Emilia Romagna is one of Italy’s 20 regions. Situated in the North of the country, it extends from the Apennine Mountains all the way to the Po River. It has a richly deserved reputation as a culinary and gastronomic hub and is widely known for its beautiful medieval cities and popular seaside resorts. You don’t really need an excuse to visit but, if you do, here are 10 great reasons to visit Emilia Romagna on your next Italian holiday.
1. To explore its incredible cities
The capital of Emilia Romagna is Bologna. Bologna is a fascinating city, home to two towers, the lean of which can certainly rival that of Pisa as well as to around 40 km of porticoes! Bologna is also home to the oldest university in the world! However, Emilia Romagna has a whole host of other cities to explore as well including Ravenna, Parma, Piacenza, Rimini and Reggio Emilia.
2. To walk in the beautiful countryside
Emilia Romagna’s principal cities may be beautiful but so is the countryside that surrounds them. Emilia Romagna’s countryside is simply stunning, home to 5 regional parks as well as 14 natural areas and reserves. It’s also where you can discover the Parco Nazionale dell’Appennino Tosco-Emiliano in the mountains between Emilia and Tuscany. Visit in the Spring to marvel at the wild flowers, in the Summer to enjoy sports such as free climbing, horse riding and cycling, in the Autumn to forage for mushrooms and chestnuts, and in the Winter to enjoy skiing. Emilia Romagna is where you will also find the world’s largest bamboo maze – the Labirinto della Masone!
3. To visit Emilia Romagna’s borghi piu belli
Emilia Romagna can boast 15 of Italy’s borghi piu belli. Translated literally, these are Italy’s most beautiful villages but, in reality, they may be much more than this. What does connect each one is its history and their inclusion in the group is an attempt to ensure that their unique heritage is maintained, preserved and promoted. Emilia Romagna’s borghi piu belli include Bagnara di Romagna, Bobbio, Brisighella, Castell’ Arquato, Compiano, Dozza, Fiumalbo, Gualtieri, Montechiarugolo, Montefiore Conca, Montegridolfo, San Giovanni in Marignano, San Leo, Verucchio and Vigoleno. Find out more about some of Emilia Romagna’s smaller towns and villages in our A to Z guide to Emilia-Romagna.
4. To eat!
Emilia Romagna is one of Italy’s most fertile regions and it’s a mecca for avid foodies. Home to culinary delights such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, mortadella, prosciutto from Parma, Grana Padano from the Po River valley and balsamic vinegar from Modena, Emilia Romagna is a centre for food production. In total you’ll find 286 producers of Parmiggiano Reggiano and Grana Padano and almost 200 producers of Parma ham in Emilia Romagna. These can all be enjoyed in the region’s plethora of traditional trattorias and restaurants. 23 of these earned the coveted Michelin star in 2021.
5. To drink!
Italy is probably as famous for its wine as its food and Emilia Romagna can also boast 147 PDO winemakers within its borders. Around 60,000 hectares of land in the region is under vine. Emilia Romagna is home to Lambrusco but other major wine varieties in the region include Malvasia, Trebbiano, Bonarda, Sangiovese and Barbera.
6. To go to the theatre
Emilia Romagna is home to 51 theatres. Our favourite of these include the Teatro Farnese and Teatro Regio in Parma, the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia where you can enjoy performances from opera to ballet and the tiny Teatro Verdi in Busseto.
7. To admire its UNESCO World Heritage sites
Emilia Romagna has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites of its own – the Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna, Ferrara and the Po Delta as well as the Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande in Modena. It is also part of one multi-region, multi-country site – the Ancient Beeach Forests – which cover 12 different European countries. Parma and Bologna have also been designated as UNESCO Creative Cities.
8. To explore its castles
Fifty different castles are scattered throughout Emilia Romagna, all waiting to be explored. In the north of the region are the castles around Parma and Piacenza that would once have been home to the Farnese, Visconti and Gonzaga families. In Rimini, you then have the castles of the Malatesta family and then as you continue south you find the palaces and residences of the Este Family including the Delizia Estense del Verginese.
9. To go cruising
At over 650 km long, the Po River is Italy’s longest river, flowing through four different regions – Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto. Visitors can explore the 161 km of waterways that make up the Po River within Emilia Romagna.
10. To visit its museums
Visitors will find over 140 museums in Emilia Romagna, 8 of which are dedicated to food. Perhaps the most famous of these is the not long opened FICO World Eataly in Bologna which can best be described as a theme park to food. For those interested in cars, there are also a number of automobile museums in the area too, reflecting the fact that a number of automative companies including Ferrari, Maserati, Ducati and Lamborghini are based here. As an important centre of the Renaissance, visitors will also find much art and architecture to admire in Emilia Romagna too.