by Maria E. Bellini
Where is Emilia-Romagna?
Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s 20 regions is located in the top half of Italy.
To the north of the region lies the flatlands that sprawl out around the River Po.
The southern part is mountainous with the Po valley slowly giving way to soft hills that become the vast and seemingly endless Apennines. At the extreme eastern part of Emilia-Romagna lies the Adriatic coast with miles of vast, fully equipped sandy beaches, making it a popular holiday destination for many young families and retirees.
What Makes Emilia-Romagna Special?
A hard working, ambitious, creative population – throughout the centuries the Emiliano-Romagnoli (as they are called) have greatly contributed to developing Italy’s small businesses and industry. This is specially true of the lowerlands around the plain, where life conditions were less strenuous than in the Apennines.
In Search of a Brighter Future
In many parts of the mountainous areas in Emilia-Romagna, difficult terrain, poverty and large families, meant that thousands of people opted to go overseas in search of a better life. From the 19th century onwards thousands of Emiliano-Romagnoli emigrated to France, the U.K. And in lesser numbers to USA, Australia and South America.
The Apennines Today
However today the situation has changed. Although many villages remain sparsely populated; fantastic scenery, historical hamlets, a new found trend in rurality, and the values of a slower paced life-style have in many ways sparked off interest, and helped to bring on a variety of project developments in this truly unique area.
Food Glorious Food
With a gastronomic tradition that leans towards genuinity, simplicity and Grandma’s Home-Food. Emilia-Romagna has also cultivated, many of it’s culinary delights.
Some best known Foods are:
- Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
- Prosciutto di Parma Parma Ham
- Balsamic Vinager
- Fresh Pasta
You can learn more about the flavours of Emilia-Romagna HERE
Art & Culture in Stylish Cities
Bologna, Piacenza, Parma, Reggio-Emilia, Modena, Faenza, Forlì, Cesena, Rimini, Ravenna and Ferrara are the region’s principal cities.
There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Emilia-Romagna
So why go to Emilia-Romagna for Walking, Hiking or Running?
With an abundance of marked trails in 2 National Parks, 14 Regional Parks, and over 30 Nature Reserves, Emilia–Romagna takes its green spaces seriously. Over 11% of the whole region is dedicated to Parkland and Protected Areas. Rich in geological diversity, the region is also keen to preserve and safeguard the rich wildlife habitat.
A network of associations offer organised activities such as walking, trail running and cycling events throughout the gentle hills, remote mountains, and ancient forests, as well as in the lower lands and peaceful fluvial landscape of the Po Valley.
As most of the areas are waymarked it’s also possible to organise your own routes with research and patience.
The region also offers an abundance of places to visit “off-trail”. In the western part the countryside you can see the delightful the Castles as in the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, and also in Reggio Emilia, whereas towards the eastern part of the region frequent picturesque medieval villages and hamlets lay nestled in the valleys.
- Parco Nazionale Appennino Tosco-Emiliano
- Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, Campigna
We’ve listed just a few below, you can see more HERE
- Corno delle Scale
- Laghi di Suviana e Brasimone
- Vena del Gesso Romagnola
- Po Delta Park
- Parco del Frignano
Want something more?
Alta Via Dei Parchi
If you’re up for a challenge see the Long Distance Path “Alta Via dei Parchi” – The Park’s High Route. It’s just over 500km long, and runs across the Marche, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, crossing 8 parks.
The Alta Via dei Parchi is officially sub-divided into 27 stages.
The route is waymarked, but always beware that conditions can change therefore affecting all waymarkings.
For more details on maps, waymarkimgs, and pubblications – see the Emilia Romagna official toursim site:
Emilia-Romagna website – Alta Via Dei Parchi
The Pilgrim’s route – Via Francigena, that goes from Canterbury to Rome, also crosses Emilia-Romagna.
For more details see HERE.
Via degli Abati
The Via degli Abati – the Abbots Way, is another Ancient Pilgrim’s Route that led Pilgrims from Bobbio Abbey in the Trebbia Valley, Piacenza, acrosse the Apennines, through Pontremoli in Tuscany and on towards Rome. It’s considered by some, to be a mountain variant of the the Via Francigena.
For more details see HERE.
Books and Maps
“Trekking in the Apennines -The Grande Escursione Appenninica”
by Gillian Price
Guidebook to the Grand Apennines Trek, or Grande Escursione Appenninica (GEA). Through Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna and two National Parks
“The Via Francigena Canterbury to Rome – Part 2 The Great St Bernard Pass to Rome”
by Alison Raju
Part 2 describes 940km of the pilgrimage from the Great St Bernard Pass to Rome. Contains all the planning information you need for your journey, including details of facilities and accommodation along the route.
Multigraphic offer Maps of the area: See online HERE
What Trail Race Events can I enter in Emilia-Romagna?
There are roughly 80 Trail running events in Emilia-Romagna – Can we call this the Capital of Italian Trail Running!?
The “Trail Running Uisp Emilia-Romagna” Race Circuit alone has nearly 80 Trail Running events in the region, all with varying distances, Kids Trails, VK’s, Short, mid to Ultra Distances. Nordic Walking and Walkers events.
To see them all
Some Great Trail Running Races in Emilia-Romagna
Winter Trail del Castelli 22km – March
Trail della Riva 34/20km – April
The Abbots Way Ultra Trail 125km – April
Krash Trail 44/22km – May
Amorotto Trail 68/48/20/12km – May
Quadrifoglio Ultra Trail 100/60/24/13km – May
Trail del Salame 36/23/10km – May
Ecomaratona del Ventasso 42/30/18/12km – July
Trail della Pietra 22km – September
Arquato Trail 26km – October
Tartufo Trail Running 66/50/28/17km – October
Trail del Cinghiale 90/60/44/30km – November
A road race which we think is worth running due to it’s awesome location – race course takes you around the Rock of Bismantova across the scenic hills in the Reggio-Emilia Apennines
Giro della Pietra 17km – June
When to go
All year round, although the Po Valley in the summer can be quite humid and sticky. Temperatures can be high – in mid 30°’s
You can easily fly to the nearest airports, either Bologna, Milan or Rimini – Or Verona, Bergamo Orio Al Serio or Milan.
The best way to see Emilia Romagna’s Apennines is by car.
- Prosciutto di Parma – Parma ham
- Parmigiano Reggiano – Cheese
- Erbazzone svaoury pie from Reggio-Emilia
- Balsamic Vinegar from Spilamberto
- Lambrusco wine from Modena
- The Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Modena
- Comacchio in the Po Valley, Ferrara
- Bobbio in Val Trebbia, Piacenza
- Verucchio Castle, Rimini
Maria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.