Things to do in Emilia Romagna

You don’t just travel to Italy, you get consumed by Italy; the words stumbled out of my mouth as I tried to explain why it was one of my favourite countries. The people, the passion, the food (oh boy, the food), the views, the attitude; there is something about the lifestyle here that transports you, and in this region, it’s all combined. Emilia Romagna offers up a fantastic mix of culinary, architecture and art based treats wrapped up in one.

I spent a week exploring this new to me region, and from the seaside towns to the hills of olive trees, I still don’t feel like I’ve genuinely scratched the surface so I happily booked a second return visit for a few months later. Grab a car, grab some mates and take a road trip through this region of Northern Italy.

1. Brisighella

When you think of Italy from the movies; you know the ones, hair flying in convertible cars, verdant green hills of vines, castles towering above little red roof towns, you’re essentially thinking of Brisighella.

This too cute to believe town was my first day trip in Emilia Romagna and it stayed my favourite. The picturesque streets with little cafes and gelato shops sit under the three hills of the town; one clocktower, one castle and one church. You can enjoy a casual stroll between the three and visit them before noshing down on all the gelato below. We saw one little tourist group there but other than that, on a blissfully sunny June day it was devoid of tourists.

2. Cesenatico

Cesenatico was one of those places where I just pointed at a map and went with no real research (it’s one of my best skills in life). I had wanted to visit the charming canals of Comacchio which had been touted as a ‘Venice without the people’ but time was not on my side.

Luckily, quaint Cesenatico was an ideal day trip from Bologna. Sure, it has a beach on the Adriatic, but I always recommend Albania or The Algarve for Europe beach holidays as I find the Italian beaches crowded with deckchairs.

The town it’s self though was adorable, with colourful houses lining the few small canals, a maritime museum with boats displayed on the canal and plenty of little restaurants the slow-pace of Italian life is ripe for the taking here.

3. Comacchio

It took me a few visits to Emilia Romagna before I finally made it to Comacchio, but it was certainly worth the wait! Comacchio isn’t the most accessible place to get to in Emilia Romagna as it does not have a train station, but whether you hire a car or make it here by bus, it’s well worth taking a detour for!

Often billed as ‘Little Venice’ due to it being close to the Veneto border, complete with canals and relatively devoid of tourists, it’s an ideal base to explore the local nature from and also soak up the quaint canals.

A relatively small commune, the main town its self is everything you would expect: still canals reflecting colourful buildings, streets lined with excellent restaurants and bars, and the joy of not being too crowded by tourists. It’s well worth hiring a bike to explore the local area and the Po Delta after you’ve enjoyed a couple of chilled days and sampled the local fish speciality, Eel and Clams.