The Emilia Romagna region was, and remains a significant diverse, historical, and naturally beautiful region of northern Italy. It lies between the River Po, (an important Italian waterway), to its north, the Apennine Mountains to the south and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Emilia Romagna is known for its varied landscapes, medieval cities, rich gastronomy, and coastal resorts.
The name itself, Emilia Romagna, reveals its historical origins with evidence of populations dating as far back as Paleolithic and Neolithic times.
The famous Roman road, Via Emilia, was constructed by Marco Emilio Lepido in 187 BC during the Roman Conquest, to connect Rome with the Roman cities Rimini and Piacenza. Today there is remaining evidence of settlements along the road. Further evidence of Roman origins can be seen from the air, as the land was divided among the soldiers after the war campaigns, and today follows that same pattern called centuriae.
Emilia refers to the northern provinces of the region; Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Parma, Moderna, Ferrara and most of Bologna. Romagna refers to the smaller, south eastern provinces of Ravenna, Forli-Cesena, Rimini and part of Bologna located east of the Sillaro River. This area was dominated by the Romans for longer than the rest of the peninsula and continued to be called Romaniola or Romadiola, adhering to Roman exarchate rule.
Mountains, Forests, Hills, Coastal and Large Plains
Its geographical position gives the region variations of climate and landscape. These variations have shaped the foods, wines, politics and languages of Emilia Romagna to create a beautiful cultural tapestry to explore.
The Po Valley, La Pianura Padana, to the north, is characterized by the anthropization of the region. Since the Roman era, the flat lands around the River Po have been reclaimed and cultivated, producing fertile fields of wheat, corn, sugar beets, vegetables, and fruit orchards. In the small area of Ferrara even rice is grown.
The climate varies from hot and humid in the summer months, cold and damp in the winter, (known for its winter mists), to the mild and pleasant spring and autumn months.
Numerous archaeological excavations of the area provide evidence of past civilizations. Including that of Bronze Age villages built on stilts (3000BC), Villanovan (10th century BC). Etruscan (6th century BC), Roman (2nd century BC), Medieval (5-15th centuries AD) and Renaissance (14-17th centuries). As a constant reminder of these times the plains are dotted with numerous examples of the differing styles of architecture through fortifications, towers, churches, cathedrals, shrines, monasteries, villas and palaces.
The closer you get to the mouth of the river and Adriatic coastal areas the more the environment changes. Besides the rice fields there are large salt marshes covering the Po Delta Park. The most famous are at Comacchio and Cervia. The salt marshes are important for both the economy and the ecosystem, through food production dating back to ancient times at the same time providing habitat for wildlife. Both coexist harmoniously. The marshes are a haven for birdwatchers with the pink flamingos being of particular interest. They can be explored on foot or even by canoe.
For those who prefer cultural activities and attractions, these low areas hold the hidden jewels of Pomposa with its abbey, the canals of Comacchio, and the magnificent mosaics of Ravenna and Classe. This area is home to the ancient pine forest mentioned by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy and by Giovanni Boccaccio in the Decameron, perfect for long strolls through the Mediterranean countryside.
Since the late nineteenth century the Romagna Riviera has best been known as a holiday destination. It offers a combination of sun, sea and entertainment. Its landscape, climate, cultural history, architecture, hospitality and excellent food all make it a desirable destination to escape, enjoy and relax.
Many of the beach facilities and businesses are still owned by local families who have changed with the times to offer and reflect what today’s society desires: all kinds of sports, babysitting and play activities, beaches for pets, and nightclubs and discos on the beach. Rimini is known as a capital of nightlife but there are also major attractions at Riccione, Cattolica, Cesenatico, Cervia, Milano Marittima, Lidi Ravennati and Lidi Ferraresi.
In the hinterland, south-west of Rimini and Riccione, on Mount Titano stands the city of San Marino, one of the smallest countries in Europe. Admired for its walls and towers which surround the splendid historic center. It is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, because its low tax rates have created shopping centers and outlets offering more affordable, quality shopping.
Continuing north-west in the Apennines, lies Vena del Gesso Romagnola, a charming, and different landscape made almost exclusively of chalky outcrops within the hilly slopes. Nestled in the midst of this is the capital, Bologna. South-west of the city, the soft hills again turn into mountain ranges, up to Corno alle Scale and Monte Cimone, the most popular ski resorts in the region, along with Monte Cusna just north of Reggio Emilia. Continuing to the north-east, the Parma and Piacenza Apennines meet creating mystical scenes in which to get lost in nature between lakes, springs, woods, ancient medieval paths, castles and spas such as Salsomaggiore and Tabiano.
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