There are many places I have never been to. It is even more true for places that are close to a place where I live. Or lived. It is true that we often get seduced with a colorful photo of a far far away place and we are ready to cross the world just to be there leaving close sites unexplored. Trips like I had last week to Brisighella with my friends was one of these moments when I fully realized I share this unfortunate habit of going far instead of visiting the close surrounding. So I am very grateful to my friends who had this idea! (thanks guys!)
Brisighella: where is it?
OK this map shows you exactly where Brisighella is situated. No offense here my dear brisighellans! It’s not only because few people heard about your town but mainly to show the particularity of your locations: proximity to Tuscany (it’s just around the corner) and your strong ties with Romagna.
What is so interesting about Brisighella?
The charm of old Italian small town is all over the place: you can see it in every building in the center, an ancient fountain, old looking restaurants and so called Rocca, which is a defensive structure with high towers. The views are breathtaking: green hills, vineyards, olive groves and color houses. Under the blue sky of Romagna it all creates a wonderful picture worth remembering. My friends took me to Brisighella on 1 May and I expected a sleepy empty town with all interesting spots closed but this was very false and very silly to think about Brisighella this way! Instead of sleepy empty town we found a vibrant place, full of sun, with all good restaurants open and a live concert in a park. Even a small shop with local goodies was open!
Two things are remarkable here: local olive oil and wines. We started tasting of two different olive oils in a Osteria della Fonte. A nice local waitress who was very talkative gave us two different olive oils to try. And believe me: when you try it with a local bread (similar to the one in Tuscany with no salt added) you really feel the difference. One of the olive oils was spicy at the end when I swallowed it! Delicious! After a lunch we took a walk around the town and discovered a small local shop where we tasted few other types of olive oils and wines.
A lady who worked there was a true enthusiast of all local stuff. She was telling the stories about olive oil and wine as if it was a fairytale about a brave knight who killed a dragon and saved a sleeping beauty. Seriously! After such encounter we could not buy an annual supply of olive oil and a box of wine. All products have a certificate called DOP (it Denominazione di Origine Protetta protected designation of origin) or DOC (it Denominazione di Origine Controllata controlled designation of origin) which – making long story short – stands for local products of high quality. We left all we bought at her place and continued our walk.
Antica via “degli Asini” (Donkey’s Street) or del Borgo is one of the most interesting sites in Brisighella. The whole complex of the colorful houses is dated back to medieval times and kept its original shape and proportions. The construction is pretty particular: the buildings kept door to stables at the ground level and at the first floor above the stables there is a covered passage with half moon windows towards the main square. What is so particular about it is that animals (donkeys mainly) lived under the houses of their owners and created substantial heat in winter time. Having animals close to their homes increased also the defending properties of the village in medieval times, including half moon windows for shooting purposes. When the political forces changed in the area the covered passage became to change its local function towards a vibrant spot of social life (having a covered internal ‘street’ made meeting in poor weather enjoyable).
We met a 92 years old local lady who was giving indications to all tourists on how to walk the Via degli Asini properly. And she was right! When you walk it counter clockwise you have an opportunity to see the houses from behind. A narrow path leads up to the hill and at some point it opens up to show a spectacular panorama of the area. Olive groves make amazing impression from this perspective!
Full of impressions from the Via degli Asini we got back to the city center (well, sort of) and we discovered a local market and a live concert! There were 7 guys in their late 60s playing and singing like rock stars! An inscription said that they play to support a local retirement house. People were having fun as they were playing well known songs. This was a very nice a essentially local conclusion of our stay in Brisighella.
Have you ever thought about visiting Italy? Here is an alternative way on how to visit Italy and get really close to the Italian way of life. I created a project ‘I love Ferrara‘ so you could join me and experience how beautiful and tasty Ferrara is. If you wish to immerse in Italy book your holiday now!