Food & Travel Guide to Tuscia, Italy – What to See, Eat & Do

Italy

It can be hard to describe Tuscia. “It is a short distance from Rome,” A man attired in a sharp business suit says, leaning against a stone-coloured building along Via del Corso in Rome. Tuscia has been his usual city escape. To others, it is like “the other Rome”. And like Rome, Tuscia is in Lazio. It is less than two hours away. The flavour of the province also brings to mind the typical Roman cuisine of the pecorino, guanciale, artichoke, porchetta, to name a few.

Now, Tuscia is emerging from the shadow of the Eternal City, surprising travellers with its historically fascinating network of Etruscan cities. Narrow roads journey through the deep emerald forest, leading to palazzos and castellos shrouded by stories of battles, of conquests. These palatial houses, some still owned by the aristocrats, breathe memories of their illustrious past. 

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VITERBO

Viterbo is very much like an attic trove of notable gems disguised as forgotten knickknacks. Monuments and artefacts are scattered all over the historical centre. Start at the piazza where you can see the Palazzo dei Papi and the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. This area was once the military fortress of the Etruscan civilisation. Some of the remnants of the civilisation had been left engraved into the street building walls, still. So perfectly engraved they are almost missable. Look for the accompanying inscriptions on the walls not to miss them.

For Roman cuisine, Osteria Tanta Robba does family-style dishes. The menu is simple but classics like the carbonara, cacio e pepe and gricia are more than satisfying. Just 20 minutes away, there is the Tutto N’artro Magnà in Bomarzo. The trattoria also serves as a butchery, so you know the meat will be delicious. Within minutes of ordering, plates of chicory, porchetta, meatballs, chickpeas are served. Then comes the finale – a fillet sizzling on a plate. 

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VILLA LANTE

In Bagnaia, Villa Lante is a remarkable piece of renaissance garden design. It was originally designed for Cardinal Gambara who relishes the outdoor lifestyle. Perfectly-manicured hedges form a unified harmony, akin to a Renaissance painting. From a bird’s view, the balance and unity of the garden is undeniable. 

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SORIANO NEL CIMINO

Less than an hour away from the main sights, Soriano nel Cimino lies at the heart of Tuscia. Castello Orsini stands at the peak of the town, fortified by layers of sepia-roofed houses. Along the way on Via Montecavallo, Palazzo Catalani is a gem of a hotel stay. The 17th century building was once the residence of a nobleman. The rooms have been converted and some of the walls painted with elegant frescoes. Doubles start from €70. 

Every morning, Caffè Roma is buzzing with early risers. Locals stand at the bar for a quick espresso and brioche. Others are yelling orders for the generously-priced pastries – cannoli, sfogliatelle, cannoncini… For casual lunches, Pizzeria da Gigi does pizza romana, chicory, artichokes and potato frittata. The owners are welcoming and the food, down-to-earth.

As Friday announces its arrival, locals amass just in front of Macelleria Porchetta in quiet anticipation. Excitement ripples when the butcher comes out with the prize – a whole porchetta roasted with fennel. Everyone moves in. Slabs of pork fall onto the wax paper as his knife carefully treads the crackling. It’s a must to have a porchetta with its crispy skin. An indulgence worthy of a Friday night

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CASTELLO RUSPOLI

Entering the Ruspoli estate from the garden feels like a daydream. A man in a cashmere coat and tortoise-shell glasses guides you through long stretches of dense thickets. Out of the undergrowth emerges the Castello Ruspoli from afar. Its entrance stands at the end of a long narrow walkway lined by tall hedges.

Roaming the gilded halls clad in faded floral-patterned wallpaper, you can still catch a whiff of the stories that once enveloped the Castello. The residence has been passed down from generation to generation but Ottavia Orsini, wife of Marcantonio Marescotti, is the one whose presence and design taste still deeply perfume the garden of the Castello. Starting from the entrance, head to the right of the estate and you will see the secret garden which Orsini had personally designed for Marescotti – his very own sanctuary.

