Emilia-Romagna is a region in Northern Italy that extends inland westward from the Adriatic coast.
|Piacenza (PC) |
Includes Piacenza, Fiorenzuola d'Arda, Castel San Giovanni, Rottofreno and Podenzano
|Parma (PR) |
Includes Parma, Fidenza and Colorno
|Reggio nell'Emilia (RE) |
Includes Reggio and Fabbrico.
|Modena (MO) |
Includes Modena, Carpi and Maranello
|Bologna (BO) |
Now a metropolis with Bologna and Imola
|Ferrara (FE) |
Includes Ferrara, Codigor and Mesola
|Ravenna (RA) |
Includes Ravenna, Faenza and Cervia
|Forlì-Cesena (FC) |
Forlì and Cesena are joint provincial capitals.
|Rimini (RN) |
Includes Rimini, Novafeltria, Pennabilli and Riccione
- 1 Piacenza means "pleasing" and its palaces and churches will do so.
- 2 Parma is historic yet stylish, and you've got to try the ham.
- 3 Reggio Emilia has a cathedral, two basilicas, and monastery cloisters.
- 4 Modena has antiquities aplenty but is better known as the base for Ferrari motors.
- 5 Bologna is a magnificent old city with a rich architectural and cultural heritage.
- 6 Ferrara is a beautiful city, embellished by the Este dynasty, yet it escapes the tourist hordes.
- 7 Ravenna was once a capital of Byzantium, and has rich mosaics.
- 8 Forlì has many medieval buildings.
- 9 Cesena also has a fine medieval core, heritage of the Malatesta dynasty.
- 10 Rimini is a beach resort on the Adriatic.
- 1 Parco Nazionale dell'Appennino Tosco-Emiliano, established in 2001, spans the mountains along the boundary between Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. Lots of opportunies for wildlife-spotting, hiking and climbing - the highest peak is Monte Cusna, 2121 m.
- 2 Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona e Campigna, established in 1993, spans the mountains between Forlì-Cesena, Arezzo and Florence. It's mostly woodland.
- Montefeltro — Area across Romagna, Marche and Tuscany. Includes the Republic of San Marino and several municipalities, such as Novafeltria, Pennabilli, Sant'Agata Feltria and Carpegna.
- 3 San Marino is an independent microstate perched on a hilltop above Rimini.
During the 2nd century a Roman road was built that connected Rimini to Piacenza. Built in honor of the Roman consul Mark Emilio Facetious, it was called Aemilia. The region is named after this road and defined by it: all the important cities, with the exception of Ferrara and Ravenna, are actually on the Via Emilia. In the 6th century the Romans lost this territory, which was divided between the Longobards and the Byzantines (Eastern Roman Empire), and the territories were named Longobardia and Romania respectively. With the unity of Italy, the Region acquired the original Roman name of Emilia, and it was only in 1947 that the name of Emilia-Romagna was assigned.
Emilia-Romagna is a region of gentle hills between the River Po and the Appennines, sloping gently down to the Adriatic in the east. As elsewhere in the Po Basin, intensive agriculture is pursued alongside small and medium industry.
During the summer months the miles and miles of sandy beaches on the Adriatic coast are a drawcard for Italian tourists, and are also particularly popular with Northern and Eastern Europeans.
There are many local dialects and each town has its own distinctive accent and vocabulary. Bolognese is very different from Forlivese which is different from the Romagnolo of the coast, which is different again from the Romagnolo of the Appenine mountains. In Emilia, Parma and Modena may be close together but the dialects spoken are far from identical.
- Il portale della Regione Emilia-Romagna. The portal of the Emilia-Romagna provides some essential tourist information for this region, including a list of current and upcoming events.
There are airports in Rimini, Bologna and Parma, but they have limited flights. Consider flying into Milan or Venice, which have lots of budget flights and good onward transport. Forlì airport has no commercial flights but they hope to resume these in 2021.
The whole region is a natural transport corridor, so the series of provincial capitals all have good links. Fast trains run from Milan to Bologna then either branch south to Rome and Naples or follow the coast to Rimini, Ancona, Bari and Lecce. Regional trains stop at the other main cities.
By car, from Milan follow A1 to Piacenza, Parma, Reggio nell'Emilia, Modena and Bologna, where the A1 turns south for Florence, Rome and Naples.
A14 courses southeast from Bologna to Forlì (with a branch to Ravenna), Cesena, Rimini, and away down the Adriatic coast to Ancona, Bari and Taranto.
From Venice follow A13 south to Padua, Ferrara and Bologna.
A15 crosses the hills from La Spezia to Parma.
From Germany and west Austria, cross Brenner Pass on A22 and descend through Bolzano and Verona to Modena.
Several minor routes wind over the Apennines for a slow but scenic approach from the south. They may be congested in summer and occasionally snow-bound in winter.
Train is the best public transport option whenever available, as it lands you in the heart of the old cities where you positively don't want a car. The series of provincial capitals along the valley are on the Milan - Bologna - Rimini - Lecce main line, with a combination of fast and regional trains giving an hourly service. There are also trains from Bologna via Ravenna to Rimini, and from Bologna to Ferrara, Padua and Venice. International timetables such as Deutsche Bahn may only show the fast trains, check with Trenitalia for the full choice.
