Emilia-Romagna is a diverse region, made from a combination of several landscapes that complement each other. From the waves of the Adriatic Sea to the peaks of the Apennines, you will encounter a wonderful multitude of history, traditions, landscapes, and flavors. Emilia-Romagna must be treated as a whole and experienced in its charming and unique towns. Going to this region and spending time in one place would be a serious oversight. However, there is an element that binds this part of sunny Italy… The cuisine, which is clearly one of the top perks here. If, like us, you love to explore by tasting local specialties, this post is definitely for you!
How to get here
You can drive to Emilia-Romagna by car but it will take you about 15-16 hours from the centre of Poland. However, taking into account that you can fly to Forli ‘directly from Lodz Airport at an affordable price, we don’t see much sense in driving by car. The connection is operated by Lumiwings, and the flight itself takes about 2 hours. Check it out!
How to get around on-site?
As Emilia-Romagna is one of the largest regions in Italy, it will be easiest to explore by car. We decided to go on a road trip and we were very pleased with this decision. For a week we made nearly 1000 km and we would probably not see many places if it were not for the rented car. In addition, the roads in the region are good and the views are beautiful, so our daily car trips were simply entertainment in itself. Of course, it was not the cheapest entertainment, because we paid about PLN 2,000 for renting a car and the fuel.
Tip for those on a budget! Renting a car for a week at the airport in Forli costs PLN 700-800 more than in the rental companies, which are just a few bus stops from the terminal, on Via Cerchia (Avis / Budget) or 5 minutes by taxi (EUR 10). We recommend that you rent a car a bit further and spend the saved money on good food 🙂
Tip for those on budget! Renting a car for a week at Forla Airport ‘It cost PLN 700-800 more than in rentals, which have only a few bus stops from the terminal, at Via Cerchia (Avis/Budget) or 5 minutes by taxi (EUR 10). So we recommend renting a car a little further and pass the money saved 🙂
When abroad, it is worth considering twice whether we can park in a given place. For your convenience, we describe what the selected parking zones in Italy mean.
Yellow lines indicate free parking spaces for disabled people, vans, or are reserved for residents only.
Paid parking spaces (parcheggio a pagamento). You have to pay for the place at the parking meter, it is best to have coins with you because in Italy many parking meters do not support card payment.
Free parking spaces (parcheggio gratuito). However, you should always check the signs and make sure that these are not places, e.g. only for residents.
Free parking spaces for pregnant women or mothers with young children.
A city founded by the Romans in the 2nd century BC as Forum Livii, today has over 100,000 inhabitants. In addition to the intercity train station, there is an international airport here, on which you will land if you decide to take a direct flight from Lodz.
In Forli’, you can still see significant traces of the Romanesque and Renaissance times, when Katarzyna Sforza ruled the city. The rich heritage of the rationalist era of the 1920s and 1930s is also visible. It is considered a city of art, has a large university with prestigious faculties and a center dedicated to the creativity of young people.
The historic center still has two main roads of Roman origin, divided into four main streets: Mazzini, Garibaldi, Diaz, and della Repubblica, which converge on Piazza Aurelio Saffi. There are some of the most iconic buildings in the area:
- Romanesque Basilica of San Mercuriale with an impressive original bell tower from the 12th century
- Palazzo Comunale, town hall, dating from the 14th century and rebuilt several times, from the Torre Civica (clock tower)
- 15th-century Palazzo del Podestà and Palazzo Albertini, places of interesting exhibitions
- 20th century Palazzo delle Poste, an example of the “Ventennio” architecture (1920-1930), also visible in the construction of the buildings on Viale della Libertà and Piazzale della Vittoria, near the train station.
Strolling through the streets of the city center, you can admire noble palaces, incl. on Corso Garibaldi and Via P. Maroncelli. Also noteworthy is the baroque architecture of two prestigious monuments that have recently been restored: the Sufragio church at the entrance to Piazza Saffi and near the Church of San Filippo Neri, on Via G. Saffi.
