After leaving sweltering London, we landed at the Bologna airport and in the stunning Italian sunshine. We made our way straight to Via Modena right at the heart of Reggio Emilia for a delicious meal at the famed Restaurant A Mangiare - for our first taste of classic Italian cuisine.
Along with Sarah Mantovani, and the Emilia Romagna tourist board, we got a taste of what to expect on this whirlwind trip across Reggio Emilia. Our first stop was the Chiostri de San Pietro for the annual Fotografia Europea 2017. Originally established by the Fondazione Palazzo Magnani and the council of Reggio Emilia, Fotografia Europea is an internationally renowned cultural festival that celebrates contemporary Italian photography. Here, we discovered the work of Gianni Bering Gardin - one of Italy’s foremost photo-journalists, whose work focuses on Gardin’s travels around glorious Italy throughout his prolific fifty year career.. After the exhibition, we toured the historic city for some sensational architectural sights and took in the rich Italian culture of Reggio Emilia, followed by some authentic Italian gelato to quench the summer heat.
We then travelled to the Azienda Agricola e Agrituristica Cavazzone, a stunning hotel property in the sprawling 3000 hectare property in Albinea, Viano and Vezzano. Originally founded by Baron Raimondo Franchetti in 1878, then bought by Eugenio Terrachini in 1919; the property is now managed by his great grandson Giovanni Sidoli and his family. The stunning 8 room hotel features incredible views of the rolling hills on the Italian countryside. Exposed beams, traditional handcrafted furniture, and rustic stone floors result in a cozy atmosphere that doesn’t take away from the luxury requirements of any discerning traveller. After having quickly retired to our rooms, we met chef Luciano, and got a first hand experience at making the region’s iconic dishes. FromCappelletti Reggiani, Erbazzone, and Spinach Tortilla - the gourmet cooking lesson was an absolutely enjoyable experience, resulting in an even more enjoyable meal. Afterwards, we had the pleasure to meet Umberto Sidoli, who showed us around the Cavazzone’s infamous Balsamic vinegar loft, where they perpetuate the centuries old tradition of Balsamic Vinegar production. Starting from a small number of wooden barrels from both families’ vinegar farms, today they have 250 barrels made from a variety of woods that preserve the captivating scent of Reggio Emilia’s signature balsamic vinegar.
We then travelled to the Hombre farm in Modena, where they make the region’s world renowned Parmiggiano Reggiano. Hombre was created by entrepreneur Umberto Panini, named after the first word he heard as he disembarked the boat fromVenezuela back in 1957. Hombre, a stunning 300 hectare farmfilled with cows who roam the fields, is the first organic producer of Parmiggiano Reggiano. We discovered the processes involved in creating this famous cheese; from extracting the milk to their unique curling and fermenting process. We entered their massive Hombre farm warehouse, where wheels of Parmiggiano Reggiano are left to rest on wooden boards for years. There are three kinds of cheese, Fresco, Stagionato, and Stravecchio - each one varying in strength and organoleptic properties but all equally delicious.
Two minutes away from the Hombre Farm is the Panini Museum, where we find the world’s largest private classic car collection owned by Umberto Panini himself. The collection originally belonged to Alessandro de Tomaso, who started selling his Maserati car collection to different companies internationally. Umberto Panini offered to buy the entire collection in order to prevent Italy from losing this important motor-heritage.
Thirteen kilometres from Modena, we travelled to Sorbara and into the vineyards of the Garuti agri-farm, a producer of the very special Lambrusco di Sorbara sparkling wine.. The wine is made with the rare Sorbara grape, which only grows in the area. The Rifermentato in particular, a dry sparkling red, became an instant favourite. Soft and subtle notes combined with a balanced acidity result in an intense aroma, that mixes red fruit with hints of white rose — perfect for the local region’s cuisine. The winery was established in 1933, and is the first farm that features agri-tourism in Sorbara, it also gained the PDO certification protected by the Consortium of Lambrusco di Modena. Spread across thirty hectares, Garuti has thirty vineyards, under Marandello, Fondo Scaletta, Ca’Bianca, and Uccelleria. The hotel is an intimate endeavour with eight rooms and a cantina, where guests can enjoy the delicious local cuisine paired with the best Lambrusco wine.
We then ventured to the Motor Valley and to the Lamborghini Museum, where we got a very rare peek into the Lamborghini factory. The only supercar factory in the world that is open to the public for very special guided tours. There, we saw the meticulous step-by-step processes by which these amazing vehicles are assembled. Each V12 Aventador and Huracán takes approximately twelve to eighteen months to build. Throughout the tour, we witnessed Lamborghini’s absolute dedication to precision and innovation, through the love by which the engineers build the cars - engineers, who perform each step lovingly and by hand. We saw a Lamborghini worker feel every centimetre of one car’s interior leather, checking for any semblance of imperfection, and hand sewing every stitch herself. Thus ensuring that Lamborghini’s impeccable standards are achieved from the leather, to the sophisticated chassis and carbon fibre bodywork of each and every vehicle.
In the evening, we visited the Opera O2 Vineyard, where we discovered their unique blend of Balsamic vinegar and their own unique
version of Lambrusco sparkling wine, made with the refreshing Grasparossa grape — from one of the oldest vines in the world. The Opera O2 produces over 75000 bottles a year alongside managing their resort and restaurant. The Opera O2’s sprawling terrace restaurant attracts visitors from all over Italy, with magnificent views of the Italian countryside; and of course, scrumptious dishes made from local, organically sourced ingredients. One of the highlights of the eight room hotel, is that it is characterised by an ethos of renewable energy, where all the structures leave minimal environmental footprints.
The next day, we made our way back into the city of Modena for the opening ceremony of the Modena Cento Ore 2017, where extraordinary vintage cars are driven across the Italian landscapes of Emilia Romagna and Tuscany for one hundred hours. This year’s winners were Walker Philip Nigel and Redhouse Howard in an exemplary Jaguar E.E Type from the Irish Racing Drivers Club. This year, Modena Centro Ore exhibited an Eco-friendly outlook by implementing a CarbonZero protocol, which entails offsetting Co2 emissions by planting new trees across the Tuscan-Emiliano Apennines, the only zero emissions event of its kind.
On our last day in the wonderful Emilio Romagna region, we visited the iconic Museo Enzo Ferrari. The museum is a juxtaposition of modern architecture which stands alongside Enzo Ferrari’s childhood home. The modern structure of the museum was inspired by the yellow car bonnet of a Ferrari and reflects the Modena skyline. The Jan Kaplicky designed space was built as if to protect Ferrari’s familial home — mirroring Ferrari’s sentiment of the new protecting the old. In the museum, we see some of Ferrari’s greatest creations in an exhibition entitled Driving With The Stars - including the first Ferrari ever displayed in a motor show, Royal Family vehicles, and all their latest releases.
Finally, we visited the Acetaia Bonini, and explored their vinegar production processes, followed by a very special lunch made by Carlo Alberto Borsarini from the famed La Lumira restaurant in Castelfranco. We enjoyed an amazing aubergine dish, drizzled with Bonini, Modena’s special Balsamic Vinegar, and Carlo’s traditional handmade pasta. Paired with afantastic wine tasting with Corte d’Aibo — it was the perfect ending to this breathtaking trip across one of Italy’s most amazing regions.
Words by Hannah Tan
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