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Often overlooked in favour of its neighbour, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna is one not to be missed on a foodie's itinerary. Extending from the Apennine mountains to the Po river in the north, this verdant region is where a lot of Italy's most well-known produce comes from, including balsamic vinegar from Modena, Prosciutto, Parmesan cheese and, of course, Bolognese.
It's considered by many to be the heart of Italian food, but that's not all that's on offer here. The capital, Bologna, is filled with medieval architecture and the world's oldest university, but doesn't have the crowds that the likes of Florence and Rome attract. The train links here are fantastic and it's easy to explore the nearby towns of Parma, Modena and Ravenna which are equally as picturesque. Emilia-Romagna is also the home of the automobile and is where some of Italy's most famous car-makers are based, including Lamborghini, Maserati, Ducati and Ferrari.
Direct flights to Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ) are available from London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Stansted, Edinburgh, Bristol and Manchester and take approximately 2 hours 15 minutes.
The region of Emilia Romagna is known as the gastronomic capital of Italy, and as such offers a range of delicious specialities for visitors to sample. Perhaps the most famous is the original spaghetti Bolognese or tagliatelle al ragu as known locally; created in Bologna, the dish is served with tagliatelle pasta which is wider and flatter than the more familiar spaghetti, giving the meaty sauce more to stick to.
Another regional favourite is piadine. This flatbread is served with sweet or savoury fillings and often takes the place of bruschetta found widely in other Italian regions, perfect to enjoy for a quick lunch or snack.
Two more commonly found ingredients are Prosciutto di Parma, or Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano, Parmesan cheese. Produced from the hills of Parma and the region crossing both Parma and Reggio respectively, these infamous specialities are far more flavoursome than usually found in your local supermarket and are must-tries.
Finally, those exploring the region must stop by Modena and pick up some locally produced balsamic vinegar, or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena to bring home. Visitors who are interested in the process can tour the factories that produce this famous export, or just enjoy with some olive oil and piadine bread.