Regional> Emilia-Romagna


There's an easy way to tell if you're in Emilia or Romagna. Pull up to a local house, and ask for a drink. If they give you water, you're in Emilia; if it's wine, it must be Romagna. (This little geography test must have been written by a Romagnan!) The truth is that both halves of this region pride themselves on their friendliness, generosity and excellent food and drink. Opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, filmmaker Federico Fellini, composer Giuseppe Verdi and writer Ludovico Ariosto are a few of the region's well-known natives. Emilia-Romagna stretches across a northern swath of the Italian peninsula, dividing Northern and Central Italy. The flat, wide banks of the Po River and the foggy Padano plain characterize the northern half of the region while Apennine ridges rise up in the south. Most of Emilia-Romagna's cities lie along the Via Emilia, an ancient road that crosses the region from Piacenza in the west to Rimini (and the Adriatic Sea) in the east. Marco Emilio Lepido, a Roman consul, constructed the road in the 2nd century B.C. and named it after himself. Subsequently, the road gave its name to the region. Romagna, to the east, is named for the Romans who once occupied it. Emilia-Romagna's cities have a grand history behind them. Bologna, the regional capital, has long been admired for its superb university, one of the oldest in Europe. Ravenna's churches teem with intricate Byzantine mosaics, due to its former role as capital of the Byzantine Empire. Ferrara was once dubbed "the first modern city in Europe," after the aristocratic Este family filled it with a maze of medieval streets, castle-like palazzi and numerous works of art. Reggio-Emilia takes credit for having created the tricolore, Italy's tri-color flag. Innovation and design still characterize Emilia-Romagna. Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini manufacture snazzy sports cars in the region. Visitors are welcome at the Ferrari factory and gallery in Maranello, loaded with prize specimens of the slick automobile. Formula One car racing is very popular, with a well-known race track in Imola. Despite the region's talent for producing sleek speed machines, most people get around by bike, even in major cities. (It helps that much of the region is flat!).

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