Hidden Emilia-Romagna: Modigliana and Tredozio

From Bologna to the villages of Emilia-Romagna

After a one hour train ride from the stylish bustle of cosmopolitan Milan, we arrived in Bologna, a historical and cultural center in northeast Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. It is a large city with an enormous, just-opened, new railway station — a destination for international visitors as well as a connecting point for business people and local residents. But our itinerary moved us quickly out of the city by car with our travel blogging friends, Alessandra Catania (our trip organizer) and Teresa Keane, to begin a 9-day journey through Emilia-Romagna beyond the locations commonly found in travel guides. Mr. TWS and I were to spend our first night in the village of Tredozio on the border of Tuscany about 40 miles southeast of Bologna.

Along the way in Modigliana

"San Donato Bridge in Modigliana, Italy"

Bloggers on San Donato Bridge in Modigliana, Italy

Exiting the busy main highway out of Bologna, our drive quickly turned scenic as we took winding roads through rural areas of vineyards and olive trees. A stop in the quiet village of Modigliana gave us the chance to cross the steeply-arched Ponte della Signora (San Donato Bridge) built in the 18th century and wander the streets of this town of under 5,000 residents. We met several friendly locals who helped us to find Antichi Sapori, a great place for a lunch of “pasta fresca”. This was our first experience with the authentic homemade pasta of the region, made from scratch in the kitchen. It was the start of a long series of wonderful meals as we ate our way through Italy.

"Making fresh pasta at Antiche Sapori in Modigliana in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy"

Watching the pasta maker at Antichi Sapori


After lunch, we continued on to Tredozio, a village of about 1,300 residents within the lush Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi (Casentinesi National Park). It is an ancient town once inhabited by the Romans which later became part of the province of Florence until Benito Mussolini changed the borders of Romagna in 1923, making Tredozio part of Forli in Emilia-Romagna.

"The hills of Emilia-Romagna"

The hills of Emilia-Romagna near Tredozio

We were told that we’d be staying in an 18th century vintner’s tower for our lodgings the first night and were looking forward to such a unique experience. As we approached the driveway of Torre Fantini we were amazed with an awesome view of the Apennines and the valley below with a farmer at work in the fields.

"Torre Fantini Bed and Breakfast in Tredozio, Emilia-Romagna, Italy"

Torre Fantini

While we took deep breaths of the exceptionally fresh air, it was easy to imagine spending several days there, instead of just one night. The bed and breakfast has 5 bedrooms, a small common sitting area and a breakfast room next to the tower. From our “Old Tower” room we had windows facing the hills from the bedroom and bath, as well as a view of a woodland from a window on another side of the room.

"One of five bedrooms at Torre Fantini B & B in the village of Tredozio, Italy"

Lovely accommodations at Torre Fantini

A walk around the grounds and a bit of relaxation at the gorgeous pool provided panoramic views — what a setting!

"Pool at Torre Fantini with a view of the mountains in Tredozio in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy"

Pool at Torre Fantini

Settled in our room, we took a short 10 minute walk to the village of Tredozio where we enjoyed the feeling of a small Italian town and had an opportunity to interact with a few of the residents, who even with our language difficulties were friendly and helpful.

"On a quiet street in Tredozio in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region"

Taking a stroll through Tredozio

The town was quiet and irresistible. It captured exactly what we’d hoped from the trip, being able to experience a less-traveled, hidden part of Italy.

"Chiesa della Compagnia, Tredozio, Italy"

Chiesa della Compagnia, Tredozio

Completing a circuit of the town, we snapped several photos of the 17th and 18th century buildings, as well as the 14th century church, Chiesa della Compagnia. We found that most of the shops were closed for siesta, but we did find a small restaurant open with an outdoor patio to enjoy a cold drink, the village sights and watch the locals while they strolled and conversed with friends and family.

"La Luna Rossa, a ristorante in Tredozio, Italy"

La Luna Rossa, Tredozio

Palazzo Fantini

"Exterior of Palazzo Fantini in Tredozio, Italy"

Palazzo Fantini

For the evening, Alessandra had arranged a meeting with Beatrice Fontaine, the owner of Torre Fantini, in Tredozio at Palazzo Fantini, an elegant residence belonging to her family since the time it was built in 1753. Beatrice gave us a tour of the Tuscan-baroque style house and beautiful grounds. From the modest presentation from the street front, the house and gardens were surprisingly large and exceptional.

The gardens created in the 1800s had been designed not by a famous architect but they appeared to be. The gardens were bursting with roses thriving after an unusually wet month of May in the area. Beside the roses, there were various flowers and trees all positioned uniquely to create a peaceful and beautiful floral setting, making it a perfect venue for weddings, concerts and other events.

"Gardens and outer building of Palazzo Fantini in Tredozio, Italy"

Gardens at Palazzo Fantini

Palazzo Fantini is listed by Great Italian Gardens, an organization that promotes the heritage of gardens in Italy.

"Palazzo Fantini Gardens in Tredozio, Italy"

Palazzo Fantini Gardens

We also toured the buildings that were once used for housing horses and other animals That area as well as two large courtyards and a grainery were restored to their original design. These buildings are painted an intriguing pattern of red and gold stripes (the original design) to differentiate the living quarters from the farm buildings.

"Distinctly painted buildings of Palazzo Fantini - striped to differntiate them from the living quarters"

Striped buildings of Palazzo Fantini

The living quarters are actually four different structures that had been joined, the original building constructed in the 17th century, enhanced in the 18th century, then restored as a project by Beatrice’s father in recent years.

