Emilia-Romagna is the lush northern heartland of Italian farming in a central geographical position. It almost spans the entire breadth of Italy, sharing borders with Tuscany and Liguria to the south and Lombardy and the Veneto to the north. When the Romans built the Via Emilia their main north-south trade route, it traveled up the entire length of Emilia Romagna. This road plus the East-West route that crossed it (and linked the two major ports Venice and Genoa) made Emilia Romagna a crossroads for all of Northern Italy and a link to all of Europe and the South.
Warring Romans and Gaul’s created Emilia and Romagna.
The first Etruscan and Greek settlers gradually gave way to the Gaul’s from the north, who were attracted by the area’s rich land and vineyards. Expanding their empire north from Rome, the Romans challenged the Gaul’s for possession of the region. The Gaul’s stopped the Romans south and east of Bologna. This area remains Roman, or Romagna, Romagna includes all of the regions Adriatic coast and part of the Ferrara province, but not the city of Ferrara, and part of Bologna province, but not the city of Bologna. There is no formal agreement as to where the border is exactly and it is not written on any map. The plains and mountains to the west and north are considered Emilia.
The regions rich cuisine is complex, ranging from highly refined traditions of the regions nobility to middle class cuisine to the peasant kitchen. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Romagna was under the rule of the Byzantines and then the Papal State. As a result, Romagna’s food tastes more of central Italy than of the north and dishes in Romagna tend to be more simple and assertive, the every day dishes of farmers and fisherman.
In Emilia, local lords battled for control of the area. For example the Farnese dukes who practically invented the culture of banqueting and conspicuous consumption ruled Parma and Piacenza. Emilia then passed to France and Austria, who brought their food and dining traditions. Centuries as a center of court for these powerful countries helped establish Emilia’s food culture. As a result, the food is more refined and elaborate.