Italy
Emilia-Romagna

Here you’ll find travel reports about Emilia-Romagna. Discover travel destinations in Italy of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

161 travelers at this place:

  • Day195

    Portomagiorre

    January 7, 2017 in Italy

    Today was a good day. The journey allowed us to see
    Coypu swimming along a drainage ditch as well as pheasants in the fields and kestrels and buzzards perched on posts or in flight. Now that Epiphany was over, the petrol stations were open and we were able to fill up with gas, putting our minds at rest about keeping warm. Italy seems not to allow self service at LPG pumps and we pay on the forecourt instead of in the shop.

    We found a water tap that wasn't frozen or turned off amd were happy to pay €2 to fill up and empty. To cap it off, there was a launderette at Portomaggiore, just 10 minutes from where we stayed, so we got a fortnight's washing clean and dry in a few hours, instead of having to hand wash and air dry it over a several days.

    On the road we are constantly thinking of where we'll find the next facilities and it is always a relief to know we have a while before the next services are needed.

    The stopover was next to a park and a graveyard. We've noticed many cemeteries so far in Italy have had tall walls with compartments. We assume the deceased are placed in these compartments, as opposed to being buried underground. We don't know whether this is a regional practice that has something to do with the flat and frequently waterlogged land or whether it is done like this all over Italy.

    The best thing about the park was its dog garden that was just 10m from the van. Vicky got to watch all sorts of dogs being walked and playing in the fenced off area and Poppy found a lot of interest in all the different smells!
    Read more

  • Day204

    San Leo

    January 16, 2017 in Italy

    We said goodbye to a snowy San Marino and drove southwest to the hill town of San Leo. The imposing fortress perched atop a rocky outcrop above the old town was what Dante chose to model Purgatory on in his Divine Comedy.

    With snow all around us and our journey taking us higher into the hills, we were prepared to turn back if necessary but luckily there was a snowy but flat car park about half a kilometre out of town that we were able to leave the van in and set out on foot. Camper vans weren't allowed inside the town walls and we were very glad they weren't because we wouldn't have made it up the steep snow covered cobbles!

    The view of the fortress looming hundreds of feet above us as we walked towards San Leo made it easy to see why Dante was inspired. A narrow road curved round the cliffside and allowed us entry to the town through a stone archway. The small streets felt cosy despite the snow and it wasn't long before we left them to climb the steps to the fortress. We passed a sign telling us it was closed due to snow but we continued up to the zig zag path to reach its outer walls anyway. The view from the top of the cliff was worth it. We couldn't see in every direction but all we could see was covered in white. Fields, small hills and cosy settlements stretched out under us to the far away horizon.

    Retracing our footprints down the path, under trees laden heavy with snow, we took a while to explore the quaint town with its sandstone church, a couple of restaurants and a few small shops. We found another viewpoint that whilst lower down, offered us a wide panorama of the surrounding valleys.

    San Leo concluded our time in the Region of Emilia Romagna and after a sandwich for Will and hot soup for Vicky back at the van we set off to discover Le Marche, the next Region on our journey south.
    Read more

  • Day199

    A day out in Bologna

    January 11, 2017 in Italy

    Taking the old bus from the campsite, we enjoyed being driven in to central Bologna. The bus had blinds passengers could pull down to keep cool, but the majority were broken from overuse. The personal vehicles of non residents are banned inside the ring road so public transport was the perfect way for us to get in.

    As Italy's gastronomic capital and home of the world famous Bolognaise sauce, our main aim of visiting Bologna was to experience the food culture. Visually, the city couldn't be described as 'pretty' but it has some pretty impressive (and imposing) buildings. As soon as we stepped off the bus the people and activity around us started to make an impression. There was unfortunately several homeless people near the bus terminus and many shops had installed metal spikes in their doorways. People were busy and there was a strong sense of it being a 'living city'. Unlike some places that seem as if their buildings and atmosphere are there for show, Bologna was full of substance, real life and functionality. The smell of different foods being cooked wafted through the portico covered streets, the walls of which were plastered with graffiti.

