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Emilia Romagna: A Vacation of 1000 Experiences

When visiting Emilia Romagna the only trouble you’ll face is deciding what to do! The region is home to to a variety of destinations that will fit every traveler’s needs.

From amazing historical cities famed for their art and culture, to the beautiful lush greenery of the Apennines mountains which become ski resorts in the winter, and in summer are the perfect place for trekking and enjoying nature.

When mentioning Emilia Romagna we can’t forget about the timeless fascination of the Motor Valley and its historic brands, from Ducati, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Pagani just to name a few. If cars aren’t your thing, Emilia Romagna is home to the Adriatic Riviera with its 110 km of beaches which hosts the largest amusement park district in Europe, as well as a variety of bars and restaurants where you could enjoy the typical cuisine.

The region is also home to world renowned wellness spas and thermal baths, there are 24 in the region located in 19 different area ranging from the Adriatic sea to the villages of the Apennines. The spas and baths are popular among tourist and locals and offer a range of services for visitors to feel pampered and to connect with the nature around them.

Enogastronomy is king in Emilia Romagna, which boasts 44 DOP and IGP certifications for its typical food products, including internationally renowned favourites such as Prosciutto di Parma to Parmigiano Reggiano, from Lambrusco to Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena and Reggio Emilia. The region also has many delicious restaurants including 23 Michelin rated restaurants and even the world’s first “food theme park” called FICO Eataly World located in Bologna.

Emilia Romagna is the region of festivals! From art festivals such as the Verdi festival in Parma, dedicated to the famous composer and the Ravenna festival, celebrating opera to exciting sporting events such as the Grand Prix of San Marino and the Ironman of Cervia, one of the biggest triathlon events in the world.

To learn more about this beautiful region we spoke to Emanuele Burioni, director of Apt Servizi Emilia Romagna, the regional tourism promotion agency:

Which tourist destinations in the region are most appreciated in general and by North America visitors?

By virtue of their uniqueness and international appeal, the Motor Valley and the Food Valley have experienced new records in terms of foreign tourist visits in recent years.
Also, thanks to Emilia Romagna’s culinary tradition, our DOP and IGP products along with the Michelin star restaurants have been a major draw for tourist looking to experience authentic Italian food. Tourists on a food and wine tour of the region can also visit our 25 food museums, our world class training centres and culinary institutes such as the International School of Cuisine Alma in Colorno and Casa Artusi in Forlimpopo, also a can’t-miss stop would be the city of Parma, which was named the official city of gastronomy by UNESCO in 2015.

Another strong attractor for foreign visitors, from North America in particular, is our “cities of art”, with their UNESCO heritage monuments, which this year have seen a real boom in tourists. The data processed by the Regional Observatory on Tourism for the first eight months of 2018 tell us that there has been increases in arrivals and foreign visitors by 10.8% and 10.6% respectively.

What are your goals for the near future?

We are seeing a growing interest in outdoor experiential tourism in the Apennine mountain range, the area is dotted with a variety of villages to discover and a network of trails for walkers and hikers. We are also seeing a rise in popularity in spa vacations within our Romagna Wellness Valley so we are currently looking to expand our offerings in those sectors.

Furthermore, we are looking to set up a variety of events surrounding our upcoming celebrations for the centenary of the birth of Federico Fellini in 2020 and the five hundred years of the death of Dante Alighieri in 2021. The region will also be hosting new sporting events in coming years which will be sure to bring new visitors such as the Giro d’Italia which will start in Bologna in 2019, and at the U21 European Football Championships, whose semi-finals will be played in Bologna, Cesena and Reggio Emilia.

In general, however, I think that the entire region is increasingly attracting the attention of visitors for its incredible diversity of tourism options and as alternative to other Italian regions suffering from overtourism.

What effect has Food and Wine tourism had on the Emilia Romagna Region?

According to the Isnart-Unioncamere report in 2017, food and wine tourism has accounted for over 110 million visitors (47 million Italian and 63 foreign visitors), double compared to 2016, with an economic impact of over €12 billion.

Emilia Romagna’s Food Valley, with its unique offerings and international appeal is the best example of Made in Italy products. During the 12 months of the year, throughout the region, there are many events (festivals, exhibitions, tastings, etc) that allow you to discover the Emilia Romagna table in all of its glory. For the last four years we have been promoting gastronomic tourism through our workshop, Good Italy Workshop, which attracts dozens of tour operators from all over the world, specialized in food tourism, who discover our territories in hopes that they include Emilia Romagna in their vacation packages.

Finally, how have tourists reacted to existing tourism facilities in Emilia Romagna?

Foreign tourists are very interested in efficient infrastructures such as high speed trains and airports, and are very much attracted by innovative hotel services. We have seen the greatest satisfaction from tourists in facilities, such as spas, hotels, farms, museums, that have focused on quality and on the inclusion of experiential tourism (cooking lessons, balloon rides, truffle excursion). Overall, the experiential tourism that is most successful are those which promote the identity of the territory, the folklore and the experience of the “Italian Way of Life” or the “dolce vita”.