17 Reasons to Visit Emilia Romagna

Written By: The Planet D

Reasons to visit Emilia Romagna: Home to Pavarotti, Enzo Ferarri, Ferruccio Lamborghini, the Ducati brothers and the artist Parmigianino.

It’s the land of Parmesan Cheese and Balsamic vinegar, it’s also the gastronomical capital of the country.

Basing ourselves in the city of Bologna, we spent three weeks exploring Emilia Romanga and everything it has to offer. It was one of Italy’s most exciting destinations and here’s why!

These are the top reasons to Visit Emilia Romagna.

Reasons to Love Emilia Romagna

There are so many reasons to visit Emilia Romagna, you may never want to leave.

It’s funny because before visiting this province in the North of Italy, we didn’t even know it existed.

When visiting Italy, oftentimes people are a little disheartened.

They’re searching for that romantic Italy seen in the movies, and expect the locals to welcome them with open arms.

What they end up getting are masses of tourists at each destination elbowing each other for a decent photograph and cheap pasta being served at crowded restaurants being served by annoyed wait staff.

It is not the case in Emilia Romagna.

Emilia Romagna – Authentic Italy

That is why Emilia Romagna is so refreshing. It is that Italy you see in the movies.

The Italy where old men sit at outdoor tables talking about anything and everything and where locals yell Ciao and Grazie on a regular basis.

You can’t help but smile as you travel through Emilia Romagna. It’s filled with beautiful scenery, rich history and a food culture that is second to none.

In Emilia Romagna, Mama and Nona still make pasta by hand and every restaurant takes pride in what they serve.

1. Bologna 

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Bologna from the tallest Leaning Tower in Italy

The Capital of Emilia Romagna is the perfect place to base yourself for your visit around the Province. Bologna is an often-overlooked city in Italy, but it shouldn’t be.

It’s home to the tallest leaning tower in Italy, the world heritage appointed porticoes and it’s known as the gastronomical capital of the country.

Bologna dates back to 1000 BC. It was a city of the people and Bologna is one of the few Italian cities who refused to be run by one family.

It allowed for open thinking and even houses the oldest University in the Western world.

There is much to see in Bologna and it’s worth stopping for longer than a quick pause on your bus route.

We loved walking through the porticoes and having our morning coffee each day at the Kamit Express where we felt at home and welcomed by owner Alicia.

2. Racing a Ferrari

autodromo di modena race track
Dave gets ready to race a Ferrari

Watch our video racing a Ferrari at Autodomo di Modena.

Emilia Romagna is the land of motors and you cannot help but get caught up in everything cars.

They’ve built some of the finest most luxurious cars in the world. 

Lamborghini, Ducati and Ferrari all have their factories here because all the men who built these machines were all born here. Ducati in Bologna, Lamborghini in Ferrara and Ferrari in Modena.

All great cities to visit by the way.  There are museums and showrooms but the most fun we had was taking a spin on the track in a Ferrari. We had the need for speed.

Visit Autodromo di Modena to book your own experience.

3. Cycling the Maranello Hills

bike ride
The beautiful Maranello Hills

The Maranello hills take you through the Italian countryside to see ancient castles, family vineyards, olive groves and farmers fields.

It’s a land of rolling hills and gorgeous scenery.

Cycling Maranello hills isn’t all about the cycling though, when you cycle in Italy, you stop to eat, drink and be merry.

We toured a castle, tasted balsamic vinegar, visited dungeons, ate aperitive and explored a natural wonder.

Read more about our biking tour and visit Trekking Italy for more tours.

4. Lamborghini Factory

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Fabio holds our Blogville t-shirt and likes it so much, he gets to keep it

I never thought we’d ever have the chance to meet a person from the Lamborghini family, but Fabio Lamborghini opens his private collection of Lamborghinis to the public.

Make an appointment at the Lamborghini family museum and meet the nephew of Ferruccio Lamborghini.

He’ll be able to tell you personal stories and show off the priceless collection of cars, tractors, air conditioners, motorcycles and even a helicopter during this fascinating tour.

I don’t normally have an attention span when being led through a museum, but on this tour, we held on every single word.

See more on our tour at Meet Fabio Lamborghini and visit the Feruccio Lamborghini Museum for more details

5. Eating at the Oldest Inn in the World!

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Frederico searches for some wine for us

Located in the Renaissance town of Ferrara, a visit to Al Brindisi is not to be missed.

Third generation owner Frederico is the Coolest Cat in town and he houses and extensive wine bar.

Sit in history as you wine and dine in the Osteria of the oldest inn in the world.

When ordering your meal, don’t try to pair your own wine, let the experts do it.

They’ll walk up the ladder and pick out just the right wine for you.

