During my recent stay in Emilia Romagna I had a lovely time with the BlogVille crowd! The whole project is based on a very cool concept: giving bloggers a house in Italy from where they can start their explorations and live like locals without time constraints, therefore without the typical rush of most blog trips. The two cities that were chosen as a base for the bloggers were Bologna and Rimini. Even if BlogVille has been created for foreign bloggers, I had the honor of participating as my blog is in English and has an international audience. The final goal is to show that Italy is not only about Milan, Rome, Florence and Venice, but there’s so much more to do and see – and Emilia Romagna is the perfect region to demonstrate it, with its unique food, beautiful landscape and unbounded culture. The BlogVille program organized a day trip for bloggers every week and I was lucky to take part in one. We went to Cesena to visit the famous Biblioteca Malatestiana (the only ancient library in the world which is still completely preserved, codexes included) and then to Forlimpopoli for the annual Festa Artusiana (a food celebration… of course! Welcome to Italy.). I am going to tell you about my lovely time through some photos I took. Enjoy! This is our guide telling us about the life of Novello Malatesta, the man who ideated the project of the library thanks to his wife’s idea. The symbol of the Malatesta Family was the Indian Elephant. The ribbon says “Indus elephas culices non temet”, meaning “the Indian elephant does not fear mosquitos” and referring to other minor families of that time. Two keys open the big wooden door of the Malatestiana Library.
This is how the inside of the library looks. To me, it looked like a church, and when I pointed this out to the guide he said that it does have the same structure of a church but instead of God this building celebrates the mankind and its intellect. The pews of the library still contain the ancient codexes of more than 500 years ago. It looks like time has stopped. On the sides of the seats there are symbols of the Malatesta Family. After visiting the library, we attended a short gothic calligraphy workshop in the same building, to learn about the medieval techniques for writing the codexes. It was fun but not easy!
We were given a sentence to copy, ink and nibs. The colors came in traditional sea shells.
The sentence goes like “Books are food for the youth and joy for the old age” -Cicero.
We were shown an example of a work by one of the students at the calligraphy school. They learn how to write and build the book itself as it was done 500 years ago.
It was time to go and reach Forlimpopoli, a town in Emilia Romagna where every year there is a celebration called “Festa Artusiana”: it is a food fair with reference to Pellegrino Artusi, a man that wrote the first book of recipes in Italy. The title of the book is “L’arte di mangiar bene” (“the art of eating well”) and it’s still considered as the “bible” of the Italian food. The recipes came from all over Italy from women who sent him their recipes, and Artusi translated them from the dialects to Italian and published them.
This is our guide showing us an old copy of the book.
This is Pellegrino Artusi’s silouhette, overlooking the restaurant at “Casa Artusi”. This is a cooking school, library, restaurant and cultural center founded in Forlimpololi in the name of Artusi.
The cooking school at Casa Artusi with 20+ kitchens for practice.
In the piazza just in front of the castle of Forlimpopoli, there were food stalls and displays of traditional cooking tools.
We were ready for our dinner! As VIPs, we were taken to the castle to eat on the terrace of its tower.
Here is a view of the piazza from Forlimpopoli’s castle, where we had dinner.
I especially enjoyed the crostini, with bacon, zucchini, porchetta, onions and tomatoes. I am making myself hungry while I write…
This quote by Pellegrino Artusi tells so much about the Italian (and Mediterranean) food culture: “The hypocrite world doesn’t give food any importance, but then there’s no civil or religious feast where one doesn’t lay the tablecloth on the table and eat the best food possible”. Agree?
I love desserts! And this one, the traditional Artusi pudding, was decorated with a cute Forlimpopoli tower on the side.
This coffee sorbet was served in little waffles, and was really one of the most delicious things ever. Have you ever tried coffee sorbet? Oh I want one now!
The following day we relaxed on the beach for a while, where I had my first typical piadina! Yes I am Italian and I never tried one. It was so delicious. I chose the one with arugula, prosciutto and stracchino (a very sweet and creamy cheese).
In the afternoon I strolled around the city center that was surprisingly beautiful! I particularly liked the Bridge of Tiberius, dated 21AD! The reflections in the water were so perfect and I had fun taking photos.
It was great to have the opportunity of discovering a part of my own country that I didn’t know well before! Thanks to BlogVille I had experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Thank you to the wonderful crew!