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Imola is a town within Bologna Metropolitan District, best known for its motor-racing circuit, which hosts Formula One and other big events.

Understand[edit]

Until 200 BC, Rome only controlled a small part of Italy. The broad fertile plain of the River Po was obviously worth seizing, so they built Via Aemilia as a great trunk road, with a line of colonies, fortresses and towns along it. Imola was one of these towns, established by the dictator Sulla around 82 BC. Other despots also thought it worth seizing, so Imola was at various times held by the Lombards, the Pope, and the warring Italian great families. It particularly enjoyed patronage in the 15th century and again in the 18th, with many fine buildings created or embellished. The town's main trades were agriculture and ceramics, like nearby Faenza.

Imola in 2017 had a population just under 70,000; it's a commuter town and has excellent transport along the valley, so you could use it as a base to explore everywhere from Bologna to Ravenna. But what made its name famous was the racing circuit, set up in 1953 as the home circuit of the Ferrari racing team.

Get in[edit]

Rocca Sforzesca

By air, Bologna Airport (BLQ IATA) is closest and has budget flights by Ryanair. Venice Marco Polo (VCE IATA) has a wider selection of flights and is little over an hour's drive.

Regional trains run every hour or so from Bologna Centrale via Castel San Pietro Terme, taking 20 min to Imola and continuing southeast to Faenza, Forli, Rimini and on down the coast to Ancona. Inter-city trains don't stop here, you can change in Bologna.

TPER Bus 101 takes 75 min between Bologna and Imola, running every 15 min M-F and hourly Sa-Su.

1 Imola railway and bus station Imola railway station on Wikipedia is on the north side of the town centre.

By road follow A14 Autostrada Adriatica.

Get around[edit]

- and this is Leonardo da Vinci's map of Imola

The central sights are all in walking distance, including the racing circuit - head south down via Dante Alighieri. Buses 101 and 140 run by Piratello, for the sanctuary.

See[edit]

  • 1 Duomo (Basilica Cattedrale di San Cassiano Martire), piazza Duomo 10. Built 1187 to 1271, the cathedral was repeatedly restored in the following centuries, especially 1765–1781. The façade dates to 1850. Imola cathedral (Q2942555) on Wikidata Cattedrale di San Cassiano on Wikipedia
  • 2 Chiesa di San Michele e Convento dell’Osservanza, via Venturini 2. Chiesa di San Michele e Convento dell’Osservanza (Q3689482) on Wikidata Convento dell'Osservanza (Imola) on Wikipedia
  • 3 Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Servi, piazza Mirri 2. Santa Maria dei Servi (Q56010540) on Wikidata
  • 4 Palazzo Comunale, via Mazzini 4. Palazzo comunale (Q35992957) on Wikidata
  • 5 Palazzo Sersanti (Palazzo Riario Sersanti), piazza Matteotti 8. Palazzo Sersanti (Q56010808) on Wikidata
  • 6 Museo di San Domenico, via Sacchi, 4. Incorporates the Guiseppi Scarabelli archaeology and natural history museum. St. Dominic museum (Q27992740) on Wikidata
  • 7 Rocca Sforzesca. Rocca Sforzesca (Q3939413) on Wikidata Rocca Sforzesca di Imola on Wikipedia
  • 8 Palazzo Tozzoni, via Garibaldi 18. Palazzo Tozzoni (Q3891009) on Wikidata Palazzo Tozzoni on Wikipedia

Further out[edit]

  • 9 Santuario della Beata Vergine del Piratello, via Emilia Ponente 27, Piratello. On 27 March 1483 a pilgrim named Stefano Manganelli witnessed a miracle at Piratello in which a vision of the Madonna requested that the people of Imola build her a shrine. This led to the establishment of a monastery (suppressed under Napoleon) and the sanctuary; the cemetery was added a few years later. Santa Maria del Piratello (Q3635638) on Wikidata Santuario della Beata Vergine del Piratello on Wikipedia
  • 10 Dozza is a small town with a castle, but best known for its elaborately painted walls.

Do[edit]

Buy[edit]

  • Lots of convenience stores in town centre. Lidl and Aldi supermarkets are on via Selice north of the railway station.

Eat[edit]

Drink[edit]

The autodrome: it's not just for walking the dog
  • The main strip for bars is along via Mazzini.

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 Hotel Ziò Imola, via Nardozzi 14, +39 542 35274. Convenient mid-range place near railway station and other central sights. B&B double €80.
  • 2 Rivazza and 3 Olimpia are near the race track.

Connect[edit]

Imola has 4G with all Italian carriers. As of April 2021, 5G has not rolled out in this region.

Go next[edit]

  • Bologna is a beautiful and historic city needing several days to explore.
  • Faenza gave its name to faience ceramics.
  • Ravenna is another fascinating old city.


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This city travel guide to Imola is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.