Moving on to the region I like to call Emilia Romagna, because that is what its called. This is the middle leg of the trip, First leg is here, last still to come. This is the most eclectic leg, featuring a variety of food filled fun… Culatello, Prosciutto, Parma Cheese, Parma, castles, AT&T misadventures, wife finding out that all the shoes you packed have holes in them, and some of the underwear, mountains, black truffles, more great food including another “one of those meals”, and much more.
Day 5 – Cremona and Corte Pallavicina
We drove the two hours from our hotel in Piedmont to Cremona, a town (just outside ER) renowned for its Violin making. Violins, violins and more violins everywhere you turn, workshops, Violin Museums, chocolates shapes like violins. A very interesting, clean, super bike friendly town. As a New Yorker I was staring at old ladies riding bikes with great fascination in particular. This could also be the home to the most underrated Duomo in Italy. But all this fun came to a crushing halt after I called AT&T to upgrade my data service, only to have them disconnect everything completely. Thankfully, I pre-programmed the GPS with most of the sites so we could get to the next destination.
Rest of the day was one of the highlights of the trip, Antica Corte Pallavicina where we spent the night. The entire stay was like a dream, a very good one, and I will have a blog post when the time comes. Corte Pallavicina is renowned for their Culatello, essentially prosciutto on crack, which can only be produced in that area in/near the town of Zibello. Food lovers detour to visit their famous cellar featuring their black pig Culatello aged for Price Albert, Prince Charles, René Redzepi of Noma, Osteria Francescana in Modena and more. Each one comes with a sticker who it belongs to. We used their bikes to ride along the Po river, visited their famous black pigs, white cows, and had a wonderful dinner at their Michelin Starred restaurant, before a friend I met on Trip Advisor Forum joined us for the meetup we’ve been planning for a year
Day 6 – The cheese producer, the meal, the castle
I arranged an early morning visit to CiaoLatte in Noceto, one of many Parmigiano-Reggiano producers in the area. For a mere 10 euros we got a tour and witnessed the entire process of cheese making, along with a tasting of some of their products. This is a small family producer that is very popular with local schools partly due to the efforts of the mother who turned into a Liza Minnelli song and dance routine when she just met us and found out we are from NYC. More on CiaoLatte later
We then visited the town of Felino, known for the Felino Salami, dubbed “King of Salami”. We had a little Felino tasting at a small Salumeria by the Rick Steves of Salumi salesmen who tried to sell us his entire store. We wanted to visit the salami museum in the nearby castle of Felino but it was closed. Although the splendid views from that castle didnt make us feel too bad.
Lunch was probably the most memorable meal of the trip at Locanda Mariella in the mountains. A culinary ecstasy by a Slow Food legend. If you understand Slow Food and seek it in your travels to Italy, it doesnt get any better than this. After lunch, the magnificent Castle of Torrechiara was the obvious choice smack in the middle between Mariella and our B&B. Dinner at Ai Due Platani was good but pales in comparison to lunch and other meals on the trip.
Villino Di Porporano, our B&B for the next two nights did the trick and more. Highly recommend it
Day 7 – Parma
Spent an entire day touring Parma. Visited the magnificent Duomo, Farnese theater and the attached museum where we couldnt for the life of us find the exit when we were done. The stunning Teatro Regio was unfortunately closed due to the Verdi festival rehearsals. Salumeria Garibaldi treated us to a nice light lunch at one of their 3 tables. Then we explored the big park and the city outside of the historic center which we found equally as fascinating. Dinner was a good one at the ancient Cocchi
More to come soon. Going shoe shopping….