By Mario Batali
Having lived in and around Bologna for three years, there is probably no region in Italy as close to my heart as Emilia-Romagna. From the magnificent Byzantine frescoes in Ravenna to the two towers in Bologna there is plenty to do besides eat. But Emilia-Romagna is considered by many Italians the culinary apex of the peninsula.
The true beauty of Bologna is that you’re thirty minutes from Parma and twenty minutes from Modena. That short train ride brings you in proximity of two of my favorite restaurants in the country (and Ferrari’s headquarters).
At the back of a modest shop near the center of Modena is a door which leads to the trattoria of my dreams. Hosteria Giusti is a 400-year-old salumeria with a five-table restaurant in tow. Everything I have ever eaten there, from the simple gnocco fritto topped with the most fragrant of lard, to handmade tortelloni with sage and butter, to green tagliatelle al porcini and, perhaps the most decadent of all, crispy slices of Zampone with savoury zabaglione.
After lunch at Giusti, go to dinner at Osteria Francescana, a Michelin three star temple presided over by Massimo Bottura. Francescana has twelve tables, so prepare yourself for a claustrophobic episode after lunch at Hostaria Giusti. The spare modern space is a beautiful contrast to the curious and masterful dishes that, in their modernity, pay homage to the rich and traditional Italian flavors of Bologna.
Modena is, without a doubt, one of the best food towns in the world.