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Food and wine

Emilia-Romagna

Gastronomy of the seaside villages of Emilia Romagna

The seaside villages of Romagna: 3 stops of scenic beauty and food

17 October 2022

3 minutes

Comacchio, Cervia e Cesenatico: from Little Venice to the City of salt, to full sails along the Canal Port, a food tour along a warm alluring coastline pleasing to both the eye and palate.

1. 1st Stop Comacchio

Eels - Comacchio Lagoons

The scenic taste tour could only begin in Comacchio, often called “little Venice”, as it is situated on an enchanting lagoon. Starting off from Trepponti, the symbol of the city, to then visit the historic centre, full of charm in every corner. Along the way, numerous canals, many of which are surmounted by small bridges connecting various parts of the town. The Antica Pescheria storic building dating back to the seventeenth century stands testament to the seafaring activities of the town. Today it is used as the town's marketplace: well worth a visit, for its architectural beauty, and of course for the fresh fish. Continuing the walk alongside the pretty terraced houses, whose pastel coloured facades are reflected on the water: an enchanting visual worth a pause or to snap a shot. Speaking of the water, could you visit “little Venice” without taking a boat ride? What you need to do is take a ride on a batana, a traditional flat keeled boat that offers free transportation. Another unmissable visit is to the Paco Delta del Po, a UNESCO heritage site due to its pristine landscape. Having delighted the eyes, the same must be done for the palate. The undisputed queen of Comacchio cuisine is eel, due to its versatility it is prepared in many ways. From broth to marinaded, from the grill to risotto. Classic seafood starters are a must such as cozze, muscles and vongole, clams, but also cannolicchi, razor clams cooked in tomato, or sauteed in white wine with garlic and parsley or au gratin.

2. 2nd stop Cervia

Cervia and salt, a special museum is dedicated to this combination, MUSA (the Museum of salt, to be precise), where you can find out about the history and production of the precious “white gold”. Staying on the subject, you shouldn’t miss the splendid naturalistic landscape of the Antica Salina Camillone, the last of the 144 plants to produce handcrafted salt remaining active until 1959. Here the reflection of the sun on the long expanses of white salt is a spectacle of pure brilliance, and at sunset pink hues take over. Moving over to the table, still sticking to the subject of salt: have you heard of sweet salt from Cervia, which has obtained Slow Food Presidium since 2004? If not, this is the opportunity to try it, and if so, you’ve probably already stocked up! In fact, Cervia salt is the secret ingredient of many culinary delicacies: chocolate, fresh cheeses, Adriatic fish. A few examples? Cervia salted sardine filets, mullet baked in foil and breaded sardines.

3. 3rd stop Cesenatico

The last destination is Cesenatico, with its artistic Canal Port, thanks to the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, around which the historic centre winds. A stroll along the quays leads to Piazza Fiorentini, where the majestic Liberty style fish market emerges, a nineteenth century building behind which there are two small squares: the first Piazza delle Erbe, and the second Piazza delle Conserve. Continuing to walk along the Canal Port, after all the romantic stops along the sea that you wish to do, you’ll come across the boats of the floating museum of the Navy, Museo Galleggiante della Marineria. The only one in Italy, and one of the few in the world to exhibit a selection of eleven boats in water: three of these are operational, so as to preserve and pass on ancient navigation practices, an intangible heritage. Every day, in summer, the sails are hoisted and their bright colours are stunning to see. 

4. Food again, finally

The itinerary in the three seaside villages of Romagna ends with food. In Cesenatico you can eat an excellent piadina sandwich, even better if enjoyed by the sea, or maybe on the beach. On the other hand, if you’d rather a proper sit down meal, among the must eat dishes are the fragrant crescioni alle erbe di campo watercress herb based and the aromatic passatelli, bread crumb pasta. Last but not least, a nice slice of bustrengo, a homemade cake of flour, fruit and nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and figs, and a never ending list of ingredients: 32 to be exact. Knowing them all isn’t possible, only 20 have been revealed: the other 12 remain secret.