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Emilia Romagna Sightseeing

emilia romagna sightseeing

Emilia-Romagna sightseeing includes cities and towns that are the cultural center of Northern Italy. In the middle ages commerce and culture made it boom. Today the allure of Emilia Romagna sightseeing includes indulging in the food from its fertile plains, enjoying its enchanting scenery, marveling in its art and strolling its history laden cities.

Emilia Romagna is one of the richest, most developed regions in Europe. It has the third highest GDP per capita in Italy. The region has one of Italy’s highest quality of life indices and advanced social services. Emilia Romagna is the center for food and automobile production. It is home of automotive companies such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, De Tomaso and Ducati. 

Travelers to the Emilia Romagna enjoy its flavors and scents through its fine food cultivated from local farms located on its fertile plains. The region includes the finest Italian traditions including opera, fast cars, fine local culinary traditions, art, culture and beaches. It offers world class Italy vacation destinations.

For escorted tours that include Emilia Romagna click Italy tours that include Emilia Romagna.

For all tours to regions in Northern Italy click Northern Italy tours.

Emilia Romagna Location

emilia romagna map

Emilia Romagna is located in northern Italy.

Emilia Romagna stretches from the shores of the Adriatic Sea in the east to the west almost reaching the Liguria Sea.

Emilia Romagna’s southern border in the east is Marche. It borders Tuscany to its south. The southern border marks the separation between central Italy and northern Italy.

Emilia Romagna also touches Liguria to its south west.

The Lombardy and Veneto regions are located to Emilia Romagna’s north.

Emilia Romagna Travel Guide Video

To explore Emilia Romagna, and learn more about it’s culture and history, watch the Emilia Romagna sightseeing video below.

Emilia Romagna Travel Guide Map

Emilia Romagna is located in Northern Italy. The region spans from the Adriatic sea on the eastern coast of Italy west to Liguria. To its south are Tuscany, Umbria and Marche. To its north are Lombardy and Veneto.

Emilia Romagna Sightseeing Highlights

The region’s cities are treasured for their uniqueness.

Its main city is Bologna. Popular Romanesque and Renaissance cities include Ferrara, Modena, Parma, and Ravenna.

Riccione and Rimini are coastal beach resorts. The latter also famous for being the home of the Italian film maker Federico Fellini. It boasts the longest beach in all Europe.

All these cities contribute to making the Emilia Romagna an attractive Italy vacation destination.


emilia romagna parma food products

Bologna today is a university town with no shortage of things to do. Its founding dates back to 1000 B.C. when the Etruscans settled in the area. Over the past 3,000 years it has grown to be one of the most important and prosperous cities in Europe. The University of Bologna has the distinction of being one of the first universities in the world. Bologna is a destination with a world class culinary tradition. Its historic center dates back to the 15th century. Highlights include Neptune’s fountains, the seven churches, and its two towers. Its theater hosts an opera and concert season.


Ferrara is located on a branch of the Po River. It’s most notable building is the Castle Estense built by the House of Este when they ruled the city in the 13th century. Interestingly the moat and castle were built to protect the Este family from potentially angry citizens, not foreign invaders. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site because of its cultural importance.

ferrara sightseeing este castle

Ferrara is surrounded by Renaissance walls rivaled only by Lucca’s walls. It is a perfectly preserved medieval and early Renaissance City. A big boulevard divides the medieval side from the Renaissance side. The Castle Estense sits in the middle of this boulevard. Far off Italy’s tourist track, it is a lovely city to stroll and enjoy the authentic local northern Italian flavor.

San Giorgio Cathedral was built in the 12th century. Its facade is a mix of architectural styles, which points to the period when it is constructed. Toward the bottom the facade is Romanesque, which was the style in the 1100s when construction began. As it progresses upward the architectural style changes to Gothic, which reflects when it was completed in the 1500s. The campanile, the bell tower, is clearly Renaissance style and made of pink and whit marble like you’ll find around Tuscany. The Cathedral has shops built into it, which have been used since Medieval times. The Cathedral Museum is worth a visit.