2 km southwest of the main square, Piazza Aurelio Saffi, you will find the City Park of Franco Agosto. This is an absolute must-see in Forli ‘! We generally love nature and we were happy to find such a large green area in the city. However, this particular park is extraordinary. It’s all because of the hundreds of rabbits that live there. Yes, rabbits! At first, we were shocked and we enjoyed the next hour watching those little, hopping friends. The park covers a large area, bordering the Montone River and the green area belonging to the City Hospital (Pierantoni). It also has infrastructure provided, i.e. restaurants, bars, sports, and entertainment facilities. You can easily spend a nice day outdoors.
Forlimpopoli is a charming town located just a few kilometers southeast of Forli ‘. It is not much further to Cesena, located nearby.
We right away fell in love with this town. Partly because we just like small towns and partly because we knew that our visit to Forlimpopoli would be mainly about food. Today Forlimpopoli is known primarily as the hometown of the writer and father of Italian gastronomy, Pellegrino Artusi.
Founded by the Romans in the 2nd century BC and traversed by pilgrims heading to Rome in the Middle Ages, Forlimpopoli boasts many valuable monuments, such as the castle of Cardinal Albornoz overlooking the main square. Built-in the mid-fourteenth century on the ruins of the old cathedral, the castle is today the seat of the town hall. Its dungeons still hide the history of the city as it houses the “T. Aldini” Archaeological Museum, with loads of artifacts and finds from the Paleolithic, Roman Era (including mosaics and amphoras), Medieval and Late Medieval found in the area.
Also noteworthy is the Chiesa dei Servi near the square. The church, dating from the mid-15th century, received its present appearance at the beginning of the 18th century. The interior of the church is wonderfully decorated with elegant furnishings and six large altar niches with valuable paintings, including the Annunciation altar painted by Marco Palmezzano. Collegiata di S. Ruffillo on the other hand is an example of 6th-century architecture; it is here that the relics of St. Ruffillo – the first bishop of Forlimpopoli – lay. The church was rebuilt in the 15th century and underwent renovation works in 1821.
At the end of June, in Forlimpopoli takes place the great gastronomic festival “Festa Artusiana” – a tribute to Pellegrino Artusi. The weekly event is carried in the city center and includes shows and performances, tastings, literary meetings, and the opportunity to taste a menu inspired by this great writer. Then the entire main square turns into one big restaurant. However, it is worth checking the exact dates beforehand, because, for example, in 2021, the festival is exceptionally held in August due to the general situation in the world.
In the spirit of “Science in Cuisine and the Art of Good Food”, Forlimpopoli is home to Casa Artusi, the country’s first gastronomic culture center dedicated to Italian home cooking. It is housed in the recently renovated Chiesa dei Servi buildings and is an absolute must-see in Forlimpopoli! At Casa Artusi we met with the extraordinary hospitality of the host (greetings to Susy :)) and we had the opportunity to:
- Take part in a classic flatbread baking course – piadina. We ate Piadina right away with delicious Mambelli squacquerone. At the end of the course, we received certificates and natural linen kitchen aprons. You can also sign up for such a course at Casa Artusi!
- Have lunch in a great restaurant serving local delicacies. The quality of the prepared dishes served wine and friendly service was at the highest level.
- Get to know a lot of interesting facts and factual information about Italian history and culinary culture, as well as admire the first editions of Italian cookbooks
Being in the vicinity of Forlimpopoli, it is also worth visiting the local producer of dairy products, Mambelli. In the headquarters of this dairy run for generations, you can buy a lot of deliciously rich cheeses, with ricotta and squacquerone at the forefront. We even came back here on the last day of our trip and bought some cheeses, which we managed to transport to Poland in special bags. By contacting Mambelli in advance, we also got a fantastic opportunity to hear about the history of the company and show us the production process of the most delicious cheeses in the area 🙂
Castrocaro Terme e Terra del Sole
The famous tourist resorts of Castrocaro Terme and Terra del Sole were awarded the Orange Flag in 2005 – a sign of quality for sustainable tourism and the environment – by the Italian Tourism Club. Etruscan spas were known already in Roman times. Today, thermal waters with the addition of sulfur, bromine, iodine and lithium salts, natural salt, bromine, and iodine mud, as well as cosmetic medicine and wellness centers make Castrocaro a well-known and modern thermal spa open all year round. The city grew significantly during the Middle Ages thanks to its hot springs and still retains its medieval urban plan with important traces of the past almost intact.
