At the heart of Bologna, the vibrant and historic city located in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region, lies Piazza Maggiore, an imposing square that acts as a symbol of the city’s cultural, historical, and social heritage. From grand architectural marvels to beautiful, bustling markets, Piazza Maggiore embodies the spirit of Bologna and beckons visitors to experience the soul of the city.
Piazza Maggiore was established in the 13th century during a period of substantial urban growth in Bologna. Its establishment aimed at centralizing the city’s administrative functions, and thus, it swiftly became the focal point around which social, political, and economic life revolved. The square has borne witness to many pivotal historical events, from grand celebrations to passionate political protests, all of which have added unique layers to the history of Bologna.
Architectural and Artistic Splendors
Piazza Maggiore is flanked by several monumental buildings that represent various epochs and styles of architecture from Medieval, Renaissance to Baroque. The captivating Palazzo d’Accursio, or the City Hall, with its blend of architectural styles, illustrates the city’s administrative past. Additionally, it houses the Civic Art Collection, a treasure trove of exquisite artworks dating from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
Facing the square is the imposing Basilica of San Petronio, famous for housing the world’s largest sundial and being the fifth-largest church in the world. Its incomplete facade makes for an intriguing sight and serves as a testament to the ebbs and flows of history.
Adjacent to the basilica is the Palazzo dei Banchi, with its striking portico running along the eastern edge of the square, providing an architectural manifestation of Bologna’s love affair with covered walkways.
Social and Cultural Importance
Piazza Maggiore plays a vital role as the city’s cultural hub. The square is the pride of the Bolognese, a place where locals gather for festivals, concerts, and events, as well as a high-profile meeting spot. It is a stage for dynamic interaction – from leisurely strolls and lively discussions to the lively exchange of ideas spurred by outdoor film screenings or ad-hoc music performances.
The square is also a social equalizer, a common ground that bridges differences and invites everyone to participate in the cultural life of Bologna, fostering a sense of community and solidarity, values held dearly by the Bolognese.
Venues like the annual Cineteca di Bologna, the city’s iconic open-air cinema festival, held in Piazza Maggiore, further enhance the area’s community-based atmosphere. The square thus serves as a contemporary public forum that amplifies the cultural pulse of the city.
Economic Activity and Tourism
Finally, Piazza Maggiore also makes a significant contribution to Bologna’s economy. The square and its surroundings are a hotspot for businesses, ranging from traditional Italian restaurants and trendy cafes to high-end boutiques and souvenir shops. This economic function is elevated by the square’s popularity among tourists, who are drawn to its grandeur and historical richness.
In conclusion, Piazza Maggiore is more than just a public square. It is an embodiment of Bologna’s historical trajectory, architectural finesse, cultural vivacity, social inclusivity, and economic vitality. The rhythmic heartbeat that echoes through the Piazza Maggiore and its surroundings represents the remarkable life and spirit of Bologna itself. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, social observer, or food aficionado, a visit to Piazza Maggiore offers a multidimensional experience that resonates at a deeply human level.
In the heart of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region lies the enchanting city of Modena, known globally for its rich automotive history, particularly its association with luxury car brands like Ferrari, and its culinary delights like balsamic vinegar. But visiting Modena in August 2023, you’ll discover so much more than its famous exports. Here’s your guide to immersing yourself in Modena’s vibrant culture and history:
1. Museo Enzo Ferrari: A Nod to Automotive Greatness
Begin your tour with the “Game Changers” exhibit at the Museo Enzo Ferrari, where you can witness the most significant cars of the famed Cavallino Rampante. This museum provides an extensive look into the legacy and evolution of Ferrari.
2. Summer Evenings at Maranello
In the nearby town of Maranello, attend the summer dinner in the rotatory of the Cavallino and take part in the Sagra dell’Assunta in the historic center. Maranello pulsates with life, especially in the evenings when locals come out to enjoy the festivities.
3. Chalet Lido in Carpi
A short drive from Modena, Chalet Lido in Carpi offers a maritime oasis. Whether you’re looking to relax, indulge in local cuisine, or just enjoy the ambiance, this spot in Carpi promises a memorable experience.
4. Moonlit Romance in Castelvetro
If you’re traveling with a loved one or simply wish to take in the beauty of nature, the moonlit walks in Castelvetro are a must. The rolling hills and serene landscapes under the moon’s glow make for an unforgettable experience.
5. Cultural Festivities
Join in on the Festa dei Matti in Palagano or celebrate the 175° Fiera di San Rocco in Spezzano. These local events offer a deep dive into the traditions and culture of the region.
6. Night Visits in Modena Centro
Under the program “Modena Bai Nait 2023,” enjoy guided nighttime visits. The city, with its historic architecture, takes on a magical hue under the moonlight, offering a unique perspective.
7. Savor Modena’s Culinary Delights
No visit to Modena is complete without indulging in its gastronomic offerings. Don’t forget to sample traditional dishes and, of course, the famed balsamic vinegar. Consider booking a tour of a traditional balsamic vinegar producer.
8. Outdoor Cinema and More
For the film enthusiasts, “Cinema Sotto le Stelle” in Sassuolo provides outdoor movie experiences. Additionally, events like the San Pietro cultural evenings in the Abbazia di San Pietro and the DeVoti Etruschi multimedia exhibition add more cultural depth to your visit.
9. Adventures in the Apennines
If you’re an adventure seeker, the excursions with La Via dei Monti in the Modena Apennines are a must. The trails and natural beauty promise both challenge and serenity.
10. Concluding at Formigine
Wrap up your visit with the Ludi di San Bartolomeo festivities in Formigine. The highlight? Witnessing the incendio (burning) of the castle, a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed.
To truly appreciate Modena, one must dive deep into its blend of modernity and tradition. Whether you’re there for the cars, the food, or the rich cultural tapestry, Modena in August 2023 promises experiences that you’ll carry with you long after your visit.
In the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, Modena is famous not only for its rich historical heritage and vibrant gastronomy scene, but also for being the birthplace of Balsamic Vinegar, one of the most sought-after culinary specialties on the globe. Balsamic vinegar from Modena is so special that it has been awarded the prestigious DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or Protected Designation of Origin) status, ensuring its production, processing, and preparation occurs in specific geographical areas, according to traditional methods.
