Italy’s Romagna – making a start on creating a really sustainable local visitor economy that will make others green with envy

Romagna’s soaring mountains, stylish beaches and fertile plains are now providing truly green options for visitors.

A strong group of local tourism providers attended the launch of Green Tourism Italy in Cervia last year – and now Romagna has its very own green tourism initiative.

The pilot scheme presented in co-operation with local hotel association ASCOM has already attracted an initial group of accommodation providers and other tourism businesses, who are enthusiastically waving the green card in Italy for the benefit of their guests and the world at large. The initial phase of the scheme has now been completed and 31 hotels with 4,000 beds have joined. There is even a Piadina eatery joined to make sure that green tourists try just one of Romagna’s DOP culinary specialities (see Romagna’s piadina stretches Italy’s quality-food lead over France)

Green Tourism is the largest and most credible green certification programme in the world with over 2500 members including Manchester United Football Club.The Romagna initiative has enabled local tourism businesses to save money and have their offers audited and certified. This provides a credible globally-recognised branding so that the ever-increasing group of discriminating green clients can be sure that they are getting the real green thing.

As a destination always ready to improve quality and authenticity, Cervia in Romagna was chosen by Green Tourism as the most suitable place for the initial green roll-out in Italy.

Among benefits offered to hotels and other tourism businesses are: advice, assistance and a complete technical report defining saving areas, investment opportunities and low cost effective measures to increase efficiency and provide a greener and more authentic service to guests.

And now, just a few months later visitors can choose from a stunning variety of pioneer green hotels and other establishments.

In swish Milano Marittima, right on the beach, green-leaning guests can enjoy the Bellettini   With its own band, leisure centre, spa, the four star Bellettini has been offering state-of-the-art hospitality since 1956.

At the Hotel Derby  guests can get fit in the impressive Technogym, enjoy the night-time entertainments and excellent cuisine in this four star beachside hotel.

Or for a rather different holiday experience, green travelers can chose one of the 12 individually-designed luxury suites at the Hotel Eros with artwork created by world-famous local artist Tonino Guerra – on the bed in the form of blankets! Truly a hotel that lives up to its motto “Elegance and Wellness”

Or, if great food is top of the agenda, green tourism visitors can choose the Michelin-listed Hotel Mazzani  Naturally, by the beach, and within a few steps to the centre, this 4 star establishment offers a wonderful garden and a sensational restaurant.

And for something VERY different – why not choose somewhere very green and extraordinarily interesting too.

The Camping Marecchia  is stunningly set beside the Marecchia River outside the hilltop haven of Pennabilli in the Apennines in the heart of Montefeltro country.

The campsite is beautifully-designed and peaceful, with all the amenities you may expect including an excellent restaurant and barbeque, and frequent events. Art is high on the agenda, and the ubiquitous local poet and screenwriter Tonino Guerra used to say that it was one of his favourite places in his chosen home of Pennabili.

And for visitors in search of interest and excitement – Pennabilli is simply a fabulous base.

Set in the heart of Montefeltro Country, Pennabilli is close to the historic hilltop fortress-city of San Leo  and the wonderfully-atmospheric Slow City of Santarcangelo di Romagna 

But you may not want to leave Pennabilli,, one of the best small towns in Italy.  or the riverside. There is simply so much to do and see

Visit the ‘Garden of Forgotten Fruits’ the ‘Road of Sundials’ the ‘Sanctuary of Thoughts’ or many of the other fascinating attractions in this beautifully-quirky town. But actually, you’ll probably get caught up in one of its many idiosyncratic festivals – from the massive international street performance festival, through jazz to antiques – there is something happening pretty much all the time.

And for green-leaning visitors who fancy something a little more relaxing in the countryside…

At the four star boutique hotel Relais Villa Roncuzzi, set in the heart of the Romagna countryside, you will find quality art everywhere, in the entrance hall, in the public rooms, in the restaurant, in the bathrooms, in reception, in each and every guest room. You will find sculptures, pictures, photographs and, of course mosaics (this is Ravenna after all!) absolutely everywhere.

Guests will find that Patrizia’s major aim is to find the very best of food and wine in the local area to offer to her guests – the delicious Sangiovese wine she offers comes from a vineyard just four kilometers away, the prize capons that her kitchen uses to make the broth for her capeletti are grown by her 84 year old friend on his local farm – almost everything is sourced locally and is the very best that can be found.

And when this local food, cooked to perfection, arrives on the plate and delights the guest – isn’t this true art?

The hotel organizes cookery classes at the museum, events to popularize the Ocarina (the local vessel- flute musical instrument), and great soirees around the pool at the Relais Villa Roncuzzi – they are all part of Patrizia’s strategy to create a wall to wall relationship for her guests with fine and practical art without losing the local connection.

All in all a very successful start for the green land of Romagna’s green tourism journey.

And it certainly helps that there is such a local passion for very very local and seasonal food and exceptionally high culinary practice.