Liguria and Emilia Romagna are two neighboring regions with great culinary traditions.
Their cuisines have been shaped largely by their territorial morphology. For example, Liguria’s narrow spaces between mountains and sea have led to gastronomic protagonists like vegetables, olive oil, legumes, fish and alternative flours such as chestnut and chickpea.
On the other hand, Emilia-Romagna’s landscape between rolling hills and plains have favored the production of soft wheat flour, cheese and meat from grazing livestock. Visiting both regions is a must for foodies who want to taste the best of Italian cuisine!
If you are planning a vacation in Liguria, especially in the area around Cinque Terre – La Spezia, you can easily enrich your stay with a day trip to Parma in Emilia Romagna.
In fact, La Spezia is only 120km (74mi) away from Parma. While there are trains connecting the cities, the most convenient and fastest way is to travel by car.
Logistics apart, what are the culinary reasons for visiting these areas?
What to eat in Liguria?
The province of La Spezia, located along the eastern Italian Riviera, includes the famous Cinque Terre, the lesser-known but beautiful villages of Portovenere, Tellaro and Lerici, and the local capital – La Spezia.
Delicious local products include the silver-bright acciughe (anchovies) from Monterosso, the Riviera Ligure extra virgin olive oil with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), lemons and aromatic herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.
Among the typical dishes are the muscoli ripieni, or local mussels stuffed with seasonal vegetables or with eggs, mortadella and cheese; and healthy fish fritters like frittelle di baccalà and frittelle di bianchetti.
And don’t forget Liguria’s classic dishes, such as pasta al pesto (especially with the trofie and trenette types of pasta); ricotta-and-spinach-stuffed pansotti topped with walnut sauce; and the farinata pancake made with chickpea flour.
For a more detailed insight into local cuisine, read What to Eat in Cinque Terre; while for an overview of regional food, have a look at Liguria, a Perfect Destination for Foodies. For gourmands who want a hands-on and engaging experience, there are options like cooking lessons and wine tasting in heroic vineyards.
What to eat in Emilia?
When you think of Emilia Romagna’s food, the first things that pop to mind are probably Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto di Parma and balsamic vinegar.
Any trip to this region would be incomplete without a visit to a cheese dairy. Dating back to the 13th century, the most famous cooked and pressed cheese can only be produced with specific methods from dairy cows in Emilia Romagna (and in one town in Lombardy, Mantua).
What is the difference between Parmigiano-Reggiano and parmesan cheese? What about ham and prosciutto di Parma?
The best way to find out is to learn with experts, attending the production phases, and tasting the real deal directly in Parma, where they are produced with the PDO recognition – you will be amazed!
The Aceto Balsamico di Modena is another symbol of “Made in Italy”: this organic product with the Protected Geographical Indication label is obtained from the must of grapes that grow in Lambrusco, Trebbiano, Sangiovese, Albana, Ancellotta, Fortana and Montuni vineyards.
Dishes that are typical of Emilia-Romagna’s robust and distinctive cuisine include tortellini, lasagne, tagliatelle, savory pies and other cold cuts like mortadella.
Best Combination for a Liguria-Emilia Romagna Day Trip
If you are vacationing in the Cinque Terre or in the Gulf of Poets and want to make the most out of a day trip in the neighboring foodie paradise of Emilia Romagna, then the best option is to book a private food tour.
Your personal driver can pick you up at La Spezia central station and accompany you around Parma and Modena, so that you won’t have to wait for regional trains and cover lengthy walking distances. Most importantly, our tours with selected insiders guarantee authentic experiences to travel like a local and to stay away from tourist traps.
Our Emilia Romagna Food Tour from Liguria includes visits to a Parmigiano Reggiano Factory with tastings of different aged cheeses; to the idyllic hills of Langhirano or Felino where Parma ham is produced; and to an Acetaia in Modena where you can taste and see how the famous balsamic vinegar is made.
With this experience you can also enjoy lunch in a typical restaurant where you can eat traditional food from Emilia Romagna, such as cheese, cold cuts, fried pie and tortelli.