Emilia Romagna Things to Do
Emilia Romagna is one of the most beautiful regions in Italy. But on the contrary of many other regions, Emilia Romagna succeeded in creating a perfect blend of traditional customs, exciting theme parks and discos that attract thousands of tourists each year.
The region has exquisite food and wine, and some attractive folkloristic events too. There are the museums of the most powerful motors in the world, there is Rimini with an impressive night life, and the rest of the region boasts dozens of unique places to see.
Moreover, Emilia Romagna managed to maintain its medieval charm while creating modern attractions.
Among the things to do in Emilia Romagna, there are several festivals and folkloristic events held throughout the year all over the region. The sports car lover and the nature lover can co-exist by driving an iconic Ferrari in picturesque landscapes. Yet, there are still more interesting things to discover beyond this!
Festivals & Events
Throughout the year, Emilia Romagna hosts numerous folkloristic festivals and events. Among them, one that stands out is Palio di San Giorgio, one of the most ancient racing events in Italy.
The event was held for the first time in 1279, at Ferrara. In 1471 the events of the festival had been slightly modified to welcome the Duke of Ferrara who was returning from Rome where Pope Paul II had given him the ducal title.
The fifteenth-century procession soon became a tradition, and today local people wearing costumes of knights and ladies or musicians bring to life the welcoming of the Duke.
The festival is held each year on the last Sunday of May, and after the parade begins four distinctive races, la gara dei putti and la gara delle putte where young people, usually below fifteen years old compete between them, a donkey race and a horse race.
Ferrara is not the only place in Emilia Romagna to host a medieval festival. Another similar event is the Feste Medioevali di Brisighella. The festival is held each June in the Medieval town of Brisighella and represents a true revival of the Medieval times.
One of the most intriguing features of this festival is the enthusiasm of the locals in returning to the ancient origins. Apart from dressing as knights, blacksmiths, or troubadours, the locals also avoid the use of electric illumination during the event, transforming the town in a truly mesmerizing way.
An original traditional festival is also hosted at Forlimpopoli, a charming medieval town in the province of Forli-Cesena. Sagra della Segavecchia revives an ancient medieval legend according to which a woman was condemned to torture because she didn’t fast during Lent.
In her honor is organized a procession of festival wagons and puppets. The biggest puppet is usually filled with chestnuts and hazelnuts, dried figs, chocolate and other goodies that are distributed to the children during the event.
Cesenatico is a charming small town on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. The town holds a splendid event each year on the first Sunday of August, Festa di Garibaldi.
The festival revives August 2, 1849, the day when Garibaldi, chased by the French and Borbons after the defeat of the Roman Republic. He tried to reach Venice with the help of the local fishermen, but the boat was stopped by the Austrians shortly before reaching shore.
The festival includes a parade on the shores of the sea, fireworks and a party on the beach where you can taste some local delicacies.
Emilia Romagna is a region that boasts a vast cultural heritage, including a vast musical culture. Parma and Busseto celebrate one of the most important composers of all times with a festival dedicated to him, Festival Verdi.
The festival, held in late September and early October, attracts thousands to the two cities experiencing cultural events related to the great Giuseppe Verdi. During the festival, all the main operas of the composer are played throughout the theaters of the region, such as the Regio Theater in Parma and Verdi Theater in Busseto.
If you’re not quite into classical music, another musical event to attend in November is Bologna Jazz Festival. Considered the most ancient Italian festival dedicated to jazz, this festival is an event that attracts dozens of enthusiasts and many important jazz players from around the world.
Rimini is known as the land of night life, yet the city hosts an important cultural event each year, the Meeting per L’Amicizia fra I Popoli. Celebrating the friendship between Peoples, the event gathers a wide number of young people and adults, artists, and important international personalities to celebrate together.
The characteristic of the event is that its theme changes every year, and some enthusiasts choose to attend with regularity.
In the Emilian culture, food and wine play an important role, and the cities and towns of the region host many food festivals, called sagre in the local language, throughout the year.