The two types of DOP Balsamic Vinegar of Modena are Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP and Aceto Balsamico di Modena DOP. Both types hold the cherished DOP label but are distinct in taste, production, and aging process.
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP represents the highest quality of balsamic vinegar. This vinegar, made exclusively from the must (juice) of local grape varieties, undergoes a long aging process of at least 12 years in a series of wooden barrels, called ‘batteria’. The result is a thick, glossy, and deeply flavored vinegar that is both sweet and sour, with a complexity that’s hard to match.
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP is further distinguished into two types based on their aging process:
Affinato: Aged for a minimum of 12 years, the Affinato version has a harmonious balance between sweet and sour. Its versatility makes it ideal for both cooking and finishing dishes. The balsamic vinegar is encased in a bulb-shaped bottle and sealed with a white cap.
Extra Vecchio: Extra Vecchio means ‘extra old’ and this balsamic vinegar is aged for at least 25 years, some even age for several decades. Its richness, depth of flavor, and viscosity make it perfect for use as a finishing touch to dishes. Extra Vecchio is contained in a bulb-shaped bottle with a gold cap.
Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP
Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP is a younger relative of the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP, requiring a minimum aging of 60 days. This type of vinegar is made by mixing grape must with a small percentage of wine vinegar, giving it a strong, sharp flavor.
The vinegar is aged in wooden barrels, much like its traditional counterpart, but for a shorter period. It is ideal for use in salad dressings, marinades, and for deglazing pans. The more aged versions of Aceto Balsamico di Modena DOP can be drizzled over roasted meats, cheeses, or fresh fruits.
Tourists visiting Modena have the unique opportunity to visit ‘acetaie’, traditional balsamic vinegar producers. Here, you can learn about the production process of this prestigious vinegar and even participate in tastings. Tours typically include a walk through the vineyards, a peek into the aging rooms with their fragrant wooden barrels, and, of course, a chance to taste the delicious final product.
One highly recommended acetaia to visit is Acetaia Giusti, the oldest producer of balsamic vinegar in the world. They offer a guided tour that immerses you in the history and tradition of balsamic vinegar production, followed by a tasting session of their exquisite products.
Modena is not just about vinegar, though. The city offers a wealth of culinary experiences, including local markets, enotecas (wine bars), and osterias serving traditional Emilia-Romagna fare. Not to mention, it’s home to Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant ranked multiple times as the best in the world.
Whether you’re a food lover, a history buff, or simply someone who enjoys immersing themselves in local culture, a trip to Modena is a must. The chance to savor one of the world’s finest gastronomic products in its very birthplace is a truly unforgettable experience.
A comprehensive list of producers.
Acetaia Borgo Castello SRL
Address: Via Genova 244 – 41056 Savignano sul Panaro (MO) Phone: +39 059 768711 Email: email@example.com Additional Information: Nestled in the picturesque town of Savignano sul Panaro, Acetaia Borgo Castello SRL offers visitors a taste of traditional balsamic vinegar, made with love and dedication. Explore the rich family history behind this establishment and savor the flavors of their high-quality vinegar.
Acetaia Cazzola e Fiorini SRL Address: Via Puglie 4 – 41056 Savignano sul Panaro (MO) Phone: +39 059 8676968 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Additional Information: Acetaia Cazzola e Fiorini SRL, located in the heart of Savignano sul Panaro, is renowned for its meticulously crafted balsamic vinegar. The century-old family enterprise invites you to immerse in a truly authentic Italian gastronomic experience.
Acetaia Fini Modena SRL
Address: Via Rizzotto 46 – 41126 Modena (MO) Phone: +39 0535 59190 Email: email@example.com Additional Information: Set in the historical city of Modena, Acetaia Fini Modena SRL exemplifies the fusion of time-honored tradition and innovative techniques in the creation of their acclaimed balsamic vinegar. Experience first-hand the passion and craftsmanship that goes into each bottle.
Acetaia Giuseppe Cremonini SRL
Address: Via Foschiero 1142 – 41057 Spilamberto (MO) Additional Information: Acetaia Giuseppe Cremonini SRL, situated in the charming town of Spilamberto, offers visitors the opportunity to delve into the fascinating world of balsamic vinegar production. Witness the skillful process that transforms simple ingredients into a world-renowned delicacy.
Acetaia La Bonissima SRL
Address: Via Tonini 2 – 41043 Formigine (MO) Additional Information: Acetaia La Bonissima SRL, located in the charming Formigine town, is a temple of balsamic tradition. They boast a rich lineage in the art of vinegar making and open their doors to share the passion of their craft with visitors.
Acetaia Malpighi SRL
Address: Via Emilia Est 1525 – 41126 Modena (MO) Additional Information: With a strong connection to Modena’s balsamic tradition, Acetaia Malpighi SRL embodies the city’s rich gastronomical heritage. This is a place where time-tested methods meet the love of food, resulting in a high-quality balsamic vinegar.
Acetaia Manicardi SRL
Address: Via Massaroni 1B – 40014 Castelvetro (MO) Additional Information: Set amid the picturesque landscapes of Castelvetro, Acetaia Manicardi SRL presents an extraordinary exploration into the world of artisanal balsamic vinegar production. Their dedication to maintaining the highest standards is evident in every drop of their exquisite vinegar.
Acetaia Tradizionale Filippi SRL
Address: Via Bembo 44 – 41123 Modena (MO) Additional Information: Acetaia Tradizionale Filippi SRL showcases the authentic Modenese balsamic tradition in its purest form. Visitors can witness first-hand how their expertly crafted balsamic vinegar evolves from humble beginnings to a celebrated global delicacy.
Acetaia Vetus di Scacchetti Mauro
Address: Via Maestra di Rubbiara 3 – 41015 Nonantola (MO) Additional Information: Acetaia Vetus, led by Mauro Scacchetti, invites you to explore a tale of tradition and innovation. Here, in the heart of Nonantola, you can discover the fine art of balsamic vinegar production that has been honed through generations.
