emilia romagna Tag

Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, Modena, ferrari museum, italy, cars (2)

“Cars are only beautiful when they win”

Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, Modena In the vast stadium of fluorescent light, the cars look like glowing orbs of style. Raised on low platforms, each machine is given a respectful space from the others. Despite the name, this is not a museum. This is more a shrine… and everything is set up to allow visitors to worship. For car enthusiasts (I’m not going to pretend to be one), Ferrari is one of the gods. Like religion generally, there are many faiths – but devotees of each believe fervently in theirs. It is no different with cars and Ferrari has one of the largest and most faithful congregations in the world. The Enzo Ferrari Museum in the Italian city of Modena is built on the site of the man’s birthplace. But it is only partly about Enzo Ferrari and his life. You see, his life became the car brand (not just in name) and...

Read More
07 January
ferrara, italy, planned city, unesco site, emilia romagna (2)

Withstanding an earthquake

Ferrara, Italy It was early in the morning when the earth shook Ferrara awake. Nature has no regard for history, for architecture or for heritage. The planet is bigger than them all and it strikes indiscriminately. The day after the earthquake struck Italy's Emilia Romagna region, at 5.9 on the richter scale, I visited the city. Cracks were on the walls, small piles of rubble still on the ground, and barricades erected by emergency services around buildings in danger. Thankfully the damage was minimal, with only minor structural damage. Thankfully, because Ferrara is known worldwide as one of the finest examples of city planning. In its streets, quite literally, is the inspiration for many modern cities today. Ferrara was the first planned city of the renaissance and the first in Italy not to follow the traditional Roman principles. It had two major perpendicular avenues the design was based around, wide roads to accommodate traffic...

Read More
06 July
parma ham, what is culatello, parmigiano cheese, parma, emilia romagna (5)

Sandwiched between Parma ham and cheese

Parma hams and culatello They’re hanging from the ceiling, bat-like, smelly and dusty. In the darkened basement you feel like they could suddenly come alive, turn on you in a swarm and leave you with no defences. They look menacing – partly because of the dimly-lit and enclosed environment, partly because of their resemblance to cocoons of dangerous and exotic predators, and partly because of the unknown. What are they? Well, they’re parma hams. In this cellar underneath an old castle in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, more than five thousand pieces of pig are being turned into one of the local delicacies – the ‘culatello’ variety of prosciutto. It’s one of the finest pork products you will ever eat! There’s a reason some of the world’s rich and famous order their own supplies from here – see if you can spot a celebrity name in this batch. What is culatello? The professionals...

Read More
18 June
how to make pasta, fresh pasta recipe, pasta school italy, bologna (10)

Put the pasta behind you

How to make Italian pasta If someone had suggested making pasta to me previously, I would have reacted the same way as if someone had recommended getting a bank loan, going to a car dealership, buying a car, getting it registered and getting it insured just so I could drive down to the shops to get some pre-made pasta. It had all seemed like too much time and effort for something so cheaply and easily available. Oh, how wrong I have been all my life! I’m at the Vecchia Scuola cooking school in the Italian city of Bologna. Under the guidance of experts I pour a heap of flour onto the table and make a hole in the middle. I crack in two eggs and begin to mix them together until a dough forms and I can roll it into a ball. (If you’re interested in trying this for yourself, the recipe...

Read More
13 June
ravenna mosaics, mosaics of ravenna, italian modern art, mosaic art, koko mosaico, luca barberini (4)

Mosaic man

Mosaics in Ravenna, Italy Luca Barberini places the small piece of marble into place carefully but with the ease of an experienced artist. He reaches for another as he chats with me, the motions as natural as breathing. Centuries have passed since the first mosaic makers of Ravenna but the tradition lives on – right now, through Luca. Although the original artists might be a bit shocked at exactly what he’s doing. “It’s possible to work with an ancient technique, an ancient language, for contemporary art,” he explains. Here in Ravenna, a small Italian city in the Emilia Romagna region, the mosaic artworks are more than just a tourist attraction. They are at the heart of the history and identity of the community. The oldest works, which were installed more than 1500 years ago, adorn the interiors of Ravenna’s churches and historic buildings. “We have maybe the best monuments in the world where you...

