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Brisighella or Castelvetro di Modena Lodgings in Emilia Romagna

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OK, so after my previous post, I think we will spend half our time in Bologna (4-5 nights) in order to both see the city of Bologna and to travel, by train, to places like Parma, Modena, etc. And then we will choose one countryside area to spend the second half of our days (4-5 nights) in order to visit the coumtryside, the small towns and villages, and all those beautiful places that you need a car to visit.

So my question is this : Pick a lodging in Brisighella or Castelvetro di Modena and the questions are these :

1) Cost up to 100 Euros per night for a couple
2) which place is more picturesque and has more of a country feel to it
3) anyone have a SPECIFIC B&B or agriturismo to recommend in either one
4) which place has easier "getting in-getting out" options when driving out and back in after a dinner
5) Any other plusses/minusses for each one

Many thanks in advance.

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    The pluses and minuses have more to do with what other sights you want to see using these towns as a "base" than the other issues that you have raised. Meaning, Brisighella is a convenient base for day trips by car that are east and north Brisighella (and Bologna), while Castelvetro di Modena is more convenient for sights west, north and south of it and Bologna.

    As for dinner, if you are basing in either town you might as well eat dinner in town, but you won't have trouble in either place finding parking at night. If you are seeking a countryside experience, you might do better to pick an agriturismo or highly regarded hotel-restaurant (highly regarded for its kitchen). The towns of Castelvetro di Modena and Brisighella are towns and the countryside is the countryside.

    Just in general, be prepared for the fact that the rural countryside of the Emila Romagna is not the UNESCO world heritage expanse of seamless photo ops that the val d'Orcia of Tuscany is. The popularity of southern Tuscany is that is delivers a "step back in time" immersion like Venice or Lucca does for many tourists. You can spend hours at a time there not seeing anything modern or industrial, even if you are driving rather than walking. But even the most agricultural and traditional areas of the Emilia Romagna are a patchwork of some modern and some "pristine" views. This is not an area of tourism, but an area of work, or else an area of vacation homes for people living in Bologna or Firenze. Plus the natural landscape is rougher, more mountainous, or more plain (as is river valley plain).

    If the landscape of the Emilia Romagna speaks to you (as it does to me), there is charm and texture, and some really lovely unspoiled vistas that will rival those of Tuscany and elsewhere. It is really very, very earthy, not manicured, and a living place. The multiplicity of castle towns is a joy, but not all of them are in immaculate picturesque surroundings. But it is a fascinating corner of human civilization, filled with high accomplishment in ceramics, food production, music and artistic endeavor -- and much of it persists to this day.

    Hope that helps!

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    It occurs to me to add that it helps to recall that Ceasar crossed the Rubicon in Emilia-Romagna, and it also once the seat of Byzantium, and that it contains Europe's oldest university, not to mention it also bred Mussolini and Verdi and Fellini, and today it not only contains Ferrari and other motor racing, it has Italy's "research triangle" when it comes to science, but it also is home of historic ceramic making and an important locus of Italy's national food culture and now today is the leading edge of Italy's luxury food exportation -- and I am sure I am forgetting many other things that are packed side by side into this one region of Italy.

    I sometimes think that Emilia-Romanga is much like California, although horizontal rather than vertical. It is quite a varied place, so good luck plucking out just a bit of it to chew on. But it is a very tasty place and you can have a lot of fun poking around, putting together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle as best you can in a few days.

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    Great replies and help Sandra. Thank you VERY much. Having been to many areas of Italy, but not yet E.-R., I am thinking it may be more "wild" in its country as maybe Umbria when compared to the sculptured "gardens" type areas of Toscana. Correct? That is fine with me.

    So if I say that we will see all of the "big cities" when we will be in Bologna (Parma, Modena, Ravenna), then which area would you think will give us more of a "national forest" type experience (rocks, water/waterfalls, hiking paths, etc.)?

    I am leaning more towards Brisighella but I am really not sure.

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    In its rural mountainous areas, it is much "wilder" and more raw in feeling than the most popular scenic destinations of Tuscany and Umbria. In the river plains and wet lands, the landscape is quite expansive and sleepy-feeling, with isolated farmhouses. I am not the only person to notice how very rich and loamy the soil of E-R is, so it feels very farm-y once you are beyond the core cities. The kind of precision farming that goes in Toscana that makes even farms look like gardens isn't a feature of E-R, but they are very fond of flower gardens.

