We soon realised that every step we made in Romagna was dogged by a bunch of medieval barons. These barons were rich beyond understanding because they were usually paid in plunder. That’s why there were so many amazing hilltop castles, so much art, so much architecture, so many feasts and parties in Romagna.
Here were the Sforzas, The Estes, the Malatestas, the Montefeltros., above all the Borgias and nearby Florence the Medicis. All with their artists, like Leonardo da Vinci, their diplomats like Niccolo Machiavelli, their women like the amazing Lucrecia Borgia, brave Catarina Sforza and determined Clarice Orsini Medici. enforcers, their armies and their great wealth and their patronage of the Renaissance arts..
And, in particular homage to Cesare Borgia master of Romagna and Lorenzo the Magnificent Medici of Florence both intelligent, sophisticated, educated, charismatic and handsome. Both involved with Nicolo Macchiavelli - Cesare as the subject for his book 'The Prince' and Lorenzo as its dedicatee.
So here is our fascinating tribute to the Borgias and the Medicis and the rest who made Romagna their treasure chest and their playground.
Walk in the steps of Leonardo da Vinci, the Borgias, the Medicis, and the full cast of characters including the Sforzas, the Malatestas, the Montefeltros, the Estes and many more powerful lords and indomitable ladies of renaissance and pre-renaissance Italy. Stay in palaces and country houses; eat amazing food and drink fabulous wines.
COST FROM JUST $2950.00 per person
You can't visit the Romagna without realising that you are in an area that is both very beautiful, very old and very atmospheric. It is certainly a land of myths and legends that go back a very long way. Then - this territory was controlled by the Borgia family.
It is, of course, as the name suggests, the 'Land of the Romans', home to the major Roman port over 2,000 years ago, the launching place for Julius Caesar's successful bid for Rome when he crossed Romagna's Rubicon. And a few centuries after (440ad) , Romagna's Ravenna was Rome's Imperial capital.
In the middle ages and the renaissance, it was ruled over by ruthless important warrior families such as the Malatestas, the Svorzas, the Estes and the Montefeltros - all with their own strings of castles.
Then the Pope, the Medicis and the Borgias took their own shares of "Romagna the Rich" - and they all left their mark. Their artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Piero della Francesca created beautiful pictures - here in Romagna.
It is just as lovely as famous, expensive Tuscany, its near neighbor, and in our view the food and wine and scenery are all BETTER! Certainly less crowded. Plus, of course, there are no tourist hordes in Romagna and prices are lower so your holiday $ goes much, much further and you get a more personal experience.
If you are looking for great local and authentic Italian food, wine, art, culture and hospitality - at a reasonable price, undiscovered, unspoiled Romagna is the place to be. Here people are pleased to open their doors for you and give you a truly heartfelt warm welcome!
Here you will discover the land of the Borgias, the Medicis and many more big time feudal warrior families.
Above all revel in the immense and heartfelt hospitality of glorious Romagna – a beautiful, legendary land safely nestling between the Apennine mountains and the Adriatic sea and as yet unspoiled by tourism.
Our team of specially-selected local co-operators include not only professional hoteliers, but great restaurateurs, hands-on vineyard owners, master cheese makers, musicians, videographers, artists, thermal spa owners, even cookery teachers.
Together, we have created a special inclusive nine day program to offer you a taste of Romagna which incorporates accommodation, meals, wine, olive oil and specialty food tastings, daily programmes of activities and visits designed to enable you to enjoy Romagna at its sensational best from just $2950.
As ‘temporary citizens’ rather than detached tourists, Best of Romagna guests enjoy a treasure-chest of fascinating opportunities. You will be able to experience an astounding legacy dating back to its Roman origins and its amazing medieval and renaissance heritage .You will also be able to experience Romagna’s legacy of stunningly beautiful hills and valleys, medieval castles and some of its fabulous vistas.
And you'll experience amazing food and wine … cheeses like Squacquerone and Fossa, local wines such as Sangiovese DOC and Albana DOCG and olive oils, rare-breed prosciuttos, pickles, preserves and honeys…and fabulous fresh pasta made daily, of course. You will surely get passionate about these seasonal, fresh, treasured handcrafted products – and recipes you’ll certainly take with you and want to prepare at home.
