Gianluca Fazio is a native of the city of Rimini in Emilia-Romagna and the creator of TheRerumNatura, a collection of breathtaking Italian street photography. Gianluca talks piadina romagnola, the window you need to visit in Bologna, and why Emilia-Romagna is one of the best foodie regions of Italy.
What’s Italian culture?
Italian culture is a very complex and sometimes contradictory mix of traditions coming from different worlds. Italy has millenary influences coming from the Ancient Greece, the Normans, the Spanish, the Romans, the Arabs, the Etrurians, and the Barbarians.
What we call the Italian culture comes from all these ancestors.
You can visit cities close to each other and discover completely different ways of speaking, dialects, architectures, hospitality, and food traditions.
To me, the Italian culture is the synthesis of the peculiar history of this country and the fascinating way people reacted to all these changes towards time.
What do you feel defines the food in the Emilia-Romagna region?
Emilia-Romagna has one of the best cuisines in Italy – it’s characterised by tasty dishes, with stuffed pasta like tortellini and cappelletti and it’s the region which gave birth to lasagne. Many products famous all over the world like parma ham, parmigiano reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar of Modena and Mortadella of Bologna come from Emilia-Romagna. And, of course, the piadina romagnola, a typical street food from Romagna, the southern part of the region, needs to have a special mention! First, because it’s great, then, because it comes from my hometown, Rimini.
All this dishes have something in common – the importance of being tasty, with the perfect balance between gentle and strong taste.
San Marino. Photo: TheRerumNatura
What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Emilia-Romagna without trying?
I suggest that travellers try the different ways piadina romagnola is made by just travelling a few kilometres!
Try a piadina romagnola in Riccione, the entertainment center of Italy, and it will be different from the piadina pomagnola in Rimini, the most advanced beach town in Italy. Then go to Ravenna, the former capital city of the Western Roman Empire, and it’s different again.
I met many people and everybody has a different opinion about which one is the best!
Can you guess which one mine is?
Would that be the one from your hometown of Rimini?
Yes, my favourite version of the piadina is the one from Rimini! But I have to tell you a little secret, if you go to Riccione, just in front of the train station, there’s a little kiosk which makes a delicious piadina with a secret recipe that only the family knows. You should try it!
Where do you love to eat in the region?
My favourite eating places are in the hinterlands of Romagna, near the borders with Marche and Tuscany. Eating there is an unforgettable experience because of the great tastes and the incredible value for money.
You can eat delicious appetizers, homemade pastas, local meats and drink typical wines (Sangiovese di Romagna) for about 20€.
But you can eat very well all over the region. Just try some trattoria in the city centre of Bologna and you’ll love it.
What about your favourite restaurants?
My favorite restaurants are Casina del Bosco in Rimini where you can eat the best homemade piadina, and Osteria Tabard Inn in Villa Verucchio, where you can eat the best homemade pastas, meats, delicious sweets and drink some great wine.
Name one best kept secret of Emilia-Romagna
One best kept secret of Emilia-Romagna is a window in the centre of Bologna which gives a stunning view on a canal and makes you feel like you’re in Venice. When you go to Bologna, don’t forget to visit the “Window of Via Piella”.
What would you recommend travellers do to experience Emilia-Romagna as a local?
The best way to experience Emilia-Romagna is living it with the spirit of locals. People from Emilia-Romagna are very friendly and open-minded. They like having fun, staying up until late, eating and drinking all the time with a smile on their faces. They also think that hospitality is a matter of honour, so they’ll treat you with great respect and confidence. Living like this is the best way to experience Emilia-Romagna.
Piazza Della Libertà. Photo: TheRerumNatura
Where can we go to see your favourite part of Italy?
It’s very hard to say which is my favourite part of Italy, because every region has its own particularities and everything differs a lot from one place to the other. You can go from the Alps with landscapes that make you feel like you’re almost in Germany to the south of Sicily that makes you feel like you’re almost in Africa.
I have a special affection for the east coast, from Venice to Rimini, my hometown, to the wonderful beauties of Puglia, passing through the stunning Marche and Abruzzo coasts.
But I also love the green heart of Italy, Umbria, which is special to me because you can feel that locals love their amazing towns and take a special care of their places for travellers. Also, the food is just great!