    The indoor market 'Mercato delle Erbe' was the first stop on our tour. It reminded us of a smaller Grainger market in Newcastle. Its central stalls sold fruit and veg that looked so fresh, these were surrounded by open fronted shops selling fresh or cured meat, cheeses and handmade pastas. We indulged in a few bits and bobs, including some tortellini, a pasta reputedly created by a Bolognese innkeeper to try and capture the beauty og Venus's navel!

    We'd used Trip Advisor to seek out a couple of eateries with good reputations. The first looked nice, but a bit too formal and its dual language English / Italian menu made us think it might cater for the tastes of tourists rather than locals, so we decided on the second; Trattoria da Me.

    The break from midday to 3pm allows many Italians to take their time over lunch and although the Trattoria had free tables when we arrived, it soon filled up and had people waiting. The place was immaculately decorated with stylish lace and a gentle green, pink and blue colour scheme. The service was great and although we were offered an English menu, the waiters accepted that we wanted to converse in Italian and spoke clearly, even helpfully offering Vicky a better way of expressing what she wanted to say. Freshly baked bread was cut at the edge of the restaurant and brought to our table warm in a brown paper bag. Will had Tagliatelle al Ragu (you won't find spaghetti bolognaise in Bologna, but this is the dish it is based on). Vicky had Bollito, a traditional regional dish of boiled meat (cheek, tongue and brawn). They were great quality and although we weren't originally planning to have dolce (desert) we were too tempted when we saw them coming out of the kitchen. It was the best Tiramisù Will had ever had and a scrumptious Biancomangiare (Italian panna cotta) for Vicky. We were really happy with our experience and it will remain in our memories as one of the highlights of Italy.

    Hoping to see the Neptune statue, we strolled towards Piazza del Nettuno but found it covered over for restoration. Close by was the gargantuan San Petronio church. Like many Bolognese buildings it was brick built and looked very functional from the outside. We passed the two armed police officers to enter and just stopped and gaped at the scale of the building. Its central space wasn't divided into storeys but reached straight up to an arched ceiling. There were a dozen or so rectangular alcoves running down each side that looked small in comparison, even though each was bigger than our old house. Running at an angle along the main floor was a Meridian line, an astronomical instument designed to measure the passage of the sun with a series of ascending and descending numbers and astrological images.

    By this time we'd digested our lunch sufficiently to visit the 'Due Torri' and climb the one tower that still stood intact. 498 steps later we reached the open air top, around which we could walk for views of the city below.

    We finally made our way back to the bus stop past tailors, art supply shops and grocers. We again appreciated being driven home as we watched the car driver behind talking on his phone. We've seen many Italian drivers with phones held to their ears. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for their propensity to gesticulate wildly with their 'free' hand!
    Read more

  • Day201

    Ravenna; mosaics, mosaics everywhere!

    January 13, 2017 in Italy

    Ravenna had a large car park with a stopover close to its old town. With 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites, it had been highlighted as the place to see ancient Roman and Byzantine mosaics so we grabbed a quick lunch in the van and set off to explore.

    We bought a combined card that allowed us entry to multiple sites, the first of which was the Basilica di San Vitale, a large church that was covered floor to ceiling with stunning mosaics and paintings. The ones on the walls and domed rooves depicting scenes and comprising of lustrous golds, blues and yellows that shone out in the light. The individual works of art were amazing, but all together, within a building whose construction was itself a work of art, the combined effect was breathtaking. We both thought this alone was worth the €19 we paid for the cards!

    Accross the gardens from the basilica stood three stone tombs within Galla Placidia mausoleum. Each was placed within an arched alcove, whose upper walls and semi cylindrical dome was again decorated with shining mosaic tiles.

