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Discovering Forlì-Cesena

A place of magic, mystery and unspoilt nature

Discovering Forlì-Cesena



The thirty municipalities that make up the province of Forlì-Cesena offer travel enthusiasts a range of rich variety in a changing landscape that combines sea and mountains, hills and green valleys, and the benefits of natural spa resorts. A destination that offers something for everyone, especially if you're looking for the opportunity for real moment of escape, even just a brief break from hectic city life, and the chance to enter a world that retains the charm of wild and unspoilt nature.  

Our journey starts from Bagno di Romagna, a delightful inland village that the Italian Touring Club has awarded the famous orange flag – the symbol of excellence assigned to places that combine a rich historical, cultural and environmental heritage with quality tourist services. Bagno di Romagna is situated in the Apennine Mountains, and its territory includes a part of the Foreste Casentinesi National Park. Here, in what is already a magical landscape, anyone inclined towards believing in fairy tales, dreams and fantasy can enjoy a truly special experience. The woodland path known as Il sentiero degli gnomi is a curious route of about two kilometres, made up of narrow paths and bridges, which present the forest and its wildlife from a completely new perspective.
 
Travelling a little further north brings us to Castrocaro Terme and Terra del Sole. Castrocaro Terme, perched on an impregnable fortress, has also been awarded the orange flag for tourism and is renowned for having established one of the most famous Italian song festivals, the Festival of Castrocaro, held every year in July along with other interesting events. One of these is the medieval festival Dal medioevo al rinascimento, a series of pageants and conferences during which the town returns to its ancient splendour in its stunning setting, perched on an impregnable fortress. Another fascinating event held here annually is Il castello dei misteri, (the castle of mysteries), celebrated on the night of All Saints' Eve, in other words Halloween, during which there are with special guided nighttime tours of the fortress. Another picturesque occasion well worth seeing is the Palio of S. Reparata, which enlivens the summer evenings of Terra del Sole. The Palio is a carefully reconstructed, historical Renaissance pageant, which includes dinners, music, costumes and games all typical of the period. Terra del Sole is also home to the Museo dell'uomo e dell'ambiente (Museum of Man and the Environment), which traces the history of our civilization from its origins to today, enhanced by useful teaching and media aids. But splendid pageants and events are only part of what Castrocaro has to offer: it is without doubt one of the most popular spa destinations in the whole of Italy. A bathe in its sulphurous waters, with their renowned therapeutic virtues, deeply relaxes and restores the mind and body.
 
From thermal waters, let's move on towards the sea. Cesenatico, a seaside resort and tourist destination on the Adriatic coast, is our next stop. Located between Rimini and Ravenna, Cesenatico boasts a Blue Flag for bathing. Its history has been strongly influenced by its location. In the distant past, a large part of its territory was invaded by the sea, but later, reclamation work turned it into a trade route. No one can claim to know the town without first seeing its characteristic canal-port, constructed from a design by Leonardo Da Vinci, and also visiting the fish market, built in the 1960s, where you can buy the local fishermen's catch of the day. 
 
One of the most enjoyable times for taking a stroll through the streets of Cesenatico and tasting its delicious fresh fish is the festival Il pesce in festa, held between 1- 4 November in the centre of town, transformed for the occasion into a large open-air restaurant serving fresh, top quality fish, prepared to traditional Emilia-Romagna recipes. Another event linked to the sea is the international catamaran regatta Le vele di Pasqua (Easter Sails) when dozens of craft create a brilliant display of colourful sails that ripple and swell in the sea breeze. Moving back to solid ground, in May the town holds a major cycling event: the Nove Colli (The Nine Hills), a 200 km race along the Apennines which attracts the big-name cyclists. Finally, for jazz lovers, we should certainly mention Non solo jazz (Not only jazz), the music festival held in Cesenatico Theatre, when every year selected music from one of the top genres is presented by stars from the international music scene.
 
Our trip ends with a pearl: Modigliana. Breathtaking views and fresh air characterise this small rural village, with its green meadows, and streams winding between the restored old buildings. It represents the perfect destination for anyone wanting to organise a country walk and spend some time in contact with nature. While you're there, don't miss seeing the Bridge of San Donato, an unusual three-arched humpback bridge, which is also called The Lady's Bridge after a noblewoman who lived in the vicinity centuries ago. Modigliana is home to one of the oldest art academies in Italy: the Accademia degli incamminati. Founded in the second half of the 15th century, this place of art and culture was immediately distinguished by the revolutionary spirit of its members, who, for the most part, were artisans who dreamt of having their work recognised like musicians and poets did. The academy is still active today, conducting research and study to spread and promote humanistic and scientific knowledge, and hosting exhibitions and cultural events of great importance.

On the second Sunday of September, just as autumn begins, Modigliana is home to one of the most striking pageants in Italy: La Festa del '800: Tableaux vivants, during which about 30 live tableaux are presented, inspired by Modigliana's great 19th-century painter, Silvestro Lega. The whole town takes part in this event, with the townspeople dressed in period costume and acting as characters in the living tableaux. Markets, live music, art and food tasting seal a truly unique event. And for great admirers of Lega's art, there's free entrance to the Civic Museum and the Art Gallery which house some of his original works.
 
Did you know that…?
Forlì Cathedral is not only known for its architectural beauty, but also for a painting of the Virgin Mary that became famous for having completely survived a devastating fire in the church during the Middle Ages. For this reason, the work, known as the Madonna of Fire, has been venerated since 1428. 


Alessandra Denaro


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