Acetificio Andrea Milano SRL
Address: Via dei Vitali 63,65 , Modena 41100 Additional Information: Acetificio Andrea Milano SRL, situated in bustling Modena, is a testament to the city’s gastronomic prowess. They take pride in producing balsamic vinegar that enhances the essence of Italian cuisine around the globe.
Compagnia Del Montale SRL: Nestled in Sassuolo, Compagnia Del Montale SRL is renowned for its meticulous blend of traditional and modern methods in producing exquisite balsamic vinegar. Visit them at Via Tobagi 6/A – 41049 Sassuolo (MO), Italy, or call at +39 0536 806434.
Elsa Di Domeneghetti Maurizio Società Agricola SS: Situated in Bomporto, this company is steeped in tradition, transforming locally grown grapes into a taste of the Italian countryside. You can find them at Via Carrate 28/A – 41030 Bomporto (MO), Italy, or contact at +39 059 901312.
Emiliaceti SRL: With its roots in Maranello, Emiliaceti SRL has etched its name in the realm of balsamic vinegar. Their location is Via Maestri del Lavoro 19 – 41053 Maranello (MO), Italy, and their contact number is +39 0536 946841.
Emiliani SRL: Nestled in the heart of Carbonara Scrivia, Emiliani SRL has a well-established reputation in crafting high-quality balsamic vinegar. Visit them at Via Genova 11 – 15050 Carbonara Scrivia (AL), Italy, or reach out at +39 0131 892230.
Fattorie Giacobazzi SRL: Positioned in Nonantola, Fattorie Giacobazzi SRL is known for its unique and intricate process of balsamic vinegar production, drawing tourists and gourmets alike. Find them at Via Di Vittorio 28 – 41015 Nonantola (MO), Italy, or call at +39 059 546076.
Ferrarini SPA: Based in Reggio Emilia, Ferrarini SPA showcases the passion of Italian tradition in every drop of their balsamic vinegar. Visit them at Via Ferrarini 1 – 42123 Reggio Emilia (RE), Italy or contact them at +39 0522 9321.
ondo Montebello SPA: Immerse yourself in the rich history of balsamic vinegar production at Fondo Montebello SPA, located in the scenic Pozza di Maranello. Their address is Via Maestri del Lavoro 9 – 41053 Pozza di Maranello (MO), Italy. For inquiries, they can be reached at +39 0536 944063.
Galletti di Galletti Aurelio e C. SNC: Situated in San Daniele Po, this family-operated establishment prides itself on creating authentic balsamic vinegar that encapsulates the flavors of Italy. Their address is Via Faverzani 13/A – 26046 San Daniele Po (CR), Italy. They can be contacted at +39 0372 65544.
Gran Deposito Aceto Balsamico Giuseppe Giusti SRL: A visit to Modena isn’t complete without a stop at Gran Deposito Aceto Balsamico Giuseppe Giusti SRL, a company with centuries of balsamic vinegar production under its belt. Find them at Strada Quattro Ville 155 – 41123 Modena (MO), Italy or call them at +39 059 840135.
Lunigiana, a historical region nestled between Tuscany and Liguria in Italy, is a land of countless charming villages. The original idea was to list 10 must-visit villages, but the region’s beauty made it impossible to limit the selection to just ten. Here are 20 villages in Lunigiana that you should consider visiting:
Filetto: A hidden gem in Tuscany, Filetto is a well-preserved walled village. Wander from the monumental gate to the Upper and Lower Squares and lose yourself in the narrow streets.
Ponticello: This village along the Via Francigena partially hides in a tunnel, revealing charming corners among its alleys and small squares lined with sandstone houses. The imposing tower-house at the village entrance is a sight to behold.
Caprigliola: Visible from the highway, Caprigliola stands out among the hills with its Medici walls and the ancient castle tower, now the bell tower of the Church of San Michele.
Castiglione del Terziere: Pure beauty is synonymous with Castiglione del Terziere. The village is home to a castle and meticulously restored stone houses.
Equi Terme: This village offers everything: an ancient village, fascinating caves, trekking routes, and the most famous living nativity scene in Lunigiana and Garfagnana. And yes, there are also thermal baths.
Ponzanello: A picturesque village with a sea view, Ponzanello is a climb from the monumental gate to the castle ruins.
Borgo della Verrucola: A village that is also a castle, Verrucola is the origin of Fivizzano. If Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi had come here before “Nothing Left to Do but Cry,” they would have really gone back in time!
Malgrate: Overlooking from above, Malgrate is aware of its nobility. Its church is so hidden that finding it feels like winning a prize.
Taponecco: To appreciate Taponecco, you need to discover it slowly, strolling through its tunnel villages.
Ugliancaldo: Located on the border with Garfagnana, the climb to Ugliancaldo unfolds suddenly on the ridge of the hill. The village is worth exploring up to the Church of Sant’Andrea.
Bibola: Another tunnel village, Bibola climbs along the Via Francigena, with the remains of the castle resembling the fingers of a hand.
Lusuolo: Who doesn’t see it while driving on the Cisa state road? The castle is almost larger than the village, protecting the medieval ford on the Magra river.
Virgoletta: Rumors speak of donkeys on the third floor in Virgoletta, as the stables on the ground floor of the houses on the hillside gave that impression. A well-maintained gem.
Tavernelle: Along the Lagastrello road, Tavernelle was the right place for merchants and pilgrims to stop. The wealth is still visible in the noble palaces in the village street.
Treschietto: Among the imposing ruins, ghosts and cruel lords wander. Treschietto is famous for its onions and many places to bathe in the stream.
Vinca: Located under the Apuan Alps, Vinca offers unique views that remind of the nearby marble quarries. Don’t forget to buy Vinca’s bread.
Sassalbo: Sassalbo is a large village, with stone houses stacked upon stone houses, a succession of carved portals and majesties, just below the Cerreto pass, another transit village.
Camporaghena: Camporaghena is located just below the Apennine peaks. This small rural village is a starting point for several trekking routes.