Our 2021 specially curated itinerary ‘La Romagna - the playground of the Medicis and the Borgias’ can be altered to your and your clients' requirements:
Day 1 Saturday - Welcome to Romagna
Taste the wonderful wines of Romagna, visit a delightful city of art, enjoy a warm welcome...Travel by high speed comfortable train from Rome or Milan to Bologna where we'll be met and taken straight to the heart of Romagna.. we'll take the short journey to the hilltop castle-town of Longiano for dinner and overnight at Alloggio San Girolamo, Quattro Passeri or Locanda della Luna (or a similar high grade country-house style accommodation) and enjoy the atmosphere and stunning views. Then another taste of great Romagnolo food and wine - a special welcome dinner at the Ristorante Dei Cantoni.
Day 2 Sunday – Castles, palaces, the sea and the hills
Roman Rimini, a fantastic seafood feast, romantic Gradara, sensational city-state San Marino and an evening on a fabulously beautiful biodynamic wine estate.
After a relaxed home-cooked breakfast, we're off to the coast and world-famous Rimini. Originally a classic Roman city (it still retains its form) and subsequently taken over by the big local Malatesta family - much of their ill gotten gains were converted into fabulous architecture and art. Even Piero della Francesca painted here.
Rimini has a great and ancient tradition of good seafood, naturally we'll take an ultra-fresh delicious seafood feast for our lunch.
We'll spend the early afternoon in the pocket mountaintop republic of San Marino., see if we can walk to its castles (there are three!) and enjoy the fantastic UNESCO World Heritage site with stunning views and hundreds of boutiques!
Late afternoon to romantic Gradara castle. The Gradara Castle dates back to the 11th century and it is the scene of inextricably linked with the infamous feuds between the Malatesta , Montefeltro and Sforza families. It was the immortal Dante, however, who made it the locale for the tale of Paolo and Francesca and thus turning the castle forever into a symbol of love.
Back to the hills of Longiano for a fabulous wine and food tasting at the organic and biodynamic picturesque vineyard of beautiful Villa Venti where we'll also taste some superb cheeses of Renato Brancaleoni.
Day 3 Monday - Medieval and renaissance ceramic center Faenza and into the stunning gypsum hills to beautiful Brisighella
After a luxurious breakfast we'll make the short journey to Faenza - one of the world's great historic ceramic centres. In the middle ages and the renaissance no European court was complete without its Faence ware. We'll explore the ancient city of art before another feast at the showcase restaurant overseen by a 2 star Michelin chef – Casa Spadoni uniquely in an amazing converted ex silk mill. Afternoon to Brisighella to taste the amazing olive oil, wine and honey produced in this hilltop Gypsum hill microclimate. Return to Longiano for overnight.
Day 4 Tuesday - Walk in da Vinci's Cesenatico seaport, enjoy an enormous robust country lunch, tour 3 times capital World Heritage Ravenna with its 1500 year old basilicas and mosaics. Stay in a palace!
After breakfast and check out, we'll drive to Cesenatico for a lovely seaside walk - in Leonardo da Vinci's port canal no less! As Cesare Borgia was checking out his newly-acquired territory of La Romagna, he sent Leonardo to make things beautiful enough for him - Cesenatico's port is just one result. Then we’ll have a great country feast at a glorious Agriturismo - La Casina. This will be followed by a sensational visit of glorious Ravenna with Cinzia - this world heritage city, three times capital (of the Western Roman Empire, of Theodoric King of the Goths, and of the Byzantine Empire) is full of marvelous mosaics and stunning 1500 year old basilicas. Then we'll check into our palace hotel Palazzo Galetti Abbiosi - or Palazzo Bezzi, or my personal favourite, Palazzo Baldini.
Day 5 Wednesday - Full day free in World Heritage Ravenna - walking, relaxing, enjoying
Ravenna is a small historic city with everything! On top of its world-renowned mosaics, you'll see great art everywhere from art galleries to walls. Plus it is extremely difficult to get a bad snack or a meal here and the shopping is superb. Take a lovely morning coffee with delicious pastries, enjoy a delightful al fresco lunch, an afternoon tea - why not a superb gelato as you are enjoying the sights in this eminently walkable city.
Day 6 Thursday The city of the Medicis
Today we’ll start with a glorious scenic experience. We’ll leave very early and drive to Faenza to take the little train to the heart of Florence just like locals would. The train starts from Faenza and climbs up the hills, crossing little medieval towns such as Brisighella (famous for its superb olive oil), Marradi (famous or its ancient sweet chestnut trees, being of the highest quality), Borgo San Lorenzo (with its age-old vineyards and olive groves, thousand-year-old churches, ancient farmhouses and geometrically laid out vegetable gardens) and goes along wild landscapes with stunning forests, streams and rivers - the best experience you can get travelling to Florence.
