Emilia-Romagna Road Trip

Food and Wine road trip in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

As seasoned travellers, with a penchant for culinary adventures, there’s nothing we like more than hitting the open road in search of delicious local foods.  We hit this foody trail in the month of May and, unfortunately, the weather was not good, understatement of the year. However, this didn’t diminish the enjoyment we had, and looking back the weather isn’t something I even remember. So, join us on a motorhome road trip, through the picturesque landscapes of Emilia-Romagna, Italy’s gastronomic paradise, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Plate of pasta bolognaise garnished with mint leaves

Our journey begins in Parma, where the air is filled with the scent of aged cheese and savory cured meats. From there, we’ll wind our way through the charming towns of Reggio Emilia, Castelnuovo Rangone, the wonderful Modena and Castelvetro di Modena, each offering its own unique culinary treasures.

 

But the best part of the trip awaits us in Bologna, where handmade pasta and regional wines beckon from every corner.

 

So, pack your bags and let’s set off on a mouth-watering adventure through the key food towns around Modena, culminating in the culinary delights of Bologna.

If you want a longer adventure, you can add  this little road trip with one that takes you down to Portofino and onto the Cinque Terre. If you have time you can hook up to the ultimate wine and truffle experience in the piedmont region – including Borolo and Alba.

 

Take me to

How to Get to Parma, Italy

Whether you are in your motorhome or looking to hire a motorhome, campervan or car when you get here, these are the key ways to get to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy:

Milan International Airport

Travelers typically fly into larger airports nearby, such as Milan or Bologna , and then take a train or bus to Parma.

Bologna Train
Station

Italy has an extensive rail network. You can take a direct train from cities like Milan and Bologna straight to Parma.

Key Trunk
Roads

Parma is located along the A1 Autostrada del Sole highway, which connects it to cities like Milan, Bologna, and Florence.

Our Favourite Travel Booking Companies.

These are our useful links for our ‘Go To’ travel booking apps.  These are the sites that we use all the time when backpacking or need to spend a few days out of the motorhome (visiting the children or repair work on the motorhome).  The Trainline we use for all our train ticket needs in the UK. Booking.com  we use for all our hotel, hostel and accommodation needs worldwide (this was a life saver in India!) and finally, Viator for our excursion adventures like walking tours or more specialist activities. 

Download our Handy Road Trip Planner

Use our handy ready made PDF planner to help you plan your trip. We created a 9 day planner to use to plan a 1 week trip. Simply print out more copies for each week of your travels. Capture everything you need from your start and end points to where you will stay. There is space to write all the things you want to see and more. Plenty of room for jotting down notes as you plan too. 

1 Week/ 9 Day Road Trip Planner


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Best Time for Visiting Emilia - Romagna, Italy.

Emilia-Romagna in Spring

It’s Springtime in Emilia-Romagna, and the countryside is bursting with vibrant colours. As you drive through the rolling hills, you’ll encounter fields of blooming flowers and orchards of awakening fruits. This season is perfect for exploring the region’s quaint towns and picturesque vineyards.

 

One of the highlights of spring in Emilia-Romagna is the celebration of Easter, marked by festive processions and traditional foods like torta pasqualina (Easter pie) and colomba di Pasqua (Easter dove cake). Additionally, spring is the season for fresh produce such as asparagus, artichokes, and strawberries, which you can sample at local markets and trattorias.

Emilia-Romagna in Summer

As summer arrives the pace of life slows down, and travellers can indulge in leisurely outdoor activities. Whether you’re lounging on the sandy beaches of the Adriatic coast or exploring the charming streets of medieval villages, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy this season.

 

Remember that Italy is one of the most visited  holiday destinations on the planet, and so popular destinations will be heaving at this time of the year. We, more often than not, choose the shoulder seasons – It makes life much easier to travel in a motorhome, but also makes for a more relaxed experience.

Emilia-Romagna in Autumn

As the leaves begin to change their colour and the air turns cooler, Emilia-Romagna becomes ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking in the Apennine Mountains or cycling through the picturesque countryside.

 

Autumn in Emilia-Romagna is also synonymous with the harvest season, bringing an abundance of ripe fruits, vegetables, and grapes.

 

The  Parma Ham Festival, Festival del Proscuitto di Parma which attracts over 100,000 visitors to the city of Parma  and the Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo (National Truffle Fair) in Alba, also offer a taste of the season’s bounty.

