The region's name is a recent one, regione Emilia Romagna, but the origin of the name is from antiquity. During the 2nd century BC, the ancient road from Rome to the Alps, the Via Aemilia, was built to honor the Roman Consul Mark Emilio Facetious. In the 6th century AD, the Romans lost the territory to the Byzantines, who called the land Romania. When Italy was unified, the region was named Emilia, and in 1947 the name was changed to Emilia-Romagna.
As the hyphenated name suggests, Emilia-Romagna includes two distinct areas with Bologna as the region's capital. Emilia is located on the western half of the region, and on the eastern half of the region is Romagna. Both belonged for centuries to Constantinople, which left its Byzantine mark, notably on the magnificent basilicas of Ravenna, a provincial town on the Adriatic Sea.
Most of Emilia-Romagna's major towns lie near Via Aemilia linking Rimini on the Adriatic coast with Piacenza on the region's western border. Occupying the valley formed by the Po River between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, Emilia-Romagna stretches from the eastern coast of Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea to almost the western side of Italy. It shares borders with Veneto and Lombardia to the north, the Marche and Toscana to the south, and Liguria, Lombardia, and Piemonte to the west.
Emilia-Romagna is filled with architectural gems and artistic masterpieces, with ancient and famous universities and centers of artistic and cultural learning.
a glance into the cities
In Bologna, visit Europe's oldest university, the two ancient spectacular towers of the Asinelli and the Garisenda, Piazza Maggiore with its great medieval buildings, and the gothic duomo of S. Petronio where Charles V was crowned emperor in 1530.
Not to be missed are the impressive basilicas of Ravenna, beautiful Romanesque cathedrals in Modena, the medieval baptistery of Benedetto Antelami in Parma, the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini, the ancient Palazzo comunale in Piacenza, the seventeenth-century Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ghiara in Reggio Emilia, or the historic center in Ferrara.
Important Roman traces can be found in Rimini and in Ravenna, capital of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th and 6th centuries AD, with its magnificent monuments of the Christian-Byzantine period (the exquisite mosaics). Examples of the Romanesque Longobard style can be found in the Cathedrals of Modena, Piacenza e Ferrara; the Baptistery of Parma offers important sculptural works. Piacenza and Bologna have valuable examples of Gothic style, but also of the Renaissance and Baroque styles.
the breadbasket of the roman empire
Not only does Emilia-Romagna offer you a treasure trove of museums and galleries and churches and castles to explore, but it also offers you a treasure trove of gastronomic delights to savor.
Home to Europe's most lavish tables, Emilia-Romagna has a reputation as one of Italy's great epicurean centers and was once known as the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. The region is an intensely cultivated plain with fields of wheat, rice, and beets. With its rich agricultural lands, this is where some of Italy's most famous culinary delights originated. The region is famous for its salami, mortadella, and prosciutto di Parma, and, of course, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. And the pasta here is varied and delicious: alla Bolognese, tortellini, cappelletti, and tortelli to name a few. Bologna, known as La Grassa (The Fat), is Italy's undisputed culinary capital.
Enjoy your visit and your meals!