One of the most attended events is Festa della Piadina e dell’Uva, held in Cattolica in September. The festive climate is enriched by traditional songs and music, and there is a distribution of grape bunches among the participants to celebrate the harvest.
Another important food festival of Emilia Romagna is Sagra del Lambrusco e degli Spiriti DiVini held in Albinea each June. The festival celebrates the famous Lambrusco wine, yet the organizers also include cooking shows and other events in the program.
Bologna, the heart of the region, hosts Fiera dei Vignaioli Eretici every May, another festival inspired by wine. The event gathers about a hundred independent wine producers that are heretic with respect to the rules of the industrial winemaking. In fact, their wines are produced following the rules of organic farming and their wines are a true burst of flavors and aromas.
Emilia Romagna offers numerous outdoor and indoor leisure activities. The region has an outstanding countryside; Delta del Po National Park is, without a doubt, among the most famous destinations in Emilia Romagna. The park boasts varied possible routes and there are many ways to visit the Delta of Po, including by car, hiking on panoramic roads, or by bike.
Although the options are countless, exploring the area by foot, by bicycle or by boat offers an unparalleled glimpse of the real beauty of this territory. The summer months are especially beautiful and cycling tours are plentiful.
Naturalists will also find their paradise here, as there are many watchtowers and coves perfect for enthusiastic bird watchers to hide for maximum viewing.
Horseback riding is another popular way of visiting the region, and a great activity for families.
Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi is another national park in Emilia Romagna that attracts hundreds of hikers and naturalists throughout the year. The park counts over 100 trails suitable for hiking or mountain biking.
Cycling is also a great way to explore the countryside among natural monuments and typical medieval settlements. Ciclovia del Sole is a popular cycling route that connects Northern Italy to Southern Italy passing through enchanting sceneries.
Via Francigena is another popular cycling or hiking route. Originally linking Canterbury with Rome and used for pilgrimages, Via Francigena was gradually transformed into a cycling and hiking route that attracts many enthusiasts.
Another popular outdoor activity in Emilia Romagna is golf. Throughout the region, there are over 20 prestigious golf courses that impress with the diversity and beauty of the territory. Among the most popular golf courses are Salsomaggiore, Modena and the golf course of Cervia.
The seaside resorts also offer a wide choice of outdoor activities, ranging from the classical activities such as beach volley or tennis to original interpretations of these sports held in the middle of the sea.
The region boasts countless museums and memorial houses, which are some of the best indoor activities. A journey among the most beautiful museums and sites could start from Bologna with a visit to the famous University. Strolling the same beautiful corridors where once walked some of the brightest minds in history is an experience hard to forget.
To discover the basics of modern medicine, a visit to Palazzo Poggi is a must. The museum of the anatomic waxes offers an interesting insight into the early years of modern medicine, while if you’re more interested in astronomic sciences, the Museo della Specola boasts a very impressive collection.
Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica in Bologna is another fascinating museum for those interested in the history of music.
The art is present in many churches and memorial houses throughout Bologna, yet one of the most beautiful sculptural groups is often forgotten by the numerous guides of the region. The sculptural group is made of terracotta, by Niccolo dell’Arca. It is considered to be one of the most impressive groups of terracotta sculptures ever made. The Lamentation on the Dead Christ is a wonderful example of a local sculpture that can be seen inside the Church of Santa Maria della Vita.
Another popular indoor activity is visiting the numerous cathedrals and basilicas in the region. The Sanctuary of Madonna of San Luca and the Basilica of San Petronio are two splendid examples of medieval churches.
The Aviation Museum in Rimini, located in a splendid thematic park, is another important museum of Emilia Romagna that is home to over 50 original aircraft and an impressive collection of aircraft models and aviation suits, documents, medals, and decorations.
In the park, there is also a smaller Museum of Historical Modeling that is worth visiting.
Passing from aviation to automotive, probably one of the most famous museums in Emilia Romagna is Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari in Modena. The museum is dedicated to the life and work of the famous Enzo Ferrari, founder of the homonym automotive company.
The Museo Galleria Ferrari in Maranello, on the other hand, exhibits the actual cars and many other interesting objects.