For a thousand years, the city has been dominated by a mighty fortress with three separate architectural and defensive works: Girone (wall), Rocca (fortress), and Cannoniere (Medici Arsenals). Considered by experts as one of the most beautiful examples of medieval defensive architecture, today it houses the Historical Museum.
In addition to the famous fortress, it is worth visiting the Romanesque Baptistery of St. John, the belfry, the 18th-century Palazzo Piancastelli, and the Church of Saints Nicolò and Francesco, where you can admire a valuable Palmezzano painting.
However, the vast majority of people come here for health and relaxation purposes. The main center, the Grand Hotel Terme di Castrocaro, built-in classical architecture in the rationalist style of the 1930s, is characterized by simple, minimalist forms and shapes and a strong emphasis on ensuring maximum functionality of the space.
Open all year round, the complex also has two other wings: the Padiglione delle Feste, a masterpiece of Liberty-style architecture, and the Long Life Clinic, offering beauty and fitness treatments, as well as specialized visits and treatments using thermal water. The spa offers a myriad of wellness services, including body, face and hair treatments, massages, fitness sessions, and a regenerative health journey to restore your body’s balance and alleviate the effects of a stressful lifestyle.
We also went to the Tenuta Pennita olive oil tasting in the area. Interestingly, the owner didn’t speak English, we didn’t speak Italian, and we got on well anyway and we had a great time. Of course, we also learned a lot about the olive oil-making process and how to recognize a good quality product. Such a quick tip from us – the oil should be primarily piccante!
Located a few kilometers from the Adriatic Sea in the heart of Romagna, Ravenna is the cradle of art, history, and culture dating back to ancient times. In addition to its monumental heritage, the proximity of the Adriatic coast makes it an evocative place for relaxation, fun and also an ideal place for excursions in nature.
From the beginning of the 5th century, Ravenna was the capital three times: in the last days of the Western Roman Empire (402-403), under the rule of the Goths under Theodoric (493-526), and then under the rule of Byzantium (553-751). The splendor of this period has left a great legacy in the city, including 8 monuments that have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Ravenna also preserves the remains of the Father of Italian Literature, Dante Alighieri, and keeps his memory alive throughout the year through cyclical events.
In addition to visiting eight UNESCO monuments (Basilica San Vitale, Mausoleum of Gallus Placidia, Baptistery of Naples, Chapel of Sant’Andrea / Archbishop’s Chapel, Arian Baptistery, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Mausoleum of Theodoric, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe) there is a rich cultural offer of Ravenna and varied at any time of the year.
There are many places to see. You can visit MAR – Ravenna Art Museum, which in addition to permanent collections (such as Contemporary Mosaic collections) organizes events and temporary collections, or the Tamo – All the Adventure of the Mosaic Museum, located in the San Nicolò complex, with a permanent exhibition dedicated to mosaic art from antiquity to the present day, or the National Museum of Ravenna with its rich collections. It is worth seeing the evocative “Zona del Silenzio” hidden in the city center. Dante’s tomb, the Quadrarco di Braccioforte and the Basilica of San Francesco are in the area. Every year, in September, several celebrations and spectacular events in honor of the Supreme Poet are held in this area.
We recommend you go on a guided tour with Ravenna Incoming, which we decided to do. The trip was completely tailor-made and really interesting. We learned a lot of things “that are not mentioned in guidebooks”, which at times were very surprising.
For us, the indoor market Mercato Coperto located in the old town area of Ravenna was also a great attraction. A brilliant concept combining shops offering high-quality, local products at affordable prices and great restaurants and cafes. You will find here practically everything from cheese, meat, seafood, olive oil, flour, to quality wines. And you can taste the products and dishes on the spot in bars or restaurants. Here we probably bought too much, because we barely managed to deliver a shopping bag for the car!
The territory around the city, which is the second largest in Italy, presents an extraordinary variety of landscapes. Extensive farmland, valleys, and canals surrounded by characteristic fishing nets and pine forests overlooking sandy and well-equipped beaches. There are 9 seaside resorts on 35 kilometers of coast, each with its peculiarities. Nature and excursion enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the naturalistic beauty of the Po Delta Park while observing the rare bird species that find refuge here. You can also choose the Oasis Punte Alberete, the historic pine forests of San Vitale and Classe, the Natura Museum in Sant’Alberto, the southern lagoon of Comacchio, or a canoe trip to the oases of Ortazzo and Ortazzino to the mouth of the Bevano River.