The evening continued as we moved to the residence to the living area for conversation, then the warm and spacious kitchen/dining for dinner. Beatrice was a generous host; we enjoyed her conversation and appreciated her interest in our upcoming Alberghi Diffusi project in Emilia-Romagna officially starting the next day.

"Steaming pasta soup being prepared at Palazzo Fantini in Tredozio, Italy"

Mafalda preparing steaming pasta soup

The kitchen was warm and welcoming and the company and conversation made for a memorable evening, enhanced by the inclusion of Mafalda, a charming woman who has worked with the family for many years. Despite our language differences, I felt that we communicated brilliantly with our smiles, Mafalda’s smile as she served being as warm as the pasta soup was hot. We devoured the steaming pasta soup, salad, and fruit which was prepared by Pierluigi Gentilini, chef of Tredozio’s Michelin–rated Il Mulino di San Michele. We now truly anticipated that this trip to Italy was going to be the culinary delight we hoped. It was also clear that we could expect to add a few pounds before our time in Italy was finished.

"Alessandra Catania, Beatrice Fontaine, Mafalda, Teresa Keane and Catherine Sweeney at Palazzo Fantini in Tredozio, Italy"

Alessandra Catania, Beatrice Fontaine, Mafalda, Teresa Keane and me

A fresh start to our fresh project

After a nearly silent night and peaceful sleep, delicious homemade pastries from the village bakery and flavorful coffee in Torre Fantini’s breakfast room were a perfect way to begin the day. From Tredozio, we would be heading off through Casentinesi National Park to Portico di Romagna to begin the Alberghi Diffusi phase of our trip exploring more of hidden Emilia-Romagna. But our short stay at Torre Fantini has put Tredozio on our list of places to return someday.

"Enjoying coffee and fresh pastries in the breakfast room of Torre Fantini"

Coffee and pastries in the Torre Fantini breakfast room

For more information: Palazzo Fantini and Torre Fantini

38 thoughts on “Hidden Emilia-Romagna: Modigliana and Tredozio

  1. Patti

    Well… I guess I’ll have to accept that you were actually in Italy – my dream destination. I want to learn how to make spaghetti carbonara in Italy – and then sit down and eat it!!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Patti – I really hop that you get to your dream destination very soon & get to make that pasta dish. Send me a postcard! 🙂

    1. Cathy Post author

      I was happy to learn about Tredozio and the other small villages of the area. There are many more out there for me to explore, too.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Next time you’re up there, take a detour and spend a ltitle time. I think you’d especially like the gardens and checking out that Michelin chef’s restaurant.

  2. Marcia

    What a fabulous trip, Cathy! Amazing views – love the striped buildings and the gardens – delicious food from Mafalda and a Michelin chef, and wonderful accommodations, what more could one ask for, eh?

    1. Cathy Post author

      I really didn’t know what to expect that first day in Emilia-Romagna, It was full of wonderful surprises.

  3. Linda

    It’s funny. I was talking to my son about Italy the other day. He’s there for the first time, and loves it. I said to him that I’ve utterly loved everywhere I’ve been in Italy, and it’s true. I adore it, and it sounds as if your visit was idyllic.**Sigh**

    1. Cathy Post author

      I have a really that I’d adore most other places in Italy, too. I’m looking forward to a chance to find out for sure. 😉

  4. Jackie Smith

    Just the mention of Bologna’s train station brought back memories of our wonderful stay in that town – I could go back in a nano-second. If the rest of your trip was as lovely as this, it must have been spectacular!

    1. Cathy Post author

      I’ve heard that Bologna really is a wonderful city. I’d definitely like to go back and spend some time in the town — and eat some of the fab food I’ve heard so much about.

  5. budget jan

    It is always inspiring to be shown a lesser known side of a well known country. Italy has lots of little villages in which to lose ourselves. What a lovely opportunity.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I feel very fortunate that I got to see some of those wonderful small villages. Hope to see more throughout the country. Each region has its own characteristics, as do the villages.

    1. sarah

      Lovely to see the area is appreciated – as we were sure it would be. We have just opened a learning venue in Tredozio and we provide Italian language lessons linked to cookery courses, pottery classes and exploration of the National Park and surrounding villages.

  6. Jennifer

    That swimming pool looks heavenly, especially with the soaring temperatures we continue to have! One thing I’ve definitely learned after 4 years of living in Italy is that the little towns truly are the gems of Italy. So glad you got to experience some of your own!

    1. Cathy Post author

      It would have been so nice to spend more time at that pool — especially considering we had it to ourselves with that amazing view.

  7. fotoeins | Henry

    So many beautiful places, so much good food to eat, so little time to do it … might as well start now! I’ve not familiar with Italy, but when I see photos of people making fresh pasta with locals (with years, nay, generations of experience) somewhere in a tiny Italian village, I’m hungry, and not just for the freshly made food. I think I just miss cooking with a bunch of people, making a mess of it, and scarfing down the goods later in the evening. 🙂 Thanks for your post, Catherine!

    1. Cathy Post author

      You said it — so little time to do all of the things we want to do! I’ve got a post coming up about my experience making pasta — yes, me! Stay tuned!

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    1. Cathy Post author

      The striped building was interesting because not only did it look cool, but it actually meant something — identified farm buildings from the rest of the house. The whole trip was amazing — much more to come!

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