Gragnola: Above is the imposing Aquila Castle. Below is the village of Gragnola, a network of streets and stone houses overlooking the Aulella stream.
Pulica: A warrior’s helmet cover, a disappeared castle, two churches, even a bar, are these reasons enough to visit Pulica?
These villages, each with its unique charm and history, are the heart and soul of Lunigiana. They offer a glimpse into the region’s rich past and present, providing visitors with an unforgettable experience of Italian culture and heritage.
Exploring the Hidden Gems of Lunigiana
Lunigiana is a treasure trove of hidden gems, each village offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From the well-preserved walled village of Filetto to the picturesque village of Ponzanello with a sea view, each location tells a story of its own. The region is a testament to Italy’s rich heritage and the enduring charm of its rural landscapes.
The Charm of Rural Italy
The villages of Lunigiana are a testament to the enduring charm of rural Italy. Each village, with its unique history and character, offers a glimpse into a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for centuries. Whether it’s the thermal baths of Equi Terme, the imposing ruins of Treschietto, or the hidden church of Malgrate, each location offers a unique experience for visitors.
A Journey Through Time
Visiting the villages of Lunigiana is like taking a journey through time. From the ancient castle tower of Caprigliola to the medieval ford protected by Lusuolo’s castle, these locations offer a window into Italy’s rich past. The region is a living museum, where history comes alive in the streets and buildings of its villages.
Discover the best breakfast spots in La Spezia, Italy, in our comprehensive guide. From cozy cafés serving traditional Italian pastries to modern eateries offering a unique blend of breakfast options, we’ve got you covered. Start your day right with a delicious breakfast in La Spezia, a charming coastal city known for its culinary delights. Whether you’re a foodie, a coffee lover, or a traveler looking to experience local cuisine, this guide is your ticket to the best breakfast experiences in La Spezia. Read on to find out more about the top-rated breakfast spots in this Italian gem.
La Spezia, a charming city nestled on the Ligurian coast of Italy, is a treasure trove of culinary delights. As the sun rises, the city comes alive with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and baked goods. Here are some of the best places to start your day in La Spezia.
1. Pastry Café Dolci Magie
Located at Via Fiume, 161, 19121 La Spezia SP, Italy, Pastry Café Dolci Magie is a haven for sweet-toothed visitors. This café is renowned for its wide array of pastries, from classic Italian croissants to more inventive creations. The café’s cozy atmosphere, combined with the friendly staff, makes it a perfect place to start your day.
2. C’est Bon
Situated at Piazza Saint Bon, 1, 19122 La Spezia SP, Italy, C’est Bon is a popular spot among locals and tourists alike. Rated 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, this café offers a variety of breakfast options. The café’s cool vibe, combined with its delicious offerings, makes it a must-visit spot in La Spezia.
3. Bonjour Café
Bonjour Café, located at Piazza Cavour, 24, 19121 La Spezia SP, Italy, is a charming café that offers a range of breakfast options. With a rating of 4 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, this café is known for its cozy atmosphere and friendly staff. Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast or a light snack, Bonjour Café has something for everyone.
4. Pasticceria Rossi
Pasticceria Rossi, located at Via Vittorio Veneto, 223, 19124 La Spezia SP, Italy, is a historic bakery in La Spezia, specializing in traditional recipes. Known for its fresh and dry pastries, biscuits, and chocolates, this bakery is a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth.
5. Resilience Café
Resilience Café, located at Via Vanicella, 8, 19121 La Spezia SP, Italy, is a literary café, cocktail bar, tea room, and cake shop all in one. With a rating of 5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, this café is known for its warm, inviting atmosphere and delicious offerings. From tapas and mini burgers to biscuits, Resilience Café offers a unique breakfast experience.
Italy, a country steeped in history and culture, is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes. Nestled within its heart is the Cinque Terre, a string of centuries-old seaside villages along the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. Among the many treasures of this region, the Via dell’Amore, or “Path of Love,” stands out as a symbol of romance and natural beauty. Closed for over a decade due to a landslide, this iconic path is set to partially reopen in May 2023, with a full reopening planned for 2024.
The Via dell’Amore, carved into the rock, offers a unique experience, giving the impression of walking suspended between sea and sky. This path, just over a kilometer long, connects two of the most picturesque pastel villages of the Eastern Liguria, Riomaggiore and Manarola, the heart of the Cinque Terre. The reopening of this path is eagerly anticipated by locals and tourists alike, promising a return to the romantic walks that have made it famous worldwide.
However, the reopening of the Via dell’Amore is not just about re-establishing a walking path. It’s about transforming this iconic route into an open-air museum, a living testament to the rich cultural and traditional heritage of the Cinque Terre. The Liguria Region, in agreement with the Cinque Terre National Park and the Municipality of Riomaggiore, is working on a cultural enhancement project that aims to offer insights related to the peculiar aspects of the landscape. This includes agro-forestry systems, urban nuclei, rural buildings, defensive and religious-devotional architectures, and the knowledge and trades linked to typical productions, all in function of sustainable tourism.
The local authorities, including the mayor of Riomaggiore, Fabrizia Pecunia, are developing strategies to manage the expected tourist flow and preserve the sustainability of the region. One of the ideas being considered is to make the path accessible only with the assistance of tour guides, to manage the visitor flow better and provide a more enriching experience. The goal is to allow visitors to truly get to know the Cinque Terre and its vast cultural heritage.
Over twenty million euros have been invested to secure the path, mostly using regional funds. The works of consolidation and hydrogeological recovery of the slopes will be carried out by the structure of the Extraordinary Commissioner of the Government against hydrogeological instability for the Liguria Region. This commitment to safety and preservation underscores the importance of the Via dell’Amore to the region and its people.
So, if you’re planning a trip to Italy, keep an eye out for the reopening of the Via dell’Amore. It promises to be more than just a scenic walk; it’s a journey through the heart and soul of the Cinque Terre. A walk along the Via dell’Amore is not just a walk; it’s an immersive experience into the rich cultural tapestry of the region. It’s a chance to step back in time and witness the timeless beauty of Italy’s stunning landscapes. It’s an opportunity to fall in love with Italy all over again.