    A bit stunned, we trekked accross Ravenna's cobbled streets to find the Arian Baptistry, a small building whose hemispherical ceiling had an incredible painting of Jesus' baptism with the twelve apostles. We were quite glad this was the only remarkable feature, because our senses were still overwhelmed by how much they'd taken in at the previous two sites. The art was beautiful in itself, but when you consider that it was created in the 6th century, making it about1500 years old, it was mind boggling!

    On our way back to the van we took a route via Dante's tomb, which was enclosed within a small 18th century building, created for the poet, who finished his Divine Comedy here, after he was exiled from Florence.

    Back at the van it began to rain, then sleet and then finally it began to snow! It laid a light covering on the ground but snow obviously wasn't a frequent occurrence in this region. We'd seen no grit bins or lorries and when the temperature dropped and black ice appeared, driving conditions became pretty hairy! Many drivers didn't seem to slow down and we spent the night listening to them skidding round the roundabout. There must have been a dozen who crashed into the high kerb at the side!

    Unlike last night's cars, the ice didn't seem to be going anywhere fast when we woke the next morning, so we decided to ignore the stopover's time limit of 24 hours and stay another night. We certainly had plenty of things to keep us occupied!

    The days activities included a visit to the beautifully decorated Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, whose main feature was its sparkling Byzantine mosaics, running the length of the 50m nave on both sides. The scenes on the right showed gift bearing male martyrs lined up to present Jesus with their offerings and on the left, women queued to present Mary with theirs. They looked in immaculate condition and were a feast for the eyes.

    Returning home for lunch, Will got something called a Piadina from the nearby takeaway food hut. It was a huge folded flatbread, that was warmed in a pizza oven and could be filled with most sandwich fillings. Once we had it in front of us we realised we had bought a pack of them at a supermarket a few weeks back, thinking they were fajitas. We'd been most disappointed when we tried to roll them and they'd crumbled!

    Reinvigorated after lunch we set out for the final time. In the 1990s the remains of a palace with 14 rooms had been discovered 3m below a church. Each had a mosaic floor from Byzantine times, the majority of which remained intact. It was named Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra (House of the stone carpets). Much of the floor displayed geometric patterns that Will loved mentally breaking down into their constituent parts. Some of it showed flowers but the memorable thing for Vicky is the image of the Dance of the 4 Seasons, depicted by 4 Spirits dancing in a circle to the music of pan pipes.

    Darkness had crept up on us while we'd been underground and the previously quiet town streets were bustling with people. We wound our way past them to the church of San Franceso that contained a waterlogged crypt. We descended the steps at the head of the nave and put a euro in a machine. The previously dark space before us was now floodlit and we could see the white stone columns rising from the submerged mosaic floor to support the low ceiling. As if it needed an additional feature, there were goldfish swimming around in the 5ft deep pool of water!

    Neither of us is religious and neither of us enjoy many museums, but there had been something captivating about seeing 1500 year old history in situe in the form of Ravenna's mosaics.
    Read more

  • Day196

    Modena & Rubiera

    January 8, 2017 in Italy

    Italy has most definitely earned its reputation for great food. After having visited San Daniele where reputedly the best prosciutto is made, then Treviso, the place tirimasù was invented, we were now getting to see the home of balsamic vinegar; Modena. We'd chosen to do a 'City Sunday' to avoid the crowds and make parking easier. The free car park was only a short walk through a large grassed area to the old town area where there was a beautiful Romanesque Cathedral we wanted to visit. Along the way we passed a market that was shutting up. We'd already got some Modena balsamic vinegar in the van so we'd taken the decision that if we saw it for sale in Modena we'd get some, but it was no biggie of we didn't. The majority of Italian markets we've encountered so far have been focussed on clothes and this one was no different, having only one food stall (with no vinegar!)

    Modena's old centre was small enough for us to explore in the afternoon and has a theme of pink and white marble running through it, from the pavements to the pillars, buildings and wall mosaics in the 12th century cathedral. Coming into the city, the surroundings felt strongly Italian. Despite the winter temperatures, buildings exuded the feeling of warmth with their rich yellow and orange walls and old wooden shutters, enhanced by curved window frames. The Sunday visit was just what we wanted as there were very few other people around and no sense of hurry to stop us soaking in a very relaxed atmosphere.

