Emilia–Romagna

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Emilia–Romagna - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Basilica di San Vitale

    The octagonal church of San Vitale was built in AD 547, after the Byzantines conquered the city, and its interior shows a strong Byzantine influence....

    The octagonal church of San Vitale was built in AD 547, after the Byzantines conquered the city, and its interior shows a strong Byzantine influence. The area behind the altar contains the most famous works, depicting Emperor Justinian and his retinue on one wall, and his wife, Empress Theodora, with her retinue, on the opposite one. Notice how the mosaics seamlessly wrap around the columns and curved arches on the upper sides of the altar area. School groups can sometimes swamp the site from March through mid-June.

    Via San Vitale, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, 48121, Italy
    0544-541688-for info

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €11 combination ticket, includes 4–5 diocesan monuments
  • 2. Camera di San Paolo

    This was the reception room for the erudite abbess Giovanna da Piacenza, who hired Correggio in 1519 to provide its decoration: mythological scenes are depicted...

    This was the reception room for the erudite abbess Giovanna da Piacenza, who hired Correggio in 1519 to provide its decoration: mythological scenes are depicted in glorious frescoes of the Triumphs of the Goddess Diana, the Three Graces, and the Three Fates.

    Via Melloni 3, Parma, Emilia-Romagna, 43121, Italy
    0521-287195

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6, Closed Wed.
  • 3. Castello Estense

    The former seat of Este power, this massive castle dominates the center of town, a suitable symbol for the ruling family: cold and menacing on...

    The former seat of Este power, this massive castle dominates the center of town, a suitable symbol for the ruling family: cold and menacing on the outside, lavishly decorated within. The public rooms are grand, but deep in the bowels of the castle are dungeons where enemies of the state were held in wretched conditions. The prisons of Don Giulio, Ugo, and Parisina have some fascinating features, like 15th-century graffiti. Lovers Ugo and Parisina (stepmother and stepson) were beheaded in 1425 because Ugo's father, Niccolò III, didn't like the fact that his son was cavorting with his stepmother. The castle was established as a fortress in 1385, but work on its luxurious ducal quarters continued into the 16th century. Representative of Este grandeur are the Sala dei Giochi, painted with athletic scenes, and the Sala dell'Aurora, decorated to show the times of the day. The terraces of the castle and the hanging garden have fine views of the town and countryside. You can traverse the castle's drawbridge and wander through many of its arcaded passages whenever the castle gates are open.

    Piazza Castello, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, 44121, Italy
    0532-419180

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €12, Closed Tues.
  • 4. Mausoleo di Galla Placidia

    The little tomb and the great church stand side by side, but the tomb predates the Basilica di San Vitale by at least 100 years:...

    The little tomb and the great church stand side by side, but the tomb predates the Basilica di San Vitale by at least 100 years: these two adjacent sights are decorated with the best-known, most elaborate mosaics in Ravenna. Galla Placidia was the sister of the Roman emperor Honorius, who moved the imperial capital to Ravenna in AD 402. This mid-5th-century mausoleum is her memorial. The simple redbrick exterior only serves to enhance by contrast the richness of the interior mosaics, in deep midnight blue and glittering gold. The tiny central dome is decorated with symbols of Christ, the evangelists, and striking gold stars. Eight of the Apostles are represented in groups of two on the four inner walls of the dome; the other four appear singly on the walls of the two transepts. There are three sarcophagi in the tomb, none of which are believed to actually contain the remains of Galla Placidia. Visit early or late in the day to avoid the school groups that can sometimes swamp the Mausoleo from March through mid-June.

    Via San Vitale, 17, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, 48121, Italy
    0544-541688-for info

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €11 combination ticket, includes 4–5 diocesan monuments (€2 supplement for mausoleum)
  • 5. Mercato Storico Albinelli

    Locals and visitors flock to this fruit, vegetable, meat, and fish market with good reason. Ingredients are of the finest and of the freshest, and...

