Emilia-Romagna – the most detailed information about the region with photos. The main sights of Emilia-Romagna with descriptions, travel guides and maps.
Emilia-Romagna is a region in northern Italy that stretches virtually across the entire Apennine Peninsula from the Adriatic Sea and almost to the coast of Liguria. It is one of the largest administrative-territorial units of the Italian state, consisting in fact of two historic regions: Emilia (northwestern part along the ancient Emilia road) and Romagna (southeastern part). Emilia-Romagna is a diverse region known for its beautiful medieval and Renaissance towns, culinary traditions and magnificent nature. It is conveniently located between Milan, Venice and Florence, being one of the agricultural centers of Italy.
Things to do (Italy):
From €169 per tour
An easy, creative and soulful stroll through Venice with your new friend
€300 for the tour
Rome from scratch: a summer walk with siesta
A tour of the main cultural and historic sites of the Eternal City
Geography and climate
Emilia-Romagna is a geographically diverse region, including a large swath of the Adriatic coast, the Po delta, the vast plains and part of the Apennine mountains. The region extends from the Adriatic to the east and falls slightly short of the Ligurian Sea coast to the west. Emilia-Romagna is generally referred to as northeastern Italy. It borders Lombardy and Venice to the north, Tuscany and the Marche to the south, bounded by the Adriatic Sea to the east and Liguria and Piedmont to the west.
Bologna is the capital of Emilia-Romagna
Emilia-Romagna has a warm temperate climate characterized by hot summers and cool winters. In the mountains, the climate is alpine with cool summers and comparatively cold winters; in the plains, the climate is more continental, winters somewhat colder and often accompanied by fog; on the coast, the climate is temperate maritime with cold northeasterly winds in winter. Through the Emilia-Romagna there are also major rivers: Po, Trebbia, Nure, Arda, Parma and Rubicon.
- Population: 4.5 million people.
- Area – 22 447 km².
- Average height above sea level – 211 m.
- Language: Italian.
- Currency – the euro.
- Visas – Schengen.
- Time – Central European (UTC +1, +2 in summer).
- Emilia-Romagna includes nine provinces: Bologna, Ferrara, Rimini, Forlì-Cesena, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Ravenna, Reggio-nel-Emilia.
Cities of Emilia-Romagna
Bologna is the administrative center of Emilia-Romagna and one of the richest cities in Italy, known for its excellent gastronomy and prestigious university. Bologna has the flavor of a medieval Italian city: fortress walls, narrow and crooked streets, ancient buildings, porticos and arcades, numerous historical and cultural monuments – imposing churches, luxurious palazzos and impressive towers.
Parma is an elegant city with a refined atmosphere and a beautiful medieval center rich in masterpieces of art, history and culture. Parma is famous for its delicious gastronomy and local products, among which the most famous are ham (prosciutto) and hard cheeses (Parmesan).
Ravenna is a magnificent historical city that is a true treasure trove of art, history and culture. It is known for its splendid Byzantine era sites and stunning mosaics from the late Antiquity period. Ravenna is also the last resting place of the great Dante.
Rimini is the main resort of Emilia-Romagna and is known for its long riviera. The city is famous for the long white sand beaches that stretch north and south of the port, the lively nightlife, and several ancient sights, among which an ancient arch and an equally old bridge stand out.
Modena is the capital of Romanesque art and the ideal point between Northern and Southern Italy. The center of the city features wide arcaded streets and large squares, as well as beautiful palaces and gardens that retain the stamp of the Este family. Piazza Grande and the Ghirlandina Tower are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Modena is the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari (founder of the legendary car brand) and the place where the best balsamic vinegar is made.
Piacenza is a quiet provincial town famous for its Medieval and Renaissance architecture, ancient churches, palaces and charming squares.
The best time to visit
Emilia-Romagna can be visited all year round, but preference is given to the warm period. The most ideal time to come here is May, June, September and October.
Emilia-Romagna was already inhabited in the Neolithic period. In the 4th century B.C. the land was inhabited by the Etruscans, then by Celtic tribes. In the 3rd century B.C. Emilia-Romagna was conquered by the Romans, who turned it into an outpost between Italy and Gaul. In the 2nd century B.C. Marcus Aemilius Lepidus paved the road from present-day Rimini to Piacenza, along which all the ancient cities of the area grew. The region was named after this Roman commander.
