Both my husband, Shawn and I work in restaurants and you could say we are pretty passionate about food and beverage. A lot of the choices we make when traveling directly correlates with one or both of those things so you can imagine why visiting Emilia Romagna was at the top of our list.
Modena is home to one of the top restaurants in the world, Osteria Francescana, as seen on the nextflix show, A Chef’s Table, named a few years back as the number one restaurant in the world. Chef Massimo Bottura takes local cuisine and turns it into a masterpiece. Unfortunately we did not have the time or money to dine there this trip but we will be returning to this beautiful town just for this restaurant. Besides being home to one of the top restaurants in the world, it is also home to Balsamic Vinegar production. Modena has a few UNESCO sites, Piazza Grande and the Cathedral of Modena, as well as, one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Modena, founded in 1175.
the symbol on Modena sidewalks directing people to food and drinks, which will probably be one of my next tattoos.
San Giuseppe, a church near the train station, not a UNESCO site but beautiful nonetheless
We arrived in Modena by way of train from Rome. Unbeknownst to us the first of May is a holiday called May Day where basically everything is closed. We had taken a very early train that morning and arrived to the town starving. Upon realizing that the bed and breakfast we booked was not only out side of town but the bus that could take us there would not arrive for quite some time, Shawn and I set out on foot to find somewhere to grab a bite of food and set our baggage down. Literally everything we could find was closed. We ended up in a small bar having a mediocre snack and wasting time until we could head to the bed and breakfast. We toured around on foot for a bit while attempting to find somewhere but ended up back at the only place we saw open. We also headed to a local budget grocery that was open, unsure of what food would be available upon our arrival. We only grabbed the staples of prosciutto, arugula, parmesan and some tomatoes. Making our way back to the train station we decided to take a cab rather than hope to figure out way out on bus as we had just missed the most recent one.
I had no idea how far out in to the country we were going to end up going and immediately started to feel worried with my choice of place to stay. As you know, I’m a broke girl and I am always looking for a deal and no wonder La Selvatica had been such a deal, it was in the middle of the country with not even a store insight. Our cab driver knew exactly where we were going thankfully. Once I stepped out of the cab I almost instantly fell in love with the property. It was weird and quirky, artistic and beautiful. Our host had been at a barbeque for the holiday and had not only left us a key in but had previous invited us to join him. We wouldn’t make it in time to join but the generosity was outstanding. La Selvatica has been one of my all time favorite places to stay as well as Enrico has been one of my all time favorite host. When he and his family arrived back at the property we got on right away. He offered everything available in his home to us.
La Selvatica translates to ‘the wild one’ which I think its pretty cool and an accurate description for this home – and incidentally, again, probably one of my next tattoos.
the kitchen at La Selvatica
just a few of the little quirky details that made La Selvatica so special to me.
We began our stay getting to know Enrico and his family and offered to make dinner for everyone. It was such a gratifying experience being able to give thanks to this family for offering up their home. It was even better when we saw how much they enjoyed it. Being able to take ingredients in a foreign country, using a stove you don’t know how to use very well, and incorporating leftovers of something you aren’t sure of what it is, AND still seeing how much someone enjoys it is a great, reassuring feeling. Our original plan had to be to depart from La Selvactica the following day and head to Genoa but the more we chatted, the more we didn’t want to go. Enrico told us about the balsamic farm, mere yards away from us, Acetaia Malagoli Guido and how he could set up a tour for us the following day, for free. As well as the parmesan cheese farm, Serafina, just a little further away. It was everything we had come to Emilia Romagna for! And it was literally under our noses in a small bed and breakfast that we hadn’t even known where it was when we booked it! We checked our train tickets and saw they were refundable and our hotel was pay upon arrival so we canceled everything and spoke with Enrico about staying another night and we were so glad we did. We sat by the fire that evening and learned about Enrico’s family. Giovanni, his brother, was a little different from the rest of us but Giovanni had more in life than so many of us could hope to accomplish, someone he loved and who loved him back, and cared for him, as well as had traveled to so many places I only hope to go. It was just such an uplifting place that I had needed to find for such a long time. Enricos adorable son was sucked in by The Jungle Book for hours at a time, cheerful, and singing along. A lot of the time I get caught up in all the things we are doing and places we are traveling and this peaceful little place out in the wild countryside of Modena had been a trip I badly needed to take – and I hadn’t even known it.
Check out our next post where we visit Acetaia Malagoli Guido, the balsamic farm and a few other local surprises, right here.