Emilia Romagna contains two really different personalities coming from separate historical events. Romagna on one side, outstretched towards the sea, was the last defence against the northern papal possessions, a land of vegetables and fruit cultivations, of goats and sheeps-farming. Emilia on the other side, deeply rooted in its land, whose culture is soaked with Celtic and Longobard traditions, engaged in pigs and cattle-breeding.
From Piacenza, Bologna and Ferrara, the provinces and their chief towns look like soldiers lined up along the main communication road, Via Emilia. Reggio Emilia is the barycentre of this area, producing the largest number of high quality typical goods in Italy and Europe, certified Dogc, Doc, Dop, Igp, Igt. The towns have been the seat of important dukedoms and today still give an opportunity for their exploration.
From Reggio Emilia one can reach Modena (25 km), Parma (30 km) and Mantova (45 km) in less than one hour. Mantova is Lombard but with an Emilian soul.
Parma. Architecture, strong and simple taste, warm behaviour testify the strenght and history of this town. The medieval monuments by Antelami and the paintings by Correggio are significant features. Parma is known for opera singing, for its refined culture and for having been a dukedom for three centuries before the Italian Unification, belonged to Farnese and Borbone families and, for a short time, to “our” Maria Luigia, Napoleon’s wife, who gave Parma the lifestyle of a little european capital. It’s a town of aristocratic traditions and birthplace of musicians like Toscanini and Verdi, its city centre boasts relevant monuments from romanic to Art Noveau style like the bishop’s palace, the 11th century Cathedral and baptistry, the Regio theatre, Pilotta palace and Farnese theatre, and many others.
Modena. “The immense horizon is interrupted, on the west, by Modena towers only”: Stendhal admires the landscape of Bologna hills. From the town hall rises the Clock Tower, but it is almost hidden by the 88 mt of the Ghirlandina bell tower, former war sighting tower. In the ancient hearth of Modena, on one side of the Cathedral, the Po valley romanic masterpiece by Lanfranco and Wiligelmo, the curvy medieval streets along houses and arcades, on the other side the Estensi geometric roads. Modena has been Este dukedom capital for two and a half centuries, after the loss of Ferrara in 1598. The sparkling lambrusco, tortellini, zampone and the motor sport tradition represented by the red Ferrari cars, give their contribution to Modena’s role.
Mantova. The Mincio river slowly flows around the city, enlarging in three lakes separated by Molini and S.Giorgio bridges that allows the only land entrance to the town, otherwise one can arrive by water mirroring its profile, surrounded by the low Po valley. The big river is only 12 km far. The urban net of quiet streets is intensely wrapped in a neoclassic atmosphere, from which the medieval and Renaissance monuments ask for attention. Mantova was the old capital of Gonzaga state lasted for almost 4 centuries, it’s now one of those places where one can enjoy a long lasting marriage of culture and power, art and patronage, brightness, genius, slow decadence. The lakes protected the town against the industrial development, helping it to save its bond with the land. The city centre is cosy and warm. Crossing some charming squares like Piazza Erbe and Piazza Broletto one can admire architectural jewels like Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo del Te.