Emilia Romagna: by motorcycle in the food valley

If the heart has its reasons, then flavour has its regions, cities and, in rare cases, an entire valley. Welcome to Emilia-Romagna, a vibrant land of motors, home to Verdi and Fellini, Lucio Dalla and Lambrusco, and known to the rest of the world as the Food Valley.

An immense valley crossed by the river Po and embraced by the hills, close to the Adriatic Sea but also the Alps and the Apennines and extending as far as Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and Bologna, strongholds of the Emilian food and wine culture. A land kissed by fortune and fair winds, one that nature has made fertile and abundant with its beneficial combinations and that the Emilian people have made famous across the world thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit. And it is thanks to this age-old partnership between nature and humankind that this particular region is home to the greatest number of DOP and IGP delicacies in Europe. Cherries from Vignola, mushrooms from Borgotaro and rice from the Po Delta are just some of the forty-four certified products making up one of Italy’s richest food and wine patrimonies. 

In this fast-moving land, driven by the authenticity of flavours and the power of engines, a motorcyclist can only feel at home. Here, every road leads to a small world, every place guards its own standout product and every standout product deserves a closer look. So if you’re looking for a short tour on which to ‘exercise’ your new Multistrada 950 S “GP White”, head for the Food Valley and get ready for a memorable and truly flavourful experience.

Langhirano. The king of prosciutto.

They call it “Il Parma”, with no need to specify the product name. Around these parts, foodies and all lovers of marbled and cured meats know exactly what is meant. This prosciutto crudo, one of the best in the world with its sweet and penetrating flavour, is a clear contender in the Olympics of Emilian delicacies. While the production chain and pride in an age-old tradition is evident across the entire Parma province, it is the small town of Langhirano that takes the title of number one fan. In this valley, carved out of the Parma brook, surrounded by green hills, and strewn with buildings where pork legs are hand-salted and left to age for months, prosciutto crudo is the undisputed king, celebrated with its very own festival in September and ready to be tasted in the many trattorias and delicatessens that organise guided tours and tastings. 

Tortellino Rules. Mid-way between Modena and Bologna.

As soon as you mention filled pasta, a debate will break out. Are they called tortellini or cappelletti? Are they filled with meat or cheese? Served with cream or broth? Navel or hat shaped? And, above all, Modena or Bologna? As ever, the truth lies somewhere between the two, in Castelfranco Emilia to be precise, mid-way between the two cities that compete for paternity of the tortelletto, the precursor to the famous Emilian tortellino. There may be many legends, recipes handed down through the generations and specific rules regarding preparation, but only one thing is certain: it’s impossible not to feel moved when seeing the confident hands and repetitive gestures of the women who stretch the pasta dough, such a big part of most Italians’ childhood memories. Parking your bike to taste the renowned tortellino is a moral obligation. And you can do so in Modena or Bologna, in any one of the restaurants, delicatessens or pasta shops that won prizes during the 2019 Tortellino d’Oro competition.

Zibello, the kingdom of culatello.

Zibello counts just 910 inhabitants and one very famous citizen, known the world over: culatello. The care with which this renowned cured meat is processed has little to do with a production chain and a lot to do with an act of love. Massaged with salt, pepper, cinnamon, garlic and dry white wine and “dressed” with all the trimmings, it is then left to rest in underground cellars for at least 18 months. Despite man’s dedication and passion, it is nature that once again makes the biggest contribution. The vicinity of the Po river and the classic fog of the Parma lowlands, combined with the heat of summer, help give culatello its delicate and extremely sweet flavour. In the birthplace of food tourism, where every delicacy has its own museum, culatello has its own domain in Polesine Parmense. We suggest you take a ride through the hills around Parma, enjoying the area’s charm before stopping for lunch in one of many trattorias.

Parma. Your majesty Parmigiano Reggiano.

They say that in order to achieve perfection “two summers” must pass, or rather two long years of aging, during which the cheese reaches its peak in terms of flavour. Parmigiano Reggiano is created according to an informal, simple method, like a dialect that stands the test of time. The absolute rockstar of the Food Valley and a global flagbearer of the Made in Italy, Parmigiano has its home in Parma, a UNESCO creative city of gastronomy, where it is celebrated in a thousand different ways, with tastings at cheese factories, themed itineraries and food experiences of every kind. While the gastronomic offer adapts to the needs of today’s consumers, what remains unchanged over time is the production method, that “personal touch” that comes from the cheese-maker and not a machine and the ancient custom of preparing the milk which is far from industrial and keeps Parmigiano anchored to an artisan dimension that is both authentic and evocative.