Emilia-Romagna in Winter

In Winter the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland, with snow-capped mountains and cozy villages evoking a sense of nostalgia. This season is perfect for indulging in hearty comfort foods like cappelletti in brodo (stuffed pasta in broth) and gnocco fritto (fried dough).

 

Winter in Emilia-Romagna is also a time for festive celebrations, with Christmas markets, nativity displays, and traditional concerts filling the streets. Don’t miss the chance to sample seasonal treats like pandoro (Christmas cake) and zampone (stuffed pig’s trotter) at these merry gatherings.

 

In conclusion, no matter the season, traveling through Emilia-Romagna promises a feast for the senses, with each season offering its own unique experiences and culinary delights. Whether you’re sipping wine in a sun-drenched vineyard or cosying up by the fire with a bowl of steaming pasta, you’re sure to create unforgettable memories in this enchanting region of Italy.

 

Emilia-Romagna Road Trip at a glance

~ Parma ~ Regio Emilia ~  Modena  ~Formigine ~ Castelnuovo Rangone ~ Castevetro Di Modena ~ Bologna

Our road trip in Emilia-Romagna starts with a visit to the beautiful City of Parma. From Parma, the road trip stops at the City of Reggio Emilia before heading towards  the wonderful city of Modena.

 

Just outside Modena we arrive at the small town of Formigine and just beyond to Castelnuovo Rangone and onwards, on  the last leg of the journey, to the charming town of Castevetro Di Modena and finally to the Vibrant capital of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna.

Emilia-Romagna Road Trip Itinerary

Parma

 

You begin journey in Parma, a city steeped in culinary tradition and artistic heritage. Upon arrival, set up camp at Campeggio Parma, a serene retreat nestled amidst lush greenery.

Start in the heart of Parma’s historic centre, the Piazza del Duomo. Explore architectural marvels such as the imposing Parma Cathedral, boasting a stunning Romanesque façade and exquisite frescoes by Correggio. 

 

Adjacent to the cathedral, visit the Baptistery, an architectural gem adorned with intricate sculptures and marble reliefs – unfortunately, this was wrapped in quite a lot of scaffolding when we visited, something you come to expect and accept throughout Italy, as it attempts to preserve its amazingly rich architectural heritage.

 

Next, wander through the cobblestone streets to discover hidden gems like the Teatro Farnese, a grand Renaissance theatre adorned with elaborate wooden structures and stunning frescoes. If you have the pennies, savour a memorable dining experience at Trattoria del Tribunale, where traditional Emilian dishes are elevated to culinary perfection.

 

Discover the old part of the town, the Parma Vecchia and visit the National Gallery of Parma. As always, we research locations in advance but find it best to simply zig zag our way across the whole city (or main part) so as to capture as much of the authentic experience, warts and all, as we can.

 

Whilst here, dive into the gastronomic wonders of Parma by embarking on a guided tour of a local dairy farm, where you’ll witness the meticulous process of crafting Parmigiano Reggiano, accompanied by tastings of this revered cheese. We took a bike tour with ‘Bike Food Stories’ – truly memorable, not least because the dairy was named after me, but also becuase we then cycled through Parma seeing all the sights, such good fun!!

We looked online and found our Bike Tour Guide situated by the train station in Parma. However, our favourite Tour provider has been 'Get Your Guide', often choosing the free walking tours that they offer and then paying what you think is fair. We often take this approach.

Reggio Emilia

Travel to Reggio Emilia, a city renowned for its artistic treasures and gastronomic delights. Settle into Campeggio Reggio Emilia, a tranquil oasis surrounded by beautiful landscapes. 

 

Begin your exploration with a leisurely stroll through the historic centre, admiring architectural gems like the Basilica della Ghiara, an elegant Baroque church adorned with intricate stuccoes and frescoes. Marvel at the Teatro Municipale Romolo Valli, a neoclassical masterpiece known for its opulent interiors and world-class performances.

Reggio Emilia is famous for its gastronomic heritage, and no visit is complete without sampling the local delicacies. Treat yourself to a tasting of traditional balsamic vinegar, one of the region’s most prized culinary treasures, at a local acetaia (vinegar producer). Savour artisanal cheeses, cured meats, and freshly baked bread at the city’s markets

On Saturday mornings, 'Mercato del Contadino di Reggio Emilia' - The local market. Wherever we go in the world, we try to make sure that we visit the local market, for eating, shopping and getting that genuine local feeling. One of the best things about Reggio Emilia is that it sits between Parma and Modena and is legally permitted to make both Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar!

