I'm terribly behind on posting our adventures around Italy. In September, after Lucca, we drove around the Emilia Romagna region and, not surprisingly, ate. A lot. ER is home to balsamic vinegar, Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano. I'm most familiar with this area from Lynn Rosetto-Kaspar's cookbook The Splendid Table (there's also a two episode podcast on the area that features a riveting story about eels). We started at Osteria Bohemia not far from Modena. Angelo and Zdenka Lancelloti have a sprawling garden and nearly everything we ate came directly from their plot. They specialize in using herbs and flowers in their food: salad with rosepetals, baccala with nasturtiums. These bright colors and flavors were a refreshing change from the norm. It was a gift to eat their food. We stayed up late into the night chatting and telling stories. The next morning, Angelo gave us a tour of his balsamic vinegar operation in the attic. As you enter the property, you see the sign above, supposedly a Sioux proverb:

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned,
only after the last fish has been caught,
only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

The next day we biked along the River Po and made a pilgrimage to the famed Trattoria La Buca in Zibello where cook and owner Miriam reigns like a queen at her wooden desk. My favorite part of our visit there was the wall-sized case of grappa bottles, each with a hand drawn label by artist Romano Levi. The labels and distllery were his life's work. And then came Verona, which deserves its own post.