Terre di Canossa, within the food & motor valley

8 September 2023
Written by The Italy Insider
Insider's Guide

The territory represents a rich heritage and many hidden treasures. In the 12th century the feudal State of Countess Matilde di Canossa covered a relevant portion of Italy passing through many important cities such as Mantova, Reggio Emilia, Modena and Firenze. In order to protect this territory, several castles were built in strategic areas that are still standing today, available to visit for a little culture immersion. Also, excellent raw materials and a unique agricultural culture made the Terre di Canossa the heart of the Food Valley as well as being renowned for it’s Lambrusco and Balsamic Vinegar Production. Also known as the Motor Valley due to being the birthplace of Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. This is a territory that ticks all of the boxes making it one of the most interesting regions to discover throughout all seasons of the year.

Aperitif at Tenuta Venturini Baldini
Sleep in Roncolo 1888 of the Estate Tenuta Venturini Baldini

Where to sleep

Roncolo 1888

In the land of Lambrusco, Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar, Tenuta Venturini Baldini and its relais Roncolo 1888 are nestled among the Terre di Canossa hills on the outskirts of Reggio Emilia. The heart and soul of the relais lies around Villa Mandori, a historic estate of the 16th century that belonged to many noble families amongst which the Marchesi Manodori, after whom the villa was named. This majestic terracotta coloured structure has been recently renovated and reopened only last year, showcasing a beautiful blend of classic and contemporary, in which 18th century frescoes reside with pieces from GioPonti and Vico Magistretti. Inside are also 5 of the 17 Rooms & Suites of the relais, with the others in Dimora Ancini (where there’s also a gym) and the Ex Acetaia, a structure that also houses the most ancient vinegar factory in Emilia Romagna. At the Relais you’re not short of experiences that connect you with the territory for example renting an old school convertible Fiat for the day as well as learning how to make fresh egg tortelli or taglionini and later enjoying your creations with a glass of Tenuta Venturini Baldini wine – or Lambrusco for that matter, to keep in with traditions. In the evening savour the Chef’s creations at La Limonaia restaurant (book the tables on the outdoor terrace to enjoy the picturesque views of the countryside) and make sure to save some space for the “Just Lemon” dessert, a white chocolate and lemon explosion. WEBSITE

Courtesy Roncolo 1888
Courtesy Roncolo 1888
Courtesy Roncolo 1888

where to eat

Ristorante Limonaia

Ristorante Limonia restaurnat is located within Roncolo 1888 and more specifically in a historic greenhouse. Within rows of vineyards, olive trees, the ancient vinegar cellars and the relais the restaurant finds its place in an absolutely natural, quiet and peaceful dimension. Chef Mario Comitale offers dishes that show the identity of the territory with a contemporary touch. WEBSITE

Ca’ Matilde

In a breathtaking location, surrounded by the tranquillity of the green hills we see Ca’ Matilde. The Michelin starred restaurant offers a menu that goes back in the memories of Chef Andrea Incerti Vezzani remembering the traditional plates of the reggino territory. WEBSITE

Osteria Francescana 

Located in the heart of Modena, Osteria Francescana is a restaurant with three Michelin Stars, directed by Chef Massimo Bottura that has won two times The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. An absolute attention to small details, a unique style and a love for tradition and the Italian landscape will bring you on an unforgettable culinary journey. WEBSITE

Il Cavallino

Built in 1950 the Cavallino Restaurant was to take its guests on a journey discovering the values and flavours of Ferrari. The restaurant is located between the original walls of the company’s canteen established by the founder Enzo Ferrari. Massimo Bottura wanted the menu to have a visionary approach, with a real sotry hidden behind every plate. WEBSITE

Courtesy Ristorante Cavallino

Franceschetta 58

Fraschetta 58 is the bistrot of the Francescana Family, also under the supervision of Massimo Bottura. The Bistrot wants to tell the story of the Emilia Romagna territory, influencing it with flavours that come from all over the world. WEBSITE

Osteria del Viandante

Osteria Viandate is located in the antique Forte di Rubiera and it is surrounded by beautiful terraces filled with flowers. A charming historical building brought back to its beauty, keeping the original frescoes and materials. Here you will taste dishes that keep the tradition of the land, with an exceptional selection of local ingredients. WEBSITE  


