Emilia–Romagna is considered one of the richest and most developed regions with the third highest GDP per capita in Italy. Bologna, the region’s capital, as well as Renaissance cities such as Modena, Parma and Ferrara are large cultural and tourist centers. During the Middle Ages, trading activities, culture, and religion flourished thanks to the region’s monasteries, bustling towns, politics, and the University of Bologna—the oldest university in Europe.
Apart from Standard Italian, Emiliano–Romagnolo, (also known as Emilian–Romagnolo) is the local language. It is a Romance language mostly spoken in the region and San Marino and is considered a minority language.
Emilia–Romagna is known for its filled pasta made with soft wheat flour. Bologna is notable for pasta dishes like tortellini, lasagne, gramigna and tagliatelle which are found also in many other parts of the region in different declinations.
The celebrated balsamic vinegar is made only in the Emilian cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Parmigiano Reggiano is produced in Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and Bologna and is much used in cooking, while the Grana Padano variety is produced in Piacenza. Despite the fact that the Adriatic coast is a major fishing area well known for its eels and clams, the region is more famous for its meats, especially pork-based products, that include: Parma’s culatello and Felino salami, Piacenza’s pancetta, coppa and salami, Bologna’s mortadella and salame rosa, Modena’s zampone, cotechino and capello di prete and Ferrara’s salama da sugo. Regional desserts include zuppa inglese (custard-based dessert made with sponge cake and Alchermes liqueur) and panpepato (Christmas cake made with pepper, chocolate, spices, and almonds). An exhaustive list of the most important regional wines include Sangiovese from Romagna, Lambrusco from Reggio Emilia or Modena, Cagnina di Romagna, Colli Piacentini and Trebbiano from Piacenza.