By Maurizio de Vito Piscicelli
The Italian region of Emilia Romagna has come up with a winning holiday formula that sets golf alongside art, gastronomy and spas
From sleek Ferraris to glorious Sophia Loren, Italy has given the world the best in style and glamour and when you add to that gourmet food, superb wines and centuries of culture you probably think you have summed it all up nicely.
You’d be wrong, as Italy has now developed another irresistible attraction — golf.
The golf sits alongside art, gastronomy, spas and a superb climate and if you enjoy this winning combination, in Emilia Romagna they promise you more than just another golfing holiday.
Emilia Romagna is in northern Italy and has the glorious city of Bologna at its heart.
Put simply, it’s the bit that sweeps from Rimini on the Adriatic coast up through the medieval towns and cities of Ravenna, Modena and Parma to Piacenza to the west and is Italy’s numero uno choice for a golf holiday.
Here golfers can enjoy some of the best-kept courses in Europe, wonderfully situated in soaring countryside and at prices that will leave you with enough to enjoy the odd bottle of Lambrusco.
If you’re a food lover, this is a golfing region to tickle the palate with a spread of gastronomic offerings that wouldn’t be out of place in Harrods food hall. Pasta, pasta, pasta is a delicious speciality.
Pasta of all shapes, colours and flavours; tasty Parma hams; mature Parmigiano cheeses; Lambrusco wines; many variations of Bolognese sauces, flatbreads and pastries — you can feel the waistband tightening already.
So it’s plain to see that the only way to keep off those extra inches is with a few rounds of golf.
Emilia Romagna prides itself on the quality of its golf and boasts courses which are not only in superb condition but are technically demanding with elegant, well-appointed clubhouses and friendly people.
A bonus is the clubhouse restaurants which, like the club, are open all year round and, typically, offer a varied and freshly prepared choice of dishes at very reasonable prices.
The golf courses of Emilia Romagna all lie close to historic cities and charming Renaissance villages.
On the Adriatic coastline, you can enjoy a golf holiday near a stunning beach. Some are close to regenerating spas or near world-famous restaurants.
We’ve already mentioned Ferrari and these stunning sports cars are made in this region, along with two other world-beating marques in Lamborghini and Ducati. Each has its own motor museum and they are definitely worth visiting, particularly if you are a lover of motorsport.
Between Ravenna and Bologna lies the world-famous Imola racetrack and just in case you thought Imola only has a racetrack, take a detour. It is also a historic town, the home of both Leonardo da Vinci and members of the notorious Borgia dynasty.
If you look at a map of the region, you will see that its towns and golf courses are strung along a straight line, stretching from Rimini on the Adriatic coast to Piacenza in the north.
There are 24 in total — two 27-hole courses, thirteen 18-hole courses and nine very attractive nine-hole layouts — and it’s very much left to you where to base yourself.
Emilia Romagna Golf is an association of these 24 courses with links to 27 different types of hotels which offers the visitor the best value accommodation and green fee package available.
Flights and car hire can be arranged by the individual but with low-cost flights and internet booking, even that is so easy.
Starting our golfing voyage of discovery near Piacenza on Emilia Romagna’s northwestern border, we will find the Croara Country Club in a hillside setting which enjoys a mild climate.
Croara Country Club
The course, which hosted the first Italian Women’s Open, lies halfway between the Trebbia river and the lower slopes of the Apennines. Its layout offers 18 testing holes, with narrow fairways surrounded by native woodland. Don’t miss the medieval village and the Castle of Rivalta, close to Croara.
Standing sentinel in the lush hillsides surrounding the ancient spa town of Salsomaggiore is the Golf Salsomaggiore Terme. Inaugurated in 1992, the course’s rippling fairways and tight, fast greens are laid out in 70 hectares of parkland and garden, 360 metres above the sea.
The golf is superb and the setting matchless. This is Verdi’s country and the house where the great musician was born can be visited at Roncole Verdi.
Also here, near the medieval cities of Parma, Cremona and Mantova, is the Golf del Ducato, close to the pretty Sala Baganza ducal village. La Rocca also enjoys a spectacular setting and panoramic views across Parma’s plains.
This is a moderately difficult course running among woods of oaks, acacias and artificial lakes. A number of important historic buildings lie close by such as the Torrechiara Castle, The Fontanellato and the forts of Colorna, Soragna and Canossa.
Also close to Parma is Matilde di Canossa Golf Club, which enjoys magnificent views. Designed by Mario Croze, the course opened in 1987 created in a stunning landscape in an area rich with Italian history. Croze created an 18 hole, par 72 course laid out over 6,200 metres of varied terrain making good use of the natural undulations of the land and the Quaresimo stream which flows through the course.
Back to nature is the theme across Reggio Emilia and nowhere can the golfer be at one with his surroundings than at the very lovely course at San Valentino Golf Club. Lying in a deep wooded valley and enhanced by four lakes the club, originally just nine holes, added another nine last summer giving a testing and attractive championship par 69 layout. The club also boasts a hotel and conference centre plus an impressive array of leisure facilities.
German champion Bernhard Langer designed Modena Golf & Country Club and it is considered one of Italy’s finest. Wide greens and tees and the five artificial lakes have helped to make it a venue for the Italian Open. This is one of two clubs in Emilia Romagna offering 27 holes and the nine-hole course at Modena is a highly enjoyable executive course.
Modena Golf & Country Club
Bologna is the capital of Emilia Romagna and home to one of the oldest universities in the world. It also has one of Italy’s most historic golf courses, the splendid Bologna Golf Club, which was designed by Cotton and Harris and built-in 1959. Its par-72, 18-hole layout rolls over the splendid countryside with panoramic views across surrounding hills and plains.
