The eastern Emilia Romagna is just off the traveler's radar. That's odd, because some very compelling travel destinations are to be discovered here. Visit great castles, buy some of the world's great ceramics, and eat well on this itinerary.
Here's the cities I'd visit first in the eastern Emilia Romagna. They're all connected by trains, the thick, solid lines indicate the main train lines and the dashed lines the secondary, and slower, trains. Distances are short, however. Faenza is just 50 km southeast of Bologna.
This is the big city that everyone forgets. You won't forget the food, or the twin medieval towers that hover precariously over the centro storico
. The markets are in the center of town and are quite lively. It's a university town where you can eat cheaply and well, but you can also dole out for some pretty fine gourmet chow.
From Bologna you can head west on the train for the city of Parma and on to Milan.
Here's the best town you've never heard of to visit. See the fortress Rocca Manfrediana, the Clock Tower and the Monticino Sanctuary, then head over to the Albergo Ristorante Gigiole for a lesson in the local cooking of the region. Too much? There are spas here to help you with whatever ails you without taking pills. And if you go in summer, there's a three week long medieval festival.
Ravenna offers the visitor a unique look at religious mosaic arts from the 5th and 6th centuries. Dante's tomb is here. In fact, Ravenna has eight UNESCO world heritage sites in all, yet it's not exactly on the tourists radar.
Ravenna can be "done" on a long day trip, but it's probably best to stay the night to see everything ravenna has to offer.
You probably don't know the ancient city of Faenza, but you might have heard of "faience," a type of tin glazed earthenware pottery also known as majolica, for which the city is known. Just a short train or car ride from Brisighella, Faenza has lots of art, including a museum for the pottery that found its way across all of Europe.
Faenza is of Roman and Etruscan origin. The Piazza del Popolo is quite grand, as you can see in the picture. Faenza is worth a day trip from any of the nearby towns, especially for the tourist interested in purchasing some fine and unique pottery from the many workshops in town.
Ferrara is a walled Renaissance city with lots of great examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. You can do it as a day trip, but, as with Ravenna, it's better to stay the night.
From Ferrara, you can head north on the train for Venice if you wish to continue the itinerary.
Time for a break in your cultural travels? Rimini is a popular seaside resort town, one of the largest in Europe. The town, which dates from 368 BC, is enjoying a resurgence in popularity these days, and is known as the Italian nightlife capital. Federico Fellini came from Rimini.