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Emilia Romagna

Since Rick Steves does not have a guidebook on Emilia Romagna, does anyone have a recommendation of a good resource?

Posted by
483 posts

I live half the year near Modena. A beautiful area! Some of the cities/towns have information online. Bologna, Modena, Ferrara, Parma, Piacenza, Ravenna.... lots to see as well as smaller towns... Imola, Vignola, Fidenza.... Known for food and fast cars!! A great place to visit.

Posted by
237 posts

We spent a week based in Bologna in 2018. We visited Ferrara, Ravenna, San Marino, Parma and Modena. Wonderful. We didn't use a guidebook, but found plenty of information just searching online. All by public transport and as mentioned, fantastic food in every stop.

Posted by
504 posts

My go-to guidebook that RS doesn’t have a guidebook on is Lonely Planet because it tells you when the next edition will be out and is the book RS uses for places outside of what he covers. My second choice is Rough Guides (RG), but I wait to purchase it just before I leave home because RG doesn’t let you know when the next edition will be available.

Posted by
2640 posts

Linda -- or anyone else -- can you remind me which palace has an indoor staircase built for horses? I visited there in the 80s and I think it was in either Mantova or Ferrara, but I'm not sure. I've tried Googling "palace with stairs for horses" but no luck.

In any case, it was lovely and evocative to see!

Posted by
178 posts

@epltd
A staircase for horses was quite common in Middleage and Renaissance. The main one in Palazzo d'Accursio (the town hall) of Bologna was used even for horses to reach first floor. In the Mantova's castle there is another one: the Scala dei Cavalli.
There is another one in Castello di Scipione Pallavicino in Salsomaggiore Terme (Parma).
Can be even remembered the "Donkey street" in Brisighella: a covered street at the first floor used for donkeys too.

In general when you are in a building older than the XVIII century and you find a staircase with low and wide steps, 90% was designed to be used for horses and donkeys too. Is valid everywhere in Italy (and in other countries of course)

As guidebook in general I don't like very much LP or RG: too general and too few out-of-bidden-path suggestions: often sold as something "strange or exotic", but at the end the tourists who are following that guides are gathered in very few places (whom become overcrowded...).
The Touring Club guides I believe are much better. Are called in Italy "the green guides" for the color of the cover. The most are in Italian, but there are even English versions: Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, Modena, Parma...
About guides I suggest you even to purchase one at the Tourist office. Often guides done by local touristic agencies are very well done and sometimes even free (or cheap). Often are in English or other languages.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you, everyone, for these great suggestions. I appreciate your time and thoughtfulness in answering my question and steering me to this part of the forum. Grazie mille.

Posted by
2640 posts

I appreciate the comments from @ricky very much. It must have been the Scala dei Cavalli in the castle in Mantova (Mantua) that I saw, and I honestly didn't know that a horse/donkey staircase was a common construction feature during that period of history!

Posted by
178 posts

Sorry for the OT, but yes: was common for two reasons. Sometimes to allow rulers and in general rich guests to reach the upper floor (first floor in Italy is called "piano nobile" = noble floor, because was the one used by highborn people) where they live in a very easy way. And when the staircases were large or opened with an arcade means even being view by normal people: ostentation was very important, show how different they were.
On the other side a staircase suitable for horses could be used to transport heavy loads, like weapons or food. Imagine bring water and half cows or pigs daily in a kitchen at the first floor only by hands! Or, after XIV century, bring cannons and arquebuses at higher floors where they were used...

Posted by
625 posts

In Brisighella (southwest of Faenza) we enjoyed walking along the 14th century Via del Borgo (also called Via degli Asini) --- it's a road inside a building on the piano nobile and was used by donkey carts. The town is well worth visiting.

Posted by
82 posts

In addition to reading guide books ahead of arrival, my first stop is the tourist office in the city. The staff has generally been quite welcoming and able to provide current information. Bologna had a free city tour and the guide gave excellent restaurant suggestions. When staying more than overnight, I often make several trips to the tourist office and have always received helpful timely advice.

Posted by
26 posts

I don't see them recommended here often, but I love the Blue Guides. They are not travel guides, but art and architecture guides. They are very detailed and for Italy you can get one for Rome, Central Italy, Southern Italy and Northern Italy. They can be very helpful for researching things you want to see that you didn't know existed until you read about it in the Blue Guide!