Italy’s regional names trip off the tongue more smoothly than a good zabaglione: Friuli, Liguria, Basilicata, Umbria… But none sounds quite as attractive as Emilia-Romagna. It’s nowhere near Rome though, this region actually runs in a wedge from the north-eastern coast almost to the west coast. Although Emilia-Romagna is between those popular property-buying areas of Tuscany, Venice and the Italian Lakes, don’t make the mistake of ignoring it.
It is an area of fertile plains in the north, then forested hills towards the south, then mountains that reach above 2,000 metres in the Apennines along the region’s border with Tuscany. Wildlife includes golden eagles, wild boar and even wolves, astonishing as that may seem.
The region includes a long stretch of Adriatic coast too, including the city of Rimini, where the water is warm, safe and shallow and the nightlife is hedonistic. If Rimini can be a little brash for some tastes, Ravenna is both larger and more cultured, with no less than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and an attractive waterfront a little distance away, with fishing villages and beach resorts at Milano Marittima and Terme.
Inland, Emilia-Romagna has some noteworthy cities for anyone who fancies a more urban way of life or is looking for work (or good food). This is an interesting option for investment property too: one of the wealthiest parts not only of Italy but of Europe, enriched by those fertile plains but also by the classiest car industry too. If you’re buying a home in Emilia-Romagna instead of buying a Ferrari or Lamborghini, at least you’ll be where they are built and you’ll see plenty of them around. You’ll probably be overtaken by one quite regularly.
The largest city in the region is Bologna with nearly 400,000 people, then Modena and Parma which are both around half that size. These are cities that offer both good job prospects but also all the benefits of the sweet Italian life, la dolce vita, but without the crowds of Rome, Florence or Venice. After a hard day at the Ferrari factory, hungry workers can enjoy Bolognaise sauce from Bologna, on tortellini which originated on Modena, smothered with parmesan from Parma. To drink, how about opening a bottle of the local tipple, Lambrusco?
Many buyers in Italy are looking for that lovely hilltop village or fortified town, looking like it’s been untouched since the Renaissance. Emilia-Romagna has plenty of options here, such as Veruchio, Montefiore Conca, Canossa and Brisighella, often named as one of Italy’s most beautiful towns. Around these, in the rolling hills, are hundreds of villages where you can find a gorgeous older Italian home within walking distance of the local shops, a bar or two and usually a pretty good restaurant too.
Another benefit of Emilia-Romagna is how easy it is to get there. Ryanair has flights to Bologna and Parma, easyJet to Bologna and Verona. You can also get there by train if you fancy taking the scenic route, leaving London at breakfast time, lunch in Paris, dinner and a bed in Milan and reaching your home in Emilia-Romagna the next morning.
And if that doesn’t sound like about the most sophisticated way to live your life, well, you can always buy that Ferrari instead!
You can also download the Italy Buying Guide, a full step-by-step guide to buying property in Italy.