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Introducing Emilia-Romagna & San Marino

The secret's in the mud. The roots of Emilia-Romagna's supersonic economy lie not in the mechanics of its famous Ferraris, but in its exceptionally fertile soil. Since antiquity, the verdant plains of the region's Po river valley have sown enough agricultural riches to feed a nation and finance an unending production line of lavish products: luxury cars, regal palazzi (mansions), fine Romanesque churches, prosperous towns, a sturdy industrial infrastructure, a gigantic operatic legacy (Verdi and Pavarotti, no less) and food. Ah yes, did anyone mention the food?

You can eat like a Roman emperor here, and, if you have any appetite left, dip your toe tentatively into the places that time-poor Rome-o-philes serially miss. There's Bolshie Bologna with its rag├╣ (meat and tomato sauce) and porticoes, posh Parma with its opera and cheese, Modena and its balsamic vinegar, the wealthy micronation of San Marino, and Ravenna with its mosaics. Come to Emilia-Romagna ragazzi (guys). Just don't forget the mud that made it.