Romagna, amongst Albana and Sangiovese

logo_discoveritaliaAfter Bologna, the Apennines follow a diagonal line south ever closer to the line of the Via Emilia and the Romagnan coast. From Imola onwards, the view to the right consists of hills dotted with vineyards and villages. This is the land of the wines of Romagna, DOCG Albana and DOC Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Pagadebit and Cagnina. Stops on the tour have names that are not only associated with wine: the castle at Dozza, for example, and the spa towns of Castrocaro and Riolo, or the ceramics centre at Faenza.


The gateway to Romagna is at the point where the Via Emilia crosses the Santerno river. Like the other towns of Roman origin on the Via Emilia, Imola too has a centre laid out in a rectangle around which public buildings were constructed in the Middle Ages. In the Renaissance, while it had various rulers, the town acquired a new appearance and new fortifications based on plans by Leonardo da Vinci. Imola still has its medieval fortress, rebuilt in 1472, one of the most important and best-preserved in the region. Imola is famous as one of the main hotbeds of Socialism in Italy, and for having the first post-war communist town council, but today is best known for its motor-racing circuit.

Riolo Terme

This medieval spa is half-way along the valley of the Senio, the river that reaches the plain halfway between Faenza and Imola and in 1945 formed the final front of the war in Italy. Today Riolo is very popular for the curative powers of its waters and as a holiday resort. It is still dominated by the old town with its square medieval fortress in which Masino della Colla and Caterina Sforza lived, now a museum.


This is a spa in the lower valley of the Lamone river in the Apennines behind Faenza. It is dominated by two fortifications, the Clock Tower (13th c.), and the fortress, built in 1310 by Francesco Manfredi. This little medieval town has a rich history and is situated in a particularly attractive landscape of rocks, farmland and hamlets. In June and July there are popular medieval festivals combining culture and gastronomy.


This city, which gave its name to the type of ceramic known as faïence, was founded by the Romans at the point where the Via Emilia crosses the Lamone river. After a period of communal government it was for a long time governed by the Manfredi family, who developed close ties with Florence until, in 1509, it was ceded to the Papal State. After that the name of Faenza became famous throughout Europe thanks to its ceramics. In the 18th c. the city acquired fine buildings and street furniture inspired by the new secular and progressive ideals of neo-classicism, which changed its Renaissance appearance substantially. However the beautiful central squares remain with their fine medieval and Renaissance buildings, and the 15th-c. cathedral which houses the splendid tomb of Saint Savino, the work by Benedetto da Maiano, who was the nephew of the cathedral’s architect, Giuliano da Maiano. The extensive collections of the International Museum of Ceramics are housed in the former monastery of Saint Maglorio.


This little old medieval town is located between Forlì and Cesena and is famous for its view over the Romagna plain and for its wine (Albana). It is still partly enclosed within the walls built by Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503) and for a long time was fought over by the Guelphs, who supported the Pope, and the Ghibellines, who supported the Holy Roman Emperor. In the centre it is still possible to see the 16th-c. cathedral, the town hall and the much-altered fortress in which Barbarossa stayed in 1177. Of considerable interest is the Colonna dell’Ospitalità o dell’Anella (Hospitality or Ring Column), erected in the 13th c. to put an end to the contests of generosity amongst the noble families of the area towards strangers who, in order to be put up for the night, had only to tie their horse to one of the rings on the columns corresponding to one of the noble families. Every year this old tradition is commemorated with a festival on 1 September