    Locals and visitors flock to this fruit, vegetable, meat, and fish market with good reason. Ingredients are of the finest and of the freshest, and visually the place is a glorious sight to behold. A restaurant inside (outside seating when the weather agrees) serves much of what comes from the market. It's been around in this current incarnation since 1931, and it's pretty easy to see why.

    via Luigi Albinelli 13, Modena, Emilia-Romagna, 41121, Italy

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun.
  • 6. Palazzo Schifanoia

    The oldest, most characteristic area of Ferrara is south of the Duomo, stretching between the Corso Giovecca and the city's ramparts. Here various members of...

    The oldest, most characteristic area of Ferrara is south of the Duomo, stretching between the Corso Giovecca and the city's ramparts. Here various members of the Este family built pleasure palaces, the best known of which is the Palazzo Schifanoia (schifanoia means "carefree" or, literally, "fleeing boredom"). Begun in the late 14th century, the palace was remodeled between 1464 and 1469. Inside is Museo Schifanoia, with its lavish interior—particularly the Salone dei Mesi, which contains an extravagant series of frescoes showing the months of the year and their mythological attributes.

    Via Scandiana 23, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, 44121, Italy
    0532-244949

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €12, Closed Mon.
  • 7. Pilotta Museums

    With one ticket, you can visit the Pilotta museums. The Galleria Nazionale contains masterpieces by Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Bronzino. The Baroque Teatro Farnese,...

    With one ticket, you can visit the Pilotta museums. The Galleria Nazionale contains masterpieces by Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Bronzino. The Baroque Teatro Farnese, built in 1617–18, is made entirely of wood---though largely destroyed in a 1944 Allied bombing raid, it's been flawlessly restored. In the Archeological Museum see Etruscan, Roman, and Egyptian artifacts; the Palatina Library houses more than 500 religious manuscripts; and the Bodoniano museum covers printmaking.

    Piazza della Pilotta 15, Emilia-Romagna, 43121, Italy
    0521-220400

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €16, Closed Mon.
  • 8. Santo Stefano

    University area

    This splendid and unusual basilica contains between four and seven connected churches (authorities differ). A 4th-century temple dedicated to Isis originally occupied this site, but...

    This splendid and unusual basilica contains between four and seven connected churches (authorities differ). A 4th-century temple dedicated to Isis originally occupied this site, but much of what you see was erected between the 10th and 12th centuries. The oldest existing building is Santi Vitale e Agricola, parts of which date from the 5th century. The exquisite beehive-shape San Sepolcro contains a Nativity scene much loved by Bologna's children, who come at Christmastime to pay their respects to the Christ child. Just outside the church, which probably dates from the 5th century (with later alterations), is the Cortile di Pilato (Pilate's Courtyard), named for the basin in the center. Despite the fact that the basin was probably crafted around the 8th century, legend has it that Pontius Pilate washed his hands in it after condemning Christ. Also in the building are a museum displaying various medieval religious works and its shop, which sells honey, shampoos, and jams made by the monks.

    Via Santo Stefano 24, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, 40125, Italy
    320-9065699

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed during services
  • 9. Arco d'Augusto

    Rimini's oldest monument is the Arco d'Augusto, now stranded in the middle of a square just inside the city ramparts. It was erected in 27...

    Rimini's oldest monument is the Arco d'Augusto, now stranded in the middle of a square just inside the city ramparts. It was erected in 27 BC, making it among the oldest surviving ancient Roman arches.

    Largo Giulio Cesare at Corso d'Augusto, Rimini, Emilia-Romagna, 47923, Italy
  • 10. Basilica di San Petronio

    Piazza Maggiore

    Construction on this vast cathedral began in 1390; and the work, as you can see, still isn't finished more than 600 years later. The wings...

    Construction on this vast cathedral began in 1390; and the work, as you can see, still isn't finished more than 600 years later. The wings of the transept are missing and the facade is only partially decorated, lacking most of the marble that was intended to adorn it. The main doorway was carved in 1425 by the great Sienese master Jacopo della Quercia. Above the center of the door is a Madonna and Child flanked by Saints Ambrose and Petronius, the city's patrons. Michelangelo, Giulio Romano, and Andrea Palladio (among others), submitted designs for the facade, which were all eventually rejected. The Bolognesi had planned an even bigger church—you can see the columns erected to support the larger version outside the east end—but had to tone down construction when the university seat was established next door in 1561. The Museo di San Petronio contains models showing how it was originally supposed to look. The most important art in the church is in the fourth chapel on the left: these frescoes by Giovanni di Modena date to 1410–15.

    Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, 40125, Italy
    051-231415

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Museo di San Petronio closed Mon.
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  • 11. Battistero

    Baptisms still happen (one Saturday and one Sunday a month) in this baptistery, which has a simple pink-stone Romanesque exterior and an uplifting Gothic interior....

    Baptisms still happen (one Saturday and one Sunday a month) in this baptistery, which has a simple pink-stone Romanesque exterior and an uplifting Gothic interior. The doors are richly decorated with figures, animals, and flowers, and inside, the building is adorned with stucco figures (probably carved by Antelami) showing the months and seasons. Early-14th-century frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Christ grace the walls.

    Piazza del Duomo, Parma, Emilia-Romagna, 43121, Italy
    0521-208699

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €12
  • 12. Battistero Neoniano

    Next door to Ravenna's 18th-century cathedral, this baptistery has one of the town's most important mosaics. It dates from the beginning of the 5th century...

    Next door to Ravenna's 18th-century cathedral, this baptistery has one of the town's most important mosaics. It dates from the beginning of the 5th century AD, with work continuing through the century. In keeping with the building's role, the great mosaic in the dome shows the baptism of Christ, and beneath are the Apostles. The lowest register of mosaics contains Christian symbols, the Throne of God, and the Cross. Note the naked figure kneeling next to Christ—he is the personification of the River Jordan.

    Piazza Duomo, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, 48121, Italy
    800-303999-for info (toll-free)

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €11 combination ticket, includes 4–5 diocesan monuments, Reservations essential
  • 13. Casa Romei

    Built by the wealthy banker Giovanni Romei (1402–83), this vast structure with a graceful courtyard ranks among Ferrara's loveliest Renaissance palaces. Mid-15th-century frescoes adorn rooms...

    Built by the wealthy banker Giovanni Romei (1402–83), this vast structure with a graceful courtyard ranks among Ferrara's loveliest Renaissance palaces. Mid-15th-century frescoes adorn rooms on the ground floor; the piano nobile contains detached frescoes from local churches as well as lesser-known Renaissance sculptures. The Sala delle Sibille has a very large 15th-century fireplace and beautiful coffered wood ceilings.

    Via Savonarola 30, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, 44121, Italy
    0532-234130

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5
  • 14. Classis Ravenna–Museo della Città e del Territorio

    In Classe, a short distance outside Ravenna, this museum dazzlingly illustrates the history of Ravenna and its environs from the pre-Roman era to the Lombard...

    In Classe, a short distance outside Ravenna, this museum dazzlingly illustrates the history of Ravenna and its environs from the pre-Roman era to the Lombard conquest in AD 751. The museum occupies a refurbished sugar refinery, and with the help of multimedia presentations and panels in Italian and English, it chronicles the Roman, Ostrogoth, and Byzantine periods. Displays include bronze statuettes, stone sculptures, glassware, and mosaic fragments. A separate room summarizes the building's more recent history. It's an easy walk from Sant'Apollinare in Classe.  To get here from Ravenna, take Bus No. 4 from the station or the local train to Classe, or use the cycle path from the city center.

    VIa Classense 29, Classe, Emilia-Romagna, 48124, Italy
    0544-473717

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €4
  • 15. Domus dei Tappeti di Pietra

    This archaeological site with lovely mosaics was uncovered in 1993 during digging for an underground parking garage near the 18th-century church of Santa Eufemia. Ten...

    This archaeological site with lovely mosaics was uncovered in 1993 during digging for an underground parking garage near the 18th-century church of Santa Eufemia. Ten feet below ground level lie the remains of a Byzantine palace dating from the 5th and 6th centuries AD. Its beautiful and well-preserved network of floor mosaics displays elaborately designed patterns, creating the effect of luxurious carpets.

    Via Barbiani 16, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, 48121, Italy
    0544-473678

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €4
  • 16. Duomo

    The magnificent 12th-century cathedral has two vigilant stone lions standing guard beside the main door; inside is some notable art in styles from medieval to...

