I just finished up my latest trip to Bologna, Italy for the second edition of the #BlogVille project in conjunction with the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board. I couldn’t be happier to have been back in a region that has become so special to me over the past year.
Yesterday, I wrote a post on our culinary travel blog, Our Tasty Travels, entitled Five Culinary Reasons to Fall in Love with Emilia Romagna, Italy, and it made me think back to Italian media BlogVille press conference we had. During the conference, I was interviewed and asked what stayed with me the most about my travels in this region.
I had to really stop and think about my response, because it was too obvious, and probably expected, that I would instantly blurt out “the food.”
While the food was obviously number one, there is a lot more to Emilia Romagna that helped earn this delicious slice of Italy such a strong place in my heart. And with that, I give you six reasons to fall in love with Emilia Romagna that are for once, not all food related!
1. Diversity of Activities Available in Emilia Romagna
I am pretty amazed at the wealth of activities available in the Emilia Romagna region. Because the area pretty much cuts across Italy, it is home to a number of outdoor and indoor holiday options. From skiing, hiking, and/or biking in the Apennines to lounging on the seashore of Rimini, Emilia Romagna can satiate any outdoor and adventure junkie. And as I found out during my last days, there is even river rafting in Emilia Romagna! Sadly, I don’t have any video or photos from our experience as my new GoPro Hero 3 is floating down the Trebbia river somewhere (surprisingly, no, not my fault!).
With that, there is also a lot for people like me who may not be as inclined to want to spend holiday biking through the mountains. With beautiful architecture, endless shopping, wine/food tours, art museums, and historical sights, you can easily combine all the best Italy has to offer in Emilia Romagna.
Trivia: Did you know Emilia Romagna is home to at least 13 Regional Parks, 2 National Parks, 18 ski stations, and 10 adventure parks? Have kids…try one of Emilia Romagna’s 21 theme parks. Romantic retreat…visit one of the 20 spa areas.
2. Emilia Romagna’s Rich History
I’d be remiss in not at least pointing out that part of Emilia Romagna’s history is definitely tied to food, especially Pellegrino Artusi, who established the first center of gastronomic culture dedicated to Italian home cooking, which includes a library, restaurant and the cooking school. but that is the only thing I will say here (read Five Culinary Reasons to Fall in Love with Emilia Romagna, Italy). Aside from food, Emilia Romagna is home to a number of historical sights. Bologna’s 40 km of porticos — the world’s largest — make the city worth a visit alone. The city has a few other historical surprises — including its hidden canals. Other cities within Emilia Romagna hold a number of historical surprises as well — head to Rimini for one of Italy’s oldest and most historic bridges.
3. People and Culture in Emilia Romagna
As I mentioned initially, the question posed to me during the BlogVille press conference is what inspired this blog post. While the sights and architecture blew me away, it was the people I encountered and the friends I made. Everywhere we went within Emilia Romagna, we were welcomed with open arms, even when wandering completely alone without the BlogVille group. On my first visit to Emilia Romagna, we had been invited to Ferrara to do a wine bar tour and become acquainted with the city. Instead of being hustled around to the most touristy of places, we were introduced to our guide’s local friends and the places they frequent. We walked away with several new friends from the city and fell so much in love, we went back again the next day.
4. Emilia Romagna is Italy’s Motor Valley
Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Ducati. What do they all have in common besides being incredibly sexy? They are all from Emilia Romagna, known as Italy’s “Motor Valley”. Within a short drive, you can visit museums and factories where these bad boys are produced. I had the privilege to tour the Ducati Factory and visit both Ferrari Museums. And, I was even invited by Ducati to attend their World Ducati Week at the legendary Misano racetrack. What a dream come true!
5. Ease of Travel in Emilia Romagna
With the region practically making a straight shot across Italy, traveling within Emilia Romagna is quite painless. Within a couple hours you can be at opposite ends, making it easy to cover a lot of ground from one home base. Travel via train is simple, especially when navigating the smaller stations away from Bologna. Buses are cheap, plentiful, and clean, quite useful in cities like Rimini where the hot summer temps made walking into old town from the beach less than desirable. And taxis, albeit more expensive, were safe, efficient, and I never had a single issue with anyone trying to overcharge me.
6. Art Cities
Art fans will appreciate that Emilia Romagna has 10 art cities. Within the region, the cities of Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, Ravenna, Forli, Cesena, and Rimini are considered the “art cities” of Emilia Romagna. Each of them offer something unique and play a pivotal role throughout historical times. There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites within Emilia Romagna, including the city of Ravenna, home to eight early Christian and Byzantine monuments and some of the most beautiful mosaics in the world. During my visits for BlogVille, I visited every one of the art cities except Reggio Emilia — still need to cross that off my list now!
Note: Four of my five visits to Emilia Romagna were part of the #BlogVille project, but all opinions and views are my own. I fell so in love with the region that I brought my parents back during their visit to Europe in December to experience it. The verdict? They fell in love after only three days as well!
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