Emilia Romagna may very well be one of Italy’s best-kept secrets, it is situated in the heart of central Italy between the hills and plains of Po Valley, which separates the cold alpine north from the warm Mediterranean south. Emilia Romagna offers beaches, nature, culture and locals among the friendliest and most welcoming in Italy.
TOP 8 PLACES TO VISIT
It is one of the most important structures in Italy, the octagonal pink-marble baptistery situated on the south side of the piazza. Its architecture is a hybrid of Romanesque and Gothic, and its construction started in 1196 on the cusp of the two great architectural eras. The interplay of pencil-thin marble columns and richly coloured 13th century frescoes in the Byzantine style, interspersed at irregular intervals with statues and bas-reliefs. The project was oversaw by architect and sculptor Benedetto Antelami and it contains his best work, including a celebrated set of figures representing the months, seasons and signs of the zodiac. It wasn’t completed until 1307 due to the supply of pink Verona Marble ran out.
2.BASILICA DI SAN’T APOLLINARE NUOVO
The dazzling Christian handiwork has a startling effect on worsshippers from prayer. An old legend states that Pope Gregory the Great once ordered the Apollinare's mosaics to be blackened to avoid this. The 26 white-robed martyrs heading towards Christ with his apostles on the right (south) wall is mesmerizing. On the opposite side, an equally expressive procession of virgins bears similar offerings for the Madonna. The basilica dates originally from the 560s and its architectural fusion of Christian east and west can be seen in its marble porticoes and distinctive conical bell tower.
3.VIA DEGLI ASINI
Dating back to the 1290, this low-slung, wood-beamed, delightfully uneven medieval walkway is hidden behind a colourful patchwork of warped homes. It began life as a defensive wall that was later incorporated into the town's commercial space. The former donkey stables now hide private homes that sit atmospherically along 100m of picturesque, non-uniform arches, flanked by at least one surviving guard tower.
4.BASILICA DI SANTO STEFANO
This unique religious site with its atmospheric labyrinth of interlocking ecclesiastical structures, whit architecture spanning centuries of Bolognese history and incorporates Romanesque, Lombard and even ancient Roman elements. Only four of the seven churches remains today: Chiesa del Crocefisso, Chiesa della Trinità, Chiesa del Santo Sepolcro and Santi Vitale e Agricola. The 11th century Chiesa del Crocefisso houses the bones of San Petronio and is the entry and leads through to the Chiesa del Santo Sepolcro. This austere octagonal structure probably started life as a baptistery. The 8th century Lombard artifact is next door in the Cortile di Pilato, it is named after the central basin in which Pontius Pilate is said to have washed his hands after condemning Christ to death. A modest cloister and a small museum is connected by the Chiesa Dela Trinita. The Santi Vitale e Agricola is the fourth and oldest church. Incorporating recycled Roman masonry and carvings, the bulk of the building dates from the 11th century. The older tombs of two saints in the side aisles once served as altars.
5.BASILICA DI SAN VITALE
Consecrated in 547 by Archbishop Massimiano the lucid mosaics that adorn the altar of this ancient church invoke a sharp intake of breath in most visitors. Gaze in wonder at the rich greens, brilliant golds and deep blues bathed in shafts of soft yellow sunlight.
Consecrated in 1106, Parma has a classic Lombard-Romanesque facade, but inside, the gilded pulpit and ornate lamp-holders scream baroque. Some of the highlights is up in the dome, Antonio da Correggio's Assunzione della Vergine is a kaleidoscopic swirl of cherubs and whirling angels, while down in the southern transept, Benedetto Antelami's Deposizione relief is considered a masterpiece of its type.
7.MAUSOLEO DI GALLA PLACIDIA
The small but equally incandescent building was constructed for Galla Placidia, the half-sister of Emperor Honorius, who initiated construction of many of Ravenna's grandest buildings. The mosaics here are the oldest in Ravenna, probably dating from around AD 430.
Commissioned by Nicolo II d’Este in 1385, the towering castle comes complete with a moat and drawbridge.Originally built to protect the family from the town’s irate citizenry who were up in arms over tax increases. But in the late 15th century it became the family’s permanent residence. Today sections are used as government offices, but a few rooms, including the royal suites, are open for viewing. Highlights are the Sala dei Giganti, Salone dei Giochi, Cappella di Renée de France and the claustrophobic dungeon. Linked to the castle by an elevated passageway, the 13th century crenellated Palazzo Municipale was the Este family home until they moved next door to the castle. Today it largely occupied administrative offices, but you can wander around its twin courtyards.
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT
Visitors have a number of options for getting around the Emilia-Romagna region, and include by car, plane, bus, train, and taxi.
Emilia Romagna has hot summers and cold winters and the climate is to be considered temperate continental. The months of July and August tend to be hot and torrid however air-conditioning is widely available in Italy and you can always refresh at the Cinque Terre with a swim in the sea. Winter months can be icy and snowy, on the other hand if you enjoy that you can ski on the mountains which are just an hour from Bologna. Spring and autumn are probably the best periods to visit, but it is the busiest time of the year. Spring offers mild temperatures and a lot of day light, Autumn has the best food around the year such as truffles, mushrooms. chestnuts, mulled wine and many of food festivals.