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Updated: 14th October 2019
Bologna may take centre-stage when it comes to cuisine in Emilia Romagna, but a slow-travel journey through the Casentinesi Forest in the ecotourism focused Tuscan-Emilian Apennines promises an equally mouthwatering experience.
Here, you’ll find the best slow-travel and sustainable experiences offered in the Emilia Romagna side of the park, such as agriturismos for verdant views and local specialities, village food festivals, hikes and mushroom foraging in the deer-inhabited forest, e-bike tours through the mountains, the Idro Ecomuseo, and kayaking on the Ridracoli Dam. The spa town – and upcoming wellness destination – of Bagno di Romagna also awaits.
Outside activities on the other side of Emilia Romagna
While the Po Delta might border Veneto in the north of the Emilia Romagna region, to the south-west, you’ll find the mountains of Romagna peeping into Tuscany. If you are looking for your nature fix with the culinary charm of Emilia Romagna without heading north, then Campigna and The Casentinesi Forest National Park will provide.
Amongst the dense forest of the park, you’ll find some cute village points to stop at, such as the spa-resort town of Bagno di Romagna. A few narrow streets are all you’ll discover interrupting nature here, and you can quickly settle into the slower pace of life dipping between thermal pools and local restaurants. Relatively unknown still by international tourists, a fully immersive Italian experience awaits.
Checking in to the vast Roseo Euroterme Wellness Resort I was amazed by what was on offer; alongside the expected spa circuit and indoor-outdoor thermal pools, there was everything else you would need for a full wellness visit, from blood checks to on-site doctors.
The town itself is compact but delightful, and a handful of family-run restaurants are ready to welcome you. A great spot to sample the differences in cheese and ingredients of the Romagna to the Emilia cuisine is at the lovely Hostaria Volante, a small restaurant with a very creative owner who, as well as designing the menu, has hand-made the water glasses through to the lampshades.
But of course, the main reason people head to The Casentinesi Forest National Park is for the nature offerings.
There is an array of activities you can do in the park, such as hiking through the forest hunting for mushrooms while deer dance in the distance and these activities can be arranged through local guides.
A popular option in the park is to go E-Mountain Biking, especially around the Ridracoli Dam or on a hiking tour in Campigna. The Idro Eco-Museum details how the water and Dam work in harmony with nature in the local area and although a lot of the regions drinking water runs through this Dam, you can cycle through the mountains and around the water, and even head out onto the Dam by boat or kayak. In the summer season, cafes and shops are also to be found here.
Dotted throughout the forest and on its borders are some small agritourism spots celebrating slow travel and local ingredients. Try and fit in a meal at Poderone, where the characterful family that runs the restaurant will shower you with beetroot-infused pasta, traditional ragu, and plate upon plate of local vegetables.
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