Forget Tuscany—For the Real Italy, Visit Emilia-Romagna

If you’ve ever eaten Italian food—not just in Italy but anywhere in the world—you’ve undoubtedly tasted some of the iconic products that come from Emilia-Romagna: Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto di Parma, mortadella, balsamic vinegar, to name just a few. Yet Emilia-Romagna is rarely the first region that people visit when they go to the boot. That’s a shame because it has an incredible diversity of experiences to offer, from elegant cities like Bologna, Parma, and Modena to beaches in Rimini, vineyards in the countryside, and Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna. Though it’s located just north of Tuscany, it remains blissfully uncrowded and under-the-radar.

“We don’t promote ourselves,” says Massimo Bottura, the superstar chef behind Osteria Francescana and the official ambassador for Emilia-Romagna. “We’re a bit closed. We protect our territory. And that’s why it’s real. This is the real Italy.”

This spring, if you want to visit an under-the-radar alternative to Tuscany, with beautiful scenery, fantastic food and wine, plenty of history, and cultural riches, plan a trip to Emilia-Romagna instead.

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