Ravenna & Rimini- Forli' & Cesena-Faenza & Imola

The Wines of Romagna


The south-eastern part of the region Emilia-Romagna is Romagna.
The Romans occupied this area around 200 BC and it became a Roman Province. Before the Roman, tribes of Etruscans, Umbri and Piceni inhabited the region until they were subjugated by the Senoni, a Celtic people from Gallia.
The Via Flaminia, the Flaminian Way, that connected Rome to Rimini, was completed in 220 BC; it was used to transport wheat and other produce from the Po’ river valley to Rome and to facilitate the movement of troops across the Italian peninsula. When the Via Emilia, the Emilian way was built, about 30 years later between Rimini and Piacenza, the Roman established fortresses and cities along the way and implemented programs to develop the agricultural potential of the region. In this very hospitable area, the most important cities are Ravenna, Rimini, Cesena, Forli’, Faenza, Imola.
Ravenna was the naval base for the Roman fleet to patrol the Adriatic Sea and a commercial center with the nations touching the Adriatic.
When in the year 330 the Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire and the capital transferred from Rome to Constantinople, the fleet was moved there and Ravenna lost its importance and lust.
Later, when in the year 402, the capital of the Western Roman Empire was transferred from Milan to Ravenna it gave rise to a period of splendor in the field of commerce, art and architecture. Churches with artistic mosaic and great palaces were erected, infrastructures built and land reclaimed to use for agriculture.
After a short period of peace, the Gothic invaded the area; then the German tribe of Longobards ruled the land until the Byzantines took over again. After 500 years of hostilities, warfare among various powers, and often changes of governments, Romagna was transferred to the Papal States by Rudolf I of Germany in 1278.
There were periods that Romagna was dominated by regional lords, or by the papal Rome, who to control the population imposed their authority and most of the times used brutal and repressive methods.
Rebellion and insurrection affected the region from this time to the establishment of the Reign of Italy in 1861.
The food in the region is mostly fresh homemade pasta, meats and vegetables in the inland region; fish, sea foods, pasta and vegetables in the costal areas.
The products and produce of the Apennine Mountains are preferred in the cooking of Imola and Faenza where dishes are made with game, chicken, pork and vegetables, besides from freshpasta,which is used extensively.
Cesena and Forli’ add to their menu seafood and fish; however in the coastal
villages and in the cities of Ravenna and Rimini, the main elements of their cuisine are exclusively fish and sea foods.





 Ravenna and Rimini


Tourism and the fishing are essential industries to the livelihood of Ravenna and Rimini. Fresh fish are shipped to the north of Italy and to the south as far as Rome. Tourists are present all year around.
The city of Ravenna, in connected to the Adriatic sea by a canal; its surroundings and the nearby beaches are the preferred destination of German tourists, the numerous Byzantine style churches with their glittering mosaics covering walls and ceilings are a great attraction for the art lover, the fast and simple cooking with its fresh seafood and plain ingredients provides pleasure and enjoyment to the gourmets and food lovers.
Rimini has been an important commercial center prior to the time of the Roman domination as it still is at the present time. 
It is the birthplace of Federico Fellini, internationally known and influential film director, winner of four Oscars. Also famous and located in this province’s suburb is Riccione, a magnificent and charming summer resort called the “pearl of the Adriatic Sea”. The beautiful beaches, the many hotels, good food, nightlife and the artistic attractions make Rimini a Mecca for the Italian tourists.
The piada  is special bread cooked on the open fire, and made without any leaven agent: deliciously stuffed with dry sausages or the other deli specialties made in the region.
The variety of the fish caught makes possible the creation of the brodetto,  a fish stew with many different kinds of fish, mixed crustaceans, such as shrimp, crayfish and mollusks such as squids, cuttlefish and todari: cooked in a fish broth with olive oil, garlic, wine and with either tomatoes or saffron. Tasty polpo,  octopus and potato salad with balsamic vinegar is served in Ravenna; the abundant scallops, the cappa sante, mussels, the cozze or mitili, oysters and other specialties are served as appetizers or as a main course. The zuppa di poveracce is a soup made simply with clams, olive oil, garlic, red wine, tomato paste and a few drops of vinegar. Squills, the canocchie  are cooked in sea water, a specialty of Ravenna and of Cervia a resort village distant from the city of about 15 miles. 
In all coastal villages and towns popular dishes are fritti misti, fried assorted fish, broiled and baked fish, fresh pasta dishes with seafood or traditional sauces, cappelletti, ravioli stuffed with minced fish,risotto alla pescatora, rice with fish, turkey or chicken sautéed in butter, garnished with local truffles, baked in a butter-cheese sauce and served with polenta. The eels not used in Rimini’s cooking are a preferred dish in Ravenna where they are cooked in various ways and also used in the risotto con anguilla, rice with eels.
Lugo is a small village located near Ravenna known for  frog legs, cooked in broth or coated with eggs and fried in lard.
The frittata di pinoli, the sweet pine nuts fritters or the castagnole, the little fried dough balls are a nice conclusion to a fine dinner. 





Forli’ and Cesena

Forli  and Cesena  are located between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea and in gastronomic terms they have the finest from the nearby sea and the exquisite dairy, meats and vegetables produced in the hinterland. The fresh pasta served with meat or fish ragu’, the risotto with wild asparagus and santoreggia  (an aromatic herb of the mint family), cappelletti, ravioli stuffed withformaggio di fossa and santoreggia, or ricotta and cheese, bolliti  or brasati  misti, boiled or braised assorted meats, sausages with beans, squid and peas, rombo, the turbot, orata, the giltheads, mackerel, sardine, and other fish are prepared expertly, mussels, oysters and shrimps and all fish are caught and delivered fresh daily.
Cookies, pastries and cakes are baked using old recipes, a delicious torta di ricotta con zabaglione, is a cake served hot and covered with zabaglione. It is believed that the béchamel sauce was originated in Cesena.





 Faenza and Imola

The towns of Faenza and Imola have dishes using the local vegetables, chickens, turkey and pork. The ravioli are stuffed with ricotta, herbs and spices and simply served with grated cheese and butter.Capellini casserola is made with angel hair pasta cooked al dente and dressed with tomato sauce and cheese, then mixed with eggs, combined with stewed chicken with Marsala and mushroom and baked after it is covered with the local grated grana  cheese: and called simply… Capellini con pollo. 
The stracotto Romagnolo, beef stewed with onion, carrots, tomato sauce, butter, olive oil and white wine, or sausages, rind and beans are dishes easy to find in any restaurant.
The large variety of vegetables are baked, fried or preserved in vinegar and/or olive oil.
Savoy  cabbage is cooked in vinegar or served as verzot  or valigina  which is rolled cabbage stuffed with finely grounded beef or pork with parley and nutmeg and cooked in broth and butter; a vegetarian version replaces the meat with breadcrumbs mixed with cheese and eggs and cooks the valigini  in tomato sauce.
The locally produced fruits jams and marmalades are used to stuff crostate, tart and cakes and to top the frittelle di riso (rice pancakes) and some homemade cookies.
Since the XII century, Faenza is famous for the production of porcelain, specializing in first quality tableware and decorative pieces.





The Wines of Romagna

The region produces a slightly sparking red wine from the  Cagina  Rosso  grape, beside the abundantSangiovese  and Trebbiano; the Vino Albana a white wine which is produced in a dry still version, and in a sweet and bubbly type that goes well with desserts.