Emilia Romagna

Emilia Romagna is a northern province, almost crossing the whole of northern Italy from west to east. Half the surface area is level plain bordering the Po river, but part is hilly or mountainous, although the mountains are not high. The area along the Po has been cultivated for centuries, with the river supplying managed irrigation. Agricultural exports, wine production, cattle farming and pork products are important. A wealthy province with an ancient capital, Bologna, it is now a centre for food and automobile production – it is home to Ferrari, Lamboghini, Maserati and Ducati – especially along the line of the old Via Aemilia. The coast has popular tourism towns such as Rimini as well as the Po delta and inland the Renaissance monuments are important for cultural tourism.

History of Emilia Romagna

Emilia Romagna was named after the Via Aemilia, the Roman road to the north, plus Romana, which was the name given to Ravenna by the Lombards. Before the Romans, the area was first part of Etruscan lands, then of the Gauls. Ravenna became a hugely important religious centre, seat of the remains of the Western Roman Empire, and monasteries sprang up around it. Later Bologna, with Europe’s first university, became the hub of learning and trade. It was surrounded by city-states, which later mostly became unified in the Papal States. The remaining territories joined the Papal States in the new kingdom of Italy in 1859.

Interesting Places in Emilia Romagna

Guardo di Sigerico

Guardo di Sigerico ferry across the Po. Here a small speed-boat ferries pilgrims and walkers across the Po to the south. Nearby is a pleasant country restaurant and a guest-house.

Palazzo Cavalli

Piacenza’s most famous monument is the Palazzo Cavalli, a turreted skyline and five acades. Inside is a courtyard, and a main hall with frescos. It has two bronze horse statues.

Piacenza cathedral

Piacenza cathedral, in Romanesque style, has a gallery dividing the façade, and a rose window above, and the external part of the apse is also galleried. The bell-tower and the dome are in brick with distinctive arcades. Inside, the massive marble columns and striped floor set off 14th C frescoes and wooden sculptures.

Paderna Castle

Paderna Castle is now an organic farm, open to groups. Built on a square plan of red brick, it has a moat on two sides.


Fiorenzuola d’Arda is a small but historic town, with the 14th C Collegiata of S Fiorenzo, with a plain but huge façade. It also has a church and oratory of Beata Vergine of Caravaggio.

Chiaravalle della Colomba

Chiaravalle della Colomba is a Cistercian abbey complex which was sacked and burned in 1248, and the remaining buildings used for other purposes. The monks came back in 1937 and now do some farming.


Fidenza was laid out over a Roman military camp. Mussolini enlarged the town but it was bombed and changed hands between the Allies and Germans. The cathedral is famous for its incomplete façade, with a statue of Peter showing the way to Rome.


Cabriolo has a church of St Thomas a Beckett, built in 1170, with a round arcaded apse and a large bell-tower. St Thomas was archbishop of Canterbury and was murdered by four knights in his church.

The Castle of Costamezzana

The Castle of Costamezzana is a small brick-built tower with surrounding buildings, set in woodland.


Siccomonte is a small village with a church and tall bell-tower – San Giovanni Battista.

Taro park

Taro park is a protected area running for 20km along the River Taro just before it joins the Po river. Lagoons are home to migrating and marsh birds.


Bardone is part of Terenzo, a small town on the Taro river with a stone Romanesque church with large bell-tower of Santa Maria Assunta dated 1004.


Terenzo nestles between wooded hills and is guarded by a castle called Casola.


Cassio hostel is a slighly eccentric but welcoming hostel with garden right on the main road. Restored from a road-makers’ building, it is of massive and interesting construction.


Berceto is a village in the Apennines known for an eccentric and extrovert mayor. The Lombard church of San Moderanno is from the 9th C but has been restored.

Monte Valoria

Monte Valoria is a peak in Massa Carrara, and the Via Francigena runs through meadows and woods around the mountain as it approaches the Cisa Pass.

Cisa Pass

Cisa Pass marks the division between Ligurian and Tuscan Apennines. A roadhouse and café provide refreshment and an arch and chapel is right on the pass.


The discover Italy website gives details of the five stages or 104km of the route in Lombardy, plus transport to and from the route. The route through the province is signed with Via Francigena signs and all stages are easy.

Two lists of accommodation are available here. Also Ecobnb has other accommodation ideas.


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