We’re taking you on a journey to explore the charming city of La Spezia, nestled along the Italian Riviera. Often overlooked in favor of the more famous Cinque Terre, La Spezia has a lot to offer for those who are willing to spend a few days getting to know this underrated destination. Here are the top reasons why you should consider visiting La Spezia on your next Italian adventure.
Stunning Gulf Views
Few cities can boast a more picturesque gulf than La Spezia, framed by the majestic Apuan Alps and the Apennines. Strolling along the waterfront promenade, you’ll be captivated by the striking contrast between the mountains and the sea. To fully appreciate the beauty of the area, consider taking a boat tour around the gulf.
La Spezia’s waterfront promenade, known as the “Passeggiata Morin,” has a fascinating history dating back to the 19th century. It was initially developed as part of the city’s expansion and modernization plan under the Kingdom of Sardinia. The promenade was designed to provide a relaxing and scenic space for residents and visitors to enjoy the stunning views of the Gulf of La Spezia. Over time, the promenade has undergone several transformations, including the construction of the famous statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, a key figure in the unification of Italy. Today, the Passeggiata Morin is a vibrant and bustling area filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it an essential stop for those exploring the rich history and culture of La Spezia.
Rich Cultural Offerings
La Spezia is home to numerous museums that cater to a variety of interests. Some must-visits include the Naval Museum (soon to be renovated), the Lia Museum, which houses illuminated manuscripts and artworks by Titian and Bellini, and the Diocesan Museum, showcasing sacred art from local churches. Other noteworthy cultural attractions are the Ethnographic Museum, the Seal Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the Transportation Museum, and the CAMEC Museum of Modern Art.
The CAMEC Museum of Modern Art in La Spezia is a cultural gem showcasing an impressive collection of contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Housed in a beautifully restored historic building, the museum provides an engaging space for art enthusiasts to explore the works of both established and emerging artists. The museum’s collection features a diverse range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and video art, highlighting the evolving landscape of modern artistic expression. Temporary exhibitions ensure that there is always something new to discover, making CAMEC an exciting and dynamic cultural destination for visitors to La Spezia.
Wander around La Spezia’s historic center, and you’ll be enchanted by the well-preserved Art Nouveau buildings adorned with intricate sculptures, friezes, and grand doorways. Take an hour or two to explore these architectural gems by following a walking itinerary .
In La Spezia, several notable Art Nouveau buildings can be found, showcasing the city’s embrace of this elegant architectural style during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of the most prominent examples is Palazzo Maggiani, situated on Viale Aldo Ferrari. The building is adorned with exquisite details, including ornamental sculptures, intricate friezes, and impressive portals. The facade of this stunning edifice reflects the influence of the Liberty style, which is the Italian interpretation of Art Nouveau.
Another remarkable Art Nouveau building is Villa Marmori, located in the Morucciola district. This majestic villa was built for the Marmori family and showcases the characteristic curved lines, floral motifs, and sinuous forms typical of the Art Nouveau movement. These architectural masterpieces are a testament to La Spezia’s rich cultural heritage and are sure to captivate any visitor with an interest in art, history, or architecture.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Just a stone’s throw from La Spezia, you’ll find the UNESCO-listed Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the islands of Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto. These coastal areas boast unique landscapes, characterized by dramatic cliffs, terraced vineyards, and charming villages nestled between the sea and the hills.
For centuries, these awe-inspiring locations have captivated the hearts and minds of poets, writers, and artists, such as Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Eugenio Montale, who sought inspiration in the stunning surroundings. The area’s undeniable charm and beauty have earned it a special place in the world of literature and art, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in a rich cultural and historical tapestry.
Aside from the poetic allure, the region also offers various outdoor activities, such as hiking and boat tours, allowing visitors to explore and appreciate the pristine landscapes and the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Whether you’re searching for artistic inspiration, a romantic escape, or simply a memorable adventure, the magical allure of these coastal gems near La Spezia is sure to leave a lasting impression.
La Spezia’s province is home to six of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Tellaro, perched on the sea, has long been a favorite of writers and poets. Montemarcello, Brugnato, Varese Ligure, Vernazza, and Framura all offer picturesque scenes and well-preserved historical centers.
Montemarcello, a picturesque village located in the province of La Spezia, has earned its reputation as one of Italy’s most beautiful “borghi” (small towns), thanks to its captivating charm and breathtaking vistas. This enchanting destination sits on a hilltop overlooking the Ligurian Sea and the Magra River, providing visitors with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Montemarcello’s narrow, winding streets, colorful houses, and charming piazzas are quintessential examples of Italian allure, making it a must-see destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience.
The village’s rich history, dating back to Roman times, is apparent in its well-preserved architecture, such as the Church of San Pietro, which boasts an exquisite Romanesque facade. Montemarcello’s exceptional beauty and timeless appeal make it a captivating destination for those exploring the wonders of Italy’s picturesque borghi.
La Spezia is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts, with numerous trails that connect the city to surrounding villages and hills. Some popular routes include Campiglia to Portovenere, Campiglia to Cinque Terre, and the trail from Sarbia to Montalbano. For more adventurous trekkers, the nearby Apuan Alps provide an array of challenging climbs and breathtaking vistas.
The ring trail MAROLA-CAMPIGLIA is a scenic loop that begins in Acquasanta and leads to Campiglia. It follows the AVG/AV5T trail towards Porto Venere, passing notable landmarks like a church, the Piccolo Blu, a mill, and a former sports field. The path continues along a ridge with breathtaking views of Campiglia, before descending to the picturesque village of Marola. After passing through Marola, the trail connects back to Acquasanta via Viale Fieschi. Along the way, hikers will experience varied landscapes, including forests, a Portoro quarry, and panoramic ridge staircases, offering a diverse and enjoyable hiking experience.
Beaches for Every Taste
La Spezia’s coastline offers an array of beaches to suit every preference, from sandy shores in Portovenere, Monterosso, Levanto, and Lerici, to pebbled beaches in Riomaggiore and Corniglia. Whether you prefer well-equipped beach resorts or secluded coves, you’ll find your ideal seaside escape here.
