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Published on Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Total Commitment Emilia Romagna

Provenance, local specialities, authenticity, food and drink, culture and history, passion and quirkyness - added value experienced and explained

The question: How do you faithfully reflect Italy's massive regional strength, individuality and passion for hospitality in sustainable tourism? The answer: Total immersion of every tourist's complete six senses.

A quirky green apartment in a Bologna palace: student co-operative:

They say that B&B "La ciliegia"   (the cherry) "was born green" - and as soon as you press the apartment's bell and enter the massive doors into the old stone courtyard, you get the picture. Here, student kitsch meets massive medieval walls and a sustainable ethos. Sit on the sofa, taste an organic fruit from the bowl, experience the warmth and comfort and can feel what the guiding co-operative calls "respect for nature, values '‹'‹of organic, energy conservation and sustainability" in practical action. Not an ancient stone has been left unturned to demonstrate organic, low impact products in this 4 room b&b - plus you'll get full-on friendly, organic hospitality right in the heart of Bologna's medieval student quarter.

And the ancient colonnaded student area in the heart of the city is just the place to begin a journey towards Bologna's fabulous feast of local food and inspirational architecture. The examination question?…Try to find a bad meal in Bologna. It's a tough one, you can wander the atmospheric medieval city's 38 km of porticos and dozens of squares, sample hundreds of local specialties and still find it impossible to avoid sensationally good memorable food.

Ferrara: Lucrezia Borgia, bicycles, city walls, festivals and cappellacci con la zucca

Le Stanze di Torcicoda  - are 16c servants quarters in the Ferrara ghetto where Pietro Zanni has created a charming homemade  green B&B with all the requirements for deep green comfort - including family cooked food, energy saving room keys, soap dispensers with disposable liquid soap, energy efficient bulbs, water filter jugs in rooms, free bicycles for guests plus green certification from Ecolabel "Legambiente Turismo.

Ask Pietro how to explore beautiful Ferrara and still enjoy the pasta (Ferrara's speciality is cappellacci con la zucca ( )? He'll tell you to get on your bike (actually one of his complimentary bikes) with a  local guide - you'll see a city that takes a different and novel view about everything. About city walls - "they're great for cycling and running along"; about city buskers - "let's have a European buskers festival"; about gardening - 'let's have a really massive community allotment'; about Lucrezia Borgia - "a lovely lady who had a really tough life" (she's buried in a beautiful little church guarded by kindly nuns)

You'll leave Ferrara with no preconceptions intact and a longing to return to this serene and iconoclastic city (and its pasta!).

Ravishing Ravenna: women and power, mosaics, the Holy Roman Empire's Western HQ was Venice before Venice existed

Ravenna is a city of strong, powerful, beautiful women from 4th century Gallia Placidia  through the 5th century's great dancer, Theodora right through to Byron's lover Teresa Guiccioli  and as the immensely powerful, immensely rich western capital of the Holy Roman Empire, Ravenna is just crammed full of fabulous art treasures.

You need local eyes and local hosts to get the most of such an amazing place and the local guide's co-operative obliges with yet another strong passionate lady.  Art graduate Cinzia Fabbri brooks no obstacle to showing her city off to its guests at its very best.

After all, interpretation is the real value-added in tourism and in such a treasure-chest of ancient beauty, art and architecture, you need all the sights placed in their context and savoured to their fullest.

The city is also full of family owned B&B's vying with each other to offer thoughtful green accommodation in comfortable historic family settings.

Not had enough art and architecture? Try the Casa Masoli where the family collects works of the famous Ravenna's artist Ruffini. Guests can admire wash- paintings, lithograph and drawings of the famous painter in every room of the house, and much more.

"Grand Designs Goes Medieval" is perhaps the best way to describe this sumptuous B&B. The Suite Rasponi  comes with has a vast paneled bathroom (naturally with a vast marble bath, double paneled washbasin and shower plus a dressing room. The enormous bedroom has an as-yet only partially-restored frescoed ceiling, massive four-poster, small library, and naturally, walls full of original art PLUS an artefact-stuffed ante-room. If it wasn't the enticing art-city of Ravenna outside, you wouldn't want to leave the room for at least a week.

Making the pasta at Casa Masoli

And another attraction - like everyone in Emilia Romagna, the family is proud of its home-cooked food. Another obstacle to leaving the hotel is its magnificent, chandeliered breakfast room and its extraordinary spread of local delicacies.

At its very best sustainable tourism is local tourism which delivers local food, locally owned and run accommodations, local tourism services, local low-energy transport, local hospitality, local culture and real economic benefits for local people. All this translates into unique experiences, sometimes life-changing experiences, for visitors. Emilia Romagna achieves all this without a blink.

Contact [email protected] for real tourism B&B bookings, meet and greet, excursions and groups in Romagna.

Valere Tjolle
Valere is editor of the Sustainable Tourism Report Suite 2012 Special Offers HERE

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