When Frederico found out we were from Canada, he pulled out a dusty bottle from the Maritimes from his collection surrounding the dining room.

These wines are priceless and Al Brindisi even has its own label.

For more on Al Brindisi visit their website

6. Hiking in the Apennines

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The beautiful Apennines

We started out the hike in the town of Montese overlooking the beautiful Apennines, the Mountain range of this region.

Montese was a strategic point during World War 2 due to its high vantage point in the mountains.

Back then the area was barren due to clear-cutting the forests, today it is a beautiful lush green landscape leading towards the mountains of Tuscany.

See more about our hiking trip at Italian Hospitality in the Apennines and to book a guide visit Trekking Italy

7. Dinner at The Belvedere Hotel in Montese

visit emilia romagna pasta
Truffle tortellini

I know that Bologna is the spot in Emilia Romagna known for its food, but the best meal we had was at the Belvedere Hotel in the mountain town of Montese.

We had no idea what to order so they brought us sample plates of truffle Pasta, grilled fresh vegetables, stuffed tortelloni and balsamic infused chicken.

All were made by hand with fresh ingredients and tender loving care. It was the meal in Italy we’ve always dreamed of.

For more information on accommodation and dining visit Hotel Belvedere in Montese

8. The Coastal Town of Rimini

ferris wheel
A giant Ferris wheel

Rimini was once a thriving beach town for German tourists spending their holidays basking in the sun.

While the clientele has changed a bit over time, it’s a more of a local Italian tourist destination now, it’s still an amazing beach town and the perfect alternative to the crowded Italian Riviera.

Famed Italian filmmaker Fellini retired here and it’s no wonder why.

Rimini has a beach that stretches for miles on the Adriatic Sea. Kite surfing is huge here and you can also visit the famous Riminiterme spa too.

The waterfront promenade makes for a gorgeous walk with gelato stands, beach umbrellas and even a Ferris wheel decorating the seafront.

Read about our time there at Sometime’s a Couple’s gotta relax

9. The Oldest Renaissance Festival in the World

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Ceremony before the famous run

Haven’t you always wanted to dress up and go to the Renaissance Festival?

Maybe it’s the geek in me, but I’ve always wanted to go to one, and if you are going to go to one in your life, you should head to Ferrara in Emilia Romagna.

This is the oldest continuous Renaissance Festival in the world and people take it seriously.

Ancient houses compete against each other at the track and one male and one female are declared the winners of a foot race.

donkeys racing
I had to put this shot in of the donkeys racing

They used to race for food now they race for glory. The winner would bring a feast back to his village now they parade a trophy around the track.

After the foot race comes the donkey race. While the peasants raced on foot for food, the rich and royals raced on a steed.

This is the most hilarious race to watch as donkeys have a mind of their own and sometimes decide not to run at all. They do four laps around the track and the first donkey through, with or without his rider, wins!

10. Mille Miglia

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The Mille Miglia Red Carpet

It’s a classic car lovers dream. Each year hundreds of drivers pack up their beloved cars and do a loop around Italy.

The Mille Miglia used to be a road race through the country, but after too many fatal crashes it was banned and today it is a road rally parade.

We caught a check in celebration in Ferrara. As each car came into town, they checked in and drove the red carpet to show off their pride and joy. There

As each car came into town, they checked in and drove the red carpet to show off their pride and joy. There is everything from vintage Jaguars to classic Ferraris.

11. Feel at Home at B&B Ai frutti di una Volta

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We loved staying here.

During the Mille Miglia, we stayed at the B&B Ai frutti di una Volta located just outside of Ferarra.

We stayed at many places during our time in Italy and the reason I mention this place is because of its owners.

welcome sign

Marco and Roberta have a passion for this place and it shines through when you stay there.

Having left their jobs in commerce, they started this B&B for a better quality of life.

They met us with smiles in the middle of the night and served us local produce during breakfast with smiles first thing in the morning.

They care very much about eating locally and most of their food comes from within a 100 km radius.

Their rooms are elegant and decorated with love.

This is a place that one needs to stay for a few days and it just so happened that the Mile Mglia parade drove right by their house! Book your stay at B&B Ai Frutti di Una Volta

For more on your stay at Ai Fruitti di Una Volta visit their website. 

12. San Marino

san marino
View from the Fort of San Marino overlooking Emilia Romagna

It may be its own republic, but San Marino is located smack dab in the middle of Emilia Romagna.

It overlooks the Italian Apennines on one side with the Adriatic Sea on the other.

It’s a tiny nation with only 30,000 residents, but it’s also considered to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world on a per capita basis. San Marino is gorgeous. It’s a medieval town.

Learn about San Marino at Remarkable Views of San Marino

13. Little Venice, Comacchio

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Comacchio Canal

It’s known as the Venice of Emilia Romagna, only without the crowds. Comacchio is a town built on 13 different islets connected by waterways and canals.

