Northern Italy in October
All, there are four of us traveling through northern Italy in the middle of October. We are flying in and out of Bologna. Our route will take us from Rimini to Mantova to Monforte De Alba to Vernazza then back to Bologna. I am currently researching places to eat. We will have a car and are looking for all types of places. While we can not splurge for every meal, we do not mind spending it for a memorable meal.
My request - are there certain places near that route that are " have to go here" places.
Thank you in advance.
I highly recommend using the Search feature in the upper-right hand corner of this page. There have been a good number of recent threads (with many helpful recommendations) on dining in Piemonte and the Langhe.
For wine tasting, I recently recommended a visit to the regional enoteca in the castle outside the village of Grinzane Cavour in the Langhe.
In Emilia-Romagnia, Hostaria da Ivan is highly regarded. A visit to the Giusti food shop in Modena is well worthwhile. If they are still serving lunch there, book a table asap.
I highly recommend that if you do not already own a copy of Fred Plotkin's Italy for the Gourmet traveler that you buy one now and learn about the regions you are visiting. Take it with you (it is heavy, but you can take turns carrying it!)
The great value of Plotkin's book isn't so much "you have to go here" as it is informing you what are the most marvelous dishes and tastes of the region, so you don't miss an outstanding cheese or an outstanding sweet or an outstanding fish preparation. He also makes restaurant recommendations, but since the book is older, it is good to back it up with a 2013 guide.
So I also highly recommend that you buy immediately upon your arrival in Italy a copy of the Slow Food restaurant guide "Osterie d'Italia 2013" (bright yellow cover). It is in Italian, but extremely easy to decipher. The restaurants are all moderately priced. You can probably buy it at the airport. If you are going into Bologna, you can definitely buy it in most any bookstore, and certainly across the street from the due Torri at Feltrinelli.
If you are willing to spend a premium price to order it from Amazon, you can. I actually think it will repay the extra bucks within a few meals. I would do it without hesitation
You can also apparently order it through iTunes.
If you are picking up a car and heading directly to Rimini, I think you can also find it there quiet easily. (There is an excellent bookstore at the train station in Rimini.)
The guides I am recommending can really help you locate an excellent place to eat based on where you are during meal times. If you are doing an ambitious road trip, it can often be difficult to know in advance precisely where you will be at lunch time as you move from A to B. These books will offer you options along your route.
Also, these books are great for helping you get off the beaten track and experience some amazing small towns in Italy you otherwise wouldn't even know about, and eat historic food.
There are also high-end gourmet destination eateries in almost all the places you are contemplating, and you can track down previous threads on Chowhound for Mantova and Piemonte in particular for memorable splurge meals with wine. For these places, you may need to reserve, especially on weekends.
For le Cinque Terre, if you are truly foodies, I suggest you not miss stopping in nearby Chiavari and eating farinata at Luchin, which is very inexpensive. Closed Sundays.
Sounds like a great adventure, foodwise and otherwise. Hope you have a great time.
Do you have any other recommendations on the drive from Alba ot Monterosso? Luchin is closed on Sunday, and unfortunately that is the day we are traveling. I am making some plans to go back there, but looking for another lunch stop on the drive.
Thanks. We are leaving in 5 days... so very excited.
Sunday is a classic lunch day, you can go to La Cucina di Nonna Nina in San Rocco (near Camogli) for either sea or land dishes, or to La Brinca in Ne, up in the hills for a lunch with Ligurian land-based cuisine. Both were highlights of our trip last fall. Polpo Mario in Sestri Levante would be another option (we havent tried) or you could stop S of genova , say at recco for a quick meal of focaccia. My vote would be for one of the first two, but you should reserve. Look for my Liguria thread from last year with reports on both.,