Its layout is constantly being updated — Peter Alliss added some recent modifications — and the club regularly hosts Italian Amateur Championships and top-class professional competitions. The clubhouse restaurant is one of the best 10 golf club restaurants in Italy.
Move south through the green hills and valleys of Emilia Romagna and towards the Adriatic coast and on the way you’ll come across a real find for lovers of both spa and golf in Le Fonti Golf Club at Castel San Pietro Terme. Le Fonti measures 6,480 metres, par-72, and is situated in the pretty Torrente Sillaro valley, with its particularly mild and healthy micro-climate, near the renowned spa centre.
The course, which is particularly long to suit professionals, is also great fun for amateurs. Offcourse attractions include the Castel San Pietro Spa centre, the Dozza Fortress and the Ippocampus Horses Centre.
Towards the sea, you’ll find the Adriatic Golf Club at Cervia. Its 6,246-metre, 27-hole layout winds between pinewoods and salty lakes in a natural setting close to the ocean. The first nine holes are like classic Scottish links, whilst the second nine, surrounded by water obstacles, were inspired by the great American courses.
The Italian Professional Championship has been held here on several occasions, as have the most important Italian amateur competitions.
Rimini is a popular resort with fine beaches and lively town attractions.
Rimini Verucchio Golf Club stretches out across the green Valmarecchia park, with an unrivalled view of San Marino, Verruchio and Torriana. With its 18 championship holes and an additional seven executive holes reserved for beginners, the Rimini Golf Club course is fascinating.
Designed by Brian Silva, it has softly undulating fairways dotted with bunkers and numerous lakes that have water games.
Riviera Rolf Resort
The Riviera Rolf Resort meanders along the right bank of the River Conca, an area of outstanding natural beauty and notable avifaunal interest. The 18-hole course was planned by the famous designer Graham Cooke to adapt to the gently rolling hills of the countryside near San Giovanni in Marignano. As well a 9-hole executive Pitch & Putt course, two 18-hole putting greens and brand new pitching and chipping greens there is a driving range with heated, floodlit stations.
Green fees are very reasonable and there is also a voucher system available to visitors.
If you are looking for a different kind of golf holiday, with gastronomy and culture, Emilia Romagna has everything you need. You will get the best out of life both on and off the golf course.
Emilia Romagna has 24 golf courses from Rimini on the Adriatic coast, through Bologna to Piacenza in the north.
1 - Adriatic Golf Club Cervia – 27 holes
2 - Rimini Verucchio Golf Club – 18 holes
3 – Riviera Golf Resort – 18 holes
4 – Argenta Golf Club – 18 holes
5 – Cus Ferrara Golf – 18 holes
6 - Golf Club Le Fonti – 18 holes
7 - Golf Club Bologna – 18 holes
8 – Molino del Pero Golf Club – 18 holes
9 - Modena Golf & Country Club – 27 holes
10 – San Valentino Golf Club – 18 holes
11 - Matilde di Canossa Golf – 18 holes
12 - Golf Del Ducato – 18 holes
13 - Salsomaggiore Golf & Thermae – 18 holes
14 – Golf Club Castell’Arquato – 18 holes
15 – Croara Country Club – 18 holes
16 – Golf Club I Fiordalisi – 9 holes
17 – Golf Club Faenza “Le Cicogne” – 9 holes
18 – Golf Club Casalunga – 9 holes
19 – Monte Cimone Golf Club – 9 holes
20 – Golf Club Ca’ Laura – 9 holes
21 – Golf Club “Augusto Fava” Cento – 9 holes
22 – Monteveglio Golf Club – 9 holes
23 – Golf Club Santo Stefano – 9 holes
24 – Reggio Emilia Golf – 9 holes
The motor museums of Lamborghini, Ferrari and Ducati to the Formula 1 racetrack at Imola, where the Italian Grand Prix takes place each spring.
Sights range from the Roman ruins of Rimini — the Tiberius Bridge and Augustus Arch — to museums and churches displaying priceless works of art such as Ravenna and Bologna.
Royal Carlton Spa
Spas also abound in and around Salsomaggiore, a lovely old spa town set in rolling hills. Check out these Italian spas, though, as many are for offering curative treatments rather than just pampering their clients — the type we enjoy in Europe. Don’t miss the tiny principality of San Marino, which has its own Grand Prix and national football team.
Lots of it from opera to clubbing. Bologna’s night scene offers everything from smart restaurants to lively nightclubs, plus a thriving gay scene. Rimini has 2,000 restaurants and another 2,000 bars.
Arts festivals are held throughout the summer months. Open-air music and opera are often performed in spectacular settings.
Just a fantastic treat for the gourmet golfer. The region specialises in pasta dishes with a wide variety of delicious sauces based on local meat and cheese. This is the home of parmesan cheese and Parma ham and you will find both these on every menu.
Spaghetti Bolognese is a popular choice here and in its native Bologna and lasagne and tortellini. are also on the menu. this food fest is the region’s wines — world famous ones, too. Chianti, Soave, Valpolicella and Montalcino, plus the refreshing Lambrusco are all from this part of Italy.
Check out the Emilia Romagna Golf website for details of the 27 hotels in the association and golf packages and special offers at www.emiliaromagnagolf.com
Emilia Romagna is an association of 24 golf courses and 27 different types of hotels. It will organise the best green fee and accommodation packages for the visiting golfer, who can make their own flight and car hire arrangements.
For information, sales and quotations of tourist packages, hotels, tee times and golf academies please contact:
Emilia Romagna Golf c/o Cervia Turismo
Tel: 00 39 0544 916280 / 72424