The Castello is still owned by the Ruspoli family today – Claudia and Giada Ruspoli, and their cousin, Francesco Maria Ruspoli. They keep the first and second floors open for visitors over the weekends, while the rest remain their private residence. Stays at the Castello are by invitation only

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Food & Travel Guide to Emilia Romagna, Italy – What to See, Eat & Do

Italy

Trace the origin of any Italian ingredient and you will somehow end up in Emilia Romagna. Mention the name to any well-deserving Italian chef and they would talk for ages, about the “sensational Parmigiano Reggiano”, the “noble Culatello”, the “Balsamico Vinegar, smooth as velvet”. The list just goes on. It is where the most Italian of all Italian food comes from, and the most quintessential. In Emilia Romagna, there is no festival. There is only the feast. And so, the gastronomic adventure in Italy’s eating table begins. 

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PARMA

In Parma, the practice of ham-making practice is a tale as old as time. It is here, near the Po Valley, where the luxurious Culatello di Zibello is made. The Bergonzi family at Podere Cadassa has been crafting culatello for decades. In a natural cellar frozen in time, the culatello ages until its flavour is at its fullest. The precious meat is salted and refrigerated, before being placed in the cellar where humidity takes full reign. A walk through the cellar always ends at the family’s restaurant, Al Vèdel. In the kitchen, Chef Enrico arranges thin slices of culatello, from 16 months to 26 months to 38 months, on a perfectly polished porcelain plate. In the evenings, loud chatters emanate from the linen dining tables and red leather booths. Waiters rush to and fro tables to shave black truffles on ox tartare as a cheese cart trails them. Ravioli is served Colorno style, as Al Vèdel calls it, with pears, grape seeds and pumpkin. 

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MODENA

In Modena, the making of balsamic vinegar is a tradition still preserved at Acetaia Pedroni. Cooked fermented grape must sit in the battery, or barrels, to age for at least 12 years.

The tasting menu gives a small but complete offering of dishes that compliments the balsamic vinegar, but it’s the a la carte menu the locals order from. Vegetable flan with Parmigiano Reggiano cream, ricotta tortelloni and custard cream gelato are dished out before the owner comes over with their treasure – a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Slowly, he dabs the smooth, thick vinegar over the food in carefully measured drops as he smiles with pride. It could be the pride of owning a centuries-old tradition, or the pride of owning the barrels that produce the best balsamic vinegar in the world. Nobody knows. But everyone leaves the osteria in silent agreement that it was a dining experience unlike any other. 

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BOLOGNA

When in Bologna, a few slices of mortadella are in order. Mo Mortadella Lab gives a generous serving of Bologna’s favourite slice in a panini. Go before lunch to avoid the queue of hungry Bolognese. In Bologna, the wining and dining hour eases past the reasonable Italian lunch hour. Armed with a few plates from the local macelleria, you can grab a seat and a mandatory drink at Osteria del Sole where this longtime establishment has a strict bring-your-own-food rule. At one table, a class of students from the nearby university are having a toast with their teachers. At another, an old man sits perched over a notebook as he pens some sentences on the parched paper. Everyone has a glass of something on their table. For dinners, Hostaria San Carlino and Osteria dell’Orsa are perfect for Bolognese classics like tagliatelle al ragù and tortellini in brodo.

On any day in Bologna, chefs clamber to Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo located on Via Drapperie. Hundreds of kitchen tools hang on wooden displays from ceiling to floor in this historical shop, any kind you can ever imagine. As a customer rattles off a list, the shop assistant bustles about, grabbing two ravioli stamps, an anolini stamp, a truffle slicer, a gnocchi cutting board and a dozen or so ravioli moulds. It’s a busy day at the Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo. 

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BRISIGHELLA

It’s a whole new world further south in the region. Brisighella is nearer to Ravenna, and so nearer to the coast. There is a very serious seafood scene with restaurants like La Lanterna, where plates heaping with pasta and shellfish are paraded to the tables. Others include La Cavallina and Osteria Pontenono, or Il Portolano and Osteria Il Paiolo in Ravenna.

A few minutes on an unpaved road across a bridge from Brisighella will take you to Azienda Agricola Baccagnano, an agriturismo with a handful of rooms. The owner of the winery, Marco, furnished the modern rooms with vintage finds. In a restored church, guests have a breakfast of croissants, local cheeses and fruits on beautifully-mismatched place settings. Doubles start from €90. 

For views of Brisighella, take a walk from the town center to La Rocca Manfrediana and on to Torre dell’Orologio. The town truly comes alive when celebrating the autumn harvest. People come in droves from the neighbouring houses to gather around the white-top tents where the food – salumi, cheeses, pears, truffles, porcini mushrooms – are proudly boasted by their farmers. There is a band making uproarious music. White-haired Italian men are indulging in a guitar riff on a makeshift stage, crooning the tunes of 80s rock music. Even as night falls and the stalls close, the crowds disappear into the bars. The night is still young. 