Lerici, a picturesque coastal town in the province of La Spezia, boasts a stunning array of beautiful beaches that cater to various preferences. Renowned for its charming harbor, historical castle, and vibrant waterfront, the area offers a diverse selection of shores that attract visitors and locals alike. The main beaches in Lerici include the sandy Lido di Lerici, the more secluded Fiascherino, and the picturesque San Terenzo, each with their own unique charm.
Lido di Lerici is a popular spot due to its convenient location near the town center, offering various amenities and water sports opportunities. Fiascherino, nestled between two cliffs, provides a more tranquil setting for those seeking a peaceful retreat. Here, visitors can enjoy crystal-clear waters and natural beauty, perfect for a relaxing day at the beach. San Terenzo, situated close to the historical San Terenzo Castle, boasts a wide stretch of fine sand, shallow waters, and a promenade lined with colorful Ligurian houses.
In addition to these main beaches, the Lerici coastline is dotted with numerous smaller coves and inlets, accessible via hiking trails or boat rides. This variety ensures that every beachgoer can find their ideal spot to soak up the sun and enjoy the stunning Italian Riviera.
In conclusion, La Spezia is an incredible destination that deserves to be explored beyond just being a gateway to Cinque Terre. The city’s stunning gulf views, rich cultural offerings, elegant architecture, charming villages, and abundant hiking opportunities make it a must-visit for any traveler seeking a unique and memorable Italian adventure.
Embark on a journey of enchantment and discovery from Bologna to Cinque Terre, and uncover the hidden gems that this spectacular region of Italy has to offer. From charming medieval towns to breathtaking landscapes, this lesser-known route is a treasure trove for the adventurous traveler. With the in-depth expertise of Lonely Planet, we invite you to explore the wonders that await you between these two iconic destinations.
While there isn’t a direct train from Bologna to La Spezia, the most efficient option with only one transfer is to change trains in Parma. This route offers a convenient and relatively quick way to reach Cinque Terre from Bologna.
To embark on this journey, head to Bologna Centrale and board a Regionale (RE) train towards Parma. The ride to Parma will take approximately 58 minutes. Upon arrival in Parma, you will have a short transfer time of around 13 minutes. From Parma, board another Regionale train, which will take you directly to La Spezia Centrale in approximately 2 hours and 12 minutes. In total, this option has a travel time of about 3 hours and 23 minutes with only one change.
It is always a good idea to book your train tickets in advance to secure the best prices and seat availability. You can purchase tickets online through the Trenitalia website, or at the train station ticket counters or self-service machines.
Once you reach La Spezia Centrale, you can easily access the five villages of Cinque Terre—Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore—by boarding the Cinque Terre Express. This local train service runs frequently throughout the day, connecting all five villages in a scenic and convenient manner. Tickets for the Cinque Terre Express can be purchased at La Spezia Centrale, and it’s worth considering the Cinque Terre Card, which offers unlimited train travel between the villages and additional benefits such as access to hiking trails and Wi-Fi hotspots.
Getting to Cinque Terre by car allows you the freedom to explore the picturesque countryside at your own pace. One of the most convenient routes to reach Cinque Terre from Bologna is via the Cisa Motorway (A15). Here’s a step-by-step guide to driving from Bologna to Cinque Terre using this route:
Start your journey by heading northwest on the A1/E35 motorway from Bologna.
After driving for about 60 km, take exit 8 towards A15/Cisa/Parma Ovest/La Spezia. This will lead you to the A15/Cisa Motorway.
Continue on the A15 for approximately 120 km, enjoying the scenic views of the Apennine Mountains as you drive through the region.
Take exit La Spezia/Santo Stefano di Magra to merge onto the SS1/Aurelia road. From here, follow the signs to La Spezia, which is the gateway to Cinque Terre.
Once you reach La Spezia, follow the road signs to Cinque Terre. Keep in mind that the villages of Cinque Terre have limited car access and parking facilities, so it is recommended to park your car in La Spezia or nearby Levanto and then use the local train service, Cinque Terre Express, to visit the individual villages.
Please note that driving in Italy requires a valid driver’s license, and it is essential to familiarize yourself with the local traffic rules and regulations. Additionally, some sections of the motorways are tolled, so make sure to have some cash or a credit card handy for the toll booths.
Remember that the roads in Cinque Terre can be narrow, steep, and winding, making driving conditions challenging, especially for those unfamiliar with the area. It’s essential to exercise caution and patience while navigating these roads. Also, consider checking the availability of parking spaces in advance to avoid any inconvenience.
Hidden gems along the route:
Hidden Gem 1: Varese Ligure Venture further off the beaten path to discover the enchanting village of Varese Ligure, nestled in the verdant Val di Vara. Known as the first “bio village” in Italy, Varese Ligure is committed to sustainable living and boasts a vibrant organic farming community. Wander through its charming streets, lined with pastel-colored houses and intricate trompe-l’oeil frescoes. While you’re there, don’t miss the unique circular layout of the town’s historic center, a striking testament to its medieval origins. Treat your taste buds to the locally produced organic delicacies, such as honey, cheese, and wine, which showcase the region’s commitment to sustainability and quality.
Hidden Gem 2: Fosdinovo Journey onwards to the hilltop town of Fosdinovo, a place steeped in history and legends. This captivating village is dominated by the imposing Malaspina Castle, which offers panoramic views over the Apuan Alps and the Tuscan coastline. Let your imagination run wild as you uncover the mysteries and stories that surround this centuries-old fortress.
Hidden Gem 3: Pontremoli Next, venture to Pontremoli, a charming medieval town nestled along the banks of the Magra River. This hidden gem is known for its vibrant cultural scene and rich culinary traditions. Be sure to visit the beautiful Romanesque-style Duomo and immerse yourself in the town’s history at the Museum of the Lunigiana Stele Statues.
Hidden Gem 4: Equi Terme Escape to the picturesque village of Equi Terme, a haven of tranquility and natural beauty. Here, you’ll discover thermal springs that have been cherished since Roman times, offering the perfect respite for weary travelers. Indulge in the rejuvenating waters and explore the fascinating geological formations at the nearby caves.