The Italian Renaissance period blossomed in Ferrara. The humanist concept of the ‘ideal city’ came to life here in the neighborhoods built from 1492 onwards by Biagio Rossetti. Town planning restrictions were enacted making Ferrara’s growth from small town to city uniform. Ferrara was an intellectual and artistic center that attracted the greatest minds of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries. Inside the Este Palace there are important paintings that demonstrate the early use of perspective. Here, Piero della Francesca, Jacopo Bellini and Andrea Mantegna decorated the palaces of the House of Este.  During the Renaissance music also flourished in Ferrara.  The town celebrates its contributions to this period with festivals and by preserving the important cultural history of Ferrara.

Another museum worth the visit is the Palazzo di Ludovico il Moro, it was actually commissioned by nobleman, Antonio Costabili, so it is also known as Palazzo Costabili. This beautiful 15th-century Renaissance palace with a courtyard and frescoes that are early examples of trompe-l’oeil (“fool the eye”) painting. This museum includes fabulous artifacts that date back to the Etruscan era. Etruscan jewelry and vases with scenes depicting daily life are the highlight of the collection.


Italy’s Modena in the Emilia Romagna region immediately conjures the finest Made in Italy products. Modena is the home of Ferrari, Maserati and Ducati. Its culinary history is famous and maybe best known outside the country for its Balsamic vinegar. Modena is famous for its favorite son Pavarotti.

Modena’s historic center, Piazza Grande, include the Romanesque Cathedral and the Ghirlandina Tower. The center was declared a heritage site by UNESCO in 1997.

The Cathedral is a UNESCO world heritage site and masterpiece of Romanesque art.

Don’t miss its fresh market located around the corner from the Duomo which is full of the aromas and colors of fresh local food.

Modena is also famous for its many churches – such as St. Vincent, St. Augustine, St. Charles and St. Peter – and its civic monuments, like the Ducal Palace and the Town Hall.


Parma is located in the Emilia Romagna region on the banks of the Po River. It is a charming town with a rich cultural history. 

Strolling through the elegant streets of Parma you have to use your imagination to conjure up in your mind the violence that took place among various powers throughout its history that vied for supremacy.

The Romans settled Parma in 183 B.C.  Right under Piazza Garibaldi (left) are the original ancient Roman pathways. The Barbarians sacked Parma many times.

During World War II the allies bombed Parma. The bombs hit many of Parma’s treasures like the Palazzo della Pilota and Teatro Farnese.

Parma’s Duomo is an architectural masterpiece. The Reggio Theater is known for being one of the finest to see and hear opera. Parma is also famous for its food production. It is the home of Barilla pasta. Parma is also famous for its prosciutto and parmigiano. Authentic Parmigiana Reggianio produced in Parma is authentic. Likewise, Prosciutto di Parma produced in Parma is authentic. The annual Giuseppe Verdi Opera festival in Parma is a cultural highlight and attracts opera lovers from all over the world.

Italy’s great composers Verdi and Toscanini were both from Parma. Parma’s annual Verdi Opera Festival celebrates these sons of Parma. Teatro Reggia and Teatro Farnese are two beautiful theaters in Parma to enjoy opera. Also from Parma were the great Italian artists Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola), Correggio, and Fra Angelico.

Parma Sightseeing Highlights


Parma’s Theaters – Teatro Farnese & Teatro Reggia

Piazza Garibaldi

Piazza della Pace

Strada Cavour


Ravenna is the location of eight early Christian monuments that today are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Ravenna was the Capital of the Western Roman Empire from 402 to 476. Then in 554 under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian it was the Capital of the Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire.

The sites are notable because of the exquisite mosaics that date back to the Emperor Justinian. All the mosaics date back to the 6th century. Today they are among the world’s great artistic treasures. They are finest example of Byzantine mosaics. For more information about these sites click the link below:

Ravenna Video


Rimini is famous for its wide beach on Italy’s Adriatic coast. Given its location south of Venice and east of Florence, and close to other cities in the Emilia Romagna region, it is an ideal Italy summer vacation destination. From Rimini Northern Italy sightseeing highlights are within day trip distance.

