Emilia-Romagna may be one political region – but culturally it contains two very different territories. Emilia, in the west – home to the foodie cities of Parma, Modena and Bologna – draws most of the attention, while Romagna, in the east, remains relatively undiscovered. Here life has a slower, friendlier (dare I say, almost southern Italian) pace, and it’s just as foodie as its better-known western sibling with its own regional specialties, including fabulous Adriatic seafood. The drive across the Apennines from Florence, through the historical region of Romagna-Toscana and over the 900-metre Muraglione Pass, is stunning; especially with a stop just after the summit for a plate of pasta at Il Laghetto Ristorante in San Benedetto in Alpe. Here are five more reasons to visit this fascinating pocket of north-eastern Italy.
A hands-on cooking class at Casa Artusi, named for the 19th century gastronome Pellegrino Artusi dubbed ‘the father of Italian home cookery’ is a deep dive into Romagna’s food culture. At this living museum, library and cooking school in an old church, you can learn to make piadina, the local flatbread, and traditional filled pastas, then enjoy them with a glass of local wine for lunch.
This charming hotel restaurant, on a cobbled square in a beautiful Medieval hill town, serves great gnocchi fritti with guanciale, and the polenta and squacquerone cheese dish that inspired this recipe. The rooftop terrace, tucked under the town’s signature clock tower, looks out over rolling countryside.
Drive San Leo (Rimini)
The drive here is almost as impressive as the first site of this fortified town on a high, impenetrable rocky outcrop (not far from the more touristy autonomous enclave of San Marino). For a great day out, stroll the cobbled streets, climb up to the fort and eat passatelli at Osteria La Corte.
The mini-Venice of Comacchio in the Po Delta is one of my best discoveries yet! Locanda La Comacina makes a great base for day trips; try their local eel from the lagoon. And walk, cycle or drive along Strada Foce for great views of the unique local fishermen’s huts.
History & Art Ravenna Mosaics (Ravenna)
Romagna’s best known city is deservedly famous for its eight UNESCO listed sites and splendid Byzantine mosaics. Instead of the more commonly painted frescoes, the dome and walls of Basilica di San Vitale sparkle with vivid images composed of millions of tiny tiles.
Updated 8 Feb 2023