[Emilia Romagna Villages] Bagno di Romagna, the thermal village
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Bagno di Romagna, in the historical area of Tuscan Romagna just 30 miles or so from Forlì, is famous throughout the country for its thermal springs that attract countless Italian and foreign tourists every year. You can spend many a happy day unwinding by taking the waters and hiking in the Casentinesi Forests National Park. The alkaline hyperthermal waters – rich in sulphur, bicarbonate and other minerals – emerge from the source at 47°C. Unsurprisingly, the ancient Romans loved this place, as the poet Martial records. Let’s explore!
Although the very oldest finds date back to the Stone Age, the most fascinating period of the town’s history begins in the Roman era, when Martial recounts the therapeutic virtues of the hot thermal waters. In the Middle Ages, the Counts of Guidi di Bagno built the fortresses of Corzano and Montegranelli to protect Bagno di Romagna. These were the strategic points for controlling the area, and they were more important than the town’s commercial hub in the San Piero district. It was only when Corzano was overrun by the Landsknechts mercenaries in the 16th century that San Piero grew in size and importance to become the municipal centre, although the Bagno di Romagna name was retained. The town is part of Tuscan Romagna, in that it originally fell within the Tuscany region when Italy was unified. In 1923, when the provincial boundaries were altered by Benito Mussolini, Bagno di Romagna became part of Forlì province within Emilia-Romagna.
What to see
Bagno di Romagna is a favourite slow-tourism destination. Its thermal springs and lush rural setting make it an ideal place for savouring the pleasures of easy country living and, especially, fine dining. It’s also a charming romantic spot to whisk your significant other off to for a dreamy weekend. Art lovers won’t be able to resist a visit to Palazzo dei Capitani, where events and exhibitions are held and the city library and archives are based. The Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, which looks on to the main square, is the town’s main landmark; it was founded in 860, and its current form dates back to the Renaissance.
What to do
Summer: A trip to Casentinesi Forests National Park is a good way to shelter from the beating sun and enjoy a picnic deep in the country. The Lama Forest and Sasso Fratino reserves in the heart of the Forest are lovely areas to explore.
Autumn: This is a great time to go to the woods. The mushrooms and truffles are ripe for collecting, or, if you’d rather someone else did the legwork, you can just enjoy them in a local restaurant.
Winter: The cold often brings bothersome ailments in its wake, but the best way to keep them at bay is by luxuriating in the regenerating 47 °C waters of the thermal spa. When you watch the snowy mountains floating on the steamy water, the stress of the city seems a world away.
Spring: There are so many beauty spots in the area worth photographing, from Chiardovo spring to the lakes of Mount Comero and the mule track to Corzano. Just grab your camera, get on a bike, and let your adventure begin!
Summer: In late July each year, the Captain’s Days celebration recreates the Renaissance atmosphere of the arrival of the Capitano, sent by Florence every year to administer the area.
Autumn: On October Sundays, the good folk of the Selvapiana district celebrate the Monte Comero chestnut crop with an array of events and food stalls.
Winter: Bagno di Romagna has a fair for gnomes, too, in November, with games, craft markets, wine tastings, and a whole host of traditional local foods to try.
Spring: At the Spring festival at San Piero in Bagno (late April to early May), over 60 stands present gardening gear, arts and crafts, ceramics and pottery, garden and pot plants, and wild and organic foods from berries to mushrooms.
Food and Wine
Like every little town in these parts, Bagno di Romagna has a panoply of tasty dishes to savour! But it is only here, where the traditions of Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna come together, that you find basotti, rather special baked noodles served in broth (here’s the recipe). Other local flavours include tortillas and raviggiolo, a sublimely simple cheese and a slow-food favourite.