Travel & Leisure India & South Asia

A CULTURAL FEAST

ONLY IN ITALY can you go looking for a museum and end up in a ham dungeon. I had driven through a raging storm in search of the Museum of Culatello, an institution devoted to the history of the country’s rarest prosciutto, situated inside Antica Corte Pallavicina (doubles from14,750; tasting menu8,480; anticacorte pallavicina relais. it ), a 14th -century castle near the Po River. But when I arrived at the looming edifice in pounding rain and shouldered open a wooden door, not a soul was about. The castle’s shadowy interior had the air of an abandoned opera set, all ravishingly frescoed salons with antique chandeliers.

Over rolling thunder I heard a sound from below, so I descended a stone staircase into sepulchral darkness. When my eyes adjusted, I found myself in an underground warren, surrounded by thousands of hams strung from the rafters like alien pods. The smell was as musty and inescapably organic as a medieval butcher’s shop—a

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