Read More
12 June
bologna, italy, emilia romagna, world's oldest university, young italians, italian youth (2)

Bologna: the alternative city

Living in Bologna, Italy Every few weeks I seem to find a city that I think I could live in for a while. These decisions are always accompanied with pronouncements to anyone nearby. "You know what? I think I could spend a bit of time here. It's got a great vibe about it," is normally how it goes. The poor people who have been pronounced at normally mutter polite affirmations but, I assume, think I'm only saying this because I've been caught up in the moment. Perhaps they're right - I can't even remember half the cities I've said that about. Perhaps my impression of Bologna will change after time has rubbed away the sheen of my week there. Or maybe it really is one of Italy's best undiscovered cities. I use the word 'undiscovered' in a relative sense. By that, I mean it is no Rome, Florence, Venice or Milan. It is not...

Read More
20 May
best balsamic vinegar, modena, italian food, italian vinegar, best vinegar (2)

You’ll catch more flies with this vinegar!

The best balsamic vinegar In the attic, up several flights of stairs of this old farmhouse, are the barrels. It's in these barrels that some of the best balsamic vinegar in the world is being made. A process that's been passed down through generations is taking place. It will take care, patience and years. But that's the Modena way - that's how this region became so famous for its product. I have never tasted balsamic vinegar so good. How could I have gone so long without realising? I'd been conditioned to buy the cheapest bottle from the supermarket, always thinking it was a simple condiment to add with oil on a salad. But as Giovanna pours me small tastes into a plastic spoon and I bring them to my lips, a new world is revealed. "Your palette has reached a point of no return," she says with a knowing smile. I fear she's...

Read More
18 May
San Colombano, Luigi Tagliavani, bologna, music, italian instruments, piano, harpsichord, clavichord, spinet (1)

The keys to good music

Maestro Luigi Tagliavini “I was born on October 7th, 1929,” Luigi Tagliavini tells me. It’s the start of one of his stories. “My pregnant mother had waited and waited and I didn’t arrive. Finally, on October 6th in a theatre in Bologna, Rossini’s opera Cinderella was played and my grandmother said to my mother ‘the child doesn’t come, let’s go to the opera’. And then they went to the theatre – and I too of course – and a day later I was born. Then my grandmother said ‘oh, he will be a musician’.” 83 years later, it’s clear his grandmother’s prophecy was realised. Luigi Tagliavini is standing at a harpsichord, his fingers on the keys, softly caressing the instrument as it sings. The harpsichord is more than four hundred years old and the Italian treats it with respect… but also with an intimate familiarity. The instrument is one of his. Over his many...

Read More
16 May

The fast and the curious

Who would go to the Lamborghini Academy? I’m not sure exactly what I expected but it wasn’t this. When you think about the kind of people who might go to an exclusive (and not cheap) Lamborghini driving academy in Italy, you think young playboys and middle-aged men going through middle-aged crises. You don’t think of a 66-year-old woman who has trouble reaching the pedals. That seems to be the thing about fast cars, though. They favour no gender, age or nationality. There were only five drivers at the Lamborghini Academy other than myself and fellow blogger Ted Rydmark – and with those five people, four different continents were represented. Why would they come here to the Imola Racecourse for this, though? Why would they fly across oceans, spend thousands of dollars to spend a day behind the wheel and on the track? Well, to find out, I asked them. These are the people of...

Read More
15 May
driving tips, lamborghini, max venturi, imola racetrack, how to drive fast and safe, braking, corners

How to drive fast and safe

Driving tips from Lamborghini Max Venturi has a name designed for speed. It’s no wonder he’s ended up as Lamborghini’s chief test driver and driving instructor. He’s the kind of guy who spends his days behind the wheel of a 350 km/h car and has been featured on television shows like Top Gear. Now, today, the poor man has the task of trying to teach me how to drive a half a million dollar Lamborghini. And not just any old Lamborghini – the brand new Aventador, which currently has a two year waiting list, with the factory unable to keep up with the demand for this beast. I’m at the Lamborghini Academy at the famous Imola racetrack in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. There are seven of us at the school today and I fear I am the least experienced. One of the others I speak to has six cars at home...

Read More
14 May