Regional Capital: Bologna
Provinces: Bologna, Ferrara, Forli`, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Ravenna, Reggio Emilia
Emilia–Romagna (pronounced [eˈmiljaroˈmaɲɲa]) is an administrative region of Northern Italy comprising the two historic regions of Emilia and Romagna. The capital is Bologna; it has an area of 20,124 km² and about 4.3 million inhabitants.
Emilia Romagna today is considered as one of the richest and most developed regions in Europe and has the third highest GDP per capita in Italy. Bologna, the region's capital, has one of Italy's highest quality of life, and has highly advanced and modern social services. Emilia–Romagna is also a major cultural and touristic centre, being the home of the oldest university in the Western World, containing numerous Renaissance cities (such as Modena, Parma and Ferrara), being a major centre for food and automobile production (Emilia–Romagna is home of numerous iconic gastronomical and automotive industries, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati) and having a lively and colourful coastline, with numerous tourist resorts, such as Cattolica and Rimini.
Climate and Geography
The region of Emilia–Romagna consists of nine provinces and covers an area of 22,124 km². Nearly half of the region (50%) consists of plains while 25% is hilly and 25% mountainous. The Emilia–Romagna section of the Apennine Mountains is marked by areas of flisch, badland erosion (calanques) and caves. The mountains stretch for more than 300 km from the north to the south-east, with only three peaks above 2,000 m - Monte Cimone (2,165 m), Monte Cusna (2,121 m) and Alpe di Succiso (2,017 m).
About a half of the region consists of the Padano Plain, an extremely fertile alluvial plain crossed by the river Po. The plain was formed by the gradual retreat of the sea from the Po basin and by the detritus deposited by the rivers. Almost entirely marshland in ancient times, its history is characterised by the hard work of its people to reclaim and reshape the land in order to achieve a better standard of living. The geology varies, with lagoons and saline areas in the north and many thermal springs throughout the rest of the region as a result of groundwater rising towards the surface at different periods of history. All the rivers rise locally in the Apennines except for the Po, which has its source in the Alps in Piedmont and follows the northern border of Emilia–Romagna for 263 km.
Vegetation in the region may be divided into belts: the common oak belt which is now covered (apart from the mesóla forest) with fruit orchards and fields of wheat and sugar beet, the pubescent belt and Adriatic oak belt on the lower slopes up to 900 m, the beech belt between 1,000 and 1,500 m, and the final mountain heath belt.
The name Emilia–Romagna has roots in the Ancient Rome legacy in these lands. Emilia refers to via Æmilia, an important Roman way connecting Rome to the northern part of Italy. Romagna is a corruption of Romània; when Ravenna was the capital of the Italian portion of the Byzantine Empire, the Lombards extended the official name of the Empire to the lands around Ravenna. Emilia–Romagna was part of the Etruscan world and in following was passed on to the Gauls and then the Romans. The romans built the Aemilian Way, for which the region was named. The coastal area of Emilia, which was ruled under the Byzantines from 540 to 751, became known as the separate region of Romagna.
During the Middle Ages trading activities, culture and religion flourished thanks to the region's monasteries and the University of Bologna - the oldest university in Europe - its bustling towns, and its politics - embodied in the historic figure of Empress Matilda of Canossa. In the Renaissance, it became the seat for refined seigniories such as the House of Este of Ferrara and the Malatesta of Rimini. In the centuries that followed, the region was divided between the rule of the Papal State, the Farnese Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, and the Duchy of Modena and Reggio. In the 16th century, most of these were included into the Papal States, but the territory of Parma, Piacenza, and Modena remained independent until Emilia–Romagna was included into the Italian kingdom in 1859–1861.
To the west lies Emilia with its prosperous small cities strung like jewels along the ancient Emilian Way - Modena, Reggio, Parma, Fidenza, Fiorenzuola, as far as Piacenza. The premier wine here is Lambrusco, in frothy shades of purble to pink, made from grapes grown on high trelissed vines mainly in the flatlands south of the Po. Lambrusco is produced at the rate of about 50 million bottles a year in the four DOC zones around Modena and Reggio, though few consumers abroad have tasted these wines in their authentic style. Most Lambrusco shipped away is "amabile" or sweet and sold without an apellation, while most of what is drunk at home is dutifully dry and more often than not DOC. Though there are historical precedents for both types, the dry is considered the unpa- ralleled match for the rich regional cooking.
Even in Emilia's hills, along the Apennine range to the south, the wines are often "frizzante," made from Malvasia, Trebbiano and Ortrugo into easy, fun-loving whites, or from Barbera and Bonarda into zesty reds of more flavour intensity than Lambrusco. But there is a definite trend in the DOC zones of Colli Piacentini, Colli Bolognesi and Colli di Parma to make still and somewhat serious wines from such varieties as Sauvignon, Chardonnay, the Pinots, Barbera, Cabernet and Merlot. Natural conditions favour wines of depth and finesse but markets seem to favour the lightweights.
