5 Insider Tips for Emilia Romagna Connoisseurs and Italy Lovers
Those who have bathed in Rimini, visited Ravenna’s churches and eaten Tagliatelle al Ragù in Bologna are far from being through with Emilia Romagna. There are more beautiful places to discover, that not even all the locals know about.
Bertinoro – Terrazzo della Romagna
There is a good reason why this small medieval hamlet confidently calls itself “Terrazzo della Romagna“. It is perched at the top of Monte Cesubeo, not far from Cesena, on the edge of the Apennines. The view from the panoramic terrace at Piazza della Libertà stretches over the gently undulating landscape of Romagna as far as Bologna and Rimini.
If you’ve looked into the distance long enough, just turn around. In the same piazza stands the imposing Palazzo Ordelaffi with its clock tower. It houses the town hall, and the Colonna degli Anelli column, erected in 1247. The Column represents a symbol of the village of 11,000 inhabitants and its historic hospitality.
Beyond Piazza della Libertà, Bertinoro is also worth a visit: with its ancient houses, towers and walls, churches and fortresses, trattorias and wine bars, it is an ideal destination whether you are on the coast or in one of the beautiful towns of Emilia Romagna.
Pennabilli – On the road in the upper Marecchia Valley
The pretty Pennabilli, in the countryside of Rimini, is best known as the home of poet and artist Tonino Guerra. He died in 2012 but his house and many of his open-air artworks can be visited there.
The village in the upper Marecchia Valley has also become the site of several permanent exhibitions collectively called “Places of the Soul”. Check out the Garden of Forgotten Fruits, where fruit trees that have almost disappeared today grow, or the Refuge of Abandoned Madonnas, with a collection of holy images; and a Sanctuary of Thought, which features seven enigmatic stone sculptures and a bench for meditation. It is also worth visiting the cultural association “Il mondo di Tonino Guerra”.
The museum is located in the basement of the 14th century Oratory of Santa Maria della Misericordia. Here you can admire sculptures, “mobilacci” (furniture designed by the artist himself), ceramics, paintings, tapestries and other works created by the artist.
Canossa Castle – In the footsteps of Henry IV
The always unpleasant walk to Canossa refers to the petition and penitential walk of Henry IV to Pope Gregory VII. The Pope stayed as a guest of the Margravine Matilda of Canossa in her castle, built on a sandstone hill between Bologna and Parma. The German-Roman emperor waited three days and three nights kneeling in front of the entrance gate before being allowed to enter. Tempi passati. Those who go to Canossa today do so with pleasure. All that remains of the former castle are the foundation walls, which give an idea of how mighty it once was.
In 1878, the Italian state acquired the atmospheric ruin which also houses the Naborre Campanini Museum on the grounds. The artifacts on display there come from excavations at the castle and give a picture of Matilda’s life and times. In the region around the castle, “Terre di Canossa”, a network of tourist routes, was created in 2018. It stretches from the foothills of the Reggio Emilia Apennines to the center of the fertile Val d’Enza. Between the provinces of Reggio Emilia and Parma visitors will be introduced to the area’s history and culture, as well as its culinary and wine products.
Castelvetro di Modena – Food Heaven
Between Modena and Bologna lies Castelvetro di Modena. This small community, which housed a military camp in Roman times, is one of the so-called “Terre di Castelli“. Today, it delights visitors with its authentic medieval flair. Particularly charming is Piazza Roma, which forms the heart of the town with its neat checkerboard floor as well as the free-standing clock tower. Gourmets should already be familiar with the small community and its immediate surroundings. The grapes for the fruity, sparkling red wine Lambrusco Grasparossa grow here, often and gladly in organic quality. In addition, regional pasta specialties, Parmigiano Reggiano and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale are produced, which can be tasted directly on site at the producers or in many nice trattorias.
Stay in one of the rural agriturismi of the region, or at least eat there. If you are a meat eater, try “gnocco fritto” – fried dumplings, in combination with prosciutto, salami or other cured meats. I personally would go for the handmade Tortelloni with Ricotta and Spinach. All of the agriturismi have many local specialties on their menus. Mostly as genuine and traditionally prepared home cooking, but sometimes with refined gourmet ambitions.
Equally exciting is a visit to a winery. Guided tours can almost always be booked, and at the end there is a tasting and the opportunity to buy your new favorite wine. Together with a portion of tortellini and a young piece of Parmesan, you have some delicious samples of Emilia Romagna on the table – buon appetito!
Castello di Rivalta – Marvel, dine, sleep
The Dutch royal family, fashion czar Giorgio Armani and Italian star influencer Chiara Ferragni are among the prominent guests of the imposing castle. It stands south of Piacenza in an enchanting medieval hamlet and has been inhabited by the Counts Zanardi Landi since the 13th century. However, the impressive fortress with its more than 50 halls is much too large for private use. For this reason, Castello di Rivalta can be visited not only on guided tours, but can also be occupied like a hotel. Romantics love the magnificent, historic setting for sumptuous wedding celebrations, gourmets drop by to dine, art lovers to admire the exhibitions of the family collection. Concerts, performances, charity events and presentations are held regularly in the rooms, some of which are furnished with original furniture and textiles from the 15th century. Those who prefer to stay outdoors can enjoy a stroll through the large, well-kept and wonderfully quiet castle park.
More about Emilia Romagna: https://emiliaromagnaturismo.it/en