Hidden Gem 5: Portovenere Before reaching the dazzling shores of Cinque Terre, make a stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Portovenere. This picturesque coastal village is renowned for its colorful houses, dramatic cliffs, and the enchanting Church of St. Peter. Take a leisurely stroll along the harbor and savor the delicious seafood dishes at a local trattoria.
As you meander through the enchanting landscapes of Emilia Romagna, it’s impossible to ignore the region’s deep-rooted love affair with food and wine. The recent renaissance of Lambrusco, the region’s bubbly red gem, is a testament to the passionate efforts of local winemakers who have worked tirelessly to restore its reputation. In this article, we’ll reveal why now is the perfect time to embrace Lambrusco and explore the culinary treasures of Emilia Romagna.
Reviving a Bubbly Legacy
Lambrusco, with its vivacious effervescence and refreshing character, has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. Pioneers like Giorgio Medici have led the charge in refining the fermentation process, ensuring a consistently high-quality end product. Wineries across Emilia Romagna have embraced this newfound dedication to excellence, resulting in a new generation of Lambrusco wines that are delighting palates worldwide.
The 2019 Matilde di Canossa Lambrusco Awards showcased the finest offerings from each Appellation of Origin area. From delicate fizz to knockout perlage, there is a Lambrusco variety to suit any taste and pair with dishes from pizza to sushi. Explore the diverse range of Lambrusco wines, including Lambrusco Reggiano, Lambrusco di Modena, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Colli di Scandiano e Canossa Lambrusco, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, Lambrusco Mantovano, and Colli di Parma. Each variety offers unique flavors, colors, and bouquets that perfectly complement the region’s rich culinary heritage.
Discover the Charm of Lambrusco Wineries
A visit to the prestigious Medici Ermete winery offers a tantalizing glimpse into the world of Lambrusco. Here, you can explore the family’s historic cellar, indulge in a guided tasting, and marvel at the traditional “acetaia” where the region’s prized balsamic vinegar is aged.
For a more authentic experience, venture to the charming Garuti winery in Sorbara. This delightful, family-run estate offers tastings of their award-winning Lambrusco di Sorbara, as well as a heartwarming, home-cooked meal of Emilian specialties.
Finally, treat yourself to the luxury of Opera 02, a chic winery and resort set amidst the scenic Modenese hills. Savor a gourmet meal on the panoramic terrace, overlooking the vineyards, as you sip their exceptional Lambrusco.
Discover Award-Winning Lambruscos to Savor
As you embark on your Lambrusco journey, consider sampling some of the finest, award-winning bottles that showcase the versatility and allure of this effervescent wine. Here are five exceptional styles you must try:
Cantina Sociale di Gualtieri, Il Ligabue, Lambrusco Reggiano Secco, Emilia-Romagna 2021
With a rich and full-bodied character, this Lambrusco features dark berry fruits, floral notes, and violets. It boasts a lovely texture, a long savory aftertaste, and a delightful mousse. Pair it with the right dishes, and you’ll have an unforgettable experience. Alc 11%
This very pale salmon Lambrusco presents a pronounced nose of strawberries and cherries, accompanied by bright acidity, a creamy texture, and a delicate mousse. Its long aftertaste is sure to delight. Alc 12%
Showcasing bright dark fruit notes, this refined and easy-drinking Lambrusco serves as an excellent introduction to the world of authentic Lambrusco wines. Alc 8.5%
These five outstanding Lambruscos exemplify the remarkable diversity of this reinvigorated wine variety. As you sample these award-winning bottles, you’ll further appreciate the depth and charm that Lambrusco has to offer, elevating your wine-tasting experience in the enchanting region of Emilia Romagna.
Exploring Emilia Romagna’s Culinary Wonderland
Pair your Lambrusco explorations with a deep dive into the region’s culinary heritage. The bustling towns of Reggio Emilia and Modena are brimming with gourmet emporiums, charming cafés, and exquisite eateries. In Modena, the foodie capital of Emilia Romagna, be sure to visit the stunning cathedral and immerse yourself in the vibrant aperitivo scene.
Sample the region’s finest balsamic vinegar from traditional “acetaia” attics, and indulge in the iconic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese at the Hombre farm and cheesemaking workshop. These culinary delights perfectly complement the effervescent flavors of Lambrusco.
With its revitalized reputation and irresistible charm, there’s never been a better time to embrace Lambrusco. Delve into the alluring world of Emilia Romagna’s food and wine, and discover the magic of Lambrusco for yourself.
A Journey Through Motor Valley
As you sip on Lambrusco and savor the region’s culinary delights, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Emilia Romagna’s Motor Valley. This stretch between Modena and Bologna is home to some of Italy’s most renowned automobile brands.
For car enthusiasts and racing fanatics, a visit to the spectacular Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena is a must. While sampling Parmigiano at the Hombre farm, take a moment to appreciate the Umberto Panini Collection, a private automotive museum that houses historic Maseratis and other record-breaking cars and motorcycles.
If you’re itching to hit the road yourself, Canossa Events offers guided and independent driving itineraries aboard a range of vehicles, from the zippy Fiat 500 Abarth to a vintage Ferrari. Traverse the picturesque Emilian hills as you immerse yourself in the region’s automotive heritage.
Emilia Romagna’s Lambrusco revival has ushered in a new era of appreciation for this effervescent wine. The diverse range of Lambrusco varieties, each with its unique characteristics, offers endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment. Pair your wine journey with the region’s culinary masterpieces, from balsamic vinegar to Parmigiano Reggiano, and experience the true essence of Emilia Romagna.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, a food enthusiast, or a car aficionado, Emilia Romagna has something for everyone. As you wander through charming towns, dine in exquisite restaurants, and visit renowned wineries, you’ll undoubtedly fall in love with Lambrusco and the enchanting region that has nurtured its renaissance. So, raise a glass and toast to the vivacious spirit of Lambrusco, the sparkling treasure of Emilia Romagna.
