After only 1.15h via high speed train from Milan to Reggio Emilia, you'll find yourselves in a beautiful region off-the-tourist-tracks, where you'll be able to experience an authentic slice of Italy.The serene landscape of the Appenino Tosco Emiliano green hills gives way to typical pretty Italian towns, filled with local shops and authentic places where time almost seems to be standing still.
The weekend begins at Tenuta Venturini Baldini, a historic estate in the hills Terre di Canossa in Emilia. Immersed in about 320 acres of green at the heart of the Food Valley and Motor Valley, home to slow food and fast cars, such as Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Ducati, this sustainable family estate is your perfect hub to explore Emilia.
Inside the estate, the wine and balsamic relais Roncolo 1888 will be your home from home in Emilia, a boutique hotel with 12 rooms and suites immersed in lush nature. It’s the perfect place to switch off and recharge in nature, while tasting local excellences and the estate’s own organic wine and balsamic vinegar.
After enjoying your breakfast spread in the garden, hop on the estate’s vintage defender and head over to the Castello di Bianello, one of the four fortresses of Matilda di Canossa built on four hills and dominating the plains below.
Born as a defensive outpost - the Canossa wall against the dangers of "Lombardy"- the Castello di Bianello over the centuries has been the residence and fortress of the Canossa family until the mid-18th century, then an elegant noblemen residence. The original building comprised the tower located on the western side and it is possible to see several traces and elements that testify the various phases of expansion of the castle.
During your visit you’ll be able to admire the kitchens in the basement, the prison, the rooms of the twentieth-century villa and the room with the painting by Matilde di Canossa on the ground floor. The neo-baroque staircase will lead you to the noble floor with frescoed rooms and ballrooms and chapels, all still furnished. It is said that there is the ghost of a lady walking the halls of Castello di Bianello, and many visitors attest they have indeed seen or heard her.
No trip in Emilia would be complete without a visit to a Parmigiano Reggiano farm.
Fattoria Rossi is a family-run farm with only 300 cows and 800 pigs raised in semi-wild, based on a high respect for the animals and the first farm in the milk industry to be antibiotic free, ensuring the animals’ lives to be way longer than usual.
At the farm guests will have the chance to visit the Parmigiano cellars, where cheese is left to mature, and have a Parmigiano tasting accompanied by cured meats and wine. They also have a shop where you can buy all the parmigiano and prosciutto di parma you desire.
For dinner we suggest Osteria in Scandiano, only 20 mins from Roncolo 1888. The restaurant is a family business offering a warm, family atmosphere and a traditional menu inspired by the local region, with typical dishes such as gnocco fritto and cappelletti in capon broth. Osteria in Scandiano is housed inside Villa Palazzina and its interior boasts period frescoes and an elegant style.
Leaving the countryside behind, on the final day of this trip we suggest you head towards Reggio Emilia, a charming and colorful town.
Also known as the Tricolor Flag town, as the future Italian flag was adopted here for the first time, Reggio Emilia has an ancient history, from Matilde di Canossa to the poet Ariosto. Today it’s a town famous for its gastronomy, lifestyle quality and “the best kindergartens in the world”.
Start from Sala del Tricolore and its Museum and then visit Piazza Prampolini with the Cathedral and Town Hall, where you’ll see plenty of locals riding their bikes. Crossing the Broletto arcades, reach the small Piazza San Prospero, home to the traditional market, and Piazza Fontanesi. The town also hosts three theaters that frame one the town’s squares: Teatro Valli, an opera house, Teatro Ariosto and Teatro Cavallerizza, the youngest and most innovative.
To get your art fix, visit Spazio Gerra with its contemporary art exhibitions, the Maramotti private collection where you’ll get to see Basquiat, Bacon and Fontana, and Palazzo Magnani, which usually hosts photography and modern art exhibitions.
Stop for lunch at Caffè Arti e Mestieri, a restaurant located in one of the most beautiful secret courtyards in town, which is also home to the Max Mara beautiful flagship store. Here, you should try the erbazzone, a thin pastry filled with cooked green leaves and herbs, and cappelletti with parmigiano cream. Another great option for a quick lunch or an aperitif is Casa delle Sementi.
Should you want to indulge some more into the amazing Emilian food, pay a visit to the Clinica Gastronomica Arnaldo restaurant, located between Reggio Emilia and Modena. This Michelin-starred restaurant is set in an old grocery store of the early 1400s and offers the best of the Emilia traditional cuisine.
On your way back home, don’t forget to admire the bridges designed by architect Santiago Calatrava for the Alta Velocità Railway Station.
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