Florence’s Magic Railway: Part Two

Brisighella seemed a pretty name for a small town and it was a truly pretty, even  spectacular place. We’d now crossed over the appennines into Emilia Romagna and found the locals speaking a very differently accented Italian, almost Venetian in fact.

Where to begin with Brisighella? High above the little town we spotted the imposing Fortress standing high like Kafka’s castle.  It does require a little climb with over six hundred very steep steps (if you have a car then, of course, it’s much easier as there’s a twisty road up) but it’s worth changing into a human equivalent of a mountain-goat to get to the top. The fortress is quite majestic and was built strong enough to keep Federico da Montefeltro, the crunched-nose ruler of Urbino, out.

‘La Rocca’  houses an agricultural museum (closed when we were there) but the best thing about it are the views which are wondrously spectacular, looking over the Romagnan pre-appennines and showing off the precipitously situated alarm bell tower and the little sanctuary of Monticino precious to the Brisighellians. These buildings are placed on the ‘tre colli’, (three hills) symbols of the town.

The walk down to the old town reveals a highly picturesque centre.

There is also what must be one of Italy’s most unusual streets. It’s called ‘la via degli asini’ or ‘donkeys’ way’ and is a covered arcade running above street level. Originally part of a defensive system, the street takes its name from the fact that it once housed stables for donkeys bringing in chalk stone from the chalk mines the area was once famous for.

There were some pleasant cafes, a highly talented team of artist and marqueteer,

(indeed Brisighella is a haven for artists including the great Giuseppe Ugonia (1881-1944) four hundred of whose  paintings and lithographs are housed in the civic museum)

We strolled down ever more picturesque streets, met some pleasant cats

and entered a church with a painting by Guercino within it.


We could have spent days in this delightful town for all around are marvellous walks and spectacular geological formations including caves and, of course, vineyards growing the famous Sangiovese wine!

On our return journey we just managed to take one quick photo from our railway carriage of the Pieve di S. Giovanni in Ottavo (pieve del Thò), a venerable romanesque building, one of the oldest in Italy and which dates originally from the fifth century. Ah well! Next time.

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How tantalizingly short is life! If the saying goes ‘one lifetime is not enough to see Rome’ then I doubt the finest supercomputer would be able to tell me how many lifetimes I’d need to possess in order to visit all the marvels of this marvellous nation. At least a cat is at an advantage in this!




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