Cities of Art from Rimini to Piacenza

11 cities of art, 3 of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites

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Numbers are a good starting point to learn about the wealth of Emilia-Romagna’s artistic and cultural heritage. What is more, this heritage is almost entirely laid out along a single straight line, following the path of the Roman road, Via Emilia, an ancient route of history and culture that goes from Rimini to Piacenza, stopping at Cesena, Forlì, Faenza, Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma

Two roads then branch off the Via Emilia leading to Ravenna and Ferrara, the only cities of art in the region that deviate from this main axis.

Along with Modena, the latter two have received the important recognition of being listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites thanks to a historical heritage that has made them unique throughout the world. Ravenna is home to eight early-Christian and Byzantine monuments that act as the guardians of spectacular mosaics, which enchant all those who observe them. In Ferrara, city of the Renaissance, the historic city centre has become a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as the ancient residences of the Este family, the Delizie Estensi, and the nearby Po Delta Park. And then there is the Piazza Grande, the Cathedral and the Ghirlandina Tower in Modena, all marvels of Romanesque architecture.

These UNESCO World Heritage sites are flanked with the ancient university city of Bologna, crisscrossed by more than 38 km of colonnades and a UNESCO City of Music. Music is a theme that is also close to the heart of Parma, since it is linked with the famous composer Giuseppe Verdi and the conductor Arturo Toscanini; the city is also one of the richest in terms of PDO and PGI products in Italy, a fact that earned it the title of UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy in 2015.

Moreover, in Emilia, there is the place where the Italian tricolour flag was born, Reggio Emilia, celebrated in the Museo Tricolore. However, the city is also a destination for contemporary art lovers, with its Maramotti Contemporary Art Collection, which houses over 200 works of art. On the border with Lombardy, we encounter Piacenza, lapped by the River Po, and its historic city centre with equestrian statues standing proud in Piazza Cavalli. 

Moving on to the other end of the region, we arrive in Rimini, the historic homeland of Romagna's hospitality and the city of Fellini. However, the city also surprises for its monuments from the ancient Roman period scattered throughout the historic city centre: the Arch of Augustus, the Bridge of Tiberius and the splendid Domus del Chirurgo, the House of the Surgeon.

Romagna’s cities of art do not end here. Moving north, we have Cesena with its Renaissance Malatestiana Library, the oldest in Italy, which is listed as one of UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” sites; Forlì, a city designed in the Italian Rationalist style, which is best explored by following a tour, such as the Modern Architecture Bike Tour, and finally Faenza, the city of ceramics par excellence, home of the International Museum of Ceramics (MIC), a monument designated by UNESCO as a “testament to a Culture of peace”.