Valentine’s Day is coming up, so in the spirit of romance, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite romantic places in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna. And because experiences are more valuable than things, celebrate by sharing an intimate, fun experience with your sweet half; say, a romantic picnic in the hills of Bologna, a stroll through a moonlit piazza at night, or a trip off the beaten track. Plus, these suggestions are good year-round; you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to share something meaningful!
I find Piazza Santo Stefano at night especially romantic. To me, it has always felt more intimate than Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square (which is also quite beautiful and evocative at night). Piazza Santo Stefano, which technically isn’t a square, but rather a widening of the Via Santo Stefano, is dominated by the Complex of the Seven Churches and several ancient ocher-colored buildings so typical of Bologna. Take a stroll, sit on a wall under the portico, watch the stars and enjoy the moment.
You could top it off by spending the night in the Torre Prendiparte, a 12th-century tower converted into a bed & breakfast consisting of one multi-level suite. The view from the rooftop terrace, 60 meters above town, is one of the best in Bologna – at sunrise and sunset, it takes on an additional charm.
Or how about a night at the opera? Bologna’s Teatro Comunale, one of the oldest and most important opera venues in Italy, opened in 1763, has a rich performance schedule. This year, it presents “El amor brujo, el fuego y la palabra” on Valentine’s Day; or choose from other performances because, as I said earlier, you don’t have to do something special just on Valentine’s Day!
The hills – i colli bolognesi – are such a big part of the city, but mostly for locals; not many visitors venture there. There are romantic spots everywhere in the green rolling hills of Bologna: just take the road up to San Luca and wander. Then choose your spot, perhaps with a great view, for a nice picnic, complete with classic local treats and some wine. Perfect!
Emilia-Romagna has a number of charming little villages, the so-called borghi, which make for great romantic escapades in the countryside.
A favorite near Bologna is Monteveglio, a medieval village sitting on top of a hill, overlooking the valley of Samoggia, the Bolognese Apennines and the Po Valley, a 35-minute drive from Bologna. As I wrote in a previous post, it makes for a perfect afternoon trip followed by dinner at the local trattoria.
Farther away from Bologna, in the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, check out Vigoleno and Castell’Arquato.
Quiet Vigoleno is a perfect example of a fortified medieval village; it may be that you won’t see anybody else around! Stroll the village first, then head to the well-preserved castle, which has a great view of the surrounding countryside from its top level.
An evening walk along the cobblestone streets of Castell’Arquato should put even the most jaded soul in a romantic mood (if not, change partner. Just kidding.). During the day, visit the Rocca Viscontea for another great view of the countryside in this area.
Do you have more ideas for romantic places in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna? Share them with me in the comments.