Home Italian Living

A house, a city, a friendship

Palazzo gotico-PHTagini

There is special city standing at the entrance to Emilia: Piacenza. A city that Leonardo da Vinci described as a “land of passage”, nestled among gentle hills, between the banks of the great Po River and the Apennines. In this post, we want to tell you the story of a singular residence found in the heart of the city of Piacenza, in Piazza Duomo, with its privileged view of the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

Piazza Duomo, Piacenza. PHTagini

Piazza Duomo, Piacenza. PHTagini

A flat that roused our curiosity for its simple, clean style and attention to detail. Giovanna Cavalli is the architect, the creator of the restoration who so expertly and successfully responded to the artistic character of the flat’s owners: Mauro Sargiani, writer and creator of artisanal furniture, and Claudia Losi, an internationally recognised artist.

Casa Emilia – Ph. Daniele Signaroldi

A name, Casa Emilia. A city, Piacenza. A place, Piazza Duomo. These were the three clues that led us to the discovery of this delightful flat on the first floor of a historical building in the old centre of the Emilian city, at the corner of Via Chiapponi. The first time we saw Casa Emilia, it was on a famous website dedicated to architecture and furnishings and, curious, we wanted to discover its story. From the very first moment, our attention was captured by the light-filled spaces and large windows standing out in all their beauty, thanks in part to the wrought iron grilles in Art Nouveau style.

Casa Emilia – Ph. Daniele Signaroldi

Casa Emilia presents itself in all of its uniqueness; its rooms are graced with furniture designed specially by the owner, and even the pivoting doors are the fruit of his genius. The spaces are made to seem especially spacious through the decision to maintain a minimalist taste for the furnishings. It is an elegance that brings to mind modern design collecting.

Casa Emilia – Ph. Daniele Signaroldi

The walls are white and wood is the preferred material, in harmony with the floors covered in colourful ceramic and “cementine” tiles that Giovanna was able to masterfully salvage, as with the old ceiling vaults. The kitchen is the queen of the house, a site of conviviality and where Mauro and Claudia host the cooking lessons given by their friend Sara. This large spacious room has become a stage for a small theatre of the culinary arts, where each evening the curtains are drawn to reveal the delights that Sara, founder of the Circolo della Cucina, so passionately prepares, explaining to participants the secrets of exquisite dishes made from scratch, according to tradition.

Casa Emilia – Ph. Daniele Signaroldi

As we deepened our discovery of Casa Emilia, we realised that this residence is much more than a simple tastefully and elegantly restored flat.
It is a home tells the story of a deep friendship that binds Giovanna, Mauro, Claudia and Sara overlooking the heart of Piacenza.

Small curiosities.

Mauro and Claudia are artists and the owners of Casa Emilia. Mauro studied Literature, Philosophy and History of Arts at the universities of Bologna and Parma.
He worked with artists and intellectuals including the well-known writer and translator Gianni Celati, who was a meaningful teacher for Mauro.
In 1994 he decided to create the first table conversation and with this artwork the adventure of Elefante Rosso Produzioni has begun.

Claudia studied in the Academy of Art in Bologna and in the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures. She took part in workshops and periods of studies in Italy and abroad. Her research is focused on the relation of the man and the sorrounding environment and on relations between the individual and the community.
She exhibited her works in Italy and abroad.

Giovanna is architect and works in Piacenza. She graduated at the Politecnico of Milano she renovated Casa Emilia. Giovanna has also collaborated with the ONLUS Associazione Architetti Senza Frontiere Italia ONLUS  where she still works.

Sara is a foodblogger.
Born and raised in Piacenza, she studied Art Graphics at the Accademia di Belle Arti and she works in the industry of communication. She loves cooking and sharing her homemade recipes with friends. From this passion the idea of a food blog has come out: “Il Circolo della Cucina”.

