zibello -might be something to see/do along the way if you travelled by car. also that back to back meals at La Buca and Da Ivan might be a bit much. given the richness Without knowing how you want to spend your time when not eating its hard to advise more.

                    2. re: elpaladin

                      Here is where we went for going for the Balsamic tour/tasting in Modena, they don't charge for the tour, and have free parking outside. The are outside the ZLT. The are a very small Mom and Pop operation that only does traditional (ie. aged, expensive, amazingly delicious elixir). If you don't have any intention of purchasing I would not suggest going. You will be going into their house to see the operation.


                      Our other stop was at Giusti, outside of Modena. They are a large scale operation with various levels of balsamico ranging from 10Eu to 200Eu, this is the place to buy gifts and taste a wide range of balsamico. You can find some levels of these imported in NA. Very informative tour and tasting. Lots of options to buy.

                      We set up both tours in advance.

                      I also contacted: the Parmesan consortium about a dairy visit. You have to contact the specific region you want to visit. Again no charge for the tour. They don't let you know which dairy you are visiting until close to the tour, you meet early morning at the dairy. we are only 2 people, I contacted each of the regions, and some of them had a 12 person minimum, we ended up booked with the RE region. We ended up just the 2 of us for our tour, great option to taste and buy at the end. Fantastic tour. It took about 2-3 hours for the tour and tasting (and many many pics. I can't recall if we tipped the guide. I think we tried to, but she wouldn't accept.

                      1. re: cleopatra999

                        Do you remember the location of the dairy in RE?

                        1. re: Negaduck

                          sorry no, not at all. It was very close to Reggio Emilia.

                      2. re: elpaladin

                        One other interesting place that we went to (I think it was Jen Kalb that recommended it) was Hotel Arnaldo. It is in Rubiera, just south of Modena. It is very traditional ER cuisine with carts of boiled, roasted and other preparations of meats. The place was packed with Italian families dressed up in suits and dresses. The meal was probably the most memorable, because it was so incredibly different. We tried calves head, and other cuts you would not normally get, some were great, others just an experience LOL. We stayed at the hotel which was decent as well (one of the best breakfasts on the trip) We chose it because of location. We were able to do our tours of Modena, go here after, then we were very close to RE for our Parma tour, then off to La Buca for lunch.

                  2. I can't say for sure that this information is correct, but a relative of a friend, visiting New York from Bologna, told me today that Hosteria Giusti is closing (or perhaps already has), so I would check.right away to avoid later disappointment.

                    Since you will have a car, I would highly recommend a trip to Al Cavallino Bianco in Polesine Parmense, where we had a lunch that I would rank right up there with Giusti.

                    1. i haven't been yet- but Massimo Bottura opened a new less expensive place-- which i can't wait to try.
                      more of a bistro-