Masters of the Food Valley; a gourmet voyage with the Bentley Flying Spur
This journey from Polesine to Modena via Parma, connects the brilliant gastronomic traditions from a unique terroir aboard a sumptuous Mulliner styled Bentley.
When driving parallel to the river Po flow, the long shadows and the thick autumn mists conceals seemingly motionless landscapes of fields, rural mansions and castles adorned with cascading of yellow leaves. In this geographic area, orderly tree-lined avenues usually announce well preserved villages and evocative historical landings. Just like a crystal bubble removed from any external agents – and regally furnished with elements of utmost luxury – the Flying Spur embroidered by Mulliner division leaves the exquisite “autostrada” experience in favour of Pianura Padana’s quiet and straight provincial roads. Proceeding amidst low visibility and clouds, enveloped by the Bentley’s soft burgundy leather and precious surfaces, the first stop of our journey is a centuries-old custom building on the Po river banks which after starting life as a docking site for sailors, has been converted into a charming overnight stay annexed to a working farm by the Spigaroli family.
A temple of delightful recipes
Massimo Spigaroli's cuisine is one of Italy’s best and even approaching the Antica Corte Pallavicina (hotel & restaurant part of the Les Collectionneurs) with high expectations, the venue will not disappoint. From the Michelin-starred restaurant to the traditional recipes of “Osteria del Maiale” located on the opposite side of the internal courtyard, gastronomic satisfaction linked to both classic dishes and haute cuisine interpretation is practically guaranteed. The same goes for a very pleasant overnight where the fortified structure long history, will surely add depth and context to travel memories, that will be further heightened by an outstanding breakfast with home-made pies, croissants, cakes, breads and charcuterie. Another unforgettable part of the stay is the underground walk in the “culatelli” cellar. Culatello (made from the upper part of the pig’s thigh) is the finest and noblest of Emilian (and Italian) cured meats and a niche delicacy that the Spigaroli family, has always produced with ancestral artisanal methods. Whhile seasoning, every Culatello has a dangling label indicating the future recipient and the numerous personalities who annually reserve and purchase the Antica Corte Pallavicina culatelli, include King Charles of England and Robert de Niro.
Culture beyond gastronomy
In the flourishing food context of the peninsula, the territories between Modena and Parma are distinguished by an unparalleled density of world-famous preparations. The negative consequence of the notoriety is the rapid decrease of truly artisanal products created with local and certified raw materials, and possibly respectful of traditions. Among the small number of addresses that respect the three parameters operating in a closed and controlled supply chain, there is the Montecoppe Dairy which also houses a shop and tasting area. For a different vinegar cellar than usual, you can visit La Lanterna di Diogene in Solara Bomporto; teaches Slow Food in which table service, care of farmyard animals and production of balsamic vinegar IGP, take place with the support of disabled children who work in the company. For an excellent review of cured meats produced as it once was (time, salt, right humidity and no preservatives) you can sit at the Locanda del Feudo, in the village of Castelvetro di Modena.
Cult restaurants and osterie
In addition to Antica Corte Pallavicina and ultra-famous Osteria Francescana, every gastronomic itinerary in Emilia should considera t least one meal at Trattoria ai Due Platani di Coloreto; Osteria del Viandante in Rubiera; the Aldina in the center of Modena and Osteria della Rubbiara in Nonantola. Whether purely traditional or accompanied by contemporary techniques, the four restaurants honored with either a Michelin star or the Slow Food snail symbol, display masterful menu’s inspired by local produce and culture. Must eats include “capponi” broths with centuries of wisdom, handmade pasta used for anolini, tortelli and tortellini, scrumptuous fillings and over the top desserts; one of them being a triumph of homemade gelato of Due Platani. On route to the various culinary stops, the journey along Via Emilia offers insight on a territory that from mechanic engineering to social commitments and from craftsmanship to the preservation of the culinary and artistic heritage, has brightened the existence for millions of people.
Weapons halls and bamboo labyrinths
The fifteenth-century castle of San Pietro in Cerro is part of Italy’s so called minor historical heritage and is particularly scenic during foliage. The building can be visited (or rented) for exclusive use and when exploring the weapon chamber or rooms brimming with precious period furniture, an authentic and well-rooted sense of history can be perceived. The castle is also part of about 32 “castelli” once belonging to the Ducato of Parma and Piacenza; hence the area is remarkable also for its beni-culturali value which in terms of contemporary landscape art, is home to Labirinto delle Masone by Franco Maria Ricci. At the entrance of the labyrinth, one can admire a beautiful Jaguar E-Type belonging to the artist.
Flying Spur travel notes
When the interior concedes itself to the eyes embellished by 400,000 stitches, the scent of a Florentine leather shop immediately feels the air. Once inside, precious metals have jewelry watches like finishes and everything adorning controls or lacquered surfaces, is a pleasure to watch, feel and touch. Exquisite decorations extend to the headlights above which, the bonnet houses a very powerful and aristocratically tuned 4.0 V8 biturbo providing 880nm of torque and 550bhp. From a standstill, 0-60 is achieved in 4 seconds but in the cabin, there is no sense of urgency because from the very soft lamb fleece mats to velvet drapes for the two transparent sunroof, every movement on the Flying Spur Mulliner is like a magical journey inside a fluffy cloud.
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My childhood memories are of arts, literature and visits of far away lands and now, I love writing about tourism, travel&motoring experiences as well as gastronomic cultures. Following the Degree in History & Politics and the Masters in International Relations at London School of Economics, I start my journalist career in 2004. Since then, I made it a point to visit all of the seven continents, while daily enhancing my passion and curiosity towards cuisine, charming hospitality and millenial traditions from the beautiful Italian territory