When we were driving the car around Forli ‘, we often saw two characteristic hills on the horizon. It turned out to be the unique Bertinoro we planned to visit. And the trip there was extremely pleasant. The tight, winding streets leading uphill and the city itself, spread over at least several levels, do the job. And at the top, time seems to flow slower. It is all thanks to the amazing view of the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by vineyards, farmland, and the Riviera. Thanks to this laurel, Bertinoro was called the “Balcony of Romagna”.
Bertinoro is also known as the “City of Wine”. Legend has it that Galla Placidia, daughter of the Roman Emperor Theodosius, tasted wine served in a bad cup here and said: “non di così rozzo calice sei degno, o vino, ma di berti in oro” (You shouldn’t drink wine in a bad cup rather, it should be drunk in gold.) Hence the name of the city. True or not, we will always associate Bertinoro with good-quality wine. One is that in a town with 1,300 inhabitants you will find over 30 wine companies, two that we had a unique opportunity to spend an afternoon in one of them.
Celli di Bertinoro is primarily a quality, mineral wine from the Albana grape, marked with the DOCG mark and characteristic only for this region, as well as Sangiovese or Pagadebit. We highly recommend you visit the vineyard, arrange wine tasting, and stock up 🙂
From the top of Mount Cesubeo, rises a thousand-year-old fortress tower over the citadel. It dates back to the 10th century and was the residence of Emperor Federico Barbarossa in 1177 and his court and militia, and then became the seat of the bishop. Inside the fortress, there are the offices and apartments of the former bishop’s residence, a large balcony overlooking the village, and an impressive 17th-century hall decorated with baroque frescoes. The medieval village of Bertinoro is also considered the “City of Hospitality ” due to the presence of the Column of the Twelve, each ring of which corresponds to one of the city’s twelve families. The stranger who came and tied a horse to one of the rings was a guest of the family to which the ring belonged. The tradition is repeated to this day every year on the first Sunday in September. At that time, a number of cultural and gastronomic events take place during the day and night in the city center.
Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna metropolis and region, lies between the Apennines and the heart of the Po Valley. A city of art, culture, and commerce with a well-known manufacturing and automotive tradition. It is famous for almost 40 km of arcades, the longest in the world.
Once called “the scientist” because of the oldest university in the world, “fat” because of the culinary tradition, and “red” in reference to the red bricks and tiles present in the city and strong communist tendencies. Today is also known as the “UNESCO Creative Music City”, it has one of the largest and best-preserved medieval historic centers, full of restaurants, taverns, theaters, and shops. Bologna is the home of many famous artists, such as Giorgio Morandi, Guido Reni, Carraccis, Guercino, Aspertini, and its charm also charmed such outstanding figures as Mozart, Carducci, Dante, Rossini and Guglielmo Marconi.
Bologna is a city unlike any other in the region. But this is probably how it is with capitals. It seemed too big, crowded and expensive for us, but on the other hand, there is plenty to do here all year round. Visiting Bologna usually starts at the beautiful Piazza Maggiore, where medieval palaces look down on the intense social and public life. They blend in perfectly with modernity while maintaining their ancient charm. For example, the Palazzo d’Accursio, the seat of the municipal administration, houses the Salaborsa Art Nouveau multimedia library within its ancient walls and Roman archaeological sites visible through the glass floor. We especially recommend the eastern part of Piazza Maggiore with Pescherie Vecchie, where you will find lots of small shops, restaurants, and greengrocers from Osteria del Sole – the oldest pub in the city just around the corner. Among the symbols of Bologna, there is the Neptune Fountain by Giambologna and the medieval towers of Asinella (98 m) and the neighboring “twin” Garisenda (48 m) – mentioned in Dante’s Hell.
Alma Mater Studiorum is the oldest University in the West. Its first prestigious seat was Archiginnasio, the walls of which are decorated with the coats of arms of the students. Here you can visit the Anatomical Theater, where practical autopsy lessons were held in the past. Other interesting places are the Palazzo Poggi, the seat of the present University and some university museums, the 17th-century sundial, chapels in the Basilica of San Petronio, and the artistic and museum route of Genus Bononiae.
