Visiting Emilia-Romagna: The Valmarecchia

Oh, Valmarecchia!  I’m so happy to have met you.

After a handful of trips to popular and busy destinations (most of which were outside Italy), I’ve been itching to spend more time in Italy exploring lesser known places, especially in the region surrounding Bologna.

I got the chance to visit the Valmarecchia during my stay at Blogville (see my last post), and this beautiful valley fit the bill to a T.

The Valmarecchia (also called the Marecchia Valley) is a long valley that borders the Marecchia River, which runs from the Apennines in Tuscany into the Adriatic Sea near Rimini.

Map from AUSL Rimini

The Marecchia Valley is truly a treat for the eyes.  Its landscape alternates between rolling green hills and castles and villages perched atop impressive cliffs. The villages themselves are picturesque with lovely old homes, dotted with bright flowers and hanging laundry. Then you add the panoramic backdrop of the countryside and ocean and it’s enough to make your eyes well up.

View from Montebello

House on the hill in Verucchio

Porta di S. Agostino in Verucchio

View of Verucchio from Rocca del Sasso

From the valley and neighboring villages, you also get a great view of the Republic of San Marino (one of Europe’s smallest countries, which is ALL-hill and surrounded by Italy on all sides).

In addition to its panoramic views, the Valmarecchia is rich in archaelogical and historical sites.  Most of the castles in the region were built by the rivaling Malatesta and Montefeltro families during the early and late Middle Ages.  The area is also known for its traditional food products and crafts, including wine, olive oil, Fossa & Squacquerone cheeses, the Piadina Romagnola, and rust-dyed hand-printed cloth.

Villages to Visit

I’m only writing here about villages I’ve visited myself, so the list will likely grow (or I’ll write a new post) as I continue to explore the Valmarecchia.  You can research other villages using the resources at the bottom of this post.  I first visited the Valmarecchia from Rimini during my stay at Blogville, but the valley can also be visited as a day trip from Bologna (1.25 – 2 hrs depending on which parts you visit).  While I’ve provided some recommendations for places to see and eat, all the villages are small, walkable, and have ample signage, so wander freely, get lost, and enjoy!

A medieval town rich with history.  The hilly landscape provides great views of the town itself and the surrounding Marecchia Valley.

View of Verucchio from Rocca del Sasso

What to see: The main square Piazza Malatesta, the Malatesta castle Rocca del Sasso, the pre-Etruscian artifacts found in Verucchio tombs at Museo Civico Archeologico, & the stunning view through Porta di S. Agostino

Where to eat: Ristorante La Rocca, via Rocca, 34

Some links: Discover the area – Verucchio
{ciao bologna photoblog} Post-bike/hike gelato
{blog} Verucchio, we love you! – Part I and Verucchio, we love you! – Part II (scroll down halfway for the English versions)

San Leo
The view of San Leo from afar is impressive as the Fortress of San Leo is built on a cliff with steep sides, and seems to grow out of the rock on which it is built.

The San Leo Fortress – this angle doesn’t quiet capture how the fortress is built on a steep cliff. Guess I’ll have to go back!

What to see: La Fortezza, il Duomo, la Pieve, & la Torre Civica

Where to eat: Osteria Belvedere, via Toselli, 19

Some links: Discover the area – San Leo
San Leo Tourism (in Italian)
{ciao bologna photoblog} Can you tell we liked San Leo? Couldn’t stop taking pictures
{ciao bologna photoblog} Pranzo at Osteria Belvedere in San Leo

A charming town with narrow, picturesque streets that open up onto quiet piazzas.  Santarcangelo provides views of San Marino on one side and the sea on the other.

Laundry on a street in Santarcangelo

What to see: The mysterious underground caves, Stamperia Artigiana Marchi where they make traditional cloth linens & use the only mangono in the world to iron them, the Malatesta fortress, & Piazza Ganganelli

Where to eat: La Sangiovesa, Piazza Beato Simone Balacchi, 14
Ristorante Lazaroun, Via del Platano, 21
Calycanto, via Dei Nobili, 14
Osteria L’Ottavino, via del Platano, 27
Agriturismo Locanda Antiche Macine, via Provinciale Sogliano, 1540

Some links: Discover the area – Santarcangelo
Santarcangelo Tourism (in Italian)
{ciao bologna photoblog} Escaping the heat in one of the grotte di Santarcangelo
{ciao bologna photoblog}  Keeping Tradition Alive at Stamperia Artigiana Marchi
{blog} Un mistero si nasconde sotto la terra di Santarcangelo (in Italian)
{blog} Santarcangelo di Romagna: sotto c’è un mistero… (in Italian)

Petrella Guidi
A tiny Medieval village.  It’s no surprise that this town now often serves as an inspirational haven for artists because it is extremely scenic and serene.  There are no roads, only brick and grass paths.  When we visited, we saw two men in front of one of the houses, but otherwise, we had the whole town to ourselves.  Bring a picnic or just sit by the castle and take in the scenery.

