Stay in Parma: A Traveler’s Guide to the Best Hotels

Stay in Parma: A Traveler’s Guide to the Best Hotels

A trip to explore Parma should be less focused on the geographical differences between the towns that surround the city, and more focused on where to find food experiences. Perhaps they have their priorities right. After all, UNESCO recently named Parma a Creative City for Gastronomy. But, even if your focus is on eating, you need some place to stay in Parma, right? Parma, famous for its cheeses and hams, is a popular spot among food travelers to Emilia Romagna. Parma lies along the Parma River, offering riverside walks or lazy afternoons spent lounging in the Parco Ducale, or window shopping along Strada Luigi Carlo Farini. There are also churches, monasteries, and theaters to keep culture hounds busy. There is a cathedral, several beautiful squares, and a famous pink-hued baptistery. And, we have some recommendations of where to stay in Parma so that you can enjoy the culinary delights of this portion of Emilia Romagna. Where to Stay in Parma – Central Staying within the city offers some obvious perks, including the ability to explore the city itself. And, it’s nice to walk around before dinner, enjoy an Aperol Spritz for aperitivo, and slowly stroll back. But, the historic center of Parma is pedestrian only. Many hotels offer parking for a fee, but if you have a rental car, check your parking options ahead of time. There are no free parking lots in Parma, as there are in Modena. Hotel Palace Maria Luigi This four-star hotel in the heart of Parma features over a hundred rooms, in an historic building. During the day, walk to the most famous attractions of Parma,...
Stay in Bologna: The Best Accommodations in the Region

Stay in Bologna: The Best Accommodations in the Region

Pellegrino Artusi, the father of the national cuisine of Italy supposedly said “When you hear speak of Bologna cuisine make a bow, for it deserves it.” The food of Bologna is known throughout the world—from tagliatelle, to ragù, to mortadella. And, in order to fully explore the cuisine of Bologna, it helps to find a comfortable, and unique place to stay in Bologna. One thing to note when choosing a place to stay in Bologna. Most of the hotels are within the old city walls. But, most of the city center is a restricted driving zone. There are no real signs that tell you this. You just sort of need to know. Even if the hotel offers parking nearby, this can be a problem. When staying at a city center hotel, you are exempt from these driving restrictions, but the cameras that monitor the cars in the city don’t seem to know that. We’ve been caught at least once with a ticket mailed to us months later because we were driving to our hotel. Where to Stay in Bologna: Central Almost every food traveler in Emilia Romagna ends up in Bologna at some point. And, most likely, that traveler is staying in the center of the city. There is no shortage of hotels within the city center, but these are our recommendations of where to stay in Bologna. Casa Bertagni Amongst a sea of typical European-style hotels, Casa Bertagni stands apart from the rest. The accommodations are within a luxury guest house with a focus on art and architecture. Enjoy rooms with themes such as Justice, The Force, and...
What is Eataly World – Bringing Italian Food to The World

What is Eataly World – Bringing Italian Food to The World

When offered the opportunity to visit a self proclaimed food amusement park, you should always say yes. And, that is how we ended up visiting FICO Eataly World in its first week of operation. But, what is a food amusement park? And does FICO fit the bill? What is the Eataly Concept Eataly is a commercial concept where Italian food is offered online, and in speciality shops, from Manhattan to Sao Paolo to Seoul. It is the largest Italian marketplace in the world. The Eataly locations we’ve been to are essentially Italian food stores, normally with a restaurant or two inside.  We recommend the Eataly locations in Bologna and Forli in Emilia Romagna as great places to pick up some food souvenirs, and because the restaurants on site are carefully curated. They are Eataly outposts of some of the most traditional restaurants in those areas, including da Amerigo from Savigno, and Trattoria di Giuliana from Bagno.  It’s success is spawning some competitors, and rumor has it that Jose Andres and Ferran Adria are hoping to building something similar in New York to bring Spanish food to the world. What is FICO Eataly World But, FICO Eataly World takes the original Eataly concept and puts it on steroids. For travelers who have experienced Eataly in Italy, or in the States, this version has a familiar feel. You shop. You eat. You leave. For other travelers, FICO (which stands for Fabbrica Italiana Contadina) is intended as a way to bring the regional foods of Italy all under one roof. There is a bit of a nod to Emilia Romagna, the “hosting...
How They Make Parma Ham in Emilia Romagna

How They Make Parma Ham in Emilia Romagna

When I started traveling to Italy, I always wondered how they actually make Parma Ham (and mortadella too!). When I walked around any small town in Italy I always saw large legs of ham hanging from the ceiling. More often than not, they were stamped with a crown shaped marking that bears a single word: “Parma.” But, how did they get there? What is Prosciutto di Parma Prosciutto di Parma, or more generally, Parma ham, has been around since Roman times. There are stories from 100 BC referencing the unique flavor of the air-dried pork from the area surrounding Parma. At the time, pork was dried to extend its life and prevent it from spoiling. A group of Parma ham producers created a Consortium, Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, in the 1970s, to control the quality of prosciutto. In 1996, the European Union gave the DOP designation on Prosciutto di Parma. Like all DOP and IGP products, the Consortium regulates the types of pigs that can be used, what the pigs are fed, and how the ham itself is produced. What Are The Ingredients in Parma Ham The Consortium likes to say there are only four ingredients in Parma ham: Italian pigs, salt, air, and time. In reality it’s really only two ingredients, although air and time are also key components. Parma ham is made by curing a leg of pork with nothing but sea salt. This increases the tenderness of the meat, and gives it a characteristic sweet flavor. The production process is overseen by a maestro salatore, or salt master, which has to be the coolest sounding...
Unique Foods to Eat in Emilia Romagna

Unique Foods to Eat in Emilia Romagna

For many Americans who dream of traveling to Italy, images come to mind of Napoli style pizza, or large platters of pasta slathered in red tomato sauce. This is very common in the cuisine in the south of Italy, areas that include Sicily, Puglia, and of course, Naples. But, the food of the north is entirely unique. Emilia Romagna includes the cities of Bologna, Parma, and Modena. It is host to an entirely different style of Italian cuisine. The question is: what to eat in Emilia Romagna? Because there are some truly unique dishes to try! The Unique Pasta You Must Eat in Emilia Romagna Some of the more common pasta dishes you will eat in Emilia Romagna include tortellini, tagliatelle, and gnocchi. But, there is a pasta called passatelli, which is particular to Emilia Romagna. It’s virtually unheard of outside of Italy. A traditional pasta that is thicker than many others, it tastes a lot more dense. Passatelli is made with Parmigiano Reggiano, bread crumbs, egg, flour, and sometimes nutmeg. It’s most common to find passatelli served in a broth, which is the traditional preparation. However, passatelli is also served “dry,” without a broth, often mixed with fresh vegetables or meats. It is getting increasingly more difficult to find on menus in Emilia Romagna because it is so expensive to make. All of that Parmigiano Reggiano adds up. If you only eat one pasta in Emilia Romagna (although why would you want to do that?) passatelli is the one to try! The “Meat Breads” You Must Eat in Emilia Romagna Almost every restaurant, trattoria, or osteria in Emilia Romagna offers a...
How To Rent an Apartment in Florence

How To Rent an Apartment in Florence

We are big proponents of renting an apartment when we travel. Sure, when only staying in a city for a few nights, it’s often easier to just check into an hotel. But, when we are staying a bit longer, we prefer to rent an apartment. It gives us more space, and makes us feel a little better about getting to know a city. Because we haven’t been to Florence in about a decade, we knew we would be reorienting ourselves in the city. It was the perfect place to test out how to rent an apartment in Florence. But, before booking any holiday rental, it’s important to take a few things into consideration. Here’s are our tips. Ensure The Apartment Has The Right Amenities Obviously, for us, being digital nomads means WIFI comes first! After that, we look for apartments that meet our needs, including a washing machine, and a full kitchen. We also like having a bedroom that is separate from the living room. This means we can separate our work lives a little more from our personal space. When staying in a hotel, we are often working from bed. That can be fun, but at times I want more space. When traveling on a holiday, people often have differing needs. Something to consider when renting an apartment in Florence is accessibility. We were on the top floor of our building, and needed to carry our luggage up the stairs. Most old buildings in an old city like Florence don’t have elevators. If you carry large bags, or are traveling with someone of limited mobility, it’s best to request...
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