    Vicky does like a good tower and the cathedral's 86m high Torre Ghirlandina was our first pot of call. Vicky used her Italian to ask the receptionist for 2 tickets and after a short exchange the receptionist asked in Italian "Are you English?" "From Great Britain?" She seemed bemused, possibly wondering why we weren't speaking English to her, but to give her her due she didn't switch to English and Vicky was able to practice her interpretation skills.

    The tower had a few small rooms on the way up, the first of which had wall murals and a stary sky ceiling, from which hung a wood and metal bucket. The bucket was a replica of one stolen by the Modenese many centuries ago when they raided lands to the north. They took it as a war trophy and the original remains in the city museum to this day. The highest tower room was uncluttered and windows provided a decent view over the Italian city scape spreading out to the North, East, South and West. Unfortunately metal grills were fixed across the windows but they didn't obscure our sight too much.

    Standing beside the tower, Modena Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the inside certainly stood out from all the other cathedrals we'd visited. We're afraid photos weren't allowed but the large building was filled with many smaller sections, each of them richly and grandly decorated. Gold, rich orange, yellow and blue paints adorned the walls and ceilings in domed alcoves, albeit somewhat faded over the centuries. Modena's white and pink marble theme may have begun inside this place if worship, as smooth gargoyle ended banisters made of the same, led us up stairs. We wound our way round pillars to admire marble wall mosaics, huge candelabras and silver incense burners suspended above prayer areas. Dark wood and ancient murals added to the mix and left us spellbound.

    To finish off our city tour we enjoyed wandering the streets aimlessly for a while before setting off for the nearby stopover. We picked up a crate of oranges from a roadside stall along the way before arriving at a sports complex car park that was close to the Tetra Pak factory. We were happy to find the water flowing freely from the tap so topped up just in case the next source proved difficult to find. It was a peaceful night that dropped to -6°C and we enjoyed watching the small birds foraging in the leafless trees around the edge of the car park. We'd brought some seed with us from the UK, so left a little out for them before we went.
    Read more

  • Day198

    Bologna campsite

    January 10, 2017 in Italy

    Arriving at a campervan shop on the outskirts of Bologna, we were at least able to empty the van's waste at their attached services even though we couldn't fill with water due to the tap being frozen (are we beginning to sound like a broken record?)

    Our external light had broken a while back and we were happy to find an exact replacement. We also got a stronger, larger storage net to affix to the side of the seat near the back door. These two decisions were quick but our time was taken up over the issue of our water pump. It had been playing up for months by continuing to operate after we'd shut the taps off and it was getting worse. We'd been having to turn its power supply off after each use of the tap in order to stop it and save our precious batteries. There were new pumps available but they were a big outlay and Will reckoned the main issue was that the water pressure our pump operated at was too high for the system. He thought we needed a regulator and the shop had something called a 'Universal Expansion Tank' which, after some investigation, we found had an adjustable pressure. We wanted to consider everything before buying, so left to find the campsite which was quite close. It had electric hookup and hot showers, both of which Vicky was looking forward to.

    One tight 180° bend onto a gravel track and a sqeeze between houses later, we came to a dead end beside a closed metal gate with no turning area. Behind the gate was a back yard that looked as if it had probably been a 3 place stopover at some point in history, but certainly wasn't now. Returning to the shop with the intention of having lunch and investigating whether there was space to fit the expansion tank, we were told they'd be closing for lunch and locking the car park gates in 15 minutes, so we set off back towards Castel Maggiore. It was only by chance that we saw a sign for a campsite. It was a little steep at €25 a night but had a bus stop for Bologna, electric and hot showers and once we got past it's bleak looking brick bungalows we found a nice pitch among a border of trees and bushes that looked out over a field with chickens and polytunnels.