In the 5th century (after the fall of Rome), the Western Roman Empire was formed with Ravenna as its capital. During this period, Emilia-Romagna became the political and economic center of the Apennine Peninsula. At the end of the 5th century, the region was conquered by the Ostgoths, and in the 6th century it became part of Byzantium. In the early Middle Ages, Emilia-Romagna belonged first to the Lombards and then to the Franks. However, Ravenna and Forlì remained under the rule of the Eastern Roman Empire and was the center of the Byzantine possessions in the Apennines. The historical area was later called Romagna. In the 8th century, part of the territory of Emilia-Romagna was ceded to the Roman pope.
The Apennine Mountains in the Emilia-Romagna region
In the late Middle Ages, Ferrara and Modena flourished under D’Este, and Parma and Piacenza flourished under Farnese rule. At the same time Bologna and Ravenna are part of the Papal Region. In 1797 Emilia-Romagna was occupied by Napoleon’s troops and became part of the Cisalpine Republic. In 1860 the region became part of Italy.
How to reach
Emilia Romagna is located between Venice, Florence and Milan, so you can easily reach it by train and bus from almost any part of Italy and neighboring countries. The airports are located in Bologna, Rimini and Parma. Also, to get to Emilia-Romagna you can use the air ports of Milan and Ancona.
Beaches of Rimini
Traditional products of Emilia-Romagna
Emilia-Romagna is a magnificent gastronomic region that has a remarkable culinary tradition. This region has a whole host of delicious traditional dishes: egg pasta (tagliatelle), spaghetti bolognese, tortellini (tortelli) with cheese and herbs, the famous ragu or bolognese sauce, and the no less legendary lasagne. Emilia-Romagna is also famous for its excellent traditional products, among which the most famous are: prosciutto (especially Perm ham), hard cheeses (especially parmigiano reggiano) and balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico tradizionale)
Emilia-Romagna is also a famous wine region. In Emilia one must try (or buy as a souvenir) Lambrusco or Malvasia, the surroundings of Bologna make excellent Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines, and in Romagna one must appreciate the Sangiovese.
The Garizenda and Asinelli Towers.
The historic center of Bologna is famous for the medieval towers of the noble families, among which the Garizenda and Asinelli towers stand out. They are built of simple bricks and are interesting because of their deviation from the axis. Asinelli Tower was built at the beginning of the 12th century. The height of the tower is 97.2 meters. To get to the top you need to overcome 498 steps. The tower is tilted from the axis at 2.2 meters. Garizenda Tower was built in the 14th century. Its height is “only” 47 meters, and the deviation from the axis is more than 3 meters.
Castello Estense (Castle of Este)
Castello Estense (Castle of Este) is one of the main symbols of Ferrara. This mighty fortress was built in the 14th century on the site of a small fortress. The reason for its construction was the citizens’ rebellion. The castle stands out for its imposing proportions, towers, drawbridges and moat.
Torrechiara Castle, a splendid medieval castle from the 15th century, on top of a panoramic rocky hill on the edge of the Parma valley.
Neon Baptistery (right) in Ravenna
The Byzantine structures of Ravenna are a unique series of landmarks from the late Antiquity and early Middle Ages. These ancient sacred monuments were built in the 5th to 6th century AD and contain stunning mosaics.
Landi Castle is a beautiful medieval castle located in the town of Bardi. It was founded in the 9th century and in the 16th century it was turned into the princely mansion of Federico Landi. Later the castle belonged to the Farnese and the Bourbons.
Duomo and baptistery in Parma
The Cathedral of Parma is the main cathedral of Parma and also one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy. The cathedral was built in the 12th century and is known for its magnificent frescoes (especially impressive is the fresco of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin by Correggio, painted inside the dome). The facade consists of a series of large decorative arches, and a 63-meter bell tower is built next to the cathedral.
Next to the cathedral is the octagonal marble baptistery, which was begun in Romanesque style in the late 12th century by Benedetto Andelami and finished in Gothic style almost a century later. It is one of the best examples of the development of architecture from Romanesque to Gothic. Inside you can see colorful frescoes and bas-reliefs from the 13th century.
Piazza Grande in Modena
Piazza Grande or Great Square is the heart of Modena. This cobblestone piazza, together with the Ghirlandina Tower, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to several splendid sights:
- The Town Hall or Palazzo Comunale is a historic building that occupies the northern and eastern part of Piazza Grande. It is the result of the rebuilding of six medieval structures.
- The Ghirlandina is one of Italy’s most impressive campaniles. It is a tall 88-meter tower on the north side of the Duomo. The tower was originally built for defensive purposes and decorated with bas-reliefs. The upper levels were added in the 13th and 14th centuries.
