My tastes from Italy: Veneto & Emilia Romagna


In Veneto there is the most precious jewel of Italy: Venice. A magic moment to visit Venice is during the carnival in February, when hundreds of the inhabitants put on eighteenth century costumes, cover their faces with masks, and parade around the town, disappearing in the “calli” (little pedestrians streets) or along the foggy channels.
The People of Veneto love to drink good wine, especially white, during the day, instead of the classic coffee. Go to a wine bar and ask for an “ombra de vin”. This means “a shadow of Prosecco wine”, and comes from a sixteenth-century tradition of drinking under the shadow of the San Marco bell tower.
I went to Venice for the “Festa del Redentore” . I was on a friend’s boat, from sunset to sunrise. We sailed the lagoon, along with another hundred boats full of people eating and drinking. We stopped in Canal Grande to eat sardelle in saor, waiting for the marvellous fireworks.
700 g fresh sardines
2 eggs
1 lemon
1/2 vinegar
1 pinch of sugar
1 onion
some laurel leafs
grated bread
Clean the sardines carefully. Cut off the heads and remove the entrails. Turn the sardines in the eggs and grated bread twice. Fry the sardines in a frying pan for few minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate covered with absorbent kitchen paper. Throw away the oil and clean the frying pan. Put in the pan lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Add a pinch of sugar. Boil the liquid for 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Put a layer of sardines in a large bowl and cover with slices of onions and laurel leaves, pour the liquid on top. Repeat this operation. The number of layers depends on the size of the bowl. The sardines must all be covered by the liquid. Let them marinate for 24 hours and serve cold. It is a ideal summer dinner….sailing down the river.
A friend of mine says “ if you don’t know the women of Bologna, at least try their cuisine!” .
Every town in Emilia Romagna preserves its local culinary traditions, from Rimini to Parma. The region is well known for ham and salami, and for the king of cheeses: Parmigiano Reggiano.
But Emilia Romagna is also rich in culture. See the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna and listen to the music of the great composer Giuseppe Verdi.
The ancient road joining Emilia to Toscana is a road made by love. In the XVIII century the Duke of Modena built this magnificent marble road (for men and horses) to visit the love of his life: a young noblewoman living on the Tuscan coast. The name of the road is “Via Vandelli”, after the engineer who built it. An unforgettable trekking experience, thath you may try from the Versilia side of from Garfagnana side.
8 slices of veal (not fat)
8 slices of Parma ham
1 egg
100 g butter
70 g grated parmesan
1/2 cup of stock
1/2 glass of white wine
Turn the veal slices in the egg and flour. Fry in butter in a large frying pan until golden. Transfer to a plate covered with absorbent kitchen paper. Put the veal slices in a oven tin with the ham slices on top. Add salt, pepper and the combined hot wine and stock. Sprinkle on the parmesan and bake in a preheated oven to 240°, just to melt the cheese. Serve very hot.

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