Emilia-Romagna: Across the Rubicon, Along the Po

We don’t know whether it’s the river Julius Caesar famously marched his army across, but there is indeed a Rubicon, and it can be found just south of Ravenna, where it meets the Adriatic. Our tour takes us to both sides of the Rubicon and, more important, the Po, as we tour the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy.

We’re trying to keep a straight face while we tell you how the Roman towns along our route often preserve the outlines of their forums in their piazzas or were the sites of famous battles. Here are some of their names: Bologna, Modena, Parma, Ravenna.

Right. You’re not thinking about the Roman army.

Yes, this is the land of prosciutto, culatello, parmigiano-reggiano, aceto balsamico, paper-thin tagliatelle with genuine ragù bolognese, and so much more, such as sturgeon from the Po and seafood from the Adriatic and the unique specialties of Ferrara and Comacchio. Of course we see how these classic and delicious products are made. (You’ll never look at a piece of cheese or a bottle of balsamic vinegar the same way again, guaranteed.)

Many of the cities and towns boast numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, and some have been so designated in their entirety. We examine the glorious mosaics and late antique churches of Ravenna, the Etruscan site of Marzabotto, and superb architecture throughout. Here and there we encounter vestiges of their ancient lives in the Roman ruins, but some must-see ancient art is on view in the regional museums.

Our tour begins in Parma and ends in Ferrara, near Bologna, which has an international airport and links by high-speed trains with Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice, and other cities. As always, our dining covers the spectrum from unreconstructed tradition to cutting-edge fine dining.

April 1–8, 2019