- The Duomo is an imposing Romanesque cathedral whose construction continued from the late 11th to the 13th century. It is located near the ancient Roman Emilia Road on the site of an early Christian church, where the tomb of St. Geminiano used to be located. The white marble facade of the cathedral was designed by architect Lanfranco, and the beautiful sculptures are the work of Viligelmo. The Duomo of Modena is rightly one of the finest masterpieces of the Romanesque style in Europe.
The Arch of Augustus is one of the main attractions of Rimini and the oldest Roman triumphal arch in Northern Italy. It was built in 27 B.C. to commemorate the construction of the ancient road of Flaminia. It is located at the southern end of Corso di Augusto, the main street of the city. The arch is unusual in that it was not adapted for a gate, thus symbolizing the newly achieved peace after a long period of wars.
€200 for a guided tour
Hidden corners of Venice
Medieval, graceful, fragile – walk through the most authentic quarters of the city and grasp its soul
€120 per excursion
Rome – a sightseeing tour of the major sites and the undiscovered ghetto
Trace the city’s path from Antiquity to modern form and learn about the inhabitants of the past and present
A fortunate location between two seashores, a mountain range on one side and a fertile river valley on the other. This is what triggered the rapid economic growth of the region back in Roman times, numerous wars in the Middle Ages and a fierce struggle with the Papacy later on. Today Emilia Romagna attracts crowds of tourists with a huge number of attractions and unique masterpieces of art, sea beaches and national parks. But the region is famous not only for its natural beauty, architectural delights and unique creations of the great masters. No less famous are the products produced here – Balsamic Vinegar, Parma ham and Parmesan cheese which melts in the mouth and has a piquant aftertaste.
Interesting places in Emilia Romagna
Popular attractions, museums and galleries
The art of Emilia Romagna can be fully experienced in Ravenna. The peculiar style was formed during the period when the city was the capital, first of the Western Roman Empire and then of the Lombards. The gold mosaics and distinctive ivory sculptures are striking. Many sites in the region are classified as World Heritage Sites. The schools of Ferrara and Bologna, Forlì and Parma defined the directions of creativity and style in art. They are considered real factories of talent. The Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Renaissance – each period has left its mark on architecture, names in history and masterpieces for future generations.
We recommend you to visit
Dukes of Este castle
Palazzo della Pilotta in Parma
Piazza Trento – Trieste
Relaxing holiday with local flavor
Agritourisms, spa hotels, family villas, wineries, ancient castles, abbeys and monasteries for an unforgettable holiday in Emilia Romagna
Emilia Romagna: 10 best hotels with parking
Best spa hotels in Italy with thermal springs
Best apartments in Parma
Culture and Tradition
Culinary traditions, handicrafts, memorable dates and important events
Emilia-Romagna: Local flavor and city tours
Top 10 Carnivals in Italy
What to try in Emilia-Romagna
Popular dishes of Emilia Romagna regional cuisine are definitely worth tasting: spinach pies and sea eels, pasta with Bolognese sauce and bean dumplings, authentic Parma ham and the already legendary Parmesan cheese. And, of course, do not miss the wines of Emilia Romagna – Lambrusco and Sangiovese, Gutturnio and Trebbiano.
Gastronomic tours, tastings and cooking classes
Mozzarella: 10 important facts about Italian mozzarella
Special dates and important events
Guided, thematic, gastronomic and guided tours in Russian
€105 per excursion
The Old World of Bologna
Explore the historic center, find secret sights and learn about Bolognese life
€350 for the tour
Lamborghini, Ferrari, Pagani: see, admire, and drive!
Driving tour from Bologna to the Valley of Motors
€150 for the tour
Bologna scholarly, red, fat – for kids and their parents
Discover an amazing but underrated city, taste authentic tortellini – all with kids!
When to go to Emilia Romagna
To relax on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, you need to fit in the summer months. The peak holiday season in Rimini and Riccione is in July and August. Historical and natural attractions are available all year round. Horseback riding and hiking in protected areas is best from spring to fall, and thermal spas at any time. Frescoes, mosaics, basilicas, villas and palaces can be admired all 12 months of the year, as well as the gastronomic delights and tastings of locally produced wines. In the summer tourists go canoeing and hiking, visit an amazing park “Italy in miniature” and all sorts of food fairs. The Ferrari circuit hosts car and motorcycle races, and the prestigious car museums are open all year round. In Emilia Romagna there are ethno-festivals and reenactments of historical events.