The channels may turn out to be a surprise. In the past, there were definitely more of them here. Today they are discovered in practically only one place called La Piccola Venezia (Little Venice). This is where you will find the Instagram window overlooking the canal. Once or twice a year, mainly for conservation purposes, the canals are drained. You can then take part in a canal tour. We recommend checking the topic with local tourist offices before leaving.
Modena is located in the heart of the Emilia Romagna region and stretches along the plain of the Po, bordering the Secchia and Panaro rivers and the northern Apennines. It is an ideal transport hub between southern and northern Italy. It is a city where everyone will find something interesting. Three Modena spots have been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Piazza Grande, the Cathedral, and the Garland Tower. The city has a rich cultural scene and focuses on cuisine loads, with balsamic vinegar in the center that derives from here. Modena at the same time is famous for the production of sport and luxury cars of the Ferrari, Maserati, Pagani, and Stanguellini brands.
Modena offers extraordinary beauty, especially in its graceful historic center that was for a long time the capital of the principality under the rule of the Este Lords. It was they who contributed to the flourishing of the city, locating their fortune here. Piazza Grande is the heart of Modena and were the most important monuments are located. The cathedral is the work of the great architect Lanfranco and the master sculptor Wiligelmo. It is one of the most interesting European Romanesque masterpieces. Piazza Grande is also where you will find Palazzo Comunale. Its construction took place in several different stages, starting from the Middle Ages, and today it is the seat of the Town Hall. Not far from the Garlandina Tower is the 17th-century Ducal Palace, the work of Bartolomeo Avanzini, and today the seat of the prestigious Military Academy.
The city’s charm is enriched by the spectacular Enzo Ferrari Museum opened in March 2012. This recently restored structure commemorates Enzo Ferrari in the house where he was born, with an exhibition that recounts the highlights of his extraordinary life, supported by modern multimedia. There is also an art gallery that currently hosts temporary exhibitions about the career of Enzo and Ferrari cars. Let’s not forget that you can take a classic, indulgent photo in your dream supercar 🙂
Modena balsamic vinegar is something you simply have to try. It is prepared from boiled grapes that must be aged for many years in wooden barrels. The best opportunity to experience it being made is to visit one of the many farms that open their vinegar.
If you are looking for a beach holiday along the Emilia Romagna Riviera, Cervia is the place you want to check out. It has successfully obtained the EMAS environmental certification for its green areas and harmonious development, and every year since 1998, Cervia also receives the important “Bandiera Blu (Blue Flag)” award. Surrounded by over 300 hectares of pine forest and 827 hectares of salt flats, it is a natural oasis with a large population of birds. It has 9 km of sandy beaches and 185 bathing areas.
A visit to the old village of salt allows you to discover the charm of a small town completely rebuilt at the end of the 17th century. The Ancient Salt Warehouses, where exhibitions and events are held, the Salt Museum, S. Michael Tower, and the Cathedral are the most important monuments of Cervia. Piazza Garibaldi, the “heart” of Cervia, hosts important events, concerts, and fairs. The Hanging Carpet Fountain, invented by the sculptor Tonino Guerra, is definitely worth seeing. Also, check out the open-air exhibition that takes place from May to September, where experienced gardeners from all over Europe create their compositions on all of the city’s flower beds on the occasion of Cervia Garden Town.
We recommend visiting the salt pans with a guide. Tours are in Italian, but the guides are happy to translate most information to English. The entire complex can be explored on foot, by bike, and by boat.
Emilia-Romania: the summary
We recommend a trip to Emilia-Romagna to everyone. Active visitors, those wanting to experience delicious local cuisine, as well as those who want to take it easy and sunbathe on the sandy beach. There is no shortage of beautiful places in the area, and in the charming Romanesque towns, you can lose track of time. However, the most intense memory of Emilia-Romagna for us was THE FOOD. “If Italy is home, Emilia-Romagna is the kitchen” – we have to admit that there is something to it. Now wonder, this is where the famous Tortellini, Parmiggiano Regiano, Parma ham, and balsamic vinegar come from.
Watch our video from Emilia-Romagna:
Read our posts about Puglia
Extremely photogenic towns in Apulia followed us for a long time. In the end, we decided to just go on a trip. It was just then autumn and we decided that there is no point in waiting until spring.
Experience with us!
Brought to you by: Julia & Przemyslaw