As Stanley Tucci showed the world in his TV series Searching for Italy, Emilia-Romagna is a treasure trove for food lovers.
In 2023, the first Italian B Corp hotel opens in Parma. To clarify, B Corporations comprise the innovative companies that pursue profit while maintaining a positive impact on the environment and people. The Palazzo dell’Agricoltore hotel is a philanthropic project that converts a landmark 1950s building, a hallmark of the link between Parma and its rural economy. The idea comes from the local Chiesi and Bollati families, the respective owners of Chiesi Pharmaceuticals and the Davines cosmetic group. Their aim is to create a structure that goes beyond the basic function of a hotel to become a place of holistic regeneration, rest, learning, entertaining, socializing, working, and taking care of yourself. This is just one example of the modernity of Parma, on one hand, the renowned City of Gastronomy, and on the other the current Italian Capital of Culture and innovation.
A constructive tension between roots and experimentation is widespread almost everywhere in Emilia-Romagna and translates into a lifestyle full of taste, meditation breaks, and creative relaunches, from Bologna to Reggio Emilia to Ravenna to Piacenza.
Take Cristina Maresi for example, the owner of the Le Occare estate that sits at the gates of Ferrara. She keeps an ancient orchard with a few guest rooms, and a secret: the recipe for "cooked caviar baked for the amount of time it takes to recite the Our Father [prayer] twice," reveals Mrs. Maresi. This 16th-century comes from Messisbugo, cook for the Este, a noble family. He wrote the recipe in his book, Libro novo nel qual s’insegna a far d’ogni sorte di vivande (New book that teaches us to make every kind of food).
This recipe has since been passed down through Ferrara's Jewish community until 1972, when the latest producer, Matilde Bianconi, closed her shop. It would have disappeared into obscurity if the notary Roberto Brighenti had failed to retrieve the recipe in New York and deliver it to his cook, Giuseppina Bottoni, who taught it to Cristina Maresi who, after finding sturgeon eggs in a farm along the Sile river, becomes the seventh producer of caviar in Italy and the only one making cooked caviar, which she ships around Italy and Europe. If you're in her neck of the woods, stop at Maresi's B&B to enjoy a meal amidst embroidered tablecloths and silver cutlery.