A product and the land where it comes from  June 2010

Crazy for Cherries

Take a walk through the ancient towns and green valleys surrounding Modena in search of the season’s best red cherries. Good food and relaxation await you.

It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that the best Italian cherries come from Vignola. Located about 15 miles south of Modena, Vignola is part of the sub-region of Italy known as the modenese, famous for its fast cars and good food, including its crisp red cherries. The local climate and fertile soil, nourished by the nearby Panaro River, as well as an established agricultural tradition, are important factors contributing to the excellent quality of the cherries.

Good to eat and beautiful to look at, Vignola cherries are at their ripest during the month of June.  At this time of year, the town is abuzz in celebration of Vignola … è Tempo di Ciliegie, an annual festival featuring tastings, markets and special menus dedicated to, you guessed it, cherries. This year’s festival will be held on June 5th and 6th. (For more information, visit www.comune.vignola.mo.it or call tel. 059 777587.)

If you plan to attend the festival, be sure to consider a tour along the Strada dei vini e dei sapori Città Castelli e Ciliegi (tel. 059.776711; www.cittacastelliciliegi.it). This wine and food road will lead you past ancient castles, old towns, green hills, ravines and cherry orchards. And there is no need to worry that you will go hungry with all the local salumi, wine and traditional balsamic vinegar available. The regional products can be purchased in small food shops or enjoyed directly in the restaurants and trattorie that line the road.

We suggest making a stop at Azienda Agricola Soli Cesare in Savignano sul Panaro. Surrounded by the walls of an ancient castle, Savignano is a picturesque Italian town with narrow, cobblestone roads that wind their way up to the bell tower. From the top of the tower, you can look out on the entire valley. In addition to cherries, the Soli Cesare property produces lambrusco wines like Grasparossa and Pignoletto, as well as cooked grape must and balsamic vinegar.

At the nearby Toschi farm, founded in 1945, you can find boozy, spirit-soaked cherries preserved in jars. If it is fresh cherries that you are after, you can visit the Mercato Contadino (Farmer’s Market) located in piazza Maestri del Lavoro in Vignola and open everyday from June 30th to September 30th.

After you have had your cherry-fix and ready to explore the city, head to the Rocca, a medieval castle located in the center of Vignola. Originally built as a defensive fort, the property was later converted to a luxurious home filled with elegant interiors and frescos. From the raised walkways, you can look out onto the valley of cherries.

Located near the Rocca, Pasticceria Gollini is a historic pastry shop hidden under the city’s porticos. Here you can indulge in a slice of the shop’s famous Barozzi chocolate cake, made by hand with the freshest ingredients since 1885. Don’t ask for the recipe because it is a safely guarded secret.

As the sun starts to set, book a table for dinner at all’Osteria Novecento in Manaro sul Panaro. The stonewalled restaurant is housed in an old mill. It was a welcoming atmosphere and offers a simple, yet appetizing menu, including gnocchi made from purple potatoes, served with an herb cream, and savory focaccias called crescentine paired with artisinal salumi.

Castelvetro and Monteveglio: history comes alive in the hill towns

Nestled in the first green highlands outside of Vignola, Castelvetro is one of the best-conserved towns in the modenese. The heart of the city is Piazza Roma, a particularly beautiful main square lined by many of the city hall, a clock tower, a prison tower and Palazzo Rinaldi. After a walk through the narrow, winding streets, you can rest your tired feet in one of the romantic suites at the Locanda del Feudo, housed in a carefully restored medieval building. The attention to detail paid by the interior designer is noticeable in the period furniture and elegant fabrics. Plus, you are guaranteed a warm welcome from the young, hospitable owners. If you want to take in the landscape, you can do so on a mountain bike. There are six paths that wind along the rivers, ridges and countryside.

Further into the hills, you will find the town of Lavizzano Rangone and the l’Agriturismo Ca’ Montanari, located on the property of Opera 02. The suites are minimal, contemporary and stylish. There is a restaurant located on the property, as well as an organic vineyard. (Lambrusco di Modena is made here.) For the guests of agriturismo, there is a pool with a view, a spa and a small shop selling everything from lambrusco to balsamic vinegar, to jams and honey.

From here, Monteveglio, in the province of Bologna, is just half an hour drive away. Perched atop a mountain ridge inside the Regional Park of the Monteveglio Abbey, the town is a hub of history and culture buffs. Monteveglio also appeals to wine lovers, producing DOC wines of the Bologna Hills. The local wines can be tasted directly at the wineries or enjoyed at dinner, perhaps with a good place of mixed salumi and crescentine like those served at Trattoria del Borgo, situated at the base of the S. Maria dell’Assunta Abbey. The extremely hospitable owners will be a highlight of your dining experience, as will their traditional menu.



Agriturismo Il Castellazzo
A charming and quiet farmhouse located between Modena and Bologna.
via Montebudello 61, loc. Montebudello, Monteveglio (Bo)
Tel. 051.830257
Double room – 90 euro, including breakfast

Locanda del Feudo
Composed of six suites, this b&b has a medieval feel and houses an elegant restaurant.
via Trasversale 2, Castelvetro (Mo)
Tel. 059.708711
Double room – 110 euro, including breakfast

Agriturismo Opera 02
Via Medusia, 32
Levizzano Rangone – Castelvetro di Modena (Mo)
tel. 059.741019
Double room – 110 euro, including breakfast


Osteria Novecento
Housed in a restored old mill, this casual restaurant offers regional cuisine.
Piazza Matteotti 28, Marano sul Panaro (Mo)
Tel. 059.705217
Dinner starting at 55 euro

Trattoria del Borgo
Excellent salumi and homemade pasta
Via San Rocco 12/1, Monteveglio (Bo)
Tel. 051.6707982
Average: 25 euro

Ristorante – Locanda La Tagliolina
Strong, yet balanced flavors served in the hills of Monteveglio.
via Marzatore 41, Loc. Tagliolina di Monteveglio (Bo)
Tel. 051.831305


Azienda Agricola Soli Cesare
Cherries, wine, vinegar and cooked must
Via E. Curiel 3, Savignano sul Panaro (Mo)
Tel. 059.796425

Selling spiked cherries (sotto spirito) and cherries in syrup since 1945
Via Genova 7, Savignano sul Panaro;

Pasticceria Gollini
Serving Barozzi chocolate cake since 1885.
Via Garibaldi 1/n, Vignola
Tel. 059.771079

Enoteca Regionale dell’Emilia-Romagna – Castelvetro di Modena
Houses over 200 wines from the Emilia and Romagna regions, as well as local food products and distillates.
Via Cialdini 6, Castelvetro (Mo)
Tel. 059.790489


Associazione Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori “Città Castelli Ciliegi” Colline fra Bologna e Modena
By calling the association, you can reserve a spot for weekend cherry picking with local farmers.
Via Tavoni 20, Vignola
Tel. 059.776711

Unione Terre di Castelli
This agency gathers information about the 5 communes in the modenese Castelvetro, Spilamberto, Vignola
Via Roncati 28, Spilamberto

By Silvia Ugolotti

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