    The magnificent 12th-century cathedral has two vigilant stone lions standing guard beside the main door; inside is some notable art in styles from medieval to Mannerist. The arch of the entrance is decorated with a delicate frieze of figures representing the months of the year, a motif repeated inside the baptistery. Some of the church's original artwork still survives, notably the simple yet evocative Descent from the Cross, a carving in the right transept by Benedetto Antelami (active 1178–1230), whose masterwork is this cathedral's baptistery. It's an odd juxtaposition to turn from his austere work to the exuberant fresco in the dome, the Assumption of the Virgin by Antonio Allegri, better known to us as Correggio (1494–1534). The fresco was not well received when it was unveiled in 1530. "A mess of frogs' legs," the bishop of Parma is said to have called it. Today Correggio is acclaimed as one of the leading masters of Mannerist painting.  The fresco is best viewed when the sun is strong, as this building is not particularly well lit.

    Piazza del Duomo, Parma, Emilia-Romagna, 43121, Italy
    0521-208699
  • 17. Duomo

    Attached like a sinister balcony to the bell tower of Piacenza's 12th-century Duomo is a gabbia (iron cage), where miscreants were incarcerated naked and subjected...

    Attached like a sinister balcony to the bell tower of Piacenza's 12th-century Duomo is a gabbia (iron cage), where miscreants were incarcerated naked and subjected to the scorn of the crowd in the marketplace below. Inside the cathedral, less evocative but equally impressive medieval stonework decorates the pillars and the crypt, and there are extravagant frescoes in the dome of the cupola begun by Morazzone (1573–1626). Guercino (1591–1666) completed them upon Morazzone's death. If you're feeling strong, you can climb 136 steps to the cupola for a closer view. The Duomo can be reached by following Via XX Settembre from Piazza dei Cavalli.

    Piazza Duomo, Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, 29100, Italy
    331-4606435

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free; cupola €10
  • 18. Duomo

    The magnificent Gothic cathedral, a few steps from the Castello Estense, has a three-tier facade of slender arches and beautiful sculptures over the central door....

    The magnificent Gothic cathedral, a few steps from the Castello Estense, has a three-tier facade of slender arches and beautiful sculptures over the central door. Work began in 1135 and took more than 100 years to complete. The interior was completely remodeled in the 17th century. At this writing, the facade is scaffolded and the interior closed as part of a major restoration.

    Piazza della Cattedrale, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, 44100, Italy
    0532-207449
  • 19. Duomo

    Begun by the architect Lanfredo in 1099 and consecrated in 1184, the 12th-century Romanesque cathedral has medieval sculptures depicting scenes from Genesis on the facade,...

    Begun by the architect Lanfredo in 1099 and consecrated in 1184, the 12th-century Romanesque cathedral has medieval sculptures depicting scenes from Genesis on the facade, but walk around to the Piazza Grande side as well to see the building's marvelous arcading. It's a rare example of a cathedral having more than one principal view. The interior, completely clad in brick, imparts a sober and beautiful feel. An elaborate gallery has scenes of the Passion of Christ carved by Anselmo da Campione and his assistants circa 1160–80. The tomb of San Geminiano is in the crypt. The white-marble bell tower is known as La Torre Ghirlandina (the Little Garland Tower) because of its distinctive weather vane.

    Piazza Grande, Modena, Emilia-Romagna, 41121, Italy
    059-216078
  • 20. Fontana del Nettuno

    Piazza Maggiore

    Sculptor Giambologna's elaborate 1563–66 Baroque fountain and monument to Neptune occupying Piazza Nettuno has been aptly nicknamed "Il Gigante" (The Giant). Its exuberantly sensual mermaids...

    Sculptor Giambologna's elaborate 1563–66 Baroque fountain and monument to Neptune occupying Piazza Nettuno has been aptly nicknamed "Il Gigante" (The Giant). Its exuberantly sensual mermaids and undraped god of the sea drew fire when it was constructed—but not enough, apparently, to dissuade the populace from using the fountain as a public washing stall for centuries.

    Piazza del Nettuno, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, 40125, Italy

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