Have you ever heard of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy? It is definitely a place you should check out. Situated in the Northern part of the Italian boot, this triangular area spans almost the whole width of the country. From the beaches of the Adriatic Coast, to its north border on the shores of the Po River, touching the border of Umbria, and stretching to it southern border across the Appennine Mountains, Emilia-Romagna is diverse in its terrains as well as its culture. It is comprised of two regions: Emilia and Romagna, with Bologna as its capital city. The Emilia region borders the green hills of Tuscany, and this beautiful part of Emilia-Romagna is said to be left unspoiled by the tourism industry, leaving you the freedom to discover the genuine charm of Italy at your own pace. Emilia-Bologna boasts its own array of picturesque hill towns, many of which make for delightful day trips from your villa or apartment. Stop by Castro Caro Terme, Bagno di Romagna, Tredozio, or the charming town of Dozza. Near Bologna, this town offers a showcase of the region’s special wines, and it also celebrates a bi-annual mural festival, where the villages buildings are colorfully painted by artists from around the world.
I think one of the most interesting things about this region is the origin of its name. Like most other parts of Italy, this region has roots in the Ancient Roman tradition, and its name speaks to the importance of the region’s location on the Italian map. Emilia refers to the historic via Emilia, which was a significant Roman street connecting Rome to Northern Italy. Romagna comes from the name Romania, and this part of the region passed between the hands of Etruscans, Gauls, and Romans, before it was finally instilled during the Middle Ages as an important trading route. Culture and religion flourished in Bologna, inspiring the foundation of the oldest university in Europe, the University of Bologna, which continues to be known for educational excellence today. Other historical sites beg to be admired: the lesser-known leaning towns of Bologna give Pisa’s towers a run for their money; the beautifully preserved castle of Torrechiara, near Parma, gives you the feeling of stepping back into history; the small independent republic of San Marino is a wonderful vacation spot; and the sun-splashed beaches of the Riviera Adriatica will relax your mind as well as your body.
Along with its art, culture, and history, the food of Emilia-Romagna tempts travelers to its scenic hills. Tomatoes, onions, grapes, and beef are only several of the fresh foods produced here, and you will find a delicious glass of red wine and a flavorful array of pastas and meats at almost any restaurant in the region. The city of Parma is where Parmesan cheese originated, and my personal love for this type of cheese makes me grateful to the Italians of Emilia-Romagna.
The Italians themselves love to spend their vacation time on the beaches or in the gentle green hills of the Emilia-Romagna, so why not take a hint from the experts and visit this special part of Italy?