The provincial capitals each have a network of city buses (which you're unlikely to use) and inter-town services. The latter are the only option in the hill towns where there's no railway.
Mi Muovo is an integrated public transport pass for the region. There are annual, monthly and student passes, but the one most applicable to short-stay tourists is "Mi Muovo Multibus". This is a 12-trip ticket, for bus only, for 12 rides of up to 75 min within a single tariff zone. The ticket can be shared, eg 6 rides by two people. The price (as of June 2021) is €15.
By car, see above for the main road network.
- Evaporitic Karst and Caves of Northern Apennines a set of nine caves and karst landscapes in the provinces of Bologna, Rimini and Reggio Emilia, making up a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Beaches start at Cervia and stretch south through Cesenatico to Rimini and Riccione.
- Football: Teams playing in Serie A, the top tier of Italian soccer, are Sassuolo (who since 2013 play in Reggio Emilia) and Bologna.
- Motor racing: Imola usually hosts two F1 Grand Prix events each year.
The region is famed for its culinary delights, especially the fine gold coloured egg pastas like Tortellini and Tagliatelle and the green Lasagne Verdi all from Bologna. Gramigna is another Bologna pasta, then there are Garganelli from Imola, Cappelletti and Passatelli from Reggio Emilia and Anolini from Piacenza. Ricotta and greens filled Tortelli are served throughout both Emilia and Romagna.
Bologna is also famous for its Ragù known in English as Bolognese sauce (which is *never* served on Spaghetti) and for fragrant Mortadella (centuries old and noble Italian ancestor of the unpleasant present day Oscar Meyer).
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is made in a large part of Emilia starting with Bologna itself and ranging North and West through to Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma. "Parmigiano Reggiano" was originally made only with the superior quality milk obtained from the red coated cows of Reggio Emilia, called Razza Reggiana in Italian. Parmigiano Reggiano is at its best when it has been aged for between 24 and 30 months. The cheese made with the milk of the red cows ages even longer and is excellent at 36 months.
The region also produces cured hams including, besides the famous Prosciutto di Parma, other excellent products like Prosciutto di Modena and Culatello di Zibello. Piacenza is famed for its coppa, salame and pancetta, Modena for its Zampone and Cotecchino. Cured pork products like Lardo, Guanciale, Salame and Pancetta made from the ancient Mora Romagnola breed of pig are the pride of Romagna..
The original Balsamic vinegar Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale is produced only in this region, in the neighbouring towns of Modena and Reggio Emilia. It is made exclusively of cooked down pressed grape juice and has to be aged for a minimum 12 years in wooden barrels before being bottled. The word "tradizionale" is essential on the label. The Balsamic Vinegar which is not Tradizionale is made only of the very cheap ingredients of vinegar and sugar.
Emilia Romagna is considered one of the richest regions in the world in typical products and food and wine fields, so much so that it has earned the nickname of "food valley". The fame of Emilia Romagna is mainly due to two gastronomic pearls, Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano, which have become famous all over the world. Dairy production is heavily affected by the "weight" of Parmigiano Reggiano, failing to express itself at very high levels with other typical products, at least in Emilia, while in Romagna, with the pecorino from the Rimini hills and the pit cheese, the situation improves. The production of typical charcuterie products, from cooked ones, such as salama da sugo, cooked shoulder, zampone and cotechino, is instead wide and qualitatively very interesting; to raw ones, such as the various salami (different from area to area) and coppa (especially the one from Piacenza).
There are three broad wine areas: Emilia, Bologna and Romagna.
In Emilia (everywhere west and north of Bologna from Modena to Piacenza) the favourite wine to drink with all the rich local specialities is Lambrusco: tart, dry and worlds away from the sickly export version. Also appreciated is Piacenza's red Gutturnio, a blend of Bonarda and Barbera grapes. Whites in Emilia include cool Sauvignons and sparkling wines made from the aromatic Malvasia grape. Both make fine "food wines" ie wines to go with food.
Bologna's local grape Pignoletto makes a very fine white, traditionally always sparkling but now made in a still version by many of local wine estates. It can be drunk as an aperitif or throughout a meal. Bologna also has prize wining red wines made using Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a lightly sparkling Barbera. There is also a long history of wine making using Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Italian Riesling, but as in the rest of the region, dry whites are made from the Trebbiano and the Albana grapes, though this last is most used to make the region's famous dessert wines.
Much of the best of this region's wine comes from Romagna (everywhere south and east of Bologna), where the whole area makes superb Sangiovese di Romagna. These wines make for fine drinking at bargain prices, considering the grape is the same as that used for Chianti but sells at a fraction of the price. Many top producers (from Imola, Forli, Faenza and Ravenna, to name but a few of the wine areas) have for years been winning top prizes both nationally and internationally for their excellent Sangiovese di Romagna wines.
Veneto lies directly north. South along the coast is Marche, with the tiny state of San Marino. Tuscany with Florence lies over the mountains to the south. Liguria can be reached over the mountains to the southwest. Lombardy with Milan then Piedmont are to the west. On the east is the region's Adriatic coast.