European Region of Gastronomy 2017
Northern Italy for Foodies

Four cities in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region make up the European Region of Gastronomy 2017, making this a great region for foodies. Part of the Po Valley, one of Italy’s major agricultural areas, is in the zone formed by the cities of Mantova, Cremona, Brescia, and Bergamo. This area offers many high-quality gastronomic products including wines and traditional foods, 8 wine and tasting routes, 39 museums of rural life, 24 eco-museums, and 23 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Each year 2 or 3 European regions are chosen as Regions of Gastronomy. According to the European Region of Gastronomy, the designation is based on a “holistic approach that includes agriculture and food culture relating to place, hospitality, eating, food production, food ways, food traditions, and how one feels about their food culture.”

pike with green sauce
Pike with Green Sauce and Polenta, Traditional Dish of Mantova

Cities in the East Lombardy European Region of Gastronomy:

Mantova

The beautiful Renaissance city of Mantova is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its Renaissance architecture and city planning and it was the Italian Capital of Culture 2016.

Mantova’s cuisine is said to have been developed during the period of the wealthy Gonzaga family who built and lived in the huge Palazzo Ducale during the period of 1328 through 1707. One of the most typical pastas is tortelli di zucca, egg pasta with a pumpkin filling that usually includes mustard, nutmeg and amaretti. Pike with a green sauce, Luccio in salsa, is a typical fish dish while Cotechino sausage and Salami Mantovana are typical meats. Sausages are used in several dishes including_Risotta alla Pilota_ . A cake made with spices and almonds, Torta Sbrisolona, is one of the city’s most famous desserts.

mantova typical cake
Torta Sbrisolana, Typical of Mantova

Cremona

Cremona is known not only for its production of high-quality violins but also as having one of Europe’s tallest surviving medieval brick towers with one of the world’s largest astronomical clocks as well as excellent cuisine. One of the best-known Cremona specialties is mostarda, candied fruit in a syrup made with mustard that’s often served with meats. Cremona also has its special salame. Read more about the food specialties of Cremona.

cremona photo
Cremona Duomo and Bell Tower

Brescia

Brescia, a city often overlooked by tourists, has interesting sights ranging from Roman ruins to medieval and Renaissance gems. Brescia’s casoncelli, a filled pasta similar to ravioli, is typically stuffed with a mixture that includes beef, salami, or sausage. Polenta dishes and several types of soup are common. Grilled eels and fried frogs are other typical dishes. Franciacorta sparkling wine and Italian caviar, made from sturgeon eggs, are produced in the Brescia province.

clock tower in brescia
Clock Tower in Piazza della Loggia, Brescia, by James Martin

Bergamo

Bergamo is a walled medieval hill town connected by a funicular from the modern lower town. Bergamo’s casoncelli, a filled pasta similar to ravioli, is typically stuffed with a mixture that includes Parmesan cheese, garlic, nutmeg, and broth. Polenta targana uses local cheese such as Gorgonzola or Taleggio. Polenta is also used to make one of the typical cakes, polenta e osei, that also uses chocolate, hazelnut cream, and rum and topped with little marzipan birds covered with chocolate (reminiscent of a typical polenta dish served with small birds).

Lombardy Cuisine

Lombardy cuisine generally includes risotto dishes, polenta, filled pasta (such as tortelli or ravioli), and meats, especially sausages with each town having its own special version. Several good cheeses are produced in this region, including Grana Padano, Gorgonzola, and Taleggio.

pasta photo
Filled Pasta with Balsamic Reduction

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European Region of Gastronomy 2017 originally appeared on MarthasItaly.com , updated: Jan 19, 2017.