Modena

Continue your journey to Modena, a city synonymous with automotive prowess and culinary excellence. We wild camped in a car park. We’ve stayed in prettier locations but it was two minutes from a lovely park and ten minutes from the city centre. 

 

Discover the fascinating history of Ferrari at the Museo Enzo Ferrari, where vintage cars and interactive exhibits showcase the evolution of this iconic brand – I loved this!

 

Explore Modena’s historic heart, marveling at architectural wonders like the Modena Cathedral, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture adorned with intricate carvings and majestic rose windows. Stroll through the Piazza Grande, the city’s main square, lined with elegant palaces and the majestic Ghirlandina Tower, an emblem of Modena’s medieval heritage. 

 

I could suggest that you end your day with a gastronomic extravaganza at Osteria Francescana, the three-Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by culinary genius Massimo Bottura, but with a six month waiting list and prices starting from a small fortune, it needs planning for, well in advance. We opted simply for a selfie by the fron door!!

 

At this point in our trip we had decided we would delve into the world of balsamic vinegar with a bespoke tour of one of the many producers near by and partake in a tasting session of aged vinegars paired with local delicacies. We were going to book one of these tours but then discovered Acetaia Giusti – Boutique Modena on the Piazza Grande. The impromptu history lesson and tour of balsamic vinegar, given to us by the shop attendant,  was so informative and  such great fun that we didn’t need an official tour. We still have at least one, of the three bottles we bought, still in use in our Moho.

Formiginie and Castelnuovo Rangone

At this point in our journey we calm things down a little and enjoy some of the  smaller towns in the region.


just ten minutes from Modena is the Panini Motor Museum. Attached to the  Parmigiana Dairy that made his fortune , Umberto Panini has collected, in a warehouse, a stunning array of Maserati’s from throughout its history. I’d say this was a must visit – Such an authentic Italian experience, which, I think, I enjoyed even more than the Ferrari museum.

Just beyond this and characterized by its charming medieval architecture and well-preserved historic centre, Formigine exudes a sense of old-world charm. 


At the heart of the town stands the imposing Rocca di Formigine, a medieval fortress dating back to the 12th century, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can wander through the winding cobblestone streets of the historic centre, lined with  picturesque piazzas, and quaint shops. Formigine also boasts beautiful parks and green spaces, providing tranquil spots for relaxation and leisurely strolls. With its rich history, cultural events, and inviting atmosphere, Formigine offers visitors a delightful glimpse into the timeless allure of Emilia-Romagna.


Ten minutes beyond Formigine is the town of  Castelnuovo Rangone,  another hidden gem. The most important economic activity is the production and treatment of pork so why not find a local deli and treat your taste buds to a gourmet picnic amidst the tranquil open spaces with a bottle of local wine.


Luciano Pavarotti and his sister Gabriella are buried nearby in the cemetery of Montale Rangone and the house where he lived locally has been turned into a museum (Now I’m not much of an opera buff but I loved visiting his old house and learning all about his life – again, a must see from me!)

Castevetro Di Modena

The last of  these ‘off the main route’ locations is the picturesque village of  Castelvetro di Modena. Known for its medieval charm, Castelvetro di Modena features narrow cobblestone streets, colourful houses, and ancient towers. The village is surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards, producing the renowned Lambrusco wine. Visitors can explore the historic centre, visit local wineries for tastings, and enjoy panoramic views of the countryside.

 

These three towns offer a peaceful retreat from the larger cities, with opportunities for relaxation and contemplation. they were a great way to completely recharge the batteries for our last stop.

Bologna

Finally, as we bid farewell to Castelvetro Di Modena we make our way to Bologna, the vibrant capital of Emilia-Romagna. Check into Campeggio Bologna, ideally situated for exploring the city’s cultural treasures. 

 

Wander through Bologna’s historic centre, admiring architectural landmarks like the Basilica di San Petronio, one of the largest churches in the world, boasting magnificent Gothic interiors and stunning works of art. Climb the Asinelli Tower for panoramic views of the city skyline and surrounding hills. Indulge in the culinary delights of Trattoria da Me, where traditional Bolognese dishes are lovingly prepared using locally sourced ingredients, and so, so much more…

 

Embark on this unforgettable motorhome road trip through Emilia-Romagna, where every moment promises to put a huge smile on your face and leave you with memories that you’ll never forget. We can’t wait to return.

