5 Ways to See Italy
Modena: A Foodie Drive
Chef Massimo Bottura whips up a weekend tour of culinary treats and cultural highlights.
Modena-born Massimo Bottura recalls his grandmother making pasta dough twice daily to serve the family fresh tortellini for lunch and dinner. “In her hands, the dough became a translucent yellow sheet that illuminated the dark rooms closed off from the summer’s heat,” he says. At his Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana he draws on the local bounty he remembers from his childhood dinner table: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto crudo.
Check in to Great Value Hotel Cervetta 5 (doubles from $140), an unpretentious hotel in the city center. Then drive 20 minutes east to the Abbazia di Nonantola to see an eighth-century monastery with an imposing vaulted interior. Continue 10 miles to Antica Osteria del Mirasole (lunch for two $100), a rustic trattoria where owner Franco Cimini grills steaks from the region’s bianca modenese cattle. Pair your lunch with a glass of Lambrusco or Sangiovese (drivers: the bottle can be recorked for later). Before returning to Modena, stop in the suburb of Cittanova for Hombre, an organic Parmigiano-Reggiano dairy (a tour finishes with a sampling of cheeses). End the day over dinner at Hostaria del Mare (dinner for two $150). Bottura’s pick: chef Vittorio Novani’s fresh pasta with ricci (sea urchin).