Casa Emilia and the food courses

 

Food & Drink

Artisanal gelato tradition and innovation

Carpigiani

Our exploration of Emilia is next leading us to Anzola Emilia, a little town just outside Bologna, on Via Emilia, where you can find Carpigiani, the company that wrote the history of artisanal gelato with its gelato-making machines. Founded in 1946 by Poerio Carlo Carpigiani, who was born in Reggio Emilia and earned a degree from the University of Bologna in Economics and Business, Carpigiani is an industry leader in the manufacture of machines for making artisanal gelato and soft ice cream.

Photo Carpigiani Gelato Museum

Good Italian gelato, traditional gelato, the one we love so much, is a sweet delight celebrated in all of its forms and enjoyed well beyond the summer months. If you love gelato, too, and want to find out about its origins, we recommend a trip to the Museo del Gelato (the gelato museum), which was founded in 2012 by Carpigiani. Visiting the museum is a little bit like becoming children again, full of curiosity about how gelato was made once upon a time.

The Museo del Gelato will guide you through the evolution of gelato-making technology exploring three themes: the evolution of gelato, the history of gelato-making technology and ways of enjoying gelato. In the exhibition space, which spreads out over more than 1,000 square metres, you can admire twenty original machines and ten thousand photographs and documents that tell the story of one of best-loved treats in the world: artisanal gelato.

Photo Carpigiani Gelato Museum

But the surprises do not end there … if you want to transform your passion for gelato into a real profession, or even just spend a few hours exploring the theme through a course, check out the Carpigiani Gelato University. The school teaches gelato culture and its aim is to spread the passion for enjoying an artisanal food with the power to inspire strong emotions.

Carpigiani Gelato University Graduation Ceremony

How many memories revolve around a cone topped with chocolate gelato and whipped cream … or strawberry and lemon … indelible sensations that come back every time we have the chance to enjoy good artisanal gelato.
It is impossible to forget the muggy, hot days of summer, spent playing in the street with childhood friends and the uncontainable joy of sitting on a bench with a cone in hand topped with two scoops of colourful gelato; it seemed to be the best we’d ever had. Such a simple pleasure, that leaves us so content and full of happiness.

Long live gelato!

 

Translation by Blue

Culture, Leisure

The Via Emilia of gardens to discover

B_fEPEVWcAEmuMa

In early May, in the Sunday supplement of the The Sun, ‘Sun on Sunday’, an article was published that listed Via Emilia among the top twenty best roads in the world for road trips.
In the article, reporter Lisa Minot talks about the reasons that inspired her to include Via Emilia on a global list of ‘dream roads’, with the famed ‘Route 66’, which crosses the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast, in the number one spot.

This is a recognition that we hope will increase the visibility of Emilia, a region filled with treasures and an artistic and cultural heritage worthy of promotion throughout Italy and abroad. Talking about Via Emilia, we want to linger awhile and tell you about the wondrous gardens overlooking it from Piacenza to Bologna.

Admiring, appreciating and experiencing the wonder hidden at every site, at different times of day, in different seasons, means discovering their colours, fragrances and light. These are the emotions that gardens awaken in the hearts of those who admire them, since they reveal the extraordinary beauty of nature.

Translation by Blue

The Garden of the Castle of Grazzano Visconti – Piacenza

The Garden of the Castle of Grazzano Visconti  was created between the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century by the Duke Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone. The garden is characterised by a great variety of arboreous species, and on the 150,000 square metre park, a number of specimens more than one hundred years old stand out impressively, including a maple-shaped plane-tree more than 150 years old, an 80-year-old lime-tree and a splendid group of lebanon citron-trees. The park also hosts owls, woodpeckers, red foxes, badgers, squirrels, nuthatches, jackdaws and other animals that make with their presence the visit to the park, an experience even more memorable.

Castle and Park of Grazzano Visconti

Inside the park there is a special area called Butterfly Heaven. This special area is characterised by old fruit trees and aromatic essences dedicated to butterflies and to those who love these creatures. The plants chosen to attract butterflies and ladybirds include buddleia, lavender, aster, veronica and verbena. At the entrance of the garden there is the XIV century Castle. The show is truly spectacular at the back of the castle, where a masonry exedra, with columns alternating with statues and urns, bounds a Baroque basin with a multi-layer design.

