Vacations in Emilia-Romagna:
With airports at Rimini, Forli and Bologna, Emilia-Romagna has excellent communications, ideal for anyone planning a vacation in Italy. With its central-northern situation it serves as a hub in the autostrade network. Motorways radiate out and run direct from Bologna to the north and Milan, and to Rome and the south. Book a holiday in Emilia-Romagna and you are supported by an excellent infrastructure.
So it's easy to reach, but what does the region of Emilia-Romagna have to offer the Italian holidaymaker? Well with good beaches, pretty and diverse countryside, fascinating medieval cities (and some much older) you won't run out of things to do. And with arguably the finest cuisine in Italy (other regions might well argue this point of course) you'll enjoy superb meals wherever you go.
Holidays in Bologna
Emilia-Romagna is centred around the ancient city of Bologna. This is a fascinating town, and is either dubbed 'Bologna La Grassa' (Bologna the Fat) because of its excellent food, or as 'Red Bologna' as the traditional centre of the political left in Italy. The communist leanings of the city made it a target during the 'years of lead' the Anni Piombi of the 1970s and early 80s, when Italy was rocked by a spate of terrorist bombings. Bologna railway station was famously destroyed in 1980 with 85 people killed. Today the university is the base of Italian philosopher and novelist Umberto Eco, the writer of The Name of the Rose. Bologna is a town where you are as likely to hear coffee house discussions on Derrida and Descartes as debates on performance of Bologna FC in Serie A.
Bologna may be the capital of Emilia-Romagna, but it's only one of a number of ancient regional centres. The modern A1 and A14 bisect the region, linking Piacenza (lodging) in the west, threading through Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, little Forli and thence to Rimini on the eastern, Adriatic coast. It's no surprise to learn that this highway follows the course of an old Roman road, the Via Emilia. The A1/A14 is met at right angles by another old road running north-south, the modern A13 joining Bologna with Ferrara and then onto Padua and Venice. South this road runs to Florence and then Rome. A main rail line follows the course of the A1/A14, meaning however you plan to get around during your vacation in Emilia-Romagna, you'll find you're well served. There is much to see and many ways to plan your itinerary round the region.
Emilia-Romagna's colourful history:
The sophisticated infrastructure of Emilia-Romagna owes much to its history. Before the unification of Italy, this region was the heart of the Papal States. For centuries after the fall of Rome though, it was divided among competing dukedoms. During medieval times Emilia-Romagna was a clutch of small city states really, each with a fortified town at its heart. These Renaissance courts were keen patrons of the arts. And these miniature takes on Medici Florence each built their own castles and fortresses. Meanwhile, the fertile and profitable farming land of Emilia-Romagna saw the rise of prosperous towns and hamlets in medieval times. While Tuscany and Umbria have been a magnet for tourists, Emilia has been relatively neglected, and the old villages have been unspoiled by modern tourism. Now, many of them are being revived and rebuilt. Prepare yourself for the heat of an Emilia-Romagna summer and you will find real delights, as you explore medieval towns untroubled by crowds of sightseers.
Check out Modena, with the ancient Via Emilia carving through its centre and running right by the Piazza Grande in the centre of town. There is the magnificent 12th century Duomo (cathedral) sitting at the heart of an undisturbed medieval core of streets, radiating out in concentric circles. Reggio Emilia is a quiet, ancient town, with a cathedral and some fine churches and galleries. Parma is an elegant, affluent city with its own opera house, while sleepy Piacenza marks the western border with Lombardy.
Vacations in Emilia-Romagna - Ferrara and San Marino:
Also visit Ferrara during your vacation in Emilia-Romagna. A fascinating historic town, it was once the base of the Dukes of Este, who built a model and very beautiful town. Their economic mismanagement saw Ferrara being handed over to the Papacy and centuries of decline. Today, a rejuvenated Ferrara has good restaurants and bars, where you can relax in between viewing the fine churches, galleries and architecture of the town.
And head south to the historic curiosity of San Marino, which has survived as an independent republic within Italy for nearly 2000 years. With its own postage stamps, mint and army, it is supposed to have been founded in the year 300AD by a monk who fled persecution by the Emperor Diocletian. Bringing things right up to date, it is also home to the Enzo e Dino Ferrari motor racing circuit at Imola, home of the San Marino Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Holidays in Emilia-Romagna - food and drink:
Every region in Italy will boast that it has the country's best food, but Emilia-Romagna can stake a pretty good claim. Visit a restaurant in Ferrara, Modena or Parma, or check out the superb Bologna market for confirmation. Regional delicacies include Parmesan cheese and Parma ham, balsamic vinegar and truffles. There are good wines, and the mediaeval village of Brisighella has a festa each autumn dedicated to olives, truffles and polenta. Emilia does pasta in fine style, including tortellini stuffed with pumpkin and pork, ricotta and spinach. Meat and fish feature heavily on a diverse menu.
The countryside is diverse too. Once covered in forest, over the last two thousand years agriculture has seen to that, but pine forests still unfold around Ravenna and Cervia. Flat plains on the Po Delta of the north rise into the foothills of the Apennine Mountains in the south.
Jump directly to an area of interest in Emilia Romagna:
A map of Emilia Romagna:
FEATURED ACCOMMODATION IN EMILIA-ROMAGNA
Bed and Breakfast in Italy - short stay accommodation in central Italian region
Sleeps 1 to 10+, map
Renting in Emilia Romagna, Italy - Bed and Breakfast La Piana dei Castagni
Holidays in Emilia-Romagna - must sees:
Ravenna - once capital of the Western Roman Empire (around 500AD), then the seat of the Gothic kings, and then a major outpost of Byzantium under the rule of Constantinople. The legacy is an enormous treasurehouse of architecture, monuments and religious buildings. Once a coastal town (the sea has long receded and is now reached via an 11km canal, Ravenna is today a centre of art, culture and, famously 'the city of mosaics'. Be sure to visit Ravenna during your vacation in Emilia-Romagna.
Parma has the highest standard of living in Italy, an affluent town even by Emilia-Romagna's elevated standards. A pleasant, comfortable town, a big reason for a vacation in Parma is the superb food. Parma ham and Parmesan cheese is just the beginning.
Bologna - Red Bologna or Bologna the Fat, this beautiful city has food for the mind as well as the belly. An exceedingly cultured and sophisticated town, with some beautiful architecture. Set aside a day or two of your vacation in Emilia-Romagna for a visit to Bologna.
Modena - a superb and unspoiled medieval centro storico is the chief reason for visiting Modena. You have to see the 12th century cathedral (duomo) during your holiday in Emilia-Romagna ... one of the finest Romanesque structures on the planet