    At this point we'd given up on Bologna for the day but did return to the shop to buy the tank. Vicky's Italian was tested when we also needed 50cm of water pipe, a pipe connector and an electrical connector for fitting the light we'd bought earlier!
    Read more

  • Day289

    Pavullo nel Frignano woodland park

    April 11, 2017 in Italy

    We said goodbye to the region of Tuscany and re-entered Emilia Romagna, a region we'd passed through a couple of months previously when making our way down the East side of Italy. The SS12 road treated us to an amazing drive. There was never time to relax as the road was constantly turning this way and that, up and down mountainsides. We were relieved that the surface wasn't too rough and it stayed wide enough to pass other vehicles without needing passing places. Around us, mountains rose up as a young child might draw them, their spiky peaks unbelievably steep. A bright sun shone from behind tree lined ridges that curved smoothly between and joined these feats of nature. Some slopes were highlighted, others were in darkness, having turned their backs to the sun.

    Although wild camping is accepted in Italy, we like to use stopovers if places go to the effort of providing them. A disadvantage of doing this is that we often find ourselves in the outskirts of a town, surrounded by concrete. It was therefore with glee that we pulled in to the Pavullo nel Frignano free stopover. It was a woodland picnic area with a gravel car park big enough for roughly 8 vans. It was just the sort of place we like and even provided free electricity! Within the woods there were wild strawberries in flower, primrose, buttercup and cyclamen to name but a few. Jays and Jackdaws flew between the trees and Will spotted a Nuthatch with the binoculars. We even got to observe an Italian Wall Lizard rearing up to divert our attention from its baby, while it scuttled away into the nearest hole.

    We stayed two nights and took a wander through the managed forest to the town, where there were more formal gardens planted with patches of blooming tulips. It was a fantasticly refreshing stay.
    Read more

  • Day203

    Rimini

    January 15, 2017 in Italy

    Considering Italy has so much coastline, we'd not seen very much of it, so the next town we typed into the Sat Nav was the seaside resort of Rimini.

    With a reputation for being a party capital in summer, with an active prostitution scene to boot, it wasn't the sort of place we'd usually visit. Our early opinions weren't improved with advertisements for half a dozen different sex shops as we approached. It was becoming increasingly commercialised with amusement parks and a safari park, however the winter weather meant these activities had pretty much closed down and we were eventually able to park and have lunch with a sea view out of the van window.

    Poppy's improved health meant she could make it the 200m along the pavement, through the 'beach adventure playground' onto the open sand and down to the sea. Her eyes lit up, her tail began to wag and she galloped around looking for things to play with! There was a biting wind so we didn't stay out for long but it was wonderful to be at the seaside again!
    Read more

  • Day200

    Lugo

    January 12, 2017 in Italy

    Continuing southwards along the straight, flat roads, we passed a flock of about 5 peacocks at the roadside!

    Reaching Lugo we discovered it to be a town in an industrial area. Our free stopover was part of the car park of a local park and located at the end of a narrow road. It was good to be away from the business of the town and we enjoyed a relaxing walk through the park before darkness fell, passing a frozen lake with what we think were lilly pads stuck fast in the ice.Read more

  • Day18

    Bologna

    September 16 in Italy

    We decided on our way back to Venice that we would spend the afternoon in Bologna. Why not check out another town when you have the chance?? Well we didn’t stay for long. The place was not pleasant.

    We went for a walk from the train station towards some interesting ruins only to discover that they were not treated with any respect by the locals. They were covered in graffiti and rubbish and there were youths loitering, drinking and smoking, and just giving the place a bit of an sinister feel. There was some lovely looking fountains but they too were overgrown and vandalised.

    We decided we had seen enough, we were hot and tired, so we made a hasty retreat back to Venice earlier than planned. Bologna is not a place we would recommend but we did only see a small part of it.
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Emilia-Romagna, Emília-Romanya, Emilia-Romaña, Émilie-Romagne, 에밀리아로마냐 주

Join us:

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android

Sign up now