View of Petrella Guidi’s bench from the castle

What to see: Memorial to director Federico Fellini.  The story goes that Fellini spent a lot of time in Petrella Guidi and had always wanted to be buried in a peaceful place with a bench so that people could sit or chat with him.  Although Fellini was buried in Rimini, his colleague, Tonino Guerra, later proposed that a memorial for him was built here.

Some links: Petrella Guidi Website (in Italian)
{ciao bologna photoblog} Petrella Guidi
{blog} Medieval village of Petrella Guidi in Italy

Another lovely village with views onto the Marecchia and Use valleys.

Il Castello del Montebello

What to see: Il Castello di Montebello

Some links: {ciao bologna photoblog} Visiting the ghost of Azzurrina at Castello di Montebello
{blog} Nel Castello di Montebello con Azzurina (English translation provided)

Additional Valmarecchia Resources

Valmarecchia Tourism Portal (in Italian)

{PDF} Castles & Fortresses in the Rimini Area

{PDF} A guide to the Malatesta Seignory (the Marecchia Valley section starts on p. 36)

I first visited the Valmarecchia as part of the Blogville project, an innovative social media initiative hosted by Emilia-Romagna Tourism.  While Blogville hosted me in a sweet beach-side apartment in Rimini, all opinions in this post are my own.


13 thoughts on “Visiting Emilia-Romagna: The Valmarecchia

  1. Aurora Domeniconi

    Hi guys,
    thank you for sharing my own posts on Verucchio. I live 5 Km from Santarcangelo, that you also mention in the article, and I agree with you that the Valmarecchia is very fascinating. I am also up to write a full post on Petrella Guidi, one of my favorite sites in the nearby.
    I’ll come back to read more about both your experiences in Bologna and your participation to the Blogville project.

    1. ciaobologna Post author

      Ciao, Aury! I stumbled upon your post during my research and it was one of my main inspirations for heading to Verucchio (that and a biking itinerary I found from Rimini to Ponte Verucchio). Blogville organized a couple of outings for us, but the rest of the time, we were left to our own devices to explore as we pleased. Loved your photos from Verucchio. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for your Petrella Guidi post. Un sorriso!

      1. Aurora Domeniconi

        Wow, it’s such a pleasure being of inspiration to you! Despite closeness, I never enjoy Verucchio the way it deserves. I was told it’s wonderful in May, when a blooming “maggiociondolo” colors each and every corner with yellow sparks 🙂 Of course I missed it last May…
        Since I’ve recently changed my job, I’m getting acquainted with my new duties. This does not leave much time for blogging… Hope I could go back to my passions soon 🙂 In the meantime, if you have the opportunity to go to Petrella Guidi don’t miss it!
        As to Blogville, the freedom to explore and tour was what made it a perfect project indeed!
        PS. How good to exchange a few words in English!

      2. ciaobologna Post author

        Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to return to Verucchio next May. I did visit Petrella Guidi during my stay at Blogville and loved it. Luke and I pretty much had the entire town to ourselves. It was so peaceful and serene. I can see why the town has been an inspiration to many artists.

    1. ciaobologna Post author

      Hi, TI! Grazie for sharing the post about the caves of Santarcangelo. We got an abbreviated tour of the caves and the tour was in Italian, so I didn’t capture all of the fun facts. It’s always nice to have material in English for us stranieri, but tools like Google Translate do a pretty good job too.

  2. Luke

    Hi guys. My name is Luca. I’m 44 years old. I live in Valmarecchia. There are two ways to travel. Quickly move or get to know places really special. What you have seen and only a small appetizer of Valmarecchia. Serve only good trekking shoes and a desire to live a special adventure. An example Cai path 94 and others.

    1. ciaobologna Post author

      Ciao, Luca! Yes, it’s been a balancing act for us: as Americans in Italy temporarily, we are prone to move fast wanting to see as much as possible, but deep down we enjoy travelling slow like you. We love trekking and have trekking shoes and poles. It sounds like we’ll have to make our way back to Valmarecchia for some trekking once the weather warms up. Thanks for the note!

  3. lucatnt

    Ciao Luke and Audrey.If you have the chance to be in valmarecchia and you will want to do some beautiful walks, i will accompany you free of charge to visit some beautiful places. See you soon.
    Luca Tentoni


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