East of Bologna lies Romagna, decidedly diverse from Emilia but equally prolific. The plains of the Po basin between Ferrara and Ravenna are noted for fruit, vegetables and ultra-high-yield vines, most of which are sources of blending wines. The hills south of Imola, Faenza, Forli`, Cesena and Rimini are known for DOC wines, primarily from the native Albana, Sangiovese and Trebbiano.
Albana di Romagna, which emerged in 1987 as Italy's first DOCG white wine, is now most often dry and still with a distinctive almondy undertone and, occasionally, some complexity. Albana's best expression seems to be as a richly sweet passito from partly dried grapes. The traditional semisweet and bubbly versions are usually drunk up near home. Trebbiano (Romagna's is distinct from other vines of the same name) is almost always light and fresh, whether still or bubbly, with a fragility that makes it best in its youth.
The local favourite is Sangiovese, usually a medium bodied red with a certain charm in its straightforward fruity flavour that ends in a bitter bite. Now and then, from certain plots in the "superiore" zone, it becomes a wine of size and depth with the capacity to age gracefully as "riserva."
In Romagna, too, there are trends toward Sauvignon, Chardonnay, the Pinots and Cabernet. But leading producers devote efforts to developing superior strains of Sangiovese and Albana, while building interest in such rare local wines as the DOC white Pagadebit and red Cagnina and Bosco Eliceo Fortana.
The most important wine areas of the region are:
DOCG and DOC
- Albana di Romagna
- Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto
- Bianco di Scandiano - Varieties: Bianco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Montericco, Malbo Gentile, Malvasia, Marzemino, Sauvignon
- Bosco Eliceo - Varieties: Bianco, Fortana, Merlot, Sauvignon
- Cagnina di Romagna
- Colli Bolognesi - Varieties: Bianco, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pignolettto, Pinot Bianco, Riesling Italico, Sauvignon
- Colli della Romagna Centrale
- Colli di Faenza -Varieties: Bianco, Pinot Bianco, Rosso, Sangiovese, Trebbiano
- Colli di Imola - Varieties: Bianco, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pignoletto, Rosso, Sangiovese, Trebbiano
- Colli di Parma - Varieties: Malvasia, Rosso,Sauvignon
- Colli di Rimini - Varieties: Bianco, Biancame, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rebola, Rosso
- Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa
- Colli Piacentini - Varieties: Barbera, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gutturnio, Malvasia, Monterosso Val d'Arda, Novello, Ortugo, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Spumante, Pinot Nero, Sauvignon, Trebbianino Val d'Arda, Valnure, Vin Santo, Vin Santo di Vigoleno
- Lambrusco di Sorbara
- Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
- Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce
- Pagadebit di Romagna
- Reggiano - Varieties: Lambrusco, Lambrusco Salamino, Rosso, Spumante
- Reno - Varieties: Bianco, Montuni, Pignoletto
- Romagna Albana Spumante
- Sangiovese di Romagna
- Trebbiano di Romagna
- Bianco del Sillaro
- Bianco di Castelfranco Emilia
- Emilia o dell'Emilia
- Fontana del Taro
- Modena o Provincia di Modena
- Terre di veleja
- Val Tidone
Download a map of Emilia-Romagna's DOC wines
Grapes and wines
The strongly individual characteristics of Emilia-Romagna wines make them northern Italy's most eccentric. They are different, on the whole, from the wines of their neighbours. The best Emilian wine is perhaps Lambrusco, a sparkling, joyous red made from grapes grown on high trellised vines in four DOC zones in the Modena and Reggio Emilia provinces. Lambrusco is made for consumption within the year and very few consumers abroad have tasted the wine in its authentic dry style. Most exported Lambrusco is sweet and amabile. Though both types are based in tradition, the dry variety is considered the best match for the area's rich cuisine.
In the foothills of the Apennines to the south of the region, fun-loving white wines are made from Malvasia, Trebbiano and Ortrugo as well as zesty reds which are made from Barbera and Bonarda grapes. In the areas of the Colli Piacentini, the Colli Bolognesi and the Colli di Parma, more serious wines are made from Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot, Barbera, Cabernet and Merlot, but the majority of Emilian wines are frothy and somewhat lightweight.
In Romagna, wines are made primarily from the native Sangiovese, Trebbiano and Albana grapes. Albana di Romagna, which became Italy's first DOCG white wine in 1987, is usually dry and still with a distinctive almond undertone and finish. The traditional semisweet and bubbly version of Albana Spumante is a rich and sweet passito made from partly-dried grapes. Another Romagna white, the Trebbiano di Romagna, is often light and fresh and, whether still or bubbly, has a fragility that renders it best in its youth.
The king of Romagna wines, though, is Sangiovese, usually a robust red with pronounced fruity flavours, reminiscent of the great variety of produce and fruits gracing the area. More and more often, though, local producers of Sangiovese are making superior reserve wines of greater depth of bouquet and flavour, capable of ageing gracefully.
Local vintners and winemakers are actively building interest in rare local wines such as the DOC white Pagadebit and the red Cagnina and Bosco Eliceo. Other varieties produced here are Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot and Cabernet.