We are here to meet the Medici and we'll see them everywhere. The Medici family financed the invention of the piano and opera, funded the construction of Saint Peter's Basilica and Santa Maria del Fiore, and were patrons of Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Machiavelli and Galileo among many others in the arts and culture. They were also protagonists of the counter-reformation, from the beginning of the reformation through the Council of Trent and the French wars of religion.
On our tour we'll see Medici chapel, San Lorenzo market, San Lorenzo church, Medici Riccardi palace, Duomo cathedral, Baptistery, Repubblica square, Orsanmichele church, Porcellino, Signoria square, Uffizi (external), Ponte vecchio, Santa croce square. Amongst much, much more.
We'll naturally have a wonderful Florentine speciality feast for lunch!
And an aperitivo before we leave Florence in the evening for our return scenic journey to Faenza. Then to Ravenna and our hotel palace for the night.
Day 7 Thursday Wine and food, a visit to a grand and powerful noblewoman then... Bologna
We'll check out of our palace hotel after breakfast. First stop is a visit to the superb, internationally-rated organic Zuffa Vineyard to take a wine tasting in the open air, between vines. We'll visit the art city of Dozza and and visit the castle of the astonishing Catarina Sforza - married to a Pazzi at the age of ten, this high level noblewoman extricated herself from the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici. Her husband would have ruled Florence but he was executed instead. She ruled on behalf of her son in Dozza and Imola and she loved alchemy, hunting and dancing. Now the castle is the wine-library of Emilia Romagna.
Depending on arrival time in Bologna there will be an opportunity for an early evening walking tour of this colorful medieval city. One of Italy's richest cities, Bologna is famous for its 3,000-year history, its pivotal role in the power-play between Florence, Milan, Ravenna and Venice, its world's oldest university, its miles of covered arcades and lovely squares, fabulous art and architecture - but above all, its FOOD and FUN.We’ll stay overnight in a specially-selected 3 or 4 star city-center hotel such as the family-run Touring Hotel with its warm atmosphere, and lovely breakfast.
Day 8 Friday Prosciutto, Parmesan, Balsamic and more
Full day tour from Bologna to visit artisan prosciutto ageing station, Modena Balsamic initiative and, naturally a parmesan factory and an extra wine tasting in Emilia country.
Overnight in Bologna evening tour in this city of great food. Special farewell dinner.
Day 9 Sunday Food, Food, Authentic Wonderful Food
Medieval Bologna is a food city that awakes early - even on Sunday - so we’ll start the day with a breakfast- time tour and avoid the crowds of day trippers! It’s not for nothing that Bologna is known as ‘Fat City’ It is the food capital of Italy (and therefore the world?!) The ancient Mercato di Mezzo and the food shops, café’s and restaurants around it, all in the medieval quarter, are astonishing homes to intoxicating taste, scent and aroma which pervades the whole area and heightens appetites. Naturally our full- on guided visit will include many tastes!
Leave Bologna early afternoon for our journey home.
END OF SERVICES
PLEASE NOTE: THIS TOUR IS ONLY BOOKABLE THROUGH PROFESSIONAL TRAVEL AGENTS WHO HAVE VISITED ROMAGNA AND CAN ADVISE YOU PROPERLY - LIST HERE
PRICE PER PERSON: $2950
Deposit required $200 per person to reserve arrangement. Balance payable 10 weeks prior to arrival.
Cancellation terms: Initial deposit only up to 8 weeks prior to departure. 80% from 8 weeks prior to departure. PRICES BASED A PRIVATE GROUP MINIMUM 6 SIX PASSENGERS
SUPPLEMENT FOR MINIMUM FOUR PASSENGERS - $500 PER PERSON
SUPPLEMENT FOR MINIMUM TWO PASSENGERS - $1000 PER PERSON
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT $400
MAXIMUM PASSENGERS PER GROUP 15 FIFTEEN PEOPLE
Friday arrival Rome, Milan and Venice.
Saturday departure dates from Rome, Milan Venice and Bologna 2021:
Valere Tjolle is the travel and tourism insider. An entrepreneur, consultant, developer and journalist, he has been in at the beginning of almost every tourism development for the last sixty years. There is no one better placed to expose the seedy side of tourism nor its enormous opportunities to unite people across the globe.