The area has three climatic zones – oceanic on the coast, humid subtropical inland and humid continental inland. In Bologna there is a considerable amount of precipitation, the coldest month is January with an average temperature of 2-3 degrees, and the warmest is July (24-26 degrees). Ravenna also has a lot of rain and the average annual temperature ranges from 13-15 degrees. In Reggio Emilia in January the thermometer often falls below zero, and in July can rise to +30 degrees.
Interesting cities worth visiting
History of the region, important events and dates
The region of Emilia Romagna appeared on maps after World War II, but the territories were part of the united Kingdom of Italy in 1860. Before that there were two separate historical regions, Emilia and Romagna, whose lands were inhabited in prehistoric times by the Umbrians and Etruscans, from the 4th century BC they were occupied by the Gauls, and at the turn of the 3rd century BC the Romans came here. The first thing they did was to start building the Emilia road, which opened up access to Rome on one side and to Genoa on the other. The successful location of the transport route in relation to the capital and the seaports gave impetus to the foundation of new cities and their economic growth.
In the 1st century BC the Rubicon marks the border between the Roman Republic and the provinces. At the same time in Ravenna was built maritime defenses, and the port became a link with Constantinople. At the beginning of the 5th century the city became the capital of the Western Roman Empire, but not for long. It was in Ravenna that the last ruler of the West, Romulus Augustus, was born, occupied the throne for about a year and abdicated in 476. After 100 years in the lands of Romagna, the Byzantines created the Ravenna Exarchate. Its territories in the middle of the 8th century served as the basis for the future Papal state.
In the 6th-8th centuries Emilia gradually came under the control of the Lombards. Later on, rule of the region passed to the noble families, which split the territories into separate principalities, leading their own political life. It was only at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries that papal armies succeeded in subduing the lands of Emilia Romagna. At the end of the 18th century the territories became part of the Napoleonic Republic of Cisalpine, which in the early 19th century passed under their former rule. During the Risorgimento period the lands became part of the United Kingdom of Italy. The final borders of Emilia Romagna were defined in 1948.
Interesting things about the region
Curious facts and figures, important personalities
- The first part of the name Emilia Romagna bears the name of the Roman military commander Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (d. 152 BC), under whose leadership the Emilia Road was built, stretching across the region from the Flaminia to the Postumian Road.
- One of the asteroids discovered in 1876 was named Aemilia by French astronomers – after the Aemilia Road.
- Julius Caesar, upon learning of the plot being prepared against him, did not hesitate long to “cross the Rubicon.” This phrase, signifying an irrevocable decision, is still in common use today. The Rubicon, on the other hand, is just a river that has changed its course more than once.
- The first European university was founded in Bologna at the end of the 11th century. The city is famous for its 35-kilometer-long arcades, just as Venice is famous for its canals.
- Parmeggiano Reggiano cheese, protected by the DOP (place of origin) mark, can be offered as collateral when obtaining credit from a certain bank with a quality storage facility. The cheesemaker gets two benefits at once – money for development and the possibility to ripen the cheese in an optimal temperature and humidity regime.
- Between Modena and Bologna is the Valley of Motors, where several factories are concentrated that produce the best Italian cars. Each of them has museums presenting brand models of different years.
- Famous natives of Emilia Romagna are the composer Verdi, painters Parmigiano, Prospero Fontana, Lorenzo Sabatini and Gaetano Gandolfi, painters and engravers Carracci brothers, architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, directors Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti and other equally distinguished figures.
Emilia Romagna on the map of Italy
Geographical location of the region
The territory of the region is located on the border of mainland Italy and the Apennine Peninsula. It stretches from the shores of the Adriatic Sea and almost to the Ligurian coast. The region combines two historic areas – Emilia, which received its name thanks to the Emilia road, built by the Romans in the 2nd century BC, and the proud Romagna, which in the Middle Ages witnessed a serious battle between supporters of papal power the Guelphs and supporters of the Holy Roman Empire the Ghibellines. Emilia Romagna includes 9 provinces. The administrative center is located in the city of Bologna.
The region neighbors with six regions of Italy and a small independent state of San Marino. The northern border for most of its length is defined by the Po River. The flat part occupies almost half of Emilia Romagna, the hills spread out over a quarter. The rest is mountainous terrain.
How to get to Emilia Romagna
Main airports, bus and rail connections
There are international airports 6 km from Bologna and 8 km from Rimini. The first is named after the Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Marquis Gugliemo Marconi. The second is named after the famous Italian film director Federico Fellini. The airports serve flights arriving from Russia, the Baltic States, Belarus, and Ukraine, among others. Buses and trains run between the air gateway and the cities of Emilia Romagna. From nearby areas you can easily reach by land transport, from remote ones – by local airlines.