One of the things I truly love most about Italy is that every Italian, whether it’s the businessman in the Armani suit or the local taxi driver who barely speaks a word of English, is absolutely adament that their region has the best food in Italy!
The regional pride in Italy is just amazing, and in all honesty, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be. One of the things that makes Italy the incredible country that it is, is exactly because it is made up of all these beautifully diverse regions who all have plenty to offer on their own. The landscapes, people and especially cuisines of each of these regions are so special and unique and truly deserve to be savoured individually without simply getting labelled off as ‘Italian’.
However, that being said, and I’m allowed to say this because I’m not Italian (unfortunately), but, despite the individual thoughts of the locals, all of the Italian regions can’t have the best food. So, let’s go ahead and ask the impossible: Which region truly has the best food in Italy?…
Well, I’m afraid to say that for the life of me, I couldn’t possibly give you an answer. What I can say though is that one of the first regions that leap into my mind when I think of Italian food is Emiglia Romagna. This central region, right in the heart of Italy perfectly represents the rich foods of the north and has recently become a sort of foodie Mecca for me. Home to famous cities such as Bologna and Parma the region has created most Italian classics such as Bolognese, Lasagne, Parma Ham, Balsamic Vinegar and the mothership of all Italian food: Parmesan.
Unfortunately, I have yet to visit the incredible city of Bologna but earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to visit gorgeous Parma and I can officially say that it is 100 percent my new favourite city!
Wow, what can I say? It seriously is the perfect Italian city. The monuments are as breathtaking as in Rome, the landscape is as peaceful as in Tuscany and the food is as delicious as is Naples. All that, yet it’s managed to be kept under the radar and scarce with tourists. You may feel as if you’ve died and gone to heaven!
If you haven’t yet been, I suggest you book your tickets and just go! Trust me, Im planning to do that as soon as my bank account comes out of the negative…. And, if you go… sorry, when you go, you must, I mean MUST, do the three kings tour! This was without a doubt the highlight of my time in Parma. The three kings tour is done by pretty much every food tour company in parma, (and for such a small city, I gotta say there are quite a lot) and is a full day tour where you are taken to see an authentic parma ham factory, a verified parmesan cheese producer and last but not least a traditional balsamic vinegar vineyard. This is the exact reason why I call Emiglia Romagna my foodie Mecca: Case and point!
Oh wow, the experience is just unbelievable! Undoubtedly, it will cost you, but seriously, don’t hesitate, it is worth every penny. I can still smell the hundreds of Parma hams as they dry in a cave around me, see the endless rows and columns of aging Parmesans and taste the sticky sweet balsamic vinegar unlike anything else I’d ever tasted. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity, don’t miss out on it!
Also, while in Parma, make sure you do a proper tour around the quaint city. The monuments are just gorgeous and really do deserve a proper visit. The Teatro Farnese is by far the most beautiful theatre I have ever seen and the Baptism is gorgeous and enchanting, and still houses baptisms today. Also try and visit the Cathedral which is magnificently peaceful and the Opera House which is striking with its classic gold and red colours, easily transporting you back the scene of an old film.