Venturini Baldini

Housed within a 16th century estate built on Matildic foundations, the Venturini Baldini family acquired the property and began the wine production in 1976, resulting as the first organic winery in Emilia. The surrounding hills in which the vineyards are planted reach an altitude between 300 and 400 metres above sea level in which the microclimate favours the quality of the grapes. Twenty of the thirty-two hectares are dedicated to lambrusco and the remaining twelve enhance and preserve native grape varieties such as Spergola, Malbo Gentile, Montericco,as well as hosting international varieties such as Pinot Bero, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Meunier. On Wednesdays there’s Rosé Wednesdays in which you sit in the grass and enjoy live music as you savour the estate’s Rosé (the sparkling Cadelvento is exceptional) or book a wine cellar visit with a tasting experience. WEBSITE

Wine Tasting at Tenuta Venturini Baldini

What to do

culinary experiences

Balsamic Vinegar Tasting

Roncolo 1888 houses the most ancient vinegar factory in Emilia Romagna where you will discover the traditions and secrets behind balsamico making, followed by a tasting of both aged balsamic and flavoured condiments paired with aged parmesan cheeses. WEBSITE

Visit the Caseificio Colline di Selvapiana e Canossa

Dalter Food Group has a great history in the production of Parmiggiano Reggiano and many other Italian DOP aged cheeses, and enhances the importance of the production being in Emilia Romagna, as it is a land that has been able to provide the perfect raw material to produce an excellent product. The Group is made up of two cheese factories, one being Caseificio Colline di Selvapiana e Canossa and the other Caseificio del Cigarello Canossa. Located at a higher altitude, with a good climate, Caseificio Colline di Selvapiana e Canossa has the perfect location to grant a delicious Parmigiano Reggiano production. WEBSITE

Driving in Roncolo 1888’s Vintage fiat

motor enthusiasts

The Vintage Dream

Surrounded by the beautiful hills and the fresh air, in the Motor Valley, Vintage Dream is an experience organised by Roncolo 1888, where you will jump on board a vintage convertible Fiat and drive around the surrounding countryside for the day. WEBSITE

a guided tour at Maserati factory

With its headquarters located in Modena, Maserati is one of the leading Italian excellences in terms of cars. Unique geometry, elegant lines and the iconic trident are symbolic of Maserati. Starting in Modena, Maserati will take you on an exclusive tour from discovering their birthplace to where they innovate and assemble their cars. WEBSITE

Pagani factory and museum

No wonder why they call Emilia Romagna the motor valley. In a few kilometres from Maserati and Ferrari there is also Pagani. Founded 25 years ago by the Italian-Argentine supercar manufacturer Horacio Pagani, the factory is known for crafting exquisite, limited-production automobiles. His cars, including the Huayra and Zonda series, boast striking aesthetics and cutting-edge engineering. Pagani’s vehicles are renowned for their lightweight carbon fiber construction, potent V12 engines, and exceptional performance, blending art and engineering to create automotive masterpieces. It is possible to visit the museum and the factory. Special tours are available for the 25th anniversary. Booking is mandatory. WEBSITE

The Ferrari Museum

Elegance and speed are just two of the many things that made Ferrari the Italian icon and desired throughout the world. There are two museums in Maranello; Museo Ferrari where you will explore the history of the brand and Museo Enzo Ferrari where you will delve into the story of its founder. The visit will then continue to its headquarters where you can visit their factory. After that, we recommend a lunch stop at Ristorante Cavallino, to continue tasting the values and spirit of Ferrari through the eyes (or should we say hands) of Massimo Bottura. WEBISTE

Vintage ferrari at the Museum

adventure seekers

Take a bike ride through the countryside

Set out on a beautiful bike ride amidst nature in 130 hectares of Roncolo Park, belonging to Tenuta Venturini Baldini. In two hours you could reach Canossa, cycling past castles, woods and breathtaking landscapes.

