Spergola, the perfect match for Emilian cuisine
One could fill lots of books with things about local wine-gastronomy.
The “journey” starts with the king of all the cheeses, the protagonist of the Emilian cuisine. It’s Parmigiano-Reggiano of course, which represents – in home recipes as well as in restaurants’ delicacies – a “guarantee” of goodness.
Parmigiano-Reggiano, the cheese that boasts more attempts at imitation in the world, was born in the heart of Emilia, in the area between two important cities: Parma and Reggio Emilia. It is produced according to strict criteria, which make it an excellent ingredient for many recipes.
With the “Parmigiano-Reggiano” one can prepare the filling for tortelli and cappelletti, two sorts of egg pasta representing the heart of the Emilian and local cuisine.
By pairing this cheese with balsamic vinegar, also known as “black gold”, one can experience a very tasteful combination, sweet and sour at the same time.
Scandiano’s City Government granted the use of a part of the Clock Tower for production purposes to the Confraternita dell’Aceto Balsamico (Balsamic Vinegar Brotherhood – an authority that supervises and safeguards the production of local home-made balsamic vinegar). The vinegar battery (set of barrels), hosted on the top floor of the Clock Tower, is located in the ideal place to make the balsamic vinegar develop its characteristic scents to become a top quality product.
It is impossible to not stop in one of the many bakeries of the town to taste the so called gnocchini: round pieces of flatbread which release an irresistible aroma, especially when just out of the oven.
Another unmissable recipe of this Region is Erbazzone : a savoury quiche made of spinach and beet leaves, seasoning and (of course) Parmigiano-Reggiano, lying between two puff pastry layers.
The Emilian cuisine – traditionally “vocated” to pork meat – includes also many types of cured meat, greaves and rinds, such as cotechino and zampone.
And what’s for dessert-lovers? Some patisseries of Scandiano produce the famous Boiardo’s cake, or Scandiano’s cake, an ancient recipe that is definitely worth a bite, better when served with local wines such as Lambrusco – a sparkling intense red wine with a dry enchanting taste – or Spergola.
Nowadays, taking up the legacy of Scandiano’s Enological Society of the 19th century, the so called Compagnia della Spergola (Spergola’s Society) safeguards the production of this local white wine with strict criteria, and it promotes this unique traditional product through many initiatives.
Points of interest
Mentioning Scandiano’s most important places, it’s impossible not to start with the Boiardo’s fortress, our “Rocca”. Being the city’s presentation card, this monumental complex dates back to the early 14th cent. It can be said – with no doubt – this monument has an important historical and cultural value: it was built by the Da Fogliano, a noble family of the Italian Renaissance, but it owes its name to the Boiardo’s Family, who lived here for 137 years (from 1423 to 1560). Being initially built for military defence purposes, it is surrounded by walled enclosures with a moat, a drawbridge and watchtowers.
The parish church dedicated to the Virgin Mary stands in front of the fortress’ entrance. It hosts the Boiardo’s tombs, Spallanzani’s cenotaph, and it is embellished by remarkable works of art, such as the Baroque presbytery and the chapel of Saint Catherine, who is one of the patron Saints of the town.
Continuing from Piazza Boiardo (Boiardo square) to Via Magati (Magati street), one can easily reach the native house of Lazzaro Spallanzani.
He was born in this manor on Jan. 12th 1729. Here it is where he lived for a long period of time, made new discoveries and established a rich natural history museum on the second floor. The building was declared “national monument” in 1939.
At the end of Via Magati there is the Civic Tower, also known as the “Clock Tower”. Originally it was the main access gate to the ancient district, built by the will of Feltrino Boiardo in the first half of the 15th cent. In 1548 the clock had already been placed on the tower, and it could be admired from the nearby market place. The bell was blessed by Pope Paolo III in 1543.
Close to the Clock Tower, Piazza Fiume (Fiume square) opens with its typical colourful façades, once belonging to the Jewish Ghetto of Scandiano (later demolished with the Synagogue).
Walking from Piazza Fiume to Corso Garibaldi (Garibaldi Bvd.) one gets to Piazza Spallanzani (Spallanzani square), with the statue of Lazzaro Spallanzani standing in the middle of it. Taking Corso Vallisneri (Vallisneri Bvd.), the Townhall stands to the right, and, a little further on, to the left side, San Giuseppe Church, a small treasure of Baroque architecture.
Leaving the historical city centre, a pleasant walk on Scandiano’s hills leads the visitors to the Spergola’s vineyards, where this local grape variety becomes a unique sparkling white wine.
Breath-taking views and suggestive glimpses are offered by the iconic Monte delle Tre Croci (Three Crosses Hill), a “terrace” overlooking the city which is very appreciated by the locals. From its top, on clear days, one can admire some of the most beautiful sunsets of the whole area and, given its steep slopes, this hill is also a popular destination among cyclists.
Another attraction is the Grande Quercia (Big Oak), a charming monumental tree that dominates the area of Rondinara, one of Scandiano’s hamlets. It can be reached using the homonymous walking/cycling trail.
Moving from Scandiano towards the Via Emilia, Arceto (Scandiano’s biggest hamlet) is worth a stop. The Bishop’s Castle, located in the middle of the village, represents an example of a well-kept medieval castle, where the geometrical spaces once occupied by the moat and the walls are still presumable, as well as the tower and the drawbridge.
The traditional Fair of Saint Joseph – one of the most important events in Scandiano – takes place every year around Mar. 19th, the patron Saint’s day.
It is characterized by an agricultural, commercial and industrial exhibition, a big fun-fair, a street-market and dozens of initiatives related to the event.
As for culture, FestivaLOVE is the absolute protagonist of Scandiano’s spring/summer season. It embeds talks, interviews, concerts, presentations, lectio magistralis, exhibitions and performances of many genres. Every year – usually in the last week of May – this event attracts thousands of visitors under the big “umbrella” of Love, the “trademark” of the territory that inspired Matteo Maria Boiardo for his famous poem “L’Orlando Innamorato” (Orlando in love).