There has always been a fierce competition between Ferrari and Lamborghini, so it is easy to understand that the latest also has a museum in Emilia Romagna, more precisely in Sant’Agata Bolognese. Therefore, if you want to have a glimpse into the Italian automotive mastery, these two museums must be seen.
Another must-see is the Ducati Museum in Bologna, where the exhibits include numerous models of Ducati motorcycles and other objects related to the history of the brand.
Passing to archeology, the Domus dei Tappeti in Pietra, in Ravenna, is one of the most important Italian archaeological sites discovered over the last decades. The dome is located under the Church of Santa Eufemia in a vast underground environment made up of 14 chambers paved with polychrome mosaics and marble, belonging to a Byzantine for their private dwelling from the 6th century.
The mosaics are decorated with figurative, floral, and geometric elements, and all of them are considered a unique form of art.
A somewhat quirky but fun indoor activity is the Museum of Parmigiano-Reggiano, dedicated to the famous cheese.
Apart from the museums and sites mentioned above, the region boasts countless other important places to see, such as the famous towers in Bologna or the Piazza Maggiore, Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Mausoleum of Galla Placida, the Dome of Parma, and numerous other baptisteries, churches and cathedrals that boast impressive art and architecture.
Shopping In Emilia Romagna
This region is famous for its artistic ceramics and splendid embroideries. Among the most famous ceramics are those of Faenza, characterized by colorful details and impressive decorations. The most beautiful embroideries are crafted in Gambettola and Santarcanagelo according to ancient techniques. From tablecloths to fashion, the embroideries of this region are unique and timeless.
In all Italy and above all in Emilia Romagna, flea markets and antiquities markets are part of the local culture. They are not only traditional events that gather people from all around, but on the many stalls, it is easy to find unique souvenirs or even precious pieces of art or jewelry.
Among all the different markets, Cortemaggiore is held every first Sunday of the month between February and December.
Emilia Romagna With the Kids
Emilia Romagna is a wonderful region to visit with the kids. The region boasts numerous theme parks and other attractions that can easily entertain the little ones.
A family with infants or toddlers can enjoy Fiabilandia, which is a theme park guaranteed to entertain even the fussiest kids. The attractions are neither scary nor dangerous, and children accompanied by their parents can ride a delightful caterpillar through the Valley of the Gnomes, can visit the Wizard Merlin’s Castle or sail on the ship of Peter Pan. The park is located between Riccione and Rimini and is perfect for kids up to preschool age.
Oltremare Park, located in Riccione, is more suitable for kids from preschool age upwards. The park theme is nature and kids will get excited by getting in touch with farm animals, raptors, parrots and other animals.
The Aquarium in Cattolica is entertaining for kids of all ages. The aquarium boasts an interactive path where games and surprising discoveries will make the experience even more enjoyable.
A classic attraction famous all over the world is Italy in Miniature located in Rimini, a fun park representing a scale model of Italy that leads to the discovery of the most important sites of the country. The park hosts an area dedicated to the aspiring little scientists where they can experiment the laws of physics, optics, mechanics, and more.
Lastly, Mirabilandia is a theme park that offers entertainment to both children and adults. The park is jam-packed with various rides and attractions suitable for all age groups and it is located in Ravenna.
Unique Experiences in Emilia Romagna
In essence, Emilia Romagna is all about exquisite food and wine, powerful engines and impressive culture. As such, the unique experiences in Emilia Romagna are linked to these elements.
Without a doubt, enjoying the food and wine in the region is a unique experience impossible to forget. Many food and wine tours start from Bologna, the capital of Italian food. The city offers a great variety of gourmet experiences and there are many delicacies, including the famous spaghetti alla Bolognese, to taste.
Piacenza and the province are famous for its wines, boasting more than 40 DOC wine varieties. Lastly, the cities of Modena, Ferrara, Reggio Emilia, and Parma are also famous worldwide for their numerous delicacies.
Another exciting activity in the region would include attending a cooking class with one of the many chefs of the region. Cooking classes offer and tasty and unforgettable experience.