Day trips beyond the historic center of Bologna
If you’re in the city for more than a couple of days, you’ll find a variety of things to see and do near Bologna – the area looks at 3000 years of culture history and is a traffic knot ever since – easy access from all directions.
Brisghella – olive oil and more
Olive oil and wine are the most important farm products in this area, grown by the people of the Lamone valley since Roman times – the very special micro climate and soil are just perfect here
Brisighella and the wild-romantic environs are very reminiscent of Tuscany, but they are free from the downside of fame – there are no tourist crowds and no fancy restaurants with dizzying prices. During the last few decades, tourists from all over the world have identified Tuscany with Italy – today this part of the Apennine mountain chain does have an impressive infra-structure for tourist – guided wine tours, cooking schools, you name it. Not so the Emilia-Romagna Apennines around Brisighella: it´s pure, rough and a bit sleepy. Even in peak season you walk in the medieval center between Italians, they come here for the olive oil, the food and in fall for the Sagre (Food festivals)
Already the Romans figured that the special micro-climate and the chalk soil provide perfect conditions to grow grapes and olive trees. They built an oil mill in the 2nd century along the historic trade path between Florence and Faenza, parts of it are still visible. The mill used a special procedure – the olives were grind, not pressed. This procedure is still in use and the 3000 l production per year ranks among the best in Italy.
Brisighella is dominated by the castle hill and the clock tower hill, both are accessible and provide a great view over the valley. If you are not so much into climbing hill tops – fine, stroll the historic center and the donkey path and have a meal at one of the restaurants, some of them are build in a cave.
If you plan to go to Florence from Bologna, I recommend to travel with “La Faentina“. The historic train is a relic of an older Italy, it still connects Florence with Faenza/Bologna and reveals “off the beaten path” places to the one, who likes to travel in a less conventional way. It was established way back in 1839 by the Grand Duke Leopold from Tuscany to connect Italy´s east and west coast, Romagna and Tuscany. Sure, the Bologna-Florence line is faster and more comfortable, but by riding through the Valley de Lamone you can enjoy the beautiful landscape and see Italy without tourist crowds.
How to get there: take the train direction Faenza from Bologna main station, in Faenza you change to the train to Florence, during the day the train runs frequently, takes around one hour and costs 6 euro
Dozza and the murals
The mediaval village on top of the hill is famous for the murals (wall paintings) and the historic castle, which houses the Enoteca Emilia Romagna today. The wine tastings have to booked in advance, if you don’t want to commit to a certain time, you can just visit the shop and get an overview of the local wines in Emilia Romagna, even buy some bottles and do your own tasting on one of the benches around the castle. From the historic town wall you have a nice view and the wall paintings are worth to see, most of them are modern, the painting festival takes place every second year (next time September 2018). There are nice cafes and restaurants with a beautiful view and local food.
How to get there: from Stazione Autolinee Bologna runs a bus which takes you in about one hour to Dozza
I won’t dare to tell you about the Duomo in Modena – since it’s a world heritage site, there are more than enough experts who wrote about it. After you’ve seen this extraordinary piece of art and you get hungry from strolling around, I recommend to visit the market hall.
Modena’s Food market is quite unusual – it’s not an open street market like most Italian Food markets, it’s located in an Art Deco hall in the historic center, just around the corner from Piazza Grande. In the 1930th years, the market was moved for hygienic and social reasons from Piazza Grande to the new hall, which was built in the butcher-street. Mercato Albinelli is the perfect place to get an overview of the local Food specialties, to buy sample and to taste it right there – in the middle, close to the fountain, you find tables with chairs, so you can sit down for your picnic. Some stalls also offer balsamic vinegar from different producer, also at the main square some shops sell Balsamico di Modena and offer tastings. Read more about balsamic vinegar
When you arrive in Modena, you will note two big differences: while the color of Bologna is red, you find Modena yellow – most of the buildings are yellowish. And Modena is quiet, no street noise like in Bologna. The buses run with electric power and you don’t have so many Scooter – almost everyone rides a bicycle, very relaxing. Beside that, there are nice shopping streets, cafe/bars and restaurants, everything a bit smaller than in Bologna, but very charming.
How to get there: take the train from Bologna (20 min), in front of the station in Modena you can buy tickets for the bus to town, takes only 10 min. The center is easy to walk
Savigno, truffle town
If you can arrange to rent a car for one day, Savigno is a perfect get away: cute small mountain village, famous for truffle during the season (late Octobre to early March).
The butcher shop offers all kinds of cold cuts, which are perfect for a picnic, at the mushroom/truffle shop you get also canned truffle (great for foodie-souvenir) and dried Porcini, the cafe at the market place has chairs outside for sunny days. Amerigo, a famous restaurant for fine dining, is right beside the butcher shop (open only in the evening), it’s expensive but good, also offers homemade pasta sauce creations in a jar. To get the real experience of a rural Italian restaurant, you should drive up the road, either to Trattoria La Linea (Via Samoggia n. 2109/a, 40060 Savigno) or to Trattoria Garofani Lina (Via S. Prospero, 2997, 40060 Savigno), which is even more rustic and has a beautiful terrace with view, check out My Foodie Map Italy