Emilia-Romagna is a region in northern Italy sandwiched between the Apennines and the River Po, the Adriatic Sea lapping at its eastern shores. It sits in the middle of a triangle marked by the perennially popular cities of Milan, Florence and Venice, but sees far fewer visitors.
It is home to pretty coastal towns, elegant cities and is considered by many to be the country’s foodie capital. Given the fierce competition, this is quite the accolade. Several of the region’s main cities are located along the Via Emilia, an ancient Roman road running from Rimini on the Adriatic Coast up to Piacenzo on the banks of the River Po. Dotted along this route are Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and Bologna.
Many of the cities in Emilia-Romagna are home to medieval and Renaissance palazzi, remnants from a time when the region was comprised of independent city states ruled by powerful local dynasties such as the Farnese and the Este. Bologna is the real jewel in Emilia-Romagna’s crown. Its nickname, La Dotta (the learned), La Grassa (the fat) and La Rossa (the red) refers to its university, the oldest in the world, its incredible food, and the colour of its brick buildings and traditional left leaning politics.
The flat fertile plains of the Po river valley have been cultivated since Roman times, and we have Emilia-Romagna to thank for Parmigiano- Reggiano, Parma ham and balsamic vinegar. Cooking here is hearty – mortadella, lasagne, tortellini and rich meaty sauces all take their place on the menu and the food is undeniably a highlight of any trip here.
When to Go
As with much of Italy, the shoulder seasons are best. The weather in April, May, June and September will be pleasant and the cities and towns less crowded.
What to do
- Explore the beautiful city of Bologna
- Marvel at the ancient mosaics in Ravenna
- Eat to your heart's content!