Romagna wine tour

Castello Montesasso panorama in Romagna
Castello Montesasso.

Hills and castles, historic villages and genuine hospitality: Romagna, the eastern part of Emilia-Romagna, is one of Italy’s best kept secrets. The area’s wine scene has experienced a metamorphosis in recent years thanks to research and the ingenious, creative nature of the locals. Alongside the two stars, Sangiovese and Albana, a series of vastly different native varieties is coming to the fore.

Where exactly Romagna begins and Emilia ends is a matter of opinion or, as Italian wine expert Daniele Cernilli puts it in the Vini di Romagna consortium’s book, Romagna, mosaico di vita (Lariana/Civiltà del Bere, 2023), ‘Romagna is a state of mind’.

One way to establish where you are is by following the traditional saying, ‘Ask for a drink and if you’re given water, you’re in Emilia; if it’s wine, you’re in Romagna.’

From the winemaking point of view, borders are clear: the Romagna DOC area starts just east of Bologna, stretching to Rimini on the Adriatic coast. It’s divided into 16 subzones, each represented by a castle, most of which can be visited. A subzone mentioned on a wine’s label typically marks the peak of quality.

My perfect day


Trere?-agriturismo pool

Credit: Trerè agriturismo

Wake up to birdsong in the spa suite surrounded by vines at the Trerè agriturismo near Faenza and, after an early swim, enjoy breakfast on the farmhouse veranda with local produce and home-grown cherries. Buy some bottles before setting off a few kilometres into the hills at Oriolo dei Fichi for a scenic walk through vineyards. Aim to reach Locanda della Fortuna for a delicious lunch in the atmospheric 16th century farmhouse or its surrounding garden. Opt for homemade pasta or risotto with asparagus and hazelnuts paired with wines from the family’s Leone Conti winery nearby, perhaps Progetto 1, a classic dry white Albana.


View from Fattoria-Nicolucci

View from Fattoria Nicolucci. Credit: Fattoria Nicolucci

After lunch, stroll down the hill to see Oriolo’s distinctive hexagonal tower (open weekends) then continue the day nearby at Fattoria Zerbina for a thematic Albana tasting including exquisite passito.

Head east (36km) for the afternoon in Predappio Alta, with a tour of historic Fattoria Nicolucci and a tasting of its memorable Sangiovese and other wines, taking in the views from the castle ruins.


Ca' de Bè

Credit: Ca’ de Bè

Carry on east to Bertinoro, the village famed for its hospitality and known as the balcony of Romagna for its sweeping panoramas. Admire the column with a dozen rings, devised to resolve disputes about who would have the pleasure of hosting visitors – the family corresponding to the ring where the visitor chose to tie their horse had the honour. Dine on tasty dishes such as gnocchi with rabbit and cardoons or simple piadina flatbread with a platter and local wine on the terrace at Ca’ de Bè.

After dinner, make your way to Villa Venti near medieval Longiano. Relax on the attractive terrace with the day’s last glass, perhaps an amphora-vinified Centesimino, and spend the night in one of two simple, attractive rooms decorated with traditional print fabrics and natural wood bedheads made from cognac barrels.

Romagna’s white wines

With DOCG status since 1987 (Italy’s first white DOCG) and a variety grown here since ancient times, Albana is an extraordinarily versatile grape combining acidity, strength and structure. It has experienced a recent upsurge in popularity, and while there are many delicious dry versions perfect with typical cheese or meat-filled cappelletti pasta or baked fish, wineries are achieving outstanding results with other styles of Albana too.

Producers making vibrant traditional-method Albana spumante include Branchini, located near the delightful village of Dozza (see box, below) and with an interesting display of country-life heirlooms. Nearby at Imola (of motor-racing fame), Fattoria Monticino Rosso makes other interpretations include Codronchio, a startling,…

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Romagna wine tour  
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