If you just want a place to be observant, northern Italy’s Emilia Romagna region may have what you’re looking for: ancient monasteries, protected sea oases, ancient villages, Renaissance libraries and spiritual gardens.
With sea, mountains and charming towns, Emilia Romagna is the perfect area for visitors to slow down, switch off and find themselves both physically and mentally.
Here are the 10 best “places of silence” in Emilia Romagna:
Guercino Cathedral – Piacenza
The dome of Piacenza Cathedral is decorated with an extraordinary series of frescoes by the Bolognese painter Guercino. Those who climb the dome through secret passages, spiral staircases and labyrinths can see up close Guercino’s six gigantic frescoes depicting the prophets Haggai, Hosea, Zechariah, Ezekiel, Micah and Jeremiah, painted between 1626 and 1627. From everything, a person feels detached from worldly things. An intense tribute to infinity with breathtaking views.
Malatestiana Library – Cesena (Rimini)
In 1452, Mr. Malatesta Novello of Cesena founded the Malatestiana library on the site of a former Franciscan monastery, which contains 340 manuscripts from the 8th to the 15th century in Latin, Greek and. The library is also the first UNESCO Memory of the World site in Italy. Just northwest of the seaside town of Rimini, it is the world’s only example of a humanities library that has survived a number of wars and natural disasters in complete preservation of its building, furnishings and book collection. For book lovers and historians alike, the Malatestiana Library’s peaceful nature allows visitors to enjoy their surroundings and explore its every nook and cranny. The experience becomes even more special when visitors discover manuscripts that have remained untouched since the building was built. Feel connected to the story and pause for a moment as you immerse yourself in the silence.
Masone Labyrinth – Fontanellato (Parma)
The Masone Labyrinth is the world’s largest bamboo labyrinth – made of 200,000 bamboo plants measuring 30cm and 15m tall. The path that crosses it is more than 3 kilometers long. It was first designed and created by Italian art publisher and magazine editor Franco Maria Ricci.
In the combined building, visitors will find an art collection, a restaurant and two suites for overnight stays. Ricci’s extraordinary personal art collection, amassed over more than 50 years, includes busts of Napoleon, works by the Mannerists, 17th-19th century paintings, original drawings from Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus, and a wooden model of Milan Cathedral.
Bismantova stone – Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia)
In the Apennines, near the town of Castelnovo ne’ Monti – just an hour from Reggio Emilia – is Pietra di Bismantova, a curious geological boat-shaped formation, an almost sacred mountain where time has stopped.
Pietra di Bismantova was once used by many people as a natural shelter and today it is an ideal destination for mountaineering and rock climbing. In the absolute silence that fills the area, the only human presence is the hermitage built in 1617 at the foot of the cliff.
Italian poet Dante Alighieri passed through Pietra di Bismantova on his way from Padua to Tuscany in 1306, and is said to have inspired the description of Monte del Purgatorio in his iconic narrative poem, the Divine Comedy.
Area of silence – Ravenna
Visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Ravenna will discover the “Zone of Silence,” an area that includes the tomb of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), the Dante Museum, the Basilica of San Francesco and the Garden Silenzio (Garden of Silence), and the ancient Monasteries (Franciscan monasteries).
This spiritual area is the result of a series of urban works carried out between 1920 and 1930 with the aim of creating a space of respect, peace and tranquility around Dante’s tomb. Thanks to many demolition and reconstruction works, new squares and traffic diversions, the zone of silence has become a key example of intervention in the city’s urban history. It is also an opportunity for visitors to relax and enjoy the beauty.
Abandoned village of Moraduccio – Bologna
After an hour of walking among hills and waterfalls on the border between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, we arrive at a silence shrouded in mystery: Moraduccio. This is a 9th century village that was abandoned after the war. It is overgrown with vegetation, which has now become its only inhabitant. The houses, mostly in ruins but still stubbornly standing, are a lesson in resilience. The most notable features are the roofless church (guests can see the sky when they look up) and the Moraduccio waterfall with its clear waters.
Po Delta Park – Ferrara
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Po Delta Park is one of the most beautiful oases in Italy and the second largest wetland in Europe. Here the Po River splits just before reaching the sea, creating a series of inlets and islets. Lagoons, forests, islets, flocks of pink flamingos, fishing huts and exceptional natural diversity make it a paradise for birdwatchers. Thanks to its exceptional location – on one of the three migratory routes between Europe and Africa – the Podelta Park is home to 300 different bird species.
Visitors can enjoy a relaxing weekend and enjoy activities such as guided tours and wine tasting. At sunset, the Po Delta reveals its true beauty at sunset: the red and warm light of the sun makes the space glow with beautiful colors.
Ridracol Dam and Foreste Casentinesi National Park – Forlì-Cesena
The Monte Falterona and Foreste Casentines National Park covers an area of 368 square kilometers and is home to ancient forests, majestic waterfalls and endless hiking trails. At the center of the park is the Sasso Fratino Natural Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 800 hectares of beech forests, the oldest in Europe, untouched by history.
Here, visitors can immerse themselves in silence, enjoy the song of birds, the beauty of nature and the warm sunlight. Between these forests you can also navigate the waters of the Ridracoli dam, a body of water between steep cliffs. The electric, eco-friendly boat glides smoothly across the water allowing passengers to admire the beauty around them.
Monastery of Santa Caterina and Barbara – Santarcangelo di Romagna (Rimini)
The monasteries are real places of silence and this one in Santarcangelo di Romagna, 15 minutes from the seaside resort of Rimini, is worth a visit. The nuns of the convent of St. Catharina and Barbara open their house to travelers who love peace and quiet.
The convent, built in 1505, overlooks one of the most beautiful corners of Santarcangelo: Piazzetta delle Monache. The monastery also has a baroque church from 1738 and in the basement are some of Santarcangelo’s most fascinating caves. Walk between these ancient walls, let the sun caress the monastery, enjoy the peace and quiet and meditate under the olive tree. Visitors just need to leave to feel better.
Wild, romantic and deserted Love Island – Ferrara
The Isola dell’Amore is one of the wildest places in the Po Delta, a small, unspoilt and lonely island, only accessible by boat. The beach is listed as one of the best in Italy.
Island Sounds are the sounds of nature with all its elements, a gentle wind, a ship cutting through the surface of the water and birds singing – perfect sounds to relax while enjoying the scenery. Isola dell’Amore has a typical white lighthouse that has been transformed into a romantic hotel.