The most beautiful places in Bologna, Ravenna & Rimini

© Caridi

© Caridi

Several big cities and numerous villages, as well as an incredible amount of history, culture and fine cuisine highlight what makes Emilia Romagna so special. For many centuries, it consisted of two different regions. Emilia, the northern part of today’s political region, took its name from the Roman road Via Aemilia and emerged as an official name as early as the 2nd century, while Eastern Romagna was created in the Lombard period and originally referred to the then Byzantine territory around Ravenna. The cultural and scenic diversity can also be seen and felt in the beautiful places in Italy of the private association “I borghi più belli d’Italia”. Eight such magical places await you in the Metropolitan City of Bologna and in the Provinces of Ravenna and Rimini.


Metropolitan City of Bologna

Founded as the successor to the province of the same name, the Metropolitan City of Bologna is naturally home to the eponymous capital of Emilia Romagna. For many, it is synonymous with Italian cuisine, but also with art and culture. The city has even had its own UNESCO World Heritage Site with its arcades since 2021. However, the surrounding area also has many a beauty to offer. One of the most beautiful places in Italy awaits you in the Metropolitan City of Bologna and is known far beyond the country’s borders for its impressive architecture and fascinating arts.



Colourful paintings adorn the walls and facades in and around Dozza (approx. 6,500 inhabitants). These are the traces of the Biennale del Muro Dipinto. At this event, which takes place every two years, local and foreign artists decorate the town with their permanent paintings and frescoes, focussing on both classical motifs and modern, often somewhat grotesque concepts. Walking through Dozza today, you feel like you are in a huge open-air museum. The old churches and buildings, most of which date back to the 12th century, punctuate this impression. The Rocca Sforzesca, which towers high above the town, is undoubtedly a major highlight. Converted from a fortress into a noble palace in later years, the good view even extends as far as Imola in fine weather.


Province of Ravenna

One of the country’s most popular art cities can be found where the Western Roman emperor had his seat in the early 5th century until the fall of the empire. Large parts of Ravenna are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, accompanied by an almost unimaginable abundance of other magnificent places in the surrounding Province of Ravenna. Its two most beautiful places are also more than worth a visit.


Bagnara di Romagna

One of the best-preserved examples of a castrum in the whole of Emilia Romagna stands in the middle of ancient marshland. Bagnara di Romagna (approx. 2,400 inhabitants) was probably already inhabited in the middle of the 9th century. Destroyed in a battle between Bologna/Faenza and Imola in 1222, Bagnara was rebuilt on the site of an old house of prayer. Between the 14th and 15th century, the Visconti came to power and developed the town into a massive defence system – a military camp or “castrum”. Huge walls still protect Bagnara di Romagna to this day. A magnificent museum with exhibits from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages awaits you in the old castle, another Rocca Sforzesca.



Three huge rocks, the so-called “Tre Colli”, dominate the landscape of Brisighella (approx. 7,100 inhabitants). Even from afar, the most important sights of this village can be seen from these elevations. The bell tower, built in 1290, rebuilt in 1548 and renovated many times since then, the imposing fortifications with a museum dedicated to rural life and the Monticino sanctuary with a terracotta image of the Madonna and Child “greet” you on your way to Brisighella. You must visit Piazza Marconi in the heart of the town. Situated next to the impressive town hall Palazzo Maghinardo, the covered Via del Borgo, also known as the “donkey street”, leads through Brisighella on a slightly elevated plain. One side of the street is lined with small entrances to the ancient houses that are still inhabited, while the other, with its arched constructions, offers a view of the village life below.




Province of Rimini

Last but not least, we head for the beach. Year after year, the Province of Rimini attracts countless visitors from all over the world who spend their holidays here, as well as many Italians who populate the long coastal strip, especially in Ferragosto. The hinterland is all too often overlooked and is home to many a treasure. Five of the most beautiful places in Italy await you in the Province of Rimini.


Montefiore Conca

Retrace the steps of ancient noble families time and time again around Rimini. This is also the case in Montefiore Conca (approx. 2,200 inhabitants), which has known many rulers but still retains the splendour of the Malatesta era. This is particularly true of the fortress, which the noble family once used as a holiday residence to receive emperors and popes. There are also several magnificent churches, such as San Paolo, Madonna di Bonora and Ospedale della Misericordia, all richly decorated with frescoes and paintings. The marvellous nature all around Montefiore Conca invites you to take short hikes and walks.



A beautiful medieval town centre with well-preserved town walls magically attracts you: Montegridolfo (approx. 1,000 inhabitants) managed to preserve its original charm as well, even though the town has been severely devastated several times. Nevertheless, Montegridolfo was rebuilt again and again during the Malatesta era, and its defences were repeatedly reinforced. The old fortifications have been lovingly restored since and today, like large parts of the village, function as a kind of huge open-air museum. The small Chiesa di San Rocco is definitely worth a visit. Look forward to breathtaking things from the Gothic-inspired portal to the numerous frescoes.


San Giovanni in Marignano

The so-called “granary of the Malatesta” is crossed by the river Ventena, surrounded by numerous cultivated fields and vineyards. However, San Giovanni in Marignano (approx. 9,400 inhabitants) is not only impressive in terms of its landscape, although the contrast with the industrial and service area on the plain is quite spectacular. An abundance of small churches awaits you in and around the fortified village of San Giovanni in Marignano. Santa Maria in Pietrafitta with the remains of a Carolingian balustrade, San Pietro with its magnificent high altar, and Santa Lucia, which rests on ancient remains, await you. In the recent past, the old defence complex was extensively renovated and now welcomes you with further insights into the Malatesta period.


San Leo

One of the most beautiful places in Italy was mentioned in Dante Aligheri’s Divine Comedy: the history of San Leo (approx. 2,800 inhabitants) can probably be traced back to a Roman military camp in the 3rd century BC. In contrast to other villages in the province of Rimini, the Malatesta couldn’t manage to establish themselves here. Until their extinction in the early 16th century, the Montefeltro governed of San Leo. You can see where they left their mark; for example, in the San Leo fortress, enthroned high above the old town centre on a triangular ground plan. The centre has also managed to retain its original magic with countless small palazzi and spectacular churches – the Romanesque basilica La Pieve and the yellow sandstone cathedral of San Leone.


© Lorenzelli

© Lorenzelli


Prehistoric traces of the Villanovan culture (12 to 9th century BC) and the Etruscans, rich amber finds and the birthplace of Malatesta da Verucchio who founded an entire dynasty: Verucchio (approx. 10,000 inhabitants) is undoubtedly a place steeped in history. Malatesta’s home, the Rocca Malatestiana, is one of the family’s largest fortresses and was extended by his successors. Verucchio’s history comes alive in the romantic Gothic parish church of San Marino, built around 990. The oldest Franciscan monastery in Romagna, the archaeological museum and the mighty 15th century bell tower are also well worth a visit.


These most beautiful places in the Provinces of Ravenna and Rimini and the Metropolitan City of Bologna combine medieval charm with military power and magnificent art. Combined with marvellous culinary delights and fantastic landscapes for hikers and cyclists, Emilia Romagna also knows how to impress beyond its major tourist hotspots. Discover a slightly different side to this beautiful region on your next holiday!

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