Major Hiking Trails

While Emilia-Romagna is primarily known for its culinary delights and cultural attractions, there are also some beautiful hiking trails in the region that you can explore along your road trip. Here are just two: 

Parco Regionale dei Boschi di Carrega (Carrega Woods Regional Park) – Located near Parma, this park offers several hiking trails through lush forests and rolling hills. The trails vary in length and difficulty, making it suitable for hikers of all levels.

 

Sentiero Matilde di Canossa (Matilda of Canossa Trail) – This historic trail follows the footsteps of Matilda of Canossa, a powerful medieval countess, through the Apennine Mountains. The trail passes through picturesque villages, ancient castles, and scenic landscapes, offering stunning views along the way.

Camping and Motorhome Park-Ups

Whether you’re camping under the stars or parking your motorhome for a night of rest, there are plenty of options in Piedmont catering to a range of preferences, from off grid to camping sites and more. For those wishing to camp on site here are a couple of options;

 

Parma:

Campeggio Parma: A peaceful campground located just outside Parma, offering spacious pitches and basic amenities.

Area Sosta Camper Parma: A convenient motorhome park-up area close to the city centre, with facilities such as electricity hook-ups and waste disposal.

 

Reggio Emilia:

 

Campeggio Reggio Emilia: A scenic campground nestled amidst nature, providing a relaxing setting for campers.

Camper Service Reggio Emilia: A motorhome service area with facilities for waste disposal and fresh water refill, conveniently located near the city centre.

Festivals in Piedmont - Italy

Emilia-Romagna hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, celebrating its rich culinary heritage, cultural traditions, and vibrant community spirit. Here are five of the top festivals in the region:

 

Festa dell’Unità (Unity Festival) – Held annually in various cities across Emilia-Romagna, including Bologna and Modena, the Festa dell’Unità celebrates solidarity, democracy, and social progress. This multi-day event features live music performances, cultural exhibitions, political discussions, and culinary delights, drawing locals and visitors alike.

 

Festa del Prosciutto di Parma (Parma Ham Festival) – Taking place in the charming town of Langhirano, near Parma, this festival pays homage to one of Emilia-Romagna’s most iconic culinary products: Prosciutto di Parma. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of local prosciutto factories, tastings of freshly sliced ham, cooking demonstrations, and traditional music and dance performances.

 

Palio di San Giovanni Battista (Palio of St. John the Baptist) – Celebrated in the historic city of Reggio Emilia, the Palio di San Giovanni Battista is a medieval-inspired festival that honours the patron saint of the city. Highlights of the event include a colourful procession featuring costumed participants, flag-throwing performances, historical re-enactments, and lively street markets selling local handicrafts and delicacies.

 

Festa de l’Unità Artusiana (Artusi Unity Festival) – Named after Pellegrino Artusi, the renowned Italian gastronome and author of “La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiare Bene” (The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well), this festival celebrates Emilia-Romagna’s culinary heritage. Held in the town of Forlimpopoli, the festival features cooking workshops, food tastings, culinary competitions, and lectures by renowned chefs and food experts.

 

Festa di San Petronio (Feast of St. Petronius) – Bologna’s patron saint, St. Petronius, is honored with a vibrant celebration that takes place in the city’s historic center. The festival includes religious processions, music performances, street parades, and a grand fireworks display illuminating the night sky over Piazza Maggiore. Visitors can also enjoy traditional dishes and local specialties served at outdoor food stalls and taverns throughout the city.

 

These festivals offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Emilia-Romagna’s culture, traditions, and culinary delights, making them must-visit events for travelers exploring the region.

Does Emilia-Romagna Deliver for a Road Trip

Absolutely! Emilia-Romagna delivers an unforgettable road trip experience, combining scenic drives, culinary adventures, cultural discoveries, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, nature lover, or simply seeking an authentic Italian getaway, Emilia-Romagna has something for everyone to enjoy along the open road.

The Amalfi coast Road Trip - Italy

If you have the time to continue this adventure and explore further, we have an Amalfi Coast Road Trip, which would work very well with this Piedmont Road Trip, giving you the best of both worlds in this beautiful part of Italy. 

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