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Copenhagen Travel Tips from Shini Park, Founder of Cube Collective

Conversations with Locals

Shini Park is the force behind multi-disciplinary creative agency Cube Collective and the editor-in-chief of Cubicle. Having lived in Copenhagen, her visual collection on Instagram is a journey through the architectural compositions and the sleek chic style of the city’s aesthetics. In this interview, Shini gives her creative perspective on Copenhagen – her restaurant picks, the unmissable design festival and how to explore the design city.

Photo: Shini Park

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Copenhagen without trying? 

Smørrebrød is the classic Danish dish that every traveller must experience in Copenhagen.

What about your favourite restaurants?

I love Louise Roe for coffee in the city, The Audo for great breakfast and working space, and Hija de Sanchez Cantina for the best Mexican food in Europe, honestly! Tigermom in Norrebro is also an amazing foodie experience, make sure to order the chillies paired with courses, and the Pink Tiger Tea cocktail.

What is a typical breakfast in Denmark?

You could get this practically anywhere that serves breakfast, including small cafes, but a Danish classic breakfast would be the simple cheese, butter, rye bread and soft-boiled egg with sea salt and a bit of pepper. It’s one of my favourite things to eat as it awakens all the taste buds, probably why I always insisted on having breakfast meetings!

Photo: Shini Park

What are your favourite design festivals in Copenhagen?

3 Days of Design is my favourite, not only is it a great opportunity to experience the newest and most exciting Danish interior design but it happens exactly at a time of the year when the weather is perfect.

Name one Danish etiquette most travellers miss

Make sure to indicate with your arms when you’ve rented a bicycle to get around – mostly for safety but also a very ‘local’ thing to do.

Name some tourist traps travellers should avoid in Copenhagen

Tivoli or the Copenhagen Zoo are some places I’d recommend for second, or third time visitors, or if you’re staying for a long while.

What’s the perfect itinerary to explore Copenhagen?

Make sure to plan an equal dose of food and interior design, breakfast at Lille Bakery, stroll through Statens Museum for Kunst, or Glyptoteket, then hit up Beau Marche for lunch. Make sure to visit Studio Oliver Gustav for infinite interior design inspirations, or The Audo. Book dinner at Kiin Kiin Bao Bao, and a stroll along the canal to digest.

Name one best kept secret of Copenhagen

Probably not a secret to the locals, but Copenhagen boasts some great beaches! One of my favourites is Bellevue in Hellerup or Faxe Kalkbrud, which is a limestone quarry a little outside the city that you can swim in. It was my favourite summer haunt when I lived in Copenhagen.

What about your favourite spot for a weekend getaway from the city?

Make sure to make your way up to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a 30 to 40 minutes drive away from Copenhagen and mandatory for art and sculpture-lovers.


WHERE TO EAT IN COPENHAGEN


Louise Roe Gallery
Where: Vognmagergade 9, 1120 København, Denmark
For: Coffee

The Audo
Where: Århusgade 130, 2150 København, Denmark
For: Breakfast

Hija de Sanchez Cantina
Where: Hamborg Pl. 5, 2150 København, Denmark
For: Mexican food

Tigermom
Where: Ryesgade 25, 2200 København, Denmark
For: Chillies paired with courses

Lille Bakery
Where: Refshalevej 213A, 1432 København, Denmark
For: Breakfast

Beau Marche
Where: Ny Østergade 32, 1101 København, Denmark
For: Lunch

Kiin Kiin Bao Bao
Where: Vesterbrogade 96, 1620 København, Denmark
For: Modern Asian tapas
 

WHERE TO GO IN COPENHAGEN

Statens Museum for Kunst
Where: Sølvgade 48-50, 1307 København K, Denmark
For: Museums

Glyptoteket
Where: Dantes Plads 7, 1556 København, Denmark
For: Museums

Studio Oliver Gustav
Where: Kastelsvej 18, 2100 København, Denmark
For: Interior design inspiration

Bellevue
Where: Bellevue Beach, Denmark
For: Beaches

Faxe Kalkbrud
Where: Østervej 2, Faxe 4640 Denmark
For: Swimming

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Where: Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark
For: Museums