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Italian Culinary Road Trip: Modena and Bologna

Italian Culinary Road Trip: Modena and Bologna

Travel through Italy thanks to our guide. This time we take you to Modena and Bologna for a taste of that region.

By FDL on

Modena is the city of cuisine and cars. The city's gastro culture is one of the super qualities that make Modena so special: you get the feeling that every single kitchen in this part of Emilia-Romagna is home to traditional dishes and delicacies. The kind of this trend for fine food is the sweet, dense balsamic vinegar which is made by cooking juice from the local grapes and then aging it in a process that gradually uses smaller and smaller casks.

The rest of Modena offers much more than a simple backdrop for your flavor fest. Explore the Cathedral, climb to the top if the Ghirlandina bell tower the symbol of Modena and revisit a piece of 20th century history in Enzo Ferrari's house-museum, the temple to Modena's other great passion: motors.

Not very far from Modena you can make a trip to Bologna. In Italian popular culture Bologna is nicknamed "la Dotta" (the learned one) and "la Grassa" (the fat one) to celebrate the city's two great passions: culture and cuisine.

Until the Middle Ages, Bologna seemed to have been built exclusively for studying: it is home to the first university in the western world, which was founded in 1088 and has attracted scholars from all over Europe ever since. Some of Italy's greatest writers and intellectuals were born in Bologna such as Carducci, Pascoli and Pasolini who loved being enthused with inspiration and thoughts while strolling under the historic city centre's porticoes. You too can choose someone who gets your creative juices flowing, go for a walk and share your best ideas: if your discussions are fruitful you can reward yourselves with a delicious mortadella panini.

Here is the recipe for Bologna's famous Tigelle with Cunza:

To some Modena may seem like just a small city in the Emilia-Romagna region, but in reality it's a treasure trove of priceless gems embodying Italy's gastronomic culture. This is the place to try tigelle with cunza, tiny focaccia style flatbreads filled with a uniquely tasty bacon fat and rosemary stuffing.

Tigelle should be cooked on a special type of hotplate called a tigellatrice but you can just as easily cook them in a lightly greased non-stick frying pan. First prepare the dough by mixing 100 ml warm water, 250 g flour, 16 g brewer's yeat, 40 g lard, a pinch of salt and a teaspoonsful of sugar. Now leave it to rest for an hour. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin it is about 5mm thick. Next use a round pasta or pastry cutter no bigger than 8 cm in diameter to cut out the disc shapes. Cook the tigelle on both sides until golden brown. Prepare the filling beforehand by very finely chopping 200 g bacon fat or pancetta, two sprigs of rosemary and a clove of garlic. Cut the tigelle in half like a panini or roll and add your finely chopped filling. Serve the tigelle piping hot. Perfect when accompanied by a large glass of Lambrusco, the typical lightly sparkling red wine from this area.

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