It’s been weeks since I returned from Emilia Romagna, Italy, and yet the travel experiences still roam around in my head! There is so much to share with you, but here are just a few reasons…the tip of the iceberg, really…that you will want to plan your own visit. Bologna, the major city here, is a destination worthy of several days, but the surrounding countryside is so breathtaking that you adventurous types will want to head for the mountains!
The biking is pretty epic…and you cannot drive on a Sunday in the Apennines without passing many cyclists of all shapes and sizes. One day we rode from our hotel to the National Park of Foreste Casentinesi (just a short road trip to the entrance from Hotel Miramonte at Aquapartita.) Our bikes were motor assisted mountain bikes, and what a blast it was! Mostly off-road, we trekked up the mountain on pavement, then gravel, then two-wheeler road, then pastures, closing gates behind us as we traveled. The downhill was exhilarating, to be sure! I was lucky to have another speed demon in my group who raced motocross back in the day, and we really enjoyed the descent (to the dismay of our guides…ha.) I can only imagine how wonderful the ski areas here are. There are 16 of them!
As we came out of the beautiful park and back onto country roads, a fun stop at a roadside cafe gave us a nice break. This was an abbreviated journey at about 24 miles or so in about 2.5 hours, as we had some inexperienced riders. You will be given the itinerary you desire according to your ability if you contact TrekkingItaly.net. Tell them I sent you, or allow me the pleasure of assisting in your planning! Monica and Riccardo will take excellent care of your group.
Hiking the region is fantastic as well. You will love the Alta Via trails which touch northern borders of Tuscany. Check out the link above which shows a map of the region. This may give you a better idea of the geography. It’s nearly 500 KM long, so plan to stay a while if you want to do it all! This from the link above, “This itinerary is home to breathtaking places capable of making visitors who walk it feel very adventuresome while looking out over the vast landscapes, the wild nature and the historic remains of ancient boarders. This trail is suitable for expert and curious hikers, but also to anyone who wants to experience some exhilaration.”
In my last blog I shared a bit about the spa waters in the part of Italy reportedly being therapeutic. We experienced several different spas during our stay. A memorable one was at the Helvetia Hotel in the lovely town of Porretta Terme, south of Bologna on the Tuscany border. The warm and inviting pool was under ground, with stone surrounding. During WWII, citizens often hid here to escape bombing. This spa also had treatment rooms, and I had a fabulously relaxing massage the evening after we arrived; what a lovely way to rid my body of the effects of flying. And I would think this a wonderful spot to choose if you want to hike and bike in the region, but still enjoy the convenience of the city for dining and shopping. The hotel was special.
Are you a castle lover? You won’t believe how many medieval and other castles are here! Courtesy of USA TODAY, here is an article describing many for you. We visited two: Montecucculo Castle, first built in the 12th century and now housing a museum of sorts, and the eclectic Rocchetta Mattei. The latter was most interesting to me, as the story of its last owner was rather strange. You’ll want to read about him, I believe!
The food and wine is, naturally, divine. Many of the foods produced in this region already have the European Union quality mark. Active foodies will love the Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Pancetta Piacentina, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, Asparago verde di Altedo, mushrooms, pears, rice from the Po Delta area, to name just a few of the famous foods.
Did you know the ER region is second only to Veneto in Italy wine making? The most prolific of the varietals are the Sangiovese and Lambrusco (already famous in ancient Roman times). The Sangiovese vine represents 11% of the country’s total vineyard area. If you have visited Italy, then you know…the wines are amazing. You will savor them, to be sure. My mouth is watering as I write this!
Don’t forget this region boasts many lovely seaside towns on the Adriatic Sea. Enjoy kayaking the waters in the Po Delta Wetlands for incredible birding. Party on the beaches of the resort town of Rimini. Take a fishing food safari up and down the coastline to all the towns in between!
And then there’s Motor Valley for all you lovers of machines with wheels that go very fast! There are museums for Ferrari, Ducati and Lamborghini. There are tracks where you can go fast. There are races to be seen, and Motor Shows that are world renowned. Do you have a “motor head” in your life who will be celebrating a milestone soon? What an amazing gift it would be to plan a vacation to Italy to feed their passion.
I don’t do this very often, but after returning home from this journey, I made the decision to lead an active group to Emilia Romagna in the next year or so. Fall of 2017 or late Spring of 2018. If you think you might enjoy experiencing the region with us, do reach out and I will include you in the planning! Stay tuned…When it’s a reality and ready to book, I will share on my website and on Facebook. Not connected there? My personal page is Bobbie Rae Murphy, and business page is Active Travel Pro. As always, I sure would love to hear from you. When can you go?