It’s an area known for its eel fishing and Sophia Lauren even filmed a movie here. You must visit the fisherman’s museum telling you of the town’s history and to watch the fascinating films showcasing the work that the eel fisherman did at the turn of the century.

I believe the movie we watched dated back to 1912.

Before you leave, make sure you try some eel, it’s cooked any way you like it and they are masters at it. There are several restaurants around the main square.

14. Tasting Traditional Balsamic Vinegar

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Emilia Romagna Balsamic Farm

I didn’t care nor think much of traditional balsamic vinegar before visiting Emilia Romagna, but while there, we grew fascinated with the process.

Barrels are passed down from generation to generation for families to make their own balsamic used for every day life.

Traditional Balsamic vinegar is aged for a minimum of 12 years and some are aged up to 45 years!

The vinegar is moved in small portions from barrel to barrel each year and the more aged the barrel the better the vinegar.

Traditional Balsamic sells for €100 per 100 ml bottle and after learning how it is made, I can understand why. You must visit one of these family run balsamic makers.

When you visit Acetaia Pedroni near the town of Modena. Make sure to eat there too.

15. Modena Pavarotti

Modena is a beautiful town to visit in Emilia Romagna. It is the birthplace of Pavarotti. Just outside of town is the Casa Museo Luciano Pavarotti that is open to the public.

It is where Pavarotti spent the final days of his life.

16. The People

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A friendly tailor in Ferarra

There are so many reasons to love Emilia Romagna it’s difficult to narrow it down to just twelve.

The people are always a reason to love a place and Emilia Romagna is no different.

While we didn’t include the people in the list, they were involved in every experience we had in the province and without them, we wouldn’t have the wonderful memories to bring home.

The people of Emilia Romagna made every day special. They were genuinely happy to have us and were pleased that we chose their region of Italy to visit.

17. Food of Emilia Romagna

cheese salami
Lambrusco with meats and cheese

If you don’t know what to eat, the wait staff at any restaurant will be happy to recommend their specialty of the house.

We came home with fond memories of the places we saw, the people we met and the amazing experiences we had, and here are all the things that we love about Emilia Romagna.

Emilia Romagna is Different 

If you visit Emilia Romagna, you will notice a difference from the other provinces of the country. So when you plan your next Italian vacation, add Emilia Romagna to your list!

This is a Blog Ville campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Emilia-Romagna tourism board, ThePlanetD maintains full control over what we choose to write.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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21 thoughts on “17 Reasons to Visit Emilia Romagna”

  1. Ahh! Grazie mille for this – so happy that you visited Montese and Hotel Belvedere. Silvana is amazing there. 🙂 Such a great place to stay and the restaurant is fabulous as well.
    Thank you for noting the WWII info of Montese. My Grandfather was with the 10th Mountain Div (US Army) and they spent majority of their time in Italy in the Appenines. Grazie again! 🙂

  2. I was in Ferrara in January together with a group of Italian friends. They showed me the city. We spent the whole day there and I admit that I really liked what I saw and tasted: D

  3. I like your n. 4! This is something I haven’t done yet! Italy has so many incredible places and certainly Emilia Romagna is a Region that is worth visiting.

    If you want, there are some other travel ideas in our page: http://bit.ly/emiliaromagna_it (from gourmet addresses to places to stay, suggestions from insiders…)

    A presto,


  4. Hi guys!! I am a very proud EMilia Romagna’s son born an raised in reggio emilia from countless generation reggio’ people. Thank you for your article and next time come visiting also central west emilia romagna. You won’t be disappointed! Ciao!!!

  5. This has truly inspired us to visit Emilia Romagna on our next trip to Italy. Thank you for such an informative and interesting post. We will definitely be taking this list with us!

  6. Great post and photos. My wife’s friend loaned her a book called “One American Woman Fifty Italian Men” by Lynne Ashdown, http://lynneashdown.com/, and ever since she read it she’s been very interested in cycling, travel, Italy, etc. I think you’d really like the book too. As soon as she gets home I’m going to show her your post, I’m sure she will be thrilled that I came across it. Again, great photos, it’s true what they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”!

  7. The photos of the Apennines, that gooey tortellini and those hearts of gold (that tailor in Ferrara could be the title of a book) has me hooked, line and sinker. I wish I had known about this gem of a place when I lived in Roma! Thank you for writing about this….will visit!

  8. Only a few weeks before we are in Italy! Can’t wait!!! You’re blog has had a few posts lately about Italy and the surrounding areas. Thanks for making my research easier 😉

  9. Between the tortoloni and the balsamic vinegar I am now starving and want to go back to Italy! Looks beautiful.