Boats on the Leonardesque Canal Port in Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna

Things to do in  Emilia-Romagna

Historic cities and futuristic cars

Home to Italy’s Food Valley and Motor Valley, Emilia-Romagna attracts gourmands and gearheads from across the globe. Come hungry to this northern region to fully appreciate food tours showing how Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto di Parma, and balsamic vinegar are made. Then, take a sharp turn into the world of Ferrari and Maserati cars. Emilia-Romagna offers more than just endless feasting and high-octane thrills: Its handsome cities are home to world-class art and architecture, glorious opera traditions, and some of Italy's most welcoming people.

Top 15 attractions in Emilia-Romagna

Ferrari Museum (Museo Ferrari)

The most evocative name in Italian sports cars is Ferrari, and this dedicated museum in Maranello, Italy, focuses on the auto manufacturer’s history and production. It features 25 cars, including road cars and prototypes, a section devoted to the historic Formula 1 racing team, and fascinating automotive artifacts and memorabilia.More

Parmesan Cheese Museum (Museo del Parmigiano Reggiano)

Parmesan cheese, officially known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, has been handcrafted in a specific area between the northern provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia for centuries. Learn about the history and production of this famously sharp aged cheese, one of the pillars of Italian cuisine, at this small museum just outside of Parma.More

Basilica of San Vitale (Basilica di San Vitale)

Ravenna is known for its Byzantine mosaics, considered among the finest in the world. The most magnificent cover the interiors of the UNESCO-listed San Vitale Basilica with a show-stopping explosion of glittering gold, eye-popping color, and intricate compositions that remain glorious despite the passage of 1,500 years.More

Bologna Piazza Maggiore

Bologna’s most important square, Piazza Maggiore, is lined by elegant medieval and Renaissance palaces. Today, you can enjoy views of the Basilica di San Petronio and the Fountain of Neptune from the bustling café tables beneath their porticoes, or enjoy the square as part of a food tour or sightseeing tour.More

Bologna University Quarter

Bologna is home to the oldest university in Europe, and the city owes much of its youthful vibrancy and thriving cultural life to the formidable student population, concentrated in the lively University Quarter. Tour this area to discover its cache of cafes and clubs, along with fascinating historic museums and university buildings.More

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia (Mausoleo di Galla Placidia)

UNESCO-listed along with other glorious Byzantine mosaic masterpieces in Ravenna, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is a testament to the short period when the city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. Its vaulted interior glitters with mosaics dating from around AD 430, among the oldest in the city.More

Lamborghini Museum (Museo Lamborghini)

The Lamborghini Museum (Museo Lamborghini) is a tribute to the passion and life’s work of founder Ferruccio Lamborghini. It showcases Italy’s most famous luxury vehicles in a journey through the past, present, and future of the coveted car brand.More

Two Towers (Due Torri)

More than 100 towers pierced the sky above Bologna in the Middle Ages, but only 20 still stand today. The most famous are the city center’s Two Towers (Due Torri), which lean at a gravity-defying angle that rivals Pisa’s Leaning Tower. Climb to the top of the taller one for fabulous views over the city and surrounding countryside.More

San Petronio Basilica (Basilica di San Petronio)

Dedicated to the fifth-century bishop Petronius, who became Bologna’s patron saint, the San Petronio Basilica (Basilica di San Petronio) dominates Piazza Maggiore in the heart of the city. One of the largest churches in the world and a soaring example of Gothic grandeur, the basilica Is a highlight of any Bologna city tour.More

Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio (Teatro Anatomico dell'Archiginnasio)

Bologna is home to the world’s oldest university, and one of the city’s most remarkable sights is part of the university’s medical school: the 17th-century Anatomical Theater in Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio. Visit this richly paneled and decorated hall to see where students once heard lectures and observed surgical procedures.More

Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (Santuario della Madonna di San Luca)

Perched on Colle della Guardia 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) southwest of Bologna’s historic center, the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (Santuario della Madonna di San Luca) was built to house a Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary. Its portico, running from the city’s Porta Saragozza to the hilltop sanctuary, is the longest covered arcade in the world.More

Ducati Museum (Museo Ducati)

Emilia-Romagna’s Motor Valley is legendary among fans of luxury Italian cars and motorcycles, and the Ducati Museum (Museo Ducati) is one of the area’s most impressive attractions. Housed in the Ducati factory headquarters outside of Bologna, this museum is a must for motorcycle enthusiasts.More

Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno)

Giambologna’s 16th-century Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno), also known as Il Zigànt, or The Giant, is one of the most famous landmarks in Bologna. A bronze Neptune stands watch from atop the ornate Renaissance fountain in Piazza Maggiore, a popular and picturesque gathering spot for locals and visitors.More

Este Castle (Castello Estense)

A medieval gem in the UNESCO-listed Renaissance art city of Ferrara, the Estense Castle (Castello Estense ticks all the right boxes, with towers, dungeons, a moat and drawbridge, and the restored and renovated royal suites to explore. The most impressive sight in the city, this colossal castle is a must-see when visiting Ferrara.More

Enzo Ferrari Museum (Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari)

In the center of Modena, a historical brick factory building is dwarfed by the adjacent contemporary glass-and-steel hangar topped with a bright yellow car hood–shaped roof. Together, these two structures and their contents tell the story of Enzo Ferrari, race car driver and founder of one of the most famous car brands in the world.More

Top activities in Emilia-Romagna

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All about Emilia-Romagna

When to visit

The porticoed cities in Emilia-Romagna make exploring easy in all seasons, though expect cold and damp winter days in Bologna, Parma, Modena, and Ravenna. The region comes to life in spring when its famous outdoor dining and imbibing scene picks up after winter. Sidewalk restaurants and cafés buzz with patrons, and open-air music and cultural festivals take over the squares.

Getting around

The main inland and coastal cities in Emilia-Romagna are well connected by the regional train network, and you can travel between the top destinations quickly and cheaply. The cities are all fairly compact and easy to get around on foot, though the region is known for its excellent local bus services. To explore the countryside and smaller villages that are not along the train lines, you’ll need to rent a car.

Traveler tips

Emilia-Romagna is home to Osteria Francescana, celebrity chef Massimo Bottura’s flagship gourmet outpost. The waiting list for a table stretches for months, but there are alternatives run by Bottura that often have availability with a shorter lead time. Try the bistro-style Franceschetta58 in Modena, Osteria Francescana at Maria Luigia in the Modenese countryside, or the storied Cavallino, located opposite the Ferrari factory in Maranello—it once served as the unofficial canteen for everyone from factory workers to Enzo Ferrari.

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CET (UTC +1)
Country Code

People Also Ask

What is Emilia-Romagna known for?

This northern Italy region is synonymous with fab food and fast cars. Specialties that hail from these hills include Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, prosciutto di Parma ham, balsamico from Modena, and Lambrusco wine. It's also where some top Italian sports car brands are based, including Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini—with open-to-the-public factory museums.

What is Emilia-Romagna’s most famous dish?

In addition to its iconic cheese, ham, balsamic vinegar, and sparkling wine, Emilia-Romagna is the epicenter of Italy’s fresh pasta. Tuck into plates of ribbon-like tagliatelle tossed in a meaty ragu (known as Bolognese elsewhere), bite-sized tortellini stuffed with aromatic ground pork, and fat cappellacci filled with pumpkin and ricotta.

Is Emilia-Romagna beautiful?

Yes, Emilia-Romagna has pretty historic cities and rolling countryside. Gems like Bologna, Modena, Parma, and Ravenna offer endless porticoes, handsome churches, and photogenic squares. The surrounding Emilian hills are covered in vineyards and lush woods, with medieval towns scattered across their expanse. To the east, there's the scenic Romagnolo coastline.

Is Emilia-Romagna worth visiting?

Yes, with incredible food, iconic automobile museums, scenic countryside, and some of Italy’s top beach destinations, Emilia-Romagna is worth a visit. The cities have enough cultural gems to keep you busy without attracting hordes of tourists, and the residents of Emilia-Romagna are famous for their warm and authentic hospitality.

Is Emilia-Romagna part of Tuscany?

No, Emilia-Romagna is a separate region north of Tuscany. It stretches west from the Adriatic Sea to Liguria, just short of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It shares a border with Lombardy, Piedmont, and Veneto to the north and—in addition to Tuscany—Le Marche and the Republic of San Marino to the south.

What cars are produced in Emilia-Romagna?

Most of Italy’s famous sports car manufacturers hail from the stretch of Emilia-Romagna between Modena and Bologna known as Motor Valley. Think Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Pagani, and even the iconic Ducati motorcycles. You can visit museums for each, and some open their factories for guided tours.

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