Garden of Grazzano Visconti

The Park of Grazzano Visconti is an eclectic garden, where different inspirations live together in harmony: the rational lines of the Italian garden and paths, which seem to direct one’s view coexist with the romantic atmosphere created by the wooded areas and the sinuous paths that advance in the play of light and shade among the trees. The park is part of the circuit Grandi Giardini Italiani.

Opening hours: Paid admission only with guided tours. For further details see the official website of the park.

Source: Castello di Grazzano Visconti and Grandi Giardini Italiani

Culture, Leisure

The green rooms of Emilia

Labirinto Foto aerea (Foto di Carlo Vannini)

Walking among Emilia’s green rooms, gardens to be discovered, admired and photographed. Lingering to enjoy their beauty, their perfumes and their colours. Flourishing gardens that reflect the harmony between humankind and nature, an art form with a simple beauty that fills us with joy. Gardens enchant us and transform into ever changing worlds with the passage of the seasons. This page is dedicated to the green rooms of our beloved Emilia, where the gardens take the stage. Worlds in miniature that follow their own rules, gardens that have enchanted writers, poets, artists and illustrious figures. With the sky above our heads, we stop to admire the beauty of nature, the mirror of an authentic landscape.
A new wonder is about to be unveiled, a garden unique in all the world for its architectural labyrinth. The biggest in the world. A garden found in the little town of Fontanellato in the Province of Parma … a singular garden with a fascinating story.

Translation by Blue

The Labyrinth of Franco Maria Ricci, Fontanellato (PR)

The publisher Franco Maria Ricci, a passionate art collector and bibliophile, has devoted the past decade to create, on his property in Fontanellato (Parma), a brilliant visionary project: a monumental green labyrinth. The star-shaped maze, which will open in June 2015, covers seven hectares.

The labyrinth from the Belvedere – Photo credit Mauro Davoli

This masterpiece represents the largest labyrinth in the world. It is entirely made up of bamboo plants (about 200,000 altogether), whose height ranges from 30 cm up to 15 metres. The path is more than 3 km long. It is a path to venture down and get lost in, in which to let your mind wander and reflec.

Inner view of the labyrinth – Photo credit Massimo Listri

Why a labyrinth. From The Labyrinth of Franco Maria Ricci

Labyrinths have always fascinated me. Along with gardens, they are among humanity’s
most ancient inventions. I first envisaged building a labyrinth twenty years ago, at a period in time when I frequently had one guest in particular staying at my house in the
countryside near Parma –a friend, not to mention a hugely important contributor to the publishing house I had recently founded: the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. It is widely known that the labyrinth has always been one of his favourite topics; the trajectories traced by his hesitant blind man’s steps reminded me of the uncertainties faced by those who, during their life’s journey, negotiate enigma and forks in the road.
I believe that it was watching him and talking to him about the strange routes men follow that sparked the initial idea for my project. As you know, when Minos had his Labyrinth built –as a prison– he had dark and cruel intentions in mind; I imagined a benevolent version, that would also be a garden, where people could walk in safety, perhaps getting lost every once in a while. My passion for bamboo –that elegant plant,
so rarely used in the West, especially in Italy– gave me the material for the project.
From then on, and over the last few years in particular, the undertaking has absorbed much of my time.

Photo credit Mauro Davoli

This awesome garden is part of the project  Grandi Giardini Italiani “100 Gardens for EXPO 2015”. Useful Information. If you want to visit and spend a day at the Labyrinth, have a look at the opening hours and admission fees:

From June 1, 2015
Every day from 10:30am to 7pm
Tuesday: closing day

Single ticket (Permanent Collection + temporary exhibition + labyrinth) 18,00 €
Groups (+ 15 pers.) 15,00 €

Culture, Food & Drink, Traditional products

The Land of Lambrusco

Vigneto autunnale

The travel has started. Itineraries aimed at the discovery of the land of Lambrusco. Emilia is a place full of farms that are related to the production of this red sparkling wine, the Lambrusco. It represents for us coming from Emilia “The Wine” that cannot miss on Sundays and in celebrations. Many shades of red, many types of fragrances that are mixed with traditions.

