Villages & CastlesVillages & Castles

6 Colourful Villages in Emilia-Romagna

by /// February 29, 2024
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes



We are charmed by their quiet lanes, flowery balconies and cats snoozing lazily in the sun. Every village in Emilia-Romagna has a unique story to tell, and discovering it is like turning the pages of a good book. Some books, however, are more illustrated than others!

Today we’d like to take you with us to the most colourful villages in our region, where art can be felt at every corner and streets are an open-air gallery. If you are looking for unusual places, this article is just right for you.


Bersani (Piacenza) - The Fairytale Village

Bersani (PC), Il borgo delle fiabe | Ph.
Bersani (Piacenza), The Fairytale Village | Ph.

Literally a fairytale village! Bersani is a small hamlet not far from the castle of Gropparello in Piacenza, made famous by the murals of local and international artists created thanks to the Arte Nostra Association. The subject of the paintings are the protagonists of the best-loved fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Cinderella and others.

Walking through the streets of the village among princesses, witches and wicked wolves is like going back to childhood, which makes Bersani a perfect destination especially for families. The village can be visited all year round, but if you drop in at Christmas you will discover another special feature of the place. Every year the inhabitants display nativity scenes along the streets built with recycled materials, as well as full-scale characters depicting the old local trades.

Lavacchio (Modena) - The Frignano open-air museum

Lavacchio (Modena), The Open-Air Museum | Ph. Comune Pavullo nel Frignano
Lavacchio (Modena), The Open-Air Museum | Ph. Comune Pavullo nel Frignano

The Modena Apennines are home to a small, colourful village just a few minutes’ drive from Pavullo nel Frignano. Dating back to the late Romanesque period, Lavacchio became a veritable open-air museum in the 1980s. Under the artistic direction of Anna Minardo – to whom we owe most of the works – the village has welcomed Italian and international artists, who have been called upon to decorate with sculptures, mosaics and paintings both the houses’ walls and the public wall running along the main road. Lavacchio’s tradition continues to this day with the Biennial Art Exhibition “Sui muri di Lavacchio”, an event that enriches the artistic heritage of the village with contemporary works.

Once you have visited the en plein air museum, pause for a moment to observe the strange masks that stare at you out from the walls of the houses. These are the so-called “marcolfe“, typical sculptures of the Frignano area, which according to tradition were used to ward off evil spirits.

San Giovanni in Persiceto (Bologna) - Piazzetta degli Inganni

San Giovanni in Persiceto (BO), Piazzetta Betlemme | Ph. Città Metropolitana di Bologna
San Giovanni in Persiceto (Bologna), Piazzetta Betlemme | Ph. Città Metropolitana di Bologna

Its official name is Piazzetta Betlemme, but it is now known as ‘Piazzetta degli Inganni’ (The Square of Deceptions). The history of this space and its murals dates back to 1983, when the community of San Giovanni in Persiceto decided to organise an open-air event dedicated to comedy films right in this square, which were in a dilapidated condition at the time.

The community decided to beautify it by painting the façades of the houses, thus concealing the ruined plaster. This led to the creation of the first murals by Gino Pellegrini, an artist and set designer from Vicenza who had collaborated on major Hollywood productions such as Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ and Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Pellegrini’s first project was a homage to western cinema and the rural world, realised using the trompe l’oeil technique – hence the ‘deception’ of the square’s new name.

However, its current appearance – a whirlwind of farm animals, fruit and vegetables of gigantic proportions – is due to a new cycle of paintings by Pellegrini dating from 1996, which stand out against a dreamy sky-blue background.

Dozza (Bologna) - The Village of the Painted Wall

Dozza (BO)
Dozza (Bologna) | Credit: Vivida Photo PC, via Shutterstock (for editorial use only)

One of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, home to a medieval fortress and the Regional Enoteca, but not only. Dozza is also one of the most colourful villages in Emilia-Romagna. It is no coincidence that it is known as the ‘Borgo del Muro Dipinto’ (Village of the Painted Wall), due to the frescoes and works of art on the outside walls of its houses.

Walking through the cobbled streets, you cannot help but feel immersed in an open-air gallery with a dreamlike and enchanted atmosphere. The first works were produced in the 1960s, when Dozza welcomed its first artists on the occasion of the Biennale del Muro Dipinto (Biennial Exhibition of the Painted Wall), an event that to this day brings art to the small village in the Bologna area.

Gherardi (Ferrara) - The Village of Cinema

Gherardi (FE), villaggio del cinema | Ph. pagina Facebook Gherardi Villaggio del Cinema
Gherardi (Ferrara), The Village of Cinema | Ph. Gherardi Villaggio del Cinema Facebook page

To breathe new life into a village through art and culture. This is the aim of the project that Gherardi, a hamlet in the municipality of Jolanda di Savoia, has been carrying out since 2022. Founded at the beginning of the 20th century, today this village in the Bassa Ferrarese is a succession of film-themed murals – currently 12 – created by as many street artists directly on the walls of the houses.

The painted scenes were not chosen randomly. They are actually inspired by the deep relationship between the Ferrara area and the seventh art. Among the films represented are, for instance, “Riso amaro” by Giuseppe De Santis, “Il mulino del Po” by Alberto Lattuada, “Il giardino dei Finzi Contini” by Vittorio De Sica but also “La casa dalle finestre che ridono” by Pupi Avati and “E.T. – The Extraterrestrial” by Steven Spielberg.

The latter mural, in particular, is a tribute to Carlo Rambaldi, an artist originally from Vigarano Mainarda who won two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects during his career, for Alien and E.T. itself.

Saludecio (Rimini) - The murals of Inventions

Saludecio (RN), murales delle invenzioni | Ph. Riviera Rimini
Saludecio (Rimini), The Murals of Inventions | Ph. Riviera Rimini

Our tour of the colourful villages in Emilia-Romagna ends in the hills of the Conca Valley (Rimini), specifically in Saludecio. Like Dozza, this charming mediaeval village has earned the title of ‘City of Painted Walls’. Its houses are decorated with 50 murals created in the early 1990s on the idea of the ARPERC association.

The fil rouge of the project are 19th century inventions. Exploring its narrow streets, you will come across murals representing the birth of photography, cinema, pizza margherita, comics and many other great 19th century inventions.


Maria Grazia Masotti

An eternal dreamer, but I try to stay grounded. I was raised in the countryside but I love big cities. I’m always ready for a trip, as long as it’s sustainable.

You may also like


Interested in our newsletter?

Every first of the month, an email (in Italian) with selected contents and upcoming events.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *