Emilia-Romagna is a region in the upper eastern part of Italy’s boot, reaching from Adriatic coast almost across to the country’s western shore. It’s a prosperous region renowned for its high quality of life, its food – including Parma ham and Parmesan cheese – and for its pleasant art cities. The territory stretches from the Appenines, Italy’s mountainous spine, to the Adriatic, lined with popular beach resorts. The territory includes hills as well as the level plains which make up around half of its area. Emilia-Romagna’s borders are with the Veneto and Lombardy in the north, with Piemonte and Liguria in the west, with Tuscany and Le Marche in the south, and also with the little independent Republic of San Marino.
The town’s cities are of great antiquity, as they grew up along the Via Aemilia, the major Roman route which led to the port of Ariminum – modern Rimini. Ravenna was the capital of Italy in the twilight years of the Empire, while Bologna is one of the most important towns in present-day Italy. With the exception of the seaside resorts in summer, Emilia-Romagna is not over-burdened with tourists, and visitors can still stroll around city centres, admiring their fine art and architecture, and feel a part of real Italy.
The region is divided into nine provinces: Bologna, Ferrara, Piacenza, Ravenna, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Forlì-Cesena and Rimini . The regional capital is Bologna.
For an area which doesn’t include any of Italy’s largest tourist destinations, Emilia-Romagna is surprisingly well-connected with international airports. From the UK you can fly to Parma, Bologna, Forlì and Rimini. The region also has good transport links with its neighbours, and is in easy reach of destinations like Venice, Pisa, Verona, Milan and Genoa, which makes it a convenient component in a touring or two-centre holiday.
What to see in Emilia-Romagna
Bologna is the region’s capital; a large and historic university town with lots to see and do. Ferrara, a medieval and Renaissance city, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the nearby Po Delta, with its protected lagoon environments. Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena are all attractive art cities; Modena’s cathedral is also on the UNESCO list. Ancient Ravenna is another a UNESCO Heritage site, and is famous for its Byzantine and early Christian mosaics.
The sandy beaches of the Emilia-Romagna coastline – the Riviera Romagnola – are popular holiday destinations, with many modern resorts like Cattolica, Cesenatico and Milano Marittima. Of the Adriatic beach resorts Rimini is the best-known to foreign visitors, and is currently shaking off its tacky reputation with something of a style renaissance. As well as the long and crowded beaches, it also has an important historic centre with sights including the Renaissance Tempio Malatestiano and the Roman Arch of Augustus.
The independent Republic of San Marino is situated between Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche, and it is easily visited from nearby Rimini.