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Emilia - Romagna area, Italy Recommendations?

Emilia - Romagna area, Italy Recommendations?

Old Nov 2, 18, 12:27 pm
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Emilia - Romagna area, Italy Recommendations?

I am planning a trip to northern Italy in early September, 2019. We are spending 6 nights in the Dolomites for hiking, so we will have a car. We have 3 nights left over. I originally wanted to go to Villa Feltrinelli at Lake Garda, but my wife is not interested in a lake at that time, and would rather go exploring the towns and sights in the Emilia Romagna area (mostly to focus on food lol). Not sure if we're flying into Milan or Venice, but we've been before so I don't want to spend time in those cities. I found the Majestic Baglioni in Bologna, and the old threads here about that option, but having a car complicates things a bit. Are there any decent options anywhere in the region? Or is that our best bet? I don't mind driving into the countryside if there's a better option. Thanks!
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Old Nov 2, 18, 3:21 pm
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I believe that you will be better served by having this thread in the FT Italy Forum
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Old Nov 2, 18, 5:24 pm
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From the food perspective, Bologna has FICO World Eataly - you can see/try a lot in a short amount of time there so it's "efficient" - but I have to say it's not my favorite Eataly. It's too large, cold and commercial, we much prefer the Eataly in Torino for example to FICO.

With ZTL's cars and (big) cities don't mix so well these days in Italy. It's not impossible and, generally, you are allowed to drive in/drive out for a stay. If you want to be able to move around the countryside you're better off staying there. If your idea of food in Emilia-Romagna is urban and revolves around Parma, Modena and Bologna, you could easily ditch the car, stay in one of the cities and train from one to the others.

AA has summer non-stop service in 2019 from Bologna to PHL and I think it runs through end of September so that would make for an easy exit Stateside (if that's where you are heading).

I can't give you any hotel options in that area as I only stay at the AC Bologna when I'm leaving my house and flying out of BLQ.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 7:29 pm
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Originally Posted by JMN57 View Post
I can't give you any hotel options in that area as I only stay at the AC Bologna when I'm leaving my house and flying out of BLQ.
Thanks for the ideas. I'll check out the AA flight since I'm on the east coast. I'm mostly looking for hotel or resort recommendations now, 5* if possible, since we're pretty set on going to the region.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 7:41 pm
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Originally Posted by NotALawyer View Post
Thanks for the ideas. I'll check out the AA flight since I'm on the east coast. I'm mostly looking for hotel or resort recommendations now, 5* if possible, since we're pretty set on going to the region.
If you're thinking hotels/resorts, I'd say there's more to be found on the Adriatic coast of Emilia-Romagna but the foodie dimension may be a little more classically aligned with the Parma/Modena/Bologna axis. That said, the seafood on the Adriatic coast can be great and there are some very good restaurants. You might want to try viamichelin.com and do a hotel (and restaurant) search there. I tend to trust their hotel recommendations more as they send professional inspectors.

Last edited by JMN57; Nov 3, 18 at 8:14 pm Reason: Grammar
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Old Nov 3, 18, 11:22 am
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Originally Posted by NotALawyer View Post
Thanks for the ideas. I'll check out the AA flight since I'm on the east coast. I'm mostly looking for hotel or resort recommendations now, 5* if possible, since we're pretty set on going to the region.
Drop the * criteria. The number of stars a hotel has in Italy is meaningless.
A 1* hotel is often better than a 5* hotel. It's just a local checklist of what you have to have. A 5* hotel in Naples would have nothing to do with a 5* hotel in Venice. Different criteria.
The star system in Italy has nothing to do with the view, decor, or comfort of the beds.

Forget stars. It has to do with a checklist, for example, size of the lobby. There are fantastic historic buildings that have been turned into a hotel, but they don't have a lobby of the size to qualify for a star. I've stayed in dozens of 5 star hotels, a requirement is a 24 hr per day person at the check table. Yes, they have them, and get the extra star, but at night I always have to jump over the lobby desk, go into the back to find them, and wake them up.

Italy is old. To get 5*'s you must have an elevator. Most hotels in Italy were build before they invented the elevator, and so the best, most historic hotels will never be 5*.

Relying on the star system in Italy is a useless as relying on Michelin for restaurants. Michelin is a French car tire company, and they weren't selling many tires. So they hired some, "experts," to drive into rural areas to rate restaurants, with the hope of getting people to get into their cars and wear out their tires faster by driving out to them.

Instead of stars, and especially instead of "ratings" by people who have only traveled to a city once and have only been in one hotel (you can't rate something if it's the only place you've experienced), think more about location, and actual amenities.

Ditch the car.
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Old Nov 3, 18, 9:25 pm
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Originally Posted by JMN57 View Post
From the food perspective, Bologna has FICO World Eataly - you can see/try a lot in a short amount of time there so it's "efficient" - but I have to say it's not my favorite Eataly. It's too large, cold and commercial, we much prefer the Eataly in Torino for example to FICO.

With ZTL's cars and (big) cities don't mix so well these days in Italy. It's not impossible and, generally, you are allowed to drive in/drive out for a stay. If you want to be able to move around the countryside you're better off staying there. If your idea of food in Emilia-Romagna is urban and revolves around Parma, Modena and Bologna, you could easily ditch the car, stay in one of the cities and train from one to the others.

AA has summer non-stop service in 2019 from Bologna to PHL and I think it runs through end of September so that would make for an easy exit Stateside (if that's where you are heading).

