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It’s official, Parma is now ambassador of the Food Valley worldwide:  the city has been declared the Italian Creative UNESCO City for Gastronomy, underlining and honouring the extraordinary wine and food traditions of the Emilia Romagna region.  In fact, this region holds the record for number of DOP and IGP products and is most definitely what the American Forbes magazine has defined as Italy’s greatest economic treasure.

Parma is one of the ‘tastiest’ cities in the world and is well known for its food products of excellence. To cite just a few of the local treasures:Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Culatello from Zibello, Felino salame and the Porcini mushrooms from Borgotaro. Amongst the signature dishes which must be tasted is the mouth watering torta fritta eaten with cold cuts, the famous tortelli or envelopes of fresh pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese and Swiss chard and the cappelletti, or anolini, small shapes of fresh pasta stuffed with the boiled meats used to make the broth in which they are served and which are a speciality of the Christmas festivity season. A famous main course from the city is ‘stracotto’ cooked slowly and at great length in meat broth.

Parma is, of course, famous also for music and art as well as fine food and the concept behind Food Valley is not only good food,  it is a way of life.  The UNESCO proclamation is an extraordinary recognition of this reality where tradition is accompanied by a noteworthy capacity for innovation in the field of food safety and research thanks to the presence of the EFSA, European Food Safety Authority, in the city since 2003.  Haute cuisine is also represented with Alma, the international cooking school headed by the famous Chef Gualtiero Marchesi. Add to all this starred restaurants and welcoming trattorie, international shows and trade fairs centred on food, Cibus to name just one, as well as farmer’s markets and local celebrations of territorial specialities everything invites the visitor to stroll and taste and celebrate food produced and served at 0 km.

There are at present 69 members of the UNESCO network of Creative Cities with 32 countries represented in seven creative ambits: Craft and Folk Art, Design, Cinema, Food, Literature, Music and the Digital Arts. A certain number of cities in Emilia Romagna have received this prestigious recognition and together form an ideal tour along the Via Emilia.  Starting the tour in the west of the region the visitor will taste the specialities of Parma before continuing to the Ghirlandina of Modena,  then the music of Bologna, the ceramics of Faenza, the historical Palazzi of Ferrara until finally arriving at the east coast and the wonderful mosaics of Ravenna.  The Emilia Romagna region is well situated as a link between north and central-south Italy near to the Cinque Terre, to Tuscany, Venice and Milan which can be reached from the most important Italian cities using the modern high speed trains.

Bologna is the largest city in the region and has been proclaimed UNESCO City of Music for the wealth of festivals and initiatives dedicated to the art; with its miles of arcaded streets, its towers and a historical centre amongst the best preserved in Italy as well as one of the oldest Universities in the world, the city of Bologna, nicknamed  “la Rossa” because of the dominant colour of the city roofs which evocate the medieval past, boasts a significant cultural and historical heritage. Modena, Ferrara and Ravenna have been proclaimed World Heritage Sites by UNESCO  for their universally recognized cultural and natural excellence. Modena with its architectural treasures is a wonderful union of tradition and innovation and leaves visitors spellbound as they travel between culture and good food.  The Renaissance city of Ferrara which houses an extraordinary wealth of Palazzi, houses, churches, squares, roads, gardens and works of art conserved in its museums, represents one of the most significant urban projects in Europe.  The UNESCO recognition also includes the territory of the Po river delta and ‘le Delizie’ or former residences of ‘delight’ of the Este family, one of the highest expressions of renaissance culture within a natural setting. Ravenna, the city of mosaics, is a jewel box of art, history and culture from its glorious past, characterized by incredible cultural possibilities thanks to the tight network of museums and monuments.  The city is also appreciated for its airy countryside of vales and canals along which can be seen the traditional fishermen’s nets and the centuries old pine woods giving on to sandy, well run beaches.

Thanks to its long experience and depth of knowledge of the territory, Parma Incoming is well placed to lead you to discover the marvels of Parma, latest addition to the UNESCO family as Creative City for Gastronomy, and an extraordinary region of precious UNESCO sites. Check out our Food Experiences!