Green tourism is growing in a hidden treasure nestled between the Apennines and the Adriatic
Above: Artusi local food festival. Photo courtesy of The Best of Romagna
During autumn and winter, Romagna in Italy – from its mountain villages to its towns dotting the plains and valleys to its colourful ports and cities – comes alive with festivities.
And the good news for responsible travellers is that this ancient region – lying between Venice and Florence – is currently witnessing a growing enthusiasm for green and sustainable tourism.
For millennia, Romagna – shielded from invaders by the Apennine mountains on one side and the Adriatic Sea on the other – has been a treasure chest of food and drink. Its fertility led to great power and riches for its cities, and motivated warring barons to protect their territories with hundreds of soaring medieval hilltop castle communities.
The Medicis and Borgias, Romans, Popes, Byzantines, Goths and Venetians all came and went – leaving behind a legacy of historic castles, basilicas and ports.
World-famous in the past for its ‘Dolce Vita’ destinations such as Rimini, the Romagna riviera also possesses a green-minded hinterland, packed with vineyard-clad castellated hills, small cities full of art, friendly little agriturismo hotels and superb restaurants. The area is famous in Italy for its slow food, beautiful vistas and hospitality.
Above left: Brisighella; right: Villa Roncuzzi. Photos courtesy of The Best of Romagna
Romagna – known as the Heart of Italy – is now forging ahead with green tourism. In 2014, a pilot scheme was organised in the historic resort of Cervia in co-operation with local hotel association ASCOM and global leaders Green Tourism – a major green certification programme with over 2,500 members worldwide.
This initiative is helping local tourism businesses to save money and energy, and to have their green credentials audited and certified – so that discriminating green travellers can be sure they are getting something truly green.
The results of this pilot project to make Romagna tourism more sustainable were announced earlier this year, with 25 participating companies having been inspected and becoming part of Green Tourism. The majority of the businesses received a Silver award, while two – Hotel Caribia and Camping Marecchia – achieved Gold awards.
"We are extremely pleased to welcome the first businesses in Italy into the Green Tourism family,” says Andrea Nicholas, Green Tourism Chief Executive Officer.
“Emilia Romagna is a beautiful part of Italy with fantastic local produce, great countryside and lovely beaches. All the hotels participating in Green Tourism are using these wonderful natural assets, as well as embracing all aspects of sustainability and making sure that their guests have an enhanced experience.”
Best of Romagna
Earlier this year, a new free glossy lifestyle magazine – The Best of Romagna – was launched to share details of Romagna, an area of Italy that is still largely off the Italian tourist track.
The magazine – which can be downloaded for free – sheds light on this region that Italians know as their most fertile kitchen garden, the source of much of their history, and a treasured holiday spot for generations of savvy Milanese.
“In Romagna – just a short distance from Venice or Florence – you will taste something refreshingly natural,” says Valere Tjolle, English publisher of the magazine.
“The region really comes to life in the autumn and winter when massive food and wine festivals lead up to a whole month of sensational Christmas celebrations.
“You’ll not find chain hotels or eateries, the food you eat and the wine or beer you drink will usually be local and seasonal – and delicious. The people you meet will be naturally hospitable and informed – they’ll be proud to advise you where and what to eat and drink and where and what to see.”
Green Adventures October 2015