Cinque Terre is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, and it’s easy to see why. This UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises five cliffside towns that are connected by hiking trails and a train line. The brightly colored houses, narrow alleys, and stunning views of the sea make this a must-visit attraction for anyone visiting the region.
Just south of La Spezia lies the charming fishing village of Portovenere. Here, you can explore the historic castle, visit the Gothic church of San Pietro, and enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the many seafood restaurants that line the harbor. The stunning views of the Ligurian coast make this a perfect spot for a romantic getaway or a peaceful retreat.
Massa Carrara is renowned for its marble quarries, which have been in operation since Roman times. The marble from these quarries has been used to create some of the most famous sculptures and buildings in history, including Michelangelo’s David. A visit to the quarries is a unique experience that offers a glimpse into the history and techniques of marble extraction and processing. You can take a guided tour of the quarries and learn how the marble is extracted from the mountains and transformed into works of art.
The quarries are located in the Apuan Alps, which offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. You can take a scenic drive or hike through the mountains to reach the quarries. Once there, you can see the workers extracting the marble using traditional methods, such as hammer and chisel. You can also visit the processing plants where the marble is cut and polished to perfection.
The quarries are still active today, and you can purchase marble products at the many shops and markets in Massa Carrara. From small souvenirs to large pieces of furniture, there is something for everyone. You can also visit the Museo del Marmo, a museum dedicated to the history and culture of marble in the region.
A visit to the marble quarries is a unique experience that will leave you in awe of the skill and craftsmanship that goes into creating these beautiful works of art. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone interested in history, art, or geology.
Gulf of Poets
The Gulf of Poets stretches from La Spezia to Portovenere and is known for its stunning views, crystal-clear waters, and charming fishing villages. Take a boat tour to explore the area and visit the picturesque villages of Lerici and San Terenzo. You can also hike along the coastline and enjoy the breathtaking views of the sea.
Lerici Castle is a medieval fortress that offers panoramic views of the Gulf of Poets and the surrounding hills. The castle has a rich history that dates back to the 12th century and has been the site of numerous battles and sieges. Today, it is open to the public and offers guided tours, concerts, and cultural events.
Palazzo Ducale is a historic palace in the heart of Massa Carrara that houses the Civic Museum. The museum offers a collection of art and artifacts from the region’s history, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. The palace itself is a beautiful example of Renaissance architecture and is worth a visit in its own right.
Located just north of Massa Carrara, Lunigiana is a beautiful area of Tuscany that is known for its picturesque villages, medieval castles, and stunning countryside. The area is perfect for hiking and cycling, and there are many charming towns to explore, including Fivizzano, Pontremoli, and Aulla.
Versilia is a coastal area that is famous for its beautiful beaches, elegant resorts, and lively nightlife. The area is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, and it offers a wide range of activities, including sunbathing, swimming, shopping, and dining. Some of the most popular beaches in the area include Viareggio, Forte dei Marmi, and Marina di Pietrasanta.
Forte dei Marmi
Forte is a picturesque town located in the heart of Versilia. The town is known for its elegant shops, high-end restaurants, and luxurious beach clubs. It’s a popular destination for wealthy tourists and celebrities, and it’s easy to see why. The town has a glamorous atmosphere and a beautiful beach that stretches for miles.
The town takes its name from the historic Forte dei Marmi Fortress, which was built in the 18th century to protect the town from attacks by sea. The fortress has since been restored and is now open to the public for guided tours. Visitors can explore the many rooms and corridors of the fortress and learn about its fascinating history.
The town is a popular destination for high-end fashion and luxury brands, and you can find everything from designer clothes and accessories to fine jewelry and watches. The town also has a weekly market that takes place every Wednesday, where you can browse a wide selection of clothing, accessories, and household goods.
Forte dei Marmi is also home to a number of excellent restaurants and cafes. The town’s seaside location means that there is a strong focus on seafood, and you can enjoy everything from fresh fish and shellfish to octopus and squid. The town is also known for its excellent gelato and pastries, and there are many cafes and bakeries where you can indulge in a sweet treat.
One of the most popular attractions in Forte dei Marmi is its beautiful beach. The beach stretches for miles and is lined with luxurious beach clubs that offer everything from sun loungers and umbrellas to bars and restaurants. The water is clear and inviting, and it’s a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. You can also rent paddleboats and kayaks to explore the coastline or take a sunset cruise on a sailboat.
Fosdinovo Castle is an impressive medieval fortress located in the hills above Massa Carrara. The castle dates back to the 11th century and was built to protect the surrounding countryside from invaders. The castle has been restored and is now open to the public for guided tours, medieval banquets, and cultural events.
The castle is perched on a hilltop and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. From the top of the castle, you can see for miles in every direction and get a sense of the strategic importance of the fortress. The castle has a rich history that includes sieges, battles, and even a famous love story.
Inside the castle, you can explore the many rooms and corridors that make up the fortress. The castle has a number of interesting features, including a drawbridge, a moat, and a chapel. The castle also has a large courtyard that was once used for jousting and other medieval games.
In addition to its historic significance, Fosdinovo Castle is also known for its cultural events. The castle hosts a number of concerts, art exhibits, and other cultural events throughout the year. These events provide a unique opportunity to experience the castle in a different way and to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside.
The story of the ghost of Bianca Maria Aloisa, daughter of Giacomo Malaspina and Olivia Grimaldi, has long been associated with Castello Malaspina. According to legend, Bianca was girl who fell in love with someone who her father did not approve of. In an effort to break up the relationship, her father had her walled up alive in a room with her faithful dog and a boar, which were symbols of her rebellion.
During restoration work at the castle, the remains of the young girl and the animals were discovered. Since then, many visitors to the castle have reported sightings of a ghostly figure resembling Bianca. Witnesses have described seeing a young girl with long hair passing through the castle walls. The legend of Bianca’s ghost has become a source of fascination for many, and experts in the occult and historical research have investigated the sightings.
One particularly eerie aspect of the legend is the bedroom dedicated to Bianca. The bed in the room is said to emit the sound of a beating heart, and those who are brave enough to touch it claim to feel a cold breeze blowing across their hands. The pomegranates placed at the four corners of the bed are also said to hold some mystical significance.