Slow Food and Fast Cars Tour: Modena, Italy

13 people (lucky number!) joined Truffle Toast Home for the “Land of Slow Food and Fast Cars” tour in Modena and Maranello…  They came from the US, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, the UK, France, Italy and Switzerland to enjoy together this unique “Terroir”, still off the beaten path for most, but so rich in food, wine, culture, friendly people and sports car enthusiasts.

As soon as we arrived, we mixed with the local crowd, slowing from our crazy lives to enjoy local aperitivi on the main square facing the Duomo and Ghirlandina tower at local Café Concerto, listening to the piano while getting to know each other. Some stayed out quite late, but most went back to the hotel to get ready for the first visits …

And what a start we had the following morning with the guided tour of the Ferrari Museum and the visit of the Scuderia track in Fiorano and of the Ferrari Factory in Maranello… but probably the highlight was to be able to test some of the latest Ferrari models on the road, with an instructor on the passenger seat to get the best out of these incredible machines!  Lunch at the Cavallino restaurant (where Enzo Ferrari himself had his meals every day) was all about sharing those unique emotions behind the wheel.

In the afternoon, we left breath-taking engineering marvels behind to enjoy the visit of a Renaissance and Baroque jewel – the Ducal Palace in Sassuolo. The recently cleaned frescoes were so vivid and vibrant they seemed to come out of the walls, creating surprising perspectives and making us daydreaming of the balls organized for the privileged European nobility. The entire group fell in love with this Italian hidden treasure, which in any other country would be a top 10 architectural attraction, but here just blended into the daily life of this small town.

It was not until the first evening, when we had dinner at a local Trattoria, that we understood what David Rosengarten wrote on Forbes “If you ask an Italian where the best food is in Italy…if you push it to a regional discussion…as I have hundreds of times…the most likely answer is Emilia-Romagna…the wondrous north-central region that lies in the fertile Po River Valley.” The tortellini, ravioli, and strigoli were so delicious we could not stop eating… until the waiters brought gnocco and tigelle, a local delicacy eaten with prosciutto, salami and all sorts of tasty cold cuts – only Lambrusco wine allowed us to digest all that food and make it safe back to the hotel with our private bus.

The following day, it was all about food and wine: first, the amazing visit to a Parmesan cheese making facility (the “King of Cheese” has no comparison in our book, particularly the Red Cow variety); second, the guided tour of the oldest Balsamic Vinegar production in the world (in the hands of the Giusti family for 17th generations)… they were just the prelude to the most amazing lunch we could have dreamt of. If our expectations of Osteria Francescana three-star Michelin restaurant were incredibly high after having watched Chef’s Table Netflix episode, the reality went way beyond our wildest dreams. Meeting Chef Massimo Bottura and hearing about his passion and the story behind each dish was absolutely inspiring… Let’s just say that some of us were moved when tasting some of the dishes – and the wine pairing was just perfect!

The afternoon we had a guided visit of the center of Modena to walk off the food, but we were still unable to turn into words the amazing food experience we just had.  So it was not until the wine tasting at Archer Bar that we started reliving and sharing the experience at Osteria, with our tongues helped by some of the best Italian vino from this region and beyond. We then walked to the Maison Café, where we just had some mouth-watering local tapas and kept sharing stories until late night.

The final day, we visited a couple of great villages in the countryside – winding down from all the activities, strolling around, trying more unique food (Barozzi cake, cherries of Vignola) and learning about the long history of the region always, which had to fight for independence while building such a rich food culture and an amazing mix of agricultural and industrials wonders.

In the “Land of Slow Food and Fast Cars” we enjoyed great foods and great wines, but more than anything else what we realized by the end of the few days together is that sharing such remarkable experiences had created a deeper friendship that we would have imagined possible at the beginning of this journey.  It is a tour we will not easily forget – the foundation of a community of likeminded friends that will share dear memories and already cannot wait to reunite in Alba for the “Land of White Truffle and Red Barolo” in November…

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