Formaggio di fossa Piadina
Formaggio di fossa is made at Sogliano al Rubicone and at Talamello, two hillside towns in the hinterland of Rimini. It consists of caciotta cheese made from summer mountain-pasture cow’s milk taken from animals grazing on fresh grass and herbs. The resulting cheeses are wrapped in jute bags and buried about 3 metres deep in tufaceous rock holes about 2 metres in diameter and 80cms at their widest. When the holes are full they are sealed hermetically, only to be opened again on 25th November, Saint Catherine’s Day. Whilst sealed in the cheeses continue to ferment, quickly eating up the little remaining oxygen, before maturing in practically anaerobic conditions without degrading. This is the same principle as was used by the ancient Egyptians with their corn silos. Excellent thinly sliced over carpaccio or in salads, and grated on risottos or pasta dishes. Can also be enjoyed as a dessert cheese eaten with honey or dried fruits. To be found in a thousend and one road-side stalls from Ravenna to Rimini. It has been estimated that about 30 million piadine are eaten by tourists every summer. A simple disk of flat bread, about 25cms in diameter made with flour, water, a little bicarbonate of soda, salt and lard. Cooked on a iron plate. The piadina was known to the Romans and has distinct similarities to soft, thin Middle Eastern breads. Served hot in slices. Good with salami, sliced meats, pecorino cheese and truffles, rocket and creamed porcini mushrooms, and most all, with squacquarone.
Olio di Brisighella Scalogno di Romagna IGP
The olive groves of Brisighella produce one of the rarest and finest olive oils in Italy. Stylistically, it is a perfect compromise between the often slightly aggressive aromaticity of green Umbrian or Tuscan olive oil and the elegant lightness of Ligurian or Lake Garda olive oil. The oil comes in two different types: “Brisighello”, pressed from eponymously-named olives of local origin; and the most exclusive of all, “Nobildrupa”, pressed from olives well known for their excellent quality and low yield. Olio di Brisighella is such a fine oil that it is used exclusively to dress salads and delicate foods. A typical product of the Riolo Terme region that has been granted IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) status. The scalogno (scallion - American English; shallot - British English), derives its name from its place of origin, the town of Ashkalon in Palestine, whence it arrived in Europe after the Crusades. The French adopted it readily, pounding it with butter in a mortar to produce a sauce to go with grilled meat or fish. Riolo Terme holds a Scallion Fair in July every year to find new culinary uses for its famous product. Used in salads and in soffritto preparations (the onion-based start of many cooked dishes) instead of onions or garlic.
Cow’s milk cheese with a soft texture, creamy and buttery on the palate. Made all over Romagna. Fresh and mild tasting, similar to the Lombard stracchino cheese. Can be eaten on its own, but best with hot piadina flat-bread.


The extremely ancient tradition of wine-culture in Emilia-Romagna was proven in 1878 by the discovery of a large silver goblet dating back to the Roman Empire. Upon it were carved the words "Gutturnium", the original Latin name for the wine of this region: Gutturnio. Today, Emilia-Romagna is one the largest wine producing regions in Italy: from the hills at the feet of the Appennini mountains to the plains of the Po river and all along the Adriatic coast, the landscape is dominated by vineyards. Here, the tradition of wine and gastronomy enjoy a perfect marriage: good food and good company are the constant daily fare of the inhabitants of Emilia-Romagna. Between Bologna and Rimini lies the Romagna zone: intensely cultivated with vineyards, the most commonly grown grape is the red Sangiovese. This zone is also the patria of the first Italian white wine to obtain the status of D.O.C.: Albana di Romagna. It is grown from an autoctono vine of the same name, and is descended from a wine produced by the ancient Romans, it can be dry, amabile, sweet or passito.

If you would like to prepare a lunch or dinner reminiscent of the area, click here to purchase wines carefully selected by our experts.


Trattoria di Strada Casale (tel. +39-054688054) at Strada Casale, near Brisighella, deserves a stop. There is a great quality-price ratio and the menu changes everyday according to what’s available. It also has a good wine menu. In Imola we recommend Osteria del Vicolo Nuovo (tel. +39-0454232552) where you can take advantage of a vast choice of wines from the region and try the dishes prepared by an all female staff: Sangiovese rabbit, spelt soup, radicchio with prosciutto and much more. For an overnight stay, we recommend the hotel Al Vecchio Convento (tel. +39-0543967053) – [At the Old Convent] in Portico di Romagna. As the name says, it was obtained from a convent towards the end of the 1800s. It has comfortable rooms and is furnished with great taste. A good place to go in Bertinoro is the Fattoria Paradiso (tel. +39-0543445044), few well-taken care of rooms and an excellent stock of vintage wines.