The production area of ​​Lambrusco is quite big and it goes  for hundreds of kilometers, and every time we sit down for having our meal with homemade food prepared by the hands of the “razdore”, a bottle of Lambrusco can not miss. Lambrusco wine tells the stories of farmers and families devoted to the production of this sparkling sweet or dry red wine.

With this article we start the travel among the farms that with their work, can transform juicy grapes into the nectar of Lambrusco.

Culture, Food & Drink, Homemade recipe, Traditional products

The Emilia food tradition

Photo credit Morena Silvestri

Emilia is famous for its culinary tradition and its typical products such as the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Parmigiano Reggiano, Tortellini (the name changes depending on the city where we are, but the recipe almost stays the same), Lambrusco and the Parma ham, Salame Felino, just to name a few. A land rich in food traditions that make us proud to live here and enjoy this heritage. We love to reinvent the tradition paying great attention to quality. Emilia, the land of conviviality and respect for high quality food and wine culture that has made this lands with its products famous worldwide.

Culture, Leisure

The Orange Flags of Emilia Romagna

Each year the Italian Touring Club awards with the Orange flags the most beautiful places in Italy and we wait for the name of the small villages with great expectation.
A few days ago, the major Italian newspapers have given the long-awaited news, as well as the official press release of the Touring Club. The Emilia Romagna this year was awarded with 20 Orange flags. The small villages with its beauties, traditions and culture from Piacenza to Rimini have entered this aspiring recognition. Wondering places and locations that are part of an undiscovered and unknown Italy characterised by excellence and treasures ready to welcome us as guests.
Here it is the list of the “winners”: Bagno di Romagna (FC), Bobbio (PC), Brisighella (RA), Busseto (PR), Castell’Arquato (PC), Castelvetro di Modena (MO), Castrocaro Terme and Terra del Sole (FC), Fanano (MO), Fiumalbo (MO), Fontanellato (PR), Longiano (FC), Montefiore Conca (RN), Monteleone (part of the municipality of Roncofreddo) (FC), Pennabilli (RN ), Portico and San Benedetto (FC), Premilcuore (FC), San Leo (RN), Sestola (MO), Verucchio (RN) and Vigoleno (part of the municipality of Vernasca) (PC).

According to the Touring Club this year  2000 enquiries were submitted and only 9% of them got the Orange flag and the Emilia Romagna is third after Tuscany and Piedmont by number of flags assigned.
Soon we’ll tell you a bit more about these awesome places that are located in  Emilia and that have been awarded by the Italian Touring Club. We will share with you another great adventure in this part of Italy just around the corner from the famous Tuscany.

Culture, Leisure, Traditional products

Ancient charme

Sala di rappresentanza

An ancient fortress with its elegance and charm that tells of ancient times, of brave knights and ladies from sumptuous clothes. The Castle of Compiano welcomes us in all its splendor within its walls made of old bricks. The manor is located in the small village of Compiano in the Province of Parma. The castle dominates with its towers and its four-sided shape.
A charming place that we decided to reach on two wheels, riding our Harley Davidson StreetGlide. The face caressed by the cool breeze and the scent of the spring have gone with us on our journey.

Parco 1
We suggest you to visit the Castle of Compiano and enter into the several rooms to catch the essence of this fortress. It has also become a charming facility, ready to welcome guests from around the world. The restaurant of the castle can offer the traditional menu of Emilia. Nothing more appropriate to spend a day traveling through time, savoring what tradition can offer. Share with us your experience at the Castle of Compiano. Send us your photos and we will happy to publish them in the gallery.

Heritage and Landscape

Take a tour

IMG_5258

#worthavisit this is how CiaoEmilia.com starts to be on Twitter! In the following days we will write new pages, new stories that tell the Emilia. Wine tasting tours, some oddities of an undiscovered land that has much to show. The Cathedral of Modena, is part of UNESCO heritage, with its famous Ghirlandina Tower that is projected high in the sky and shows its infinte beauty.