Emilia Romagna – Bologna, Modena, and Parma, Italy
The ultimate foodie trip! Emilia Romagna is a powerhouse of DOP products – “Protected Designation of Origin” that certifies the products are locally grown/produced and maintain a certain level of quality that only the DOP designation can guarantee. To name a few hits, balsamic vinegar, culatello, prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese all stem from this region.
While Bologna is just a portion of the Emilia Romagna, it is a great hub to explore the many offerings of the region for day trips out to Modena and Parma. There are additional towns in this region that can easily extend your trip as well – just pack your extra tummy for all the delicious food!
Here is how we planned our perfect 4 day itinerary to Emilia Romagna.
Know before you go
- Emilia Romagna region is made up of many towns so depending on what you want to do will help guide which towns you should visit.
- Make sure if you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fee – highly recommend getting one if not – that will be fine for your trip. You can also take out euros to use as you will find some places that are cash only, especially in the smaller towns.
- Learn basic Italian phrases as a respect to the country you are visiting but you will not have an issue with finding English in the larger towns.
- Keep an eye out for festivals throughout the year in this reason – many food and wine festivals occur and festivals are a great way to experience a town.
- The train system in Italy is fantastic offering stops practically anywhere you want to go and with frequently running trains – so no need to rent a car. If you are flying to Italy, look for flights to Milan or Florence and then take the high speed train to Bologna, your entry way into the Emilia Romagna region.
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Where to stay?
We located ourselves in Bologna as it is the biggest town in Emilia Romagna and gave us options to travel to neighboring cities since it is centrally located in the region. Being the largest town also means there is always something going on in the evening when you are back from your day trip. This trip, we based ourselves in Bologna and did day trips to Parma and Modena. Our Airbnb was more in the center of town, about a twenty minutes walk from the train station. We were very pleased with the Bologna Airbnb market – both on availability, location, and price.
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What is there to do?
Oh goodness, you really just eat your way through Emilia Romagna! Book yourself on a few excursions to see how the sausage is made – all come with samples of course! Here were some of our highlights from this trip:
- Learn the process of making famous Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma in Parma
- Experience the art of pasta making yourself in Bologna
- Visit an award wining balsamic vinegar producer in Modena
We did not do this but for car lovers, visit “Motor Valley”. Did you know Emilia Romagna is the world’s highest concentration of luxury brands including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati. There are plenty of opportunities not only to visit but to drive these vehicles as well.
Do not underestimate the journey of simply wandering through the streets in each of these towns – there is a magic that cannot be matched.
Where to eat?
Eat. Eat. Eat. All you will do is eat some of the most delicious food in the world. And you will eat if you venture on the experiences mentioned above but do not miss out on some incredible dining experiences. There are way too many places to list them all and we would need several return trips to become experts but I can share the dining experiences we did have that were some of the best we have every had.
- Unless you have your heart set on the famous Osteria Francesca, book at Hosteria Giusti in Modena.
- If you have time in Modena to visit Acetaia Pedroni for balsamic vinegar, do not miss the rustic dining experience at Osteria di Rubbiara.
- We had many favorites in Bologna but for a unique and creative twist on traditional dishes, visit Trattoria da Me – we still dream about this meal and hope to return one day!
- Oh, and gelato every day is a must.
Here was our complete itinerary!
|Day 0||Evening||Travel to Italy |
(We flew into Milan)
|Day 1||Morning||Arrive in Modena|
(Train from Milan very easy!)
|Afternoon||Lunch in Modena|
Train to Bologna
|Hosteria Giusti |
Bloom Naturalmente Gelato
|Evening||Explore Bologna||Sfoglia Rina |
Cremeria Cavaur Gelato
|Day 2||Morning||Train to Parma |
ParmaLook Food Tours:
Prosciutto di Parma
|Afternoon||Explore Parma||Trattoria al Trabunale |
Ciacco Lab Gelato
|Evening||Train to Bologna|
|La Fastuchera |
|Day 3||Morning||Explore Bologna churches and piazzas|
|Afternoon||Pasta Risotto Bologna – Pasta making class|
|Evening||The Archiginnasio – |
Anatomy Theatre and
Stabat Mater Lecture hall
The Two Towers
Alma Mater School
|Creamera Cavaur Gelato|
Osteria del Sole
Trattoria da Me
|Day 4||Morning||Train to Modena|
|Afternoon||Acetaia Pedroni||Osteria di Rubbiara|
|Evening||Train to Milan|
Read the full trip details here!
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Read all blog posts for Italy here!
If you have been to Emilia Romagna before, let me know what I missed and what your favorites are!