Walk Il Sentiero di Matilde

Il Sentiero di Matilde retraces the most important locations that were visited by countess Matilde di Canossa during her trips to her lands. Here you will find paths for trekking and mountain biking that connect the main historic and natural locations to Modena and Reggiano Apennines. WEBSITE

art and culture

Visit the Bianello castle

The Bianello Castle is located in the small village of Quattro Castella and is in the middle of Monte Vetro, Bianello Lucio and Zane. Back in the days the castle was used as a sighting system or a defensive ambush. Most of the castles owned by the Countess Matilda were the setting for important historic decisions made in Europe during the 10th century. The Bianello castle specifically is the only one that maintained such a well-preserved and clear structure. WEBSITE

The “you are Matilde” experience

You Are Matilde is a tour between virtual reality and live experience to live in first person Matilde of Canossa’s life and discover locations full of history and tradition.  WEBSITE

Reggio Parma Festival

The Reggio Parma Festival is a vibrant celebration of music and culture between Reggio Emilia’s and Parma’s theatres. This annual event showcases world-class performances, from classical to contemporary genres, and embraces the rich culinary traditions of the two cities. It’s a harmonious blend of art, music, dance and gastronomy. WEBSITE

Labirinto della Masone

Nestled in Fontanellato, near Parma, the labyrinth is an extraordinary garden in Fontanellato, Italy. Created by art collector, publisher and aesthete Franco Maria Ricci, it’s the world’s largest bamboo labyrinth, spanning over 20 acres. Visitors wander through intricate pathways, surrounded by towering bamboo, experiencing a unique blend of natural beauty and artistic design in this enchanting outdoor maze. WEBSITE

Inside Bianello Castle

complesso monumentale della pilotta

Courtesy of Palazzo Pilotta

Parma is a little jewel, with its Romanesque cathedral and pink baptistery, but also an active centre of intellectual production on the themes of art, music and gastronomy. The home of Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto and culatello, it is also home to Giuseppe Verdi, Correggio and Parmigianino. And it is home to the Pilotta, an extraordinary monumental complex built around 1580 on the model of the Vatican Museums that holds some unique treasures, such as the 17th-century Farnese Theatre, the Palatine Library and, among many masterpieces, works by Canova, Bernini, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Scapiliata. WEBSITE

collezione maramotti

Fondazione Maramotti, located in Reggio Emilia, is a cultural gem. Founded by the Maramotti family (the name behind the internationally recognised fashion brand Max Mara), it houses a stunning collection of contemporary art, including Alighiero Boetti, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tony Craigg among the others. With its striking architecture and rotating exhibitions, this private foundation opens a window into the world of contemporary creativity, offering a rich cultural experience to all. WEBSITE


Fidenza Village

Fidenza Village is a unique concept of outlet shopping created in 1992. Here you’ll find all your luxury brands in one place, at discounted prices too. Find your Dolce & Gabbana mini bag or Zanotti’s jewel sandals up to 70% off the original price. WEBSITE 

What to see

Rich in culture, art and also well known for all the local gastronomic products it offers. Reggio Emilia is one of the cities in Europe that has the honour to host three bridges, made by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava, that connect Reggio Emilia to the northern part of the city. Also the city has the pleasure to have the contemporary art works of Luciano Fabro, Sol Lewitt, Eliseo Mattiacci and Robert Morris. Another important artistic monument in the city is the Collezione Maramotti, which was built by Achille Maramotti in the ‘60 to create a public space where contemporary art worlds could be exposed.


Culatello from Antica Corte Pallavicina

Antica Corte Pallavicina is a family run business that has been producing cold cuts for over 150 years. Their culatello was Giuseppe Verdi’s favourite. He used to say that: “my best travel companions are salami, culatelli, cooked shoulders and my wine”. To always keep an eye to the future, the company decided together with Slow Food to start producing an even a more excellent and exclusive product called ‘Culatelli Oro e Platinum Spigaroli. Some of the culatelli hanging in the Corte’s cellar are for King Charles III, Giorgio Armani and Prince Alberto of Monaco.  WEBSITE

bijoux by Laura Nocco

From the artisanal boutique nestled in the heart of Piazza Scapinelli in Reggio Emilia to the grand showcases of the Louvre, Vatican Museums, Versailles, and even across the ocean to the National Geographic in Washington, Nocco’s artistic jewelry has embarked on an impressive journey. Always with unwavering dedication to details and materials, adorning the necks of the world’s most beautiful women on high-fashion runways in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna and in everyday life, enhancing the elegance of both young and tasteful ladies. WEBSITE

design @ Caratteri Mobili

A creative and forward looking environment that takes inspiration from the past to create new objects. Passionate about design and with specialisation in items that belong to every era and style. Caratteri Mobili looks to furnish interior spaces in unique and beautiful ways. WEBISTE

Courtesy Caratteri Mobili

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