Families visiting in Italy during the summer can stay in Rimini allowing for beach time and easy access to some of Italy’s finest sightseeing in Northern Italy.

Escorted Italy Tours that Include Emilia Romagna

For more information about touring Italy check out our Italy travel guide.

For tours to Northern Italy including Emilia Romagna destinations click here.

Emilia Romagna Food and Wine

Emilia Romagna is renown worldwide for its food production. The food and wine is typically an integral part of Emilia Romagna sightseeing. Emilia Romagna’s primary cities are also culinary world capitals. The region is the home of consumer product brands Barilla and Parmalat.

The Emilia Romagna soil is very fertile. All the seasons are notable for specific vegetables. Be it winter, spring, summer, or autumn there are locally grown seasonal ingredients to be found. Local fruits are used to add natural sweetness to the region’s dishes.

Its capital Bologna is famous for its specialties consisting of egg-based pasta, rich meat sauce, flavorful meat broth, and cured meat resulting in the famous dishes: Mortadella di Bologna. Lasagna. Tortellini.

Prosciutto di Parma

On the farms outside Parma where the mountain air is sweet, dry and aromatic, heritage pigs are raised. Their hind legs become the famous Prosciutto di Parma. The farms and the drying process unique to this region results in this world famous prosciutto renowned for its delicate and sweet flavor. The basic elements include time, sea salt, and the climate. The process dates back to the ancient Romans.


Also in Parma you’ll find the king of all cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano. This is one of the oldest cheeses in the world dating back to the 12th century.

Only raw milk from Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantua, and Bologna may be used, and the cheese must be made there, too.

The cows have to have only been eating grass or hay. Even packaging and pre-grating must be done in the area of origin to still be labeled as Parmigiano Reggiano.

Balsamic Vinegar

Modena and Reggio Emilia are famous for balsamic vinegar production. There are three protected balsamic vinegars: Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena), Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia DOP (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia), and Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP (Balsamic Vinegar of Modena).

True balsamic vinegar is made from a reduction of pressed Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes.

The resulting thick syrup, called mosto cotto in Italian, is subsequently aged for a minimum of 12 years in a battery of several barrels of successively smaller sizes. The casks are made of different woods like chestnut, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash and juniper.

True balsamic vinegar is rich, glossy, deep brown in color, and has a complex flavor that balances the natural sweet and sour elements of the cooked grape juice with hints of wood from the casks.

Emilia Romagna Travel Facts

Why travel to the Emilia Romagna region?

The Emilia Romagna region boasts world class cultural destinations Bologna, Ferrara, Modena, and Parma. Their cultural and culinary history are among the finest in the world. Moreover the towns are charming making them worthy of a visit during a Northern Italy vacation. It’s Adriatic beaches from Rimini to Riccione are popular summertime destinations.

Where is the Emilia Romagna region located?

Emilia Romagna is located in Northern Italy. It is a wide region stretching from just about the Ligurian Sea in the west all the way across the Italic peninsula to the Adriatic Sea on Italy’s east coast. It is located north of Tuscany. Its capital Bologna is 50 miles from Tuscany’s capital Florence. Bologna is 125 miles from Lombardy’s capital Milan. Bologna is 95 miles from Venice.

How do you travel to the Emilia Romagna region?

Bologna airport has flights from other European countries and Italian cities. Furthermore, at times there are flights from the United States to Bologna. Bologna Centrale train station is along the main Italian train line between Florence and Venice and Milan and Florence. The fast train from Florence Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station to Bologna Centrale takes 40 minutes. The fast train from Milan Centrale to Bologna Centrale takes 1 hour 10 minutes. The fast train from Venice Santa Lucia to Bologna takes 1 hours 30 minutes.

What are the top sightseeing attractions in the Emilia Romagna region?

Travelers interested in food and Italy’s culinary tradition will find much to see in the Emilia Romagna region. Parma is the origin of Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano. Modena is the home of Balsamic vinegar. And Bologna is well known for its various foods and pastas. Car lovers are drawn to the automotive factories including Ferrari, Maserati, Pagani, Ducati all manufactured in Emilia Romagna. Ravenna is known for its Byzantine Mosaics.