Along the Via Emilia!
A few years ago I was travelling through Italy along one of the ancient Roman roads when I thought that it would be fun to travel if from start to finish. Like many things this idea never took off but I see now that the region of Emilia Romagna has started a campaign to promote the Via Emilia, the Roman road running to Milanfrom Rimini, through the history-packed Piacenza area; stopping off in the picturesque towns and cities of Cesena, Faenza, Forlì, Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma along the way.
The Via Emilia can be likened to a necklace with an endless array of these unique “gems”. From the start to the end of the Via Emilia, travellers can expect to experience a series of diverse and unique itineraries, from exploring the home of the fast-car Ferrari brand in Modena to sampling Parmigiano Reggiano in its original birthplace in Reggio Emilia or Parma, visiting the oldest university in the world in Bologna, as well as appreciating UNESCO world heritage sights along the way.
The region is also renowned for its impressive cultural offerings; the acclaimed film director Federico Fellini was born in Rimini, which inspired some of his most famous films. The former home of classical musical maestro, Giuseppe Verdi, can be visited between Piacenza and Parma.
Today, the Via Emilia is also known as the Route SS 9 and is the perfect route to follow for a varied, relaxing and culture-packed journey through the art cities of the region, experiencing the very best of the Italian lifestyle along the way.
Eat like a local in Parma and Modena
Boasting 41 certified products using ancient Italian traditions passed from generation to generation, the Via Emilia takes visitors on a gastronomic journey through the artisan specialities of Emilia Romagna.
In Modena, guests can sample tangy traditional balsamic vinegar, aged in a wooden barrel for a minimum of 12 years, and pesto modenese, a rich pork spread of lard, garlic and rosemary. These are accompanied by the joyously bubbly red lambrusco in its authentic dry style.
Along the route, visitors can witness the creation of the pungent 36-month-old Parmigiano Reggiano in the cheese capital of Reggio Emilia or visit the local butcher in Parma for a slice of revered prosciutto ham, hung for nine months and stamped with the city’s ducal crown.
Absorb the culture of the art cities
Passing through the stunning landscape of Emilia Romagna, visitors can take the opportunity to stop off and absorb the splendour of numerous art cities along the Via Emilia route.
Culture aficionados will appreciate the half-marble façade of the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, the 13th century ceramic heritage of Faenza and the Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna. Each city boasts its own diverse characteristics and tells its history through stunning churches, castles and monuments.
For art lovers, the Parmeggiani Gallery in Reggio Emilia is home to an impressive collection of medieval treasures including ‘Il Cristo Benedicente’ by El Greco. A little further east, the Museums of San Domenico in Forlì are celebrating the elegance of the Belle Epoque period with an art nouveau exhibition running until June this year. Not to be missed is Ferrara with the splendour of Renaissance art at its very best.
Fuel your need for speed in the motor valley
Home to some of the world’s most revered motor brands (Ferrari, Ducati, Maserati and Lamborghini), the region of Emilia Romagna is a paradise for car enthusiasts and is commonly referred to as ‘The Motor Valley’. With 14 car museums, including the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari in Modena and one of the finest museum collections of Maseratis at the Museo Panini, there are plenty of ways for visitors to discover some of the best cars in the world, let alone Italy.
Appreciate the sandy beaches of Rimini
Visitors can bring their trip along the Via Emilia to a relaxing close at the Rimini and its Riviera, a traditional Italian seaside town with nine miles of golden sand, delicious street food and an abundance of Roman monuments in the scenic town centre.
Film buffs can walk in the footsteps of film director and Rimini native, Federico Fellini, visit his impressive tomb in the city cemetery and even stay in the elegant suite that he kept in the art nouveau Grand Hotel.