Writing about interesting travel experiences is a job that I do not take for granted. Being your Active Travel Pro comes with responsibilities that I take very seriously! One of these is sharing my adventures with you so that you might imagine yourself in a far off land, immersing yourself in the culture and fully enjoying the nature. Emilia Romagna is a region of Italy that retains its authenticity, has beautiful mountains, valleys and an incredible ancient historical significance, and the foodie in you will be blown away by the wonderful regional cuisine.
My first visit in 2016 was guided aptly by the owners of TrekkingEmiliaRomagna.com. They also can be found with the URL https://deluxeitaly.eu/. The couple who own the company, Monica and Riccardo, specialize in active holidays, and I used their expertise to put together a trip for 8 ladies: a five night active foodie experience in the region. (See my previous blog about Bologna for ideas on how to enjoy this lovely city). We loved every minute of our journey. Here’s just a brief glimpse of our two night stay in the small city of Poretta Terme in the Apennine Mountains south of Bologna. The only complaint that I heard from my guests was that we didn’t stay long enough.
Our small group had the luxury of private guides and drivers during our visit, and we certainly felt special and well taken care of. You would have marveled at the luggage engineering of our personable and skilled driver as we piled in the van for a tour of a castle/museum dedicated to the veterans of World War II, closely followed by a lovely hike on the mountain top of Mt. Belvedere, exploring some of the trenches from the war. We had a beautiful lunch with wine at picnic tables in the woods served by our charming (and talented!) Italian mother and daughter duo. Our hiking guide, Stefano, was equally charming and as knowledgeable as he could be.
The Helvezia Thermal Spa hotel in the lovely town of Poretta Terme, located near the northern border of Tuscany, welcomed us that afternoon with a lovely soak in the mineral salt waters of their beautiful underground warm water pool. The spa is complete with two saunas and a steam room, a nice dark cave, complete with soothing running water sounds. Four of the ladies also enjoyed a massage treatment during our stay and all of them raved about the experience.
Dinner in the beautiful dining room is included in your hotel stay and the meal and service was spectacular! It was extra fun for our ladies group to have my clients and friends, Diane and Jimmy from LA, join us for dinners in both Bologna and Poretta Terme. They mirrored our itinerary but with private tours. We all enjoyed the comfortable beds to soothe our aching muscles and to prepare us for the motor-assisted biking we would do the following morning.
The biking was perhaps what I most looked forward to and enjoyed during our travels here. Our private guide fitted our bikes and off we went up the mountain road towards Tuscany and across the border (although, sadly, three of my guests opted out). It was a challenge for some, as they don’t have the same “need for speed” as I. And yet all completed the road trip well and felt an amazing sense of accomplishment afterwards! And it certainly served to burn off some of that Italian yummyness from our expanding bellies. Grin. We enjoyed a rest in the garden of a lovely little shop for a quick bite on the way up. We were treated to a sack lunch by the hotel as we left in the morning, and the owner of the shop found for us some wonderful fresh and delicious chestnuts to enjoy!
It was interesting to us as we passed a couple of old stone structures along the side of the road. Our guide shared that these were put there long ago by the Roman government as toll collection buildings. They are not used any longer, but they used to have to “pay the Pope”, as it were.
Our final meal in Poretta was at the lovely Trattoria Toscana. This family owned restaurant was literally just a few doors from our hotel, and they reserved a wonderful table for our family-style dinner. This was our last all together, and we loved it! Two of the ladies were heading to Venice, and our group of 6 was traveling by rail to Florence the next morning for three nights. More about those adventures at a later date!
The location of this mountain escape makes it a perfect stop for you if you are including Florence, Venice, and/or Rome in your visit to Italy. The hustle and the bustle of the big city can be left behind, and the train station is just steps from the door of the Helvezia. There is no need for a taxi here. Picture it as your own much deserved break from the miles of walking you will undoubtedly do during your next trip to Italy. I know you will enjoy it as much as we did. I would truly be honored to assist you in your planning.