    It would make sense to stay in Brisighella if you are going to visit Ravenna and perhaps Ferrara by car but visit Parma and perhaps Modena by train. It would also make sense to stay in Brisighella if you are thinking of heading into the southeastern portion of Emilia Romagna or the Adriatic coast.

    But if you are planning on seeing Ravenna/Ferrara before you leave Bologna, then it is better to pick a place in the hills south or southwest of Modena, or even in the vicinity of Parma, most especially if you want some real outdoor activity like invigorating hikes or waterfalls and mountain landscapes.

    You might want to look at this interactive map of nature parks in E-R, and then google up some images of ones that appear to you to be in attractive locations.

    http://www.emiliaromagnaturismo.com/en/apennines-and-nature/parks

    If you plan to combine some town visits with some very rural days of hiking and such, try to stay someplace where you don't need to spend an 30 minutes just driving to the main roads. Some of mountain settlements of the E-R are just perched in nowheresville, so stay fairly close to a highway that actually feeds into the main driving routes.

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    OK my trip is shaping up quite nicely now. We have decided to spend 5 nights in Bologna, during which we will train to probably Parma, Modena and Ravenna, as well as spending time in Bologna itself of course.

    Next we added a night to our stay so it will be 11 in total - 3 of which we will spend in Brisighella and the last 3 in Castelvetro.

    My problem is finding a place in Brisighella. I have tried many places and the ones that are considered top notch are just not answering my mails. I tried again and waited patiently.

    So if anyone has more suggestions about agriturismos / B&B's / small, homey type places in Brisighella I would appreciated it.

    ALternatively, is there any other beautiful town/village/countryside resort close to Brisighella we could base?

    Thanks again in advance

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    It is possible that some of your agriturismi have taken an extended Christmas break, or that they are just not e-mail users by nature. Which ones did you contact? If they really appeal to you, I suggest sending a fax, and ask for an e-mail response.

    Is there no nice b&b in Brisighella itself? If not, you could try looking in Dozza. I've never been in Dovadola, but it looks pleasant and, best of all, it's on a main east-west road. If you are planning on doing day trips from a base in that area, it is best to have good access in an out, and not be on some super twisty little roads all the time.

    This winery doesn't have lodgings, but it is in a very pretty part of the eastern end of Emilia-Romagna. Maybe you could use it as a marker and google around to see if you could find an agriturismo there if you would like a very rural experience of the area

    http://www.tremonti.it/EN/AziendaEN.aspx

    Or just do a google search for "agriturismi near Dovadola" and see what pops up.

    By the way, if you end up near Brisighella or Dozza, etc, consider doing a day trip to Ravenna by car from there. And if you decide to combine Modena and Parma as a single day trip, do Modena in the morning and have lunch there, then move on to Parma to arrive after 4pm -- unless you want to see the theater in Parma, which is only open in the mornings.

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    Your help is invaluable Sandra, thanks again so much. I hope you are right and they have not answered just because of extended holiday vacations. I have contacted so many that I could not begin to list them here.

    I have now also looked in Dozza and found some interesting places that I have written to. And will check also Dovadola.

    Re driving to and into Ravenna, is that a hassle? Would it be easier to train there from Bologna? We definitely took a day there into consideration but thought to do it from Bologna.

    Re Modena and Parma, why do you suggest that sequence of visit? And do you have a great place to suggest then for lunch in Modena?

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    One you decide where you are staying in eastern Emilia-Romagna, you can compare train schedules vs driving times and decide for yourself how you'd like to go to Ravenna. It is not difficult to find parking outside the historic station and walk to the sites -- but you do need to plot a route in advance. You can usually park near the train station. So it's the same distance to the sights whether you walk or drive.

    I suggested Modena in the morning so that you could visit the lovely historic market, but Bologna might give you your fill of that. The legendary place for lunch in Modena is Hostaria Giusti, but there are other good choices (Stallo del Pomodoro, Osteria Aldina, Franceschetta 58 -- all of which should be reserved ahead of time.) If you go to Parma in the afternoon by train, you can pick up some picnic food for dinner at Salumeria Garibaldi on your walk back to the train station. But again, if you want to see the theatre in Parma, then flip the order, because it is not open in the afternoon.

    If you don't mind the same seeing some of the same scenery twice, you can also visit them on separate days. On Thursday afternoons, most shops throughout Emilia Romagna close, including many in Bologna, just so you know.

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