I can't give you any hotel options in that area as I only stay at the AC Bologna when I'm leaving my house and flying out of BLQ.
I am sorry but to go to Bologna (or anywhere else for that matter) because of Eataly is like going to Stockholm because of IKEA. Bologna is a wonderful city with great food but please skip Eataly. You can visit one in the US.
Here are some places you may want to check out for good Bolognese food:
http://www.trattoriadelrosso.com/
http://www.trattoria-tony.it/
Tamburini
Mercato di Mezzo

You might also want to visit Parma and Modena if food is your main focus. Rovenna nearby is definitely worth a visit. It has some of the best Byzantine mosaics anywhere.
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Old Nov 3, 18, 9:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Perche View Post
Instead of stars, and especially instead of "ratings" by people who have only traveled to a city once and have only been in one hotel (you can't rate something if it's the only place you've experienced), think more about location, and actual amenities.
Right, so...thanks. I originally posted this in the luxury hotel forum because I was looking for a specific type of lodging recommendation. If you know of any, post them so I can check it out.
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Old Nov 3, 18, 9:58 pm
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Originally Posted by VitaliU View Post
Here are some places you may want to check out for good Bolognese food:
http://www.trattoriadelrosso.com/
http://www.trattoria-tony.it/
Tamburini
Mercato di Mezzo
These all look great, much appreciated.
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Old Nov 4, 18, 1:00 am
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Originally Posted by VitaliU View Post
I am sorry but to go to Bologna (or anywhere else for that matter) because of Eataly is like going to Stockholm because of IKEA. Bologna is a wonderful city with great food but please skip Eataly. You can visit one in the US.
Here are some places you may want to check out for good Bolognese food:
http://www.trattoriadelrosso.com/
http://www.trattoria-tony.it/
Tamburini
Mercato di Mezzo

You might also want to visit Parma and Modena if food is your main focus. Rovenna nearby is definitely worth a visit. It has some of the best Byzantine mosaics anywhere.
While I did mention the Eataly, I think you have to admit I was NOT recommending it - calling it "efficient" was pointing out its best feature. In fact, I too pointed more generally to Parma/Modena/Bologna if the OP was interested in food within an urban context. Yes, there's LOTS of very good places in all three cities as well as great, classic Italian food products. etc. What I don't know when someone says they are interested in food in Italy is whether they are interested in fine dining, food products (cheeses, meats, wines...), education, etc. Depending upon the nature of the interest, it may make more sense to spend time in urban centers or, alternatively, in the countryside. Food in Emilia-Romagna is a pretty big footprint. I specifically didn't recommend any place because I have no idea what the OP is looking for across the food spectrum.

Relative to Eataly, I certainly wouldn't say that it is the answer to understanding Italian food but does have a role. You can eat better and more authentically there than at 1000's of tourist rip-offs and one can access a lot of artisanal products there that are very good (for example, one restaurant near my Italian home makes great honey which Eataly sells). It's not the final word on Italian food but it can help people understand both the diversity and regionality of the Italian table. And while there are Eataly's outside of Italy those in Italy are more authentic if only because many of the ingredients are more authentic.

Do I prefer to eat at a local restaurant that makes a pasta with fresh Monterosso sardines over some substitute ingredient? Certainly and that's what I had that 3 weeks ago at a restaurant 5 minutes walking from my house. The chef (a friend) came to my table and told me that the fishmonger had brought them in today (Monterosso is 40 minutes away) - when he tells me that I listen. Eataly isn't in that league but that doesn't mean it's terrible. It's kind of like EPCOT center for Italian dining (and I mean that in a good sense). If you're driving south on A1 past Modena you are not going to get a better meal ON the Autostrada than the Eataly/Autogrill there. Sure, there are many better places in Parma/Modena/Bologna but I wouldn't (and haven't) turned my nose up at stopping there for a meal.

Last edited by JMN57; Nov 4, 18 at 1:36 am
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Old Nov 4, 18, 7:09 am
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Originally Posted by NotALawyer View Post
These all look great, much appreciated.
enjoy!
Re: hotels - Iíve never stayed at Gia Biglioni but it is supposed to be a solid choice. I can also recommend Art Hotel Commercianti but it is NOT a luxury hotel, just a nice hotel in a historic building
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Old Dec 26, 18, 10:21 pm
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Bologna is one of my favorite cities in Italy to indulge in culinary delights. Like mentioned above, I do not recommend going to Eataly. Save the trip to Eataly when you're back stateside (Las Vegas opens tomorrow) and missing Italy. Not a waste of time, but it feels too commercial. I'd ditch the car and stay in an airbnb around the centro storico/ghetto area just south/se of Piazza Maggiore. I booked the Tastybus food tour out of Parma (45 min by train) to tour parmigiano reggiano, parma ham, and balsamic vinegar production facilities. Was a bit reserved about a "tour" but I highly recommended it and you get to see some beautiful scenery! It's the real deal.

A couple of my favorites...
Salumeria Simoni- "Tortellino di pane" Crescent shaped sandwich stuffed with mortadella (focaccia dough?).
Caffe Terzi- Best coffee I've ever had. Ask for the special menu (book). Stand at the counter to see the magic happen.
Many, many al fresco restaurants just off the piazza. Most are open until 23:30 which is nice for late dinners or jet laggers.

Enjoy! I may see you there since AA is flying direct next summer! What a treat!
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