Emilia Romagna: The Italian Region Food Lovers Should Visit

Italy is known for its rich history and cultural contributions to the world in terms of architecture and landscape: the Vatican, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Cinque Terre, the Colosseum in Rome, and the leaning tower of Pisa, to name just a few. Then, of course, there are the Italian culinary inventions: breadsticks, pretzels (made by an Italian monk to reward children for learning their prayers), and Italian food today is synonymous with pizza and pasta.

While Italy is a relatively small country — it's only slightly larger than the state of Arizona (per Nations Online) — each region has its own unique cuisine and special dishes. For example, Abruzzo is a rugged region with lots of sheep farming, and thus lots of meat and cheese dishes are favored (via CNN). Conversely, in the Le Marche region, which borders the Adriatic sea, Ancona spicy fish stew is the local fare. But real food lovers should take advantage of visiting the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, which is between the Po River, the Adriatic Sea, and the Appennino mountain range (per Trip Savvy).

Mangia, mangia, in Emilia Romagna

According to Food & Wine, famous Italian foods like tortellini, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Prosciutto di Parma all come from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Even more impressively, this region of Italy has 44 PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) products. These designations mean that these products can only bear these names if they are produced in that specific area (per Labels of Origin for Food: Local Development, Global Recognition).

There's the aforementioned Parmigiano Reggiano to taste, but also various shapes of hand-rolled egg pasta, like tortellini and tortelloni, tagliatelle and lasagna, aged and ultra-luxurious (and pricy) balsamic vinegar, and cured meats from a salumeria. Gourmands can wash all of these rich and heavenly foods down with Lambrusco, a fizzy dark wine that is also "the oldest documented wine made in Emilia-Romagna." The Emilia Romagna region is so serious about its food that there